By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Video Discussing New Book



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

World Youth Day Madrid 2011

XXVI World Youth DayImage via Wikipedia
PRESENTATION OF TWENTY-SIXTH WORLD YOUTH DAY
[Bold emphasis below added by blogger]

VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2011 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the twenty-sixth World Youth Day (WYD), which will be held in the Spanish capital city of Madrid from 16 to 21 August. The conference was presented by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of MadridYago de la Cierva, executive director of WYD 2011; Elsa Vazquez Maggio, an international volunteer, and Jose Antonio Martinez Fuentes, secretary general of WYD 2011.

  "Each World Youth Day is an extraordinary experience for a Church which is friend to young people, which shares their problems", said Cardinal Rylko. "A Church which places herself at the service of the new generations. It is an experience of Universal Church - unique of its kind - which embraces the entire planet, of a young Church full of enthusiasm and missionary vigour. It is an epiphany of the Christian faith which has truly planetary dimensions. And young people, especially in the old and profoundly secularised continent of Europe, have particular need of all this".

  The cardinal recalled how this is the second occasion that Spain has "generously welcomed" WYD, and he spoke of the last time the event was held in that country, at Santiago de Compostela in 1989. It was there, he said, "that World Youth Day came to be structured as we know it today: three days of catechesis, a prayer vigil on the Saturday night, then the closing Eucharistic celebration and the dispatch of young people as missionaries. Also at Santiago de Compostela, pilgrimage came to be an essential factor of young people's journey in the footsteps of Peter's Successor.

  "Over succeeding years", he added, "each WYD has brought something new to the programme: the Way of the Cross at Denver, U.S.A., in 1993; preparatory days spent in dioceses prior to the main event and the 'Festival of Youth' (a kind of cultural programme) at Paris, France, in 1997; the 'Feast of Forgiveness' (300 confessionals crowded with young people in the Circus Maximus) at Rome in 2000; the 'Vocations Fair' at Toronto, Canada, in 2002, and the adoration of the Eucharist at Cologne, Germany, in 2005. Thus the proposal made to young people on each occasion is in continual evolution, seeking to respond to the true spiritual needs of today's youth".

  The cardinal also provided some statistics, noting that "WYD in Madrid is going to be a very significant event". Four hundred thousand young people have already signed up; they will be accompanied by14,000 priests and by 744 bishops, of whom 263 will be responsible for catechesis. Two hundred and fifty sites have been assigned for catechesis, which will be delivered in thirty languages, and 700,000 copies of "YOUCAT" will be distributed in six languages. Twenty-four thousand volunteers from different countries will be involved in various services. Finally, before reaching Madrid, the young people will be welcomed in sixty-eight Spanish dioceses, "in confirmation of the fact that the entire Church in Spain is directly involved in the WYD experience", said the cardinal. For those unable to reach Madrid, "simultaneous gatherings of young people have been organised in countries such as UkraineBurundi andMadagascar. They will be linked to the main event in Madrid by television and internet.

  "The Pope's presence is the culminating moment of any WYD", said the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, noting that the forthcoming event in Madrid "will take place in the light of the recent beatification of John Paul II, founder of World Youth Days. Thus John Paul II will return among the young people he loved so much, and who loved him. He returns as blessed, patron and protector. Indeed, the Eucharistic celebration welcoming the youth to Madrid, presided by Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of the city, on 16 August, will be dedicated to the new blessed".

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Madrid Sites for World Youth Day 2011

PROGRAMME OF THE POPE'S TRIP TO MADRID IN AUGUST
[Bold and images added by blogger; all images from Wikimedia Commons (click to find source)]

VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to Madrid, Spain, for the twenty-sixth World Youth Day (WYD).

  
Puerta de Alcalá (Madrid) 05
Puerta de Alcalá
The Holy Father is due to depart by plane from Rome's Ciampino airport at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday 19 August, landing at midday at Barajas airport in Madridwhere a welcome ceremony will take place. At 7.15 p.m. that day he will join a group of young people to pass under the Puerta de Alcala in the city's Plaza de Independencia, before moving on to Plaza de Cibeles where youth from all over the world will be gathered to greet him.

Basilica of San Lorenzo de El Escorial
  On Friday 19 August the Pope will celebrate Mass privately in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature in Madrid then, at 10 a.m., pay a courtesy visit to the Spanish king and queen in the Palacio de la Zarzuela. At 11.30 a.m. he will attend a meeting with young religious and another with young university professors at the basilica of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

Plaza de Cibeles
  At 5.30 p.m., having had lunch with young people at the apostolic nunciature, Benedict XVI is scheduled to hold an official meeting with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain. Later, at 7.30 p.m., the Pope will return to Plaza de Cibeles where he will preside at the Way of the Cross.

Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena
  On Saturday 20 August Benedict XVI will hear confession from a number of young people in Madrid's Jardines del Buen Retiro before celebrating Mass for seminarians at 10 a.m. in the cathedral of Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena. At 5 p.m. that day he will meet with the WYD organising committees at the apostolic nunciature then visit the Fundacion Instituto San Jose. At 8.30 p.m. he will preside at a prayer vigil with young people at the airport of Cuatro Vientos.

  At 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 21 August, the Holy Father will preside at the World Youth Day Mass at the airport of Cuatro Vientos, then pray the Angelus. After the ceremony he will have lunch with Spanish cardinals and the papal entourage at the apostolic nunciature.

  The Holy Father is scheduled to leave the apostolic nunciature at 5 p.m. He will meet with WYD volunteers in the new Feria de Madrid - IFEMA before travelling to the airport of Barajas where the departure ceremony will take place at 6.30 p.m. The papal plane will depart for Rome at 7 p.m. where it is scheduled to land at 9.30 p.m.
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New Vatican "Multimedia Portal"


It will go online on June 29th. See link for a preview.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Augustine Book Also on Nook from Barnes and Noble

Here is the Barnes and Noble Nook link.
As many already know, the Nook is the ereader for Barnes and Noble just as the Kindle is the ereader for Amazon, both of which can be used by readers who do not own the actual ereading device (whether the Nook or the Kindle)  by downloading free applications for a phone or personal computer (here are the links for free Nook applications and  for free Kindle applications).

My new Augustine book is available on both devices.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New, Very Short Book: "5 Lessons from Augustine"


I put the lowest price possible on it; and, as the author,  I chose to allow people to lend and duplicate their digital order at no cost (let me know if anyone is blocked from doing that).

Enjoy. You are also free to submit a brief review for the book on the Amazon site. As you likely know from your own book shopping, customer reviews are nice to have.

The cover artwork is by Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497) and is in the public domain (see link for details).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Benedict XVI on the Psalms

Monasterio de El Escorial
Image by Contando Estrelas via Flickr (Creative Commons License; noncommercial); Basilica at El Escorial Monastery, near Madrid, Spain
THE PSALMS: THE BOOK OF PRAYER PAR EXCELLENCE
[Bold added by blogger]

VATICAN CITY, 22 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to what he described as "the book of prayer par excellence, the Book of Psalms". The audience was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 10,000 people.

  The 150 Psalms of the Book of Psalms "express all human experience", said the Pope. "All the truth of the believer comes together in those prayers, which first the People of Israel and later the Church adopted as a special way to mediate their relationship with the one God, and as an adequate response to His having revealed Himself in history".

  "Despite the many forms of expression they contain", the Psalms "can be divided into two broad categories: ... supplication associated with lamentation, and praise. These two dimensions are related, almost indivisible, because supplication is animated by the certainty that God will respond, and this opens the way to praise and thanksgiving; while praise and thanksgiving arise from the experience of salvation received, which presupposes the need for help expressed in the supplication. ... Thus, in the prayer of the Psalms, supplication and praise intertwine and fuse together in a single song which celebrates the eternal grace of the Lord as He bows down to our frailty".

  "The Psalms teach us to pray", the Holy Father explained. "In them, the Word of God becomes the word of prayer. ... People who pray the Psalms speak to God with the words of God, addressing Him with the words He Himself taught us. ... Through these words it is also possible to know and accept the criteria of His actions, to approach the mystery of His thoughts and His ways, so as to grow and develop in faith and love".

  "By teaching us to pray", the Pope went on, "the Psalms also teach us that at times of desolation, even in moments of suffering, the presence of God is a source of wonder and consolation. We may weep, plead and seek intercession, ... but in the awareness that we are advancing towards the light, where praise will be unending".

  "Equally important and significant are the manner and frequency in which the words of the Psalms appear in the New Testament, where they assume and underline that prophetic significance suggested by the link of the Book of Psalms with the messianic figure of David. In His earthly life the Lord Jesus prayed with the Psalms, and in Him they reach definitive fulfilment and reveal their fullest and deepest meaning. The prayers of the Book of Psalms, with which we speak to God, speak to us of Him, they speak of the Son, image of the invisible God Who fully reveals the Father's face to us. Thus Christians, by praying the Psalms, pray to the Father in Christ and with Christ, seeing those songs in a new perspective which has its ultimate interpretation in the Paschal Mystery".

