Article 42.1 The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.Part of this commentator's 'solution' to the 'problem' of most educational provision was a revision of that section of the Constitution which guarantees the rights of parents.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Now, I'm not an expert in Islamic theology, but it's interesting to compare Ahmadinejad's opening paragraphs with the Christian understanding of what Christmas is really about.
"In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.The initial impression is of an austere God who, although he does not 'leave humanity to its own devices' is not the Incarnate God of Triune love who is himself our Saviour. Likewise, his description of humanity's struggle "from dust to the divine" has distinct Pelagian tones - a Christian would be much more aware of our need for divine grace and the implications of our fallen state. A prophet can only inform and exhort. Christ establishes a true communion of love between God and man for our salvation.
Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.
The Almighty created the universe for human beings and human beings for Himself.
He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to make every effort to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life.
On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine, He did not leave humanity to its own devices. He chose from those He created the most excellent as His Prophets to guide humanity.
All Prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.
(Note also - Ahmadinejad says that God created "human beings for Himself". The classical Christian Catechism answer to the question as to why God created us is so that we might know and love him. Our doctrine of God as a Trinity of love does colour our understanding of our own purpose.)
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
After the passage of countless centuries from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth and formed man and woman in his own image, and very many centuries from the time when after the flood the Almighty had set his bow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant and of peace; in the twenty-first century from the migration of Abraham, our father in faith, from Ur of the Chaldees; in the thirteenth century from the departure of the people of Israel from Egypt under the leadership of Moses; in about the thousandth year from the anointing of David as king according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; in the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the City of Rome; in the forty-second year of the rule of Caesar Octavian Augustus; while the whole world was at peace, Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the Eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most gracious coming, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit, and when nine months had passed after his conception, is born as man in Bethlehem of Judah from the Virgin Mary: the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.
There are many ways in which we could try to date the event we celebrate this evening. The Ancient Greeks counted out the years between one Olympic Games and another, putting the birth of Christ in the 194th Olympiad. The Romans counted from the year their own great city was founded, and marked out time according to the reigns of their emperors. St Luke, when he was writing the history of Christ pinned down that first Christmas by reference to the fact that Quirnus was governor of Syria. Since then, empires have fallen and risen, and all those ways of marking time have fallen into disuse. We now count our years as AD and BC. AD –in the year of our Lord, BC – before Christ.
Christ was born into a world where dates were marked by reference to the great men of the time, or some historical event. Now, however, every time we read a date or talk about an event in history, we mark the time by reference to what happened on that holy night in Bethlehem. The death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, the fall of the Roman empire in 476 AD, the great Fire of London in 1666, the 1916 Easter Rising, September the 11th 2001. The way we number our years reminds us that all of human history can be divided into a before and an after… the preparation for the coming of Christ, and the new era which began with His birth. Cardinal Newman once wrote, “Christ … came to make a new and better beginning of all things than Adam had been, and to be a fountain-head from which all good henceforth might flow.” Tonight we celebrate that new and better beginning, when God himself was born into this world as a little baby.
Look at the crib. Step back from the romance of it for a moment, and it does not look like a promising beginning. A family, forced to leave their home so that they might be taxed, a mother who finds no place to give birth to her baby, but a stable. A baby, wrapped up tight in swaddling clothes, unable even to lift his arm. And yet, this baby, this little child is not only the King promised to the Israelites, but is the Son of God Himself.
It is a scene of love, and of joy too, no doubt. Mary and Joseph rejoice in the birth of his child, but to human eyes it seems an unpromising and poor beginning for a child's life, and not at all like God's new beginning for us all.
The angels know better, they sing, “ Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favour.” They see what we now know by faith. They see in that little child God’s favour, God’s generosity to us all. They see what we struggle to understand – that God made himself weak so that all men and women might know Him, love Him and receive His peace, His salvation. The angels see that God does not want to gather his straying children by a show of force, but wants to share our human life so that He can transform it from within. He wants to walk with us, so that we can learn from one like ourselves, He wants to suffer for us, so that He will never be far away when we suffer, He wants to die for us, so that we might no longer have anything to fear from sin and death.
That is what we celebrate tonight. Our ancestors knew how to celebrate this feast, even when they lived in a hardship we can’t imagine. There is the old custom of lighting a candle in the window each Christmas so that Mary and Joseph might have light to guide them on their journey. There was also the custom of setting food out on the table so that the Holy Family might have something to sustain them in their travels. The light of that candle also promised safety to the priest in times of persecution and a welcome to the wanderer in times of hardship. The food was not only for the Holy Family, but was to be shared with anyone who had need.
These customs show that those who went before us realised two things. In their concern for the Holy Family they realised that when Christmas is celebrated, the events which happened in Bethlehem are not trapped in the past… The birth of Christ still matters today, still has effects for us today, and if we celebrate Christmas well, we can, in a sense, be brought back to that stable, to gaze on the Child Jesus and welcome Him with joy!
The second thing they realised is that the celebration of this feast should lead us into a greater love and generosity for those around us. The new and better beginning must take hold in our hearts… If we welcome Christ at Christmas, and if we welcome him in the Eucharist, then we must give birth to Christ ourselves, by having a more Christ-like heart. We must not be afraid to be more generous, more forgiving, more loving, more prayerful, more humble. We must not be afraid to let the idealism and the joy of Christmas touch our hearts. Christ came into the world poor so that our souls might be made rich through him.
“Mary treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” May her prayers help us to give Christ a true welcome this Christmas.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Well, this year's address (link to Italian version) was interesting, with the Pope making a number of sharp points. Rocco analyses what he had to say about World Youth Day.