  Having completed his catechesis and delivered greetings in various languages, the Pope recalled the fact that tomorrow is the Feast of Corpus Christi. He invited everyone in Rome, residents and pilgrims alike, to participate in the Mass he will celebrate at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the basilica of St. John Lateran, and in the subsequent procession along Via Merulana to the basilica of St. Mary Major. "I invite you", he said, "to join this act of profound faith towards the Eucharist, which represents the most precious treasure of the Church and of humankind".

Blogger Comment:

I just finished writing a small book on St. Augustine of Hippo. The remarks of our "Augustinian" pope remind me of how much Augustine loved the Psalms. The Psalms express the passion and drama of our human lives.


As to the photo above of Kings David and Solomon in front of the basilica church at Philip II's monastery-palace of El Escorial near Madrid, notice the Latin inscriptions. For David, we read: "He received the plan of the work [i.e., of the Temple in Jerusalem] from the Lord." See 1 Chronicles 28:11. For Solomon, we read: "He dedicated the completed temple to the Lord." Visit this link and scroll down to the end of section 4 to read more about these statues and their inspiration.


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Sunday, June 19, 2011

More from Catholic Renaissance Scholar Vives

Retrato de Juan Luis Vives.Image via Wikipedia
Catholic Renaissance humanist Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540), a friend of fellow Catholic humanists St. Thomas More and the scholar Erasmus, wrote many words of wisdom. Here are a few more, continuing from my immediately previous post on Vives:

373. Outward signs, which are the only things that the eye of man sees, are very weak and uncertain indicators of what is hidden within.


405. He who takes friendship out of life takes the sun out of the world. [This proverb and the next two are very Ciceronian; scroll down or search for my recent post on Cicero and friendship.]


406. But true, solid, and lasting friendship occurs only among the good, among whom the love of friendship easily arises.


407. The bad are neither friends among themselves nor with the good.


534. Avoid relations with bad people as if they were subject to the plague, for in both cases it is a matter of fearing contamination.


[For the source of the above aphorisms, see the immediately previous post. The above are my translations from the Spanish.]

Some comments:


Notice how true to the Gospel these aphorisms are. First, we are warned that not all that glitters is gold. As Jesus taught, be aware of whited sepulchers enclosing corruption.

The Ciceronian emphasis on friendship is also evangelical. In the Gospel, we see Jesus calling his close followers friends and treating them as such.

The counsel to avoid associating with bad individuals does not contradict Jesus' habit of associating with tax collectors and prostitutes. There is a tremendous difference between associating with those open to conversion, even if they have outwardly irreligious habits or lifestyles, and those closed to true conversion, some of whom parade the outward signs of piety and religion as false indicators of their true personalities.

There is also a major difference between an experienced and prudent adult seeking to affirmatively influence others for the better and a young, immature person being prematurely exposed to bad and dangerous influences. Families and especially fathers need to make sure that their children are not habitually exposed to people with seriously dysfunctional personalities. Period.

Young people deserve a lengthy period of safe incubation and formation distant from warped personalities so that young people can eventually become assertive, mature personalities that will in turn become, in their own good time, a positive influence on others. Families should not be in the business of providing vulnerable, easy targets for the warped and unscrupulous. This verse is appropriate:

6 v“Do not give wdogs what is holy, and do not throw your xpearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6, ESV)

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Friend of Thomas More & Erasmus Gives Advice

Bruges (Belgium): bust of the humanist Juan Lu...Image via Wikipedia
    Bust of Vives, Bruges, Belgium
That friend is the Spaniard Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540), who was also hired by Henry VIII of England to be the tutor of the future Queen Mary (daughter of Henry's Spanish wife Catherine of Aragon) and who was a professor at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. (For a fuller biography, see this link and this link.)

Henry beheaded Thomas More for opposing his treatment of Catherine; Vives, as a Spaniard who also opposed Henry on the matter of the marriage, was exiled to Belgium. Vives was also a professor at Louvain. He was a friend of More and also of Erasmus.

Yet, Vives was also alienated from his native Spain--his father and other relatives were executed by the Inquisition for suspicion of secretly practicing Judaism; this tragedy is just one example why Pope John Paul II was determined to apologize for the acts of some Catholics in our long history, as we entered this new century.

 Vives, among other works, wrote a series of short proverbs collected in a book called Introduction to Wisdom (Introducción a la Sabiduría) published in Louvain in 1524. Here are some of his pieces of wisdom for your enjoyment (the numbering follows that of a book published in Spanish in Buenos Aires in 1960 and translated from the Latin by Lorenzo Riber; the English translation from the Spanish is my own):

  36. What else is life but a certain pilgrimage, on all sides fenced in by disasters and assaulted by a thousand fortuities, in which, in each moment, its end is apparent and the end can take place at any hour due to very trivial causes? 


51. It is insanity to brag about having a good father [or ancestor], if you are evil and with your bad deeds you put a stain and blemish on your noble lineage. 


79. Despising, then, the approbation of the vulgar, hold as the greatest of evils not poverty or a poor lineage, or prison, or nakedness, or disgrace, or physical deformity, or sickness, or weakness, but rather the vices and their consequences, ignorance, stupidity, and madness. 


193. It would be very good if each night, a little before you go to bed, sitting alone in a chair, without anyone else present, you recall all that you have seen, read, heard, and done on that day. 


209. So much diligence is applied to the care of the body, yet how much more should we take care of the soul, since its ailments are more hidden, more serious, more dangerous.
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Which was the First Empire on Which the Sun Never Set?

Map of the territories come under the Spanish ...Image via Wikipedia
Based on my research, it was the Spanish Empire of Philip II (1527--1598). The phrase apparently first arose in the 16th century (El imperio en el que nunca se pone el sol). Here are some non-trivial lessons we can learn from this historical trivia:

1. A bright American child told me that she had never heard the phrase "Spanish Empire" in the course of her elementary schoolwork. An adult once scoffed when I mentioned in passing in a discussion that Spain was once a world power. The child's reaction was honest and excusable; the adult's reaction seems less salvageable, although certainly forgivable. As a friend of mine likes to point out, just because you have never heard of a certain fact has no bearing on its objective existence. Lesson: scoff less, listen more, ask more questions, read more. You may know much less than you assume. Suspend your prejudgments (otherwise known as prejudices).
Philip II of Spain holding a rosary and wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece

2. It is obvious that in the United States we live in an Anglo-Saxon and Protestant cultural framework, something for which we should all be thankful given that framework's strong (but not unique) democratic, economic, and scientific contributions. But as human beings sharing one human nature, there is obviously so much more that we are missing. Being rich and powerful does not automatically make a culture either educated or honorable or cultured or truly civilized. The mark of true culture lies in the famous saying of the Roman playwright Terence (195/185-159 B.C.): ""Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto", or "I am a human being. I consider nothing human alien to me." Lesson: Be a human being and embrace everything worthwhile from any culture. Otherwise, you are a philistine, regardless of your trappings of power and success.



Friday, June 10, 2011

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Ortega y Gasset

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F000074-3582, Darmstad...                                        Wikipedia
This fine philosophical resource on the internet has just published (June 7, 2011) an article on someone who is, in my view, one of the most intriguing and absorbing philosophers of the 20th century--Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955), a philosopher born in Madrid, Spain.

See link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP).

Update:

There is also a fine SEP article on another Madrid-born contemporary of Ortega, the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952), who gave us a very famous quote : "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" ( Life of Reason I).  


Here is another favorite of mine from Santayana: "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim."



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Authentic Scholarship

Jesuit alumni                               Via Wikipedia
Back in college, I became a member of the Jesuit national honor society called Alpha Sigma Nu (an acronym for the Greek phrase "brotherhood of victorious scholars"). I found this description of scholarship on the ASN website, a description worth pondering (bold emphasis added):


Scholarship is the most important qualification for membership in Alpha Sigma Nu. This reflects the primarily intellectual purpose of higher education. A high grade point average alone does not demonstrate true Scholarship, nor does the mastery of information and specialized knowledge.
Alpha Sigma Nu recognizes those persons as scholars who possess a depth of comprehension and a breadth of knowledge. Alpha Sigma Nu honors those students who have a passion for knowledge, the world of ideas, and critical analysis. The true scholar realizes that education and knowledge are lifelong pursuits, and the true scholar never loses contact with the world of reality beyond the library or the classroom. Through a sane and balanced integration of experiences, the scholar advances in both knowledge and wisdom. Humility is a mark of true scholars who continue to develop their intellectual gifts with the awareness that they pursue a standard set by God, who alone is wise.


My experience of life confirms the above. How about your experience of life?



Judging the Authentic Life

The existentialist branch of contemporary philosophy has frequently spoken of whether one's life is authentic or inauthentic, whether one is living in good faith or in bad faith. Ortega y Gasset also wrote on this theme.