"The uniquness of the [World Youth] days and the particular character of their joy, their creative force of communion, can find no explanation. Above all it's important to take into account the fact that the World Youth Days do not consist solely in just the one week where they're publicly rendered visible to the world. It is a long road, interior and exterior, that leads to them. The Cross, accompanied by the image of the Mother of the Lord, makes a pilgrimage across countries. Faith, in its way, needs to see and touch. The encounter with the cross, which comes to be touched and carried, becomes an internal encounter with the One who took up the cross and died for us. The encounter with the Cross sustains in the soul of the young the memory of that God who wanted to make himself man and suffer alongside us. And we see the woman given us as our Mother. The solemn Days are but the culmination of a long road, along which we find one another and go together to encounter Christ. Not just in Australia did the long Via Crucis cross the city and become the culminating event of these days. It likewise reflected again all that happened in the years preceding it and pointed to Him who reunites together all of us: that God who so loved us even to the Cross. So, too, the Pope is not the star around which it all unfolds. He is totally and merely the Vicar. He returns to the Other who is in our midst. Finally the solemn liturgy is the center of this togetherness, for in it comes that which we cannot realize and which, still, we are always awaiting. He is present. He enters among us. The heavens are torn and the earth is made luminous. It's this that renders life light and open and unites the many ones with others in a joy that is incomparable with the ecstasy of a rock festival. Frederich Nietzsche once said: "The ability is not in organizing a party, but in finding the people able to bring it joy." According to Scripture, joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf Gal 5:22): this fruit was abundantly perceivable in the days of Sydney. And just as a long road precedes the World Youth Days, a path following it is likewise drawn. Friendships are formed that encourage a different lifestyle and that sustain it from inside. The great days have, not an ending, but the scope of sustaining these friendships and of making places of life in the faith rise in the world where, together, hope and love can be seen.And what's the subtext? Rocco speculates as follows:
During WYD Sydney, a leader of the Aussie branch of the Society of St Pius X -- the schismatic traditionalist group -- knocked the weeklong event as a "happy party" with "very little that is truly holy and sacred and prayerful" in it.Interesting! WYD 2000 in Rome was a crucial event for myself personally and a major help in encouraging me to pursue my priestly vocation.
Also of interest is the following passage:
Poiché la fede nel Creatore è una parte essenziale del Credo cristiano, la Chiesa non può e non deve limitarsi a trasmettere ai suoi fedeli soltanto il messaggio della salvezza. Essa ha una responsabilità per il creato e deve far valere questa responsabilità anche in pubblico. E facendolo deve difendere non solo la terra, l’acqua e l’aria come doni della creazione appartenenti a tutti. Deve proteggere anche l’uomo contro la distruzione di se stesso. È necessario che ci sia qualcosa come una ecologia dell’uomo, intesa nel senso giusto. Non è una metafisica superata, se la Chiesa parla della natura dell’essere umano come uomo e donna e chiede che quest’ordine della creazione venga rispettato. Qui si tratta di fatto della fede nel Creatore e dell’ascolto del linguaggio della creazione, il cui disprezzo sarebbe un’autodistruzione dell’uomo e quindi una distruzione dell’opera stessa di Dio. Ciò che spesso viene espresso ed inteso con il termine "gender", si risolve in definitiva nella autoemancipazione dell’uomo dal creato e dal Creatore. L’uomo vuole farsi da solo e disporre sempre ed esclusivamente da solo ciò che lo riguarda. Ma in questo modo vive contro la verità, vive contro lo Spirito creatore. Le foreste tropicali meritano, sì, la nostra protezione, ma non la merita meno l’uomo come creatura, nella quale è iscritto un messaggio che non significa contraddizione della nostra libertà, ma la sua condizione. Grandi teologi della Scolastica hanno qualificato il matrimonio, cioè il legame per tutta la vita tra uomo e donna, come sacramento della creazione, che lo stesso Creatore ha istituito e che Cristo – senza modificare il messaggio della creazione – ha poi accolto nella storia della salvezza come sacramento della nuova alleanza. Fa parte dell’annuncio che la Chiesa deve recare la testimonianza in favore dello Spirito creatore presente nella natura nel suo insieme e in special modo nella natura dell’uomo, creato ad immagine di Dio. Partendo da questa prospettiva occorrerebbe rileggere l’Enciclica Humanae vitae: l’intenzione di Papa Paolo VI era di difendere l’amore contro la sessualità come consumo, il futuro contro la pretesa esclusiva del presente e la natura dell’uomo contro la sua manipolazione.In brief, the Pope is reminding us that the Church has a responsibility for creation. However, this isn't only about protecting the environment - we are also called to develop an "ecology of man" whereby we stop ourselves from destroying ourselves. Central to this understanding of humanity is the Church's recognition of the relationship between man and woman. The reduction of 'gender' to the status of a social construct is to ignore God's plan and the fact that God speaks to us through creation - man being the image of God, for example, and the analogy between marriage and the covenant.
I'll try and post an English translation of the more important bits when it's available.
Monday, December 15, 2008
God our Father,
you loved man so much
to send us your only Son Jesus,
born of the Virgin Mary,
to save us and lead us back to you.
We pray that, with your blessing
these images of Jesus, soon to come among us,
might be, in our homes,
a sign of your presence and love.
give your blessing to us, too,
to our parents, our families and friends.
Open our hearts,
that we might know to receive Jesus in joy,
always do what he asks of us
and see him in all those
who need our love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
your beloved Son, who came to give peace to the world.
You who live and reign forever and ever.