One of his commentators summarizes Ortega's views on authenticity and includes a quotation from Ortega:

My life will be authentic if I am the one whom I must be, that is to say, if the decisions which I take in my life are not arbitrary but rather directed to realizing the project, the vocation that my being incarnates. Each of us can be anything yet only has to be one thing, his authentic vocation: "The poor human being finds himself situated in a very difficult position. It is as if he were told: 'if you want to really be, you must necessarily adopt a very specific and determinate form of life. Now: you can, if you wish, not adopt this specific form of life and decide to be something other than what you must be. But then, be aware that you are left with being nothing, because you cannot truly be except the one whom you must be, your authentic self. The one who freely chooses not to accomplish this, falsifies his life, "unlives" it, kills himself.' "

José Lasaga Medina, José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955): Vida y filosofía (Biblioteca Nueva, 2003), p. 177 (quoting Ortega y Gasset from vol. VIII, p. 28, of his Obras Completas edited in 1983 by Paulino Garagorri)(my translation from the Spanish original).

Those are strong and dramatic words describing our common human predicament. But existentialist philosophy can only go so far in setting the stage for the discussion. The question then becomes one of ethics, so to speak: what are the concrete characteristics that define the appropriate form of life for a human being?

And, then, we must get more specific: in these particular life circumstances at this particular time, what specific life-project must I pursue? The Christian gospel provides answers to the first question of ethics; the answer to the second, more concrete question is a matter of free, personal decision which for the Christian is aided by invoking the Holy Spirit.

Now, it is a commonplace reality that human beings of all kinds pursue all sorts of projects. History is the stuff of such projects from the questioning of Socrates in the marketplace to the ambitions of Alexander the Great. We, of course, also see an overwhelming multitude of life-projects around us--from the ambitious politician to the lawyer advertising his wares to millions of businesses all around us. We see another multitude of life-projects in academia with an array of professors specializing in one or another topic. We see a kaleidoscope of ambitions whirling around us and often insistently seeking our attention and support.

How can we evaluate this confusing panorama of life-projects and ambitions? Which ones are authentic? If we stick to a purely philosophical, metaphysical description of our common human situation, all we can say is that only that individual, or someone who knows him very well, can tell if the project is authentic or not.

But, if we add ethics to the mix, we can then make some judgments. From the Christian point of view, a life-project that does not exhibit and enhance the virtues, the powers for good, of humanity cannot be ipso facto authentic. That ethical quality is something we can certainly observe--the ethical character of our actions, especially in something as public as our life-project, is readily felt and evaluated by others.

Thus, being a greedy politician or a dishonest lawyer or sexually promiscuous cannot be the authentic project of anyone at anytime. That type of living is, to borrow from Ortega's description, a form of non-living, of walking suicide.

Yet, often, we cannot know the authenticity of another's life project because we lack the "inside information." Remembering that limited knowledge, we are then careful not to automatically condemn nor to automatically applaud. Not all that glitters is gold. Not all that may conventionally look like failure is in fact failure. Authenticity in life can, ultimately, be judged only from the inside, not from the applause or eulogies or disdain or criticism that we hear. The Christian knows that this final judgment of authenticity "from the inside" is out of the hands of any one of us.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Evil Regimes

The Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall/ Zap...Image via Wikipedia
N.Y. Times columnist David Brooks (the token conservative columnist at the Grey Lady) is "on a roll."  This column, entitled "The Depravity Factor," cries out that the emperor has no clothes, namely, that there are evil regimes in the world, specifically focusing in this column on the Middle East-- evil regimes that must experience regime change in order for a path to peace to finally open. The moral clarity of the column is striking in a culture that wants to avoid making moral judgments at all costs, while doing and embracing just about everything else under the sun.

Here is the link and an enticing excerpt:

It doesn’t matter how great a law professor or diplomat you are. It doesn’t matter how masterly you sequence the negotiations or what magical lines you draw on a map. There won’t be peace so long as depraved regimes are part of the picture. That’s why it’s crazy to get worked into a lather about who said what about the 1967 border. As long as Hamas and the Assad regime are in place, the peace process is going nowhere, just as it’s gone nowhere for lo these many years.

That’s why it’s necessary, especially at this moment in history, to focus on the nature of regimes, not only the boundaries between them. To have a peaceful Middle East, it was necessary to get rid of Saddam’s depraved regime in Iraq. It will be necessary to try to get rid of Qaddafi’s depraved regime in Libya. It’s necessary, as everybody but the Obama administration publicly acknowledges, to see Assad toppled. It will be necessary to marginalize Hamas. It was necessary to abandon the engagement strategy that Barack Obama campaigned on and embrace the cautious regime-change strategy that is his current doctrine.

Source link.

It sounds like the historical rehabilitation of the George W. Bush foreign policy has already begun--sooner than I expected, but I did expect it.