How To Find Meaning

thoughtfullydetached

imageHow to find meaning
Is: stop searching for meaning;
It is always here
.

There are, I think, at least three major assumptions embedded in this micropoem. Namely-
1) That there is a universal human desire to find meaning in life and in the cosmos.
2) That this desire is often expressed in terms of a search to discover an external reality.
3) That, in fact, meaning exists as something to be realised, not something to be discovered.

Now, granting that it is plausible, probable even, that The Poet is at least mildly deranged it will be nonetheless, let us suppose, a worthwhile exercise to run with these assumptions for a while and see where they lead us.

The experience of mankind certainly seems to be that once societies get beyond the level of simply surviving, that is, when food surpluses are regular and leisured classes are possible, then questions…

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The Culture of Death and the Killing of Alfie Evans

HOPE IN THE STORM

The Culture of Death and the Killing of Alfie Evans

The phrase “Culture of Death” was made famous by St. Pope John Paul II in his encyclical on The Gospel of Life, EVANGELIUM VITAE. If you have not read it, I strongly suggest you do. The great saint prophetically addresses the attack on life we see around us today. The case of Alfie Evans, while not isolated, shines a light on the evil forces at work which wish to destroy the value of human life at every turn.

In the Evangelium Vitae he stated:

“Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable.”

If he were to pope today, he would likely modify that statement by removing the words ‘gradually becoming’ and replace them with ‘have become.’ Pope John Paul II was a great defender of life, as have been all…

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Art Of Sacred Vestments

Peg Pondering Again

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Have you ever taken the time to look at the designs, and the details of ancient Liturgical Vestments? Or, have you ever thought to yourself, after seeing the intricate details, how and who made this?

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My grandmother used to make folk costumes for her native town in Slovakia. She made her own lace, and embroidered her own cloth. She brought that talent of her’s with her, when she immigrated to the US. Unfortunately, her talent and techniques were not passed on to the next generation and the mystery of how she did it, making her fabric artwork, is gone with her. I do however have a full folk costume she had made along with some doll clothing, which were made for dolls to be given to all her grandchildren girls.

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The detail in her work is amazing (photo above).  The time she took to make her own lace alone, to add…

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Be Holy – “Gaudete et Exsultate”

Peg Pondering Again

St-Francis-Of-Assisi-Quotes-And-Sayings-5

This coming Monday, April 9, the Holy See Press Office will release Pope Francis’s  “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and be glad) which is his Apostolic Exhortation on holiness, at noon. News came today HERE, via the Holy See.

I ask those who subscribe to my blog to read Gaudete et Exsultate themselves in detail. Ponder it. Pray before, during and after reading it. Do not be conformed to reading it from anyplace other than the original source. Do not feel comfortable reading it from anyone’s point of view, other than your own. Meaning, don’t allow the media to tell you what they think it says and means. Read it from where you are in life. If you are disturbed internally by reading it, ask our Lord in prayer, why. Seek a remedy that is in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Ask how you can grow to not be…

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Among the Lilies: A Resurrection Encounter

Bethany Hang Out

All night … I looked 

 for the one my soul loves; 

I looked for him but did not find him. 

I will go through the streets of the city, 

I will search for him my soul loves. 

The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city.

I asked them, 

Have you seen my love?”  

The angels pitied me.

They said to me,

“Search among the lilies…

He is not here!

He lies not in darkness

Nor in the folds of the cloth.”

But I could not breathe, so sick was I with love,

So I asked the gardener,

“Where have you taken him? Tell me!”

“Woman,” he asked,” why do you weep,

Your beloved is yours and you are his.

He feeds his flock among lilies.

…Miriam… Mary!”

“Rabonni!”

I rose, a rose unfolding, lilies opened at my feet

My love was so complete, my…

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Marching for our lives

The Soul of a Nation: America as a Tradition of Inquiry and Nationhood

Words for a conversation in the wake of children militant

A conversation on social media between two friends I respect and admire, regarding the “March for Our Lives” protests, contained an exchange in which one of the interlocutors expressed the desire to locate the demonstrations squarely within the bailiwick of “pro-life” advocacy. Another interlocutor was not so much reticent to accept that location, as unsure how to receive it. That is a perplexity many of us are experiencing right now, and one through which it is worth working together. I hope the words of mine to follow, which draw on the words of others I respect and admire, can be words for a conversation.

Tihamér_Margitay_Exciting_story “Exciting Story” by Tihamér Margitay via Wikimedia Commons

If we take seriously the idea — epitomized in the words of Dr King in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail — that “Any law that uplifts human…

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“¡Feliz cumpleaños, Teresa!” Mensaje de Saverio Cannistrà

Teresa, de la rueca a la pluma

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Muchas son las palabras de cariño y felicitación a la Madre Teresa que brotan de nuestro corazón en este día. Quisiéramos reunirlas todas aquí, y ofrecérselas a ella. Pero como eso es imposible, tomamos prestadas las que le escribe el P. General de los carmelitas descalzos, Saverio Cannistrà. Él pone voz a nuestra acción de gracias a Dios y a nuestro cariño por esta gran mujer en el 500 aniversario de su nacimiento. Con él, le decimos: “¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Teresa!”

Saverio Cannistrà

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Teresa! Te lo desean de corazón todos los que te han conocido y que por eso te aman: tus hijas y tus hijos, tu familia numerosa, que te reconoce como madre y maestra; los cristianos a los que tú les has hecho descubrir «qué buen amigo es Jesús» y cómo nos cambia la vida el hecho de aprender a estar con él, con sencillez y amor, limitándonos a…

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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – THE DEATH OF A RADIO

Joan's Rome

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – THE DEATH OF A RADIO

Today was a bittersweet day for me because I taped my final “Joan Knows” program at Vatican Radio after 20 years at the radio with this show and, in earlier years, especially when I worked at the Vatican Information Service, by participating in some form in an English language news program once a week.

The sweet part embraced those 20 years of covering both amazing news stories and everyday events in the life of the Pope and the Universal Church, of covering three pontificates, of making lifelong friends with my terrifically talented colleagues at Vatican Radio – colleagues of different languages and backgrounds but we were bound together by our vocation (almost a ministry), our friendship and our love of the Church and papacy.

I lived some heady moments and times and events and learned more than I could…

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Individualism: A Community Killer

THE BFFs CHURCH

In my blog,A Culture of Isolation,” we talked about how Americans are ranked amongst the loneliest people in the world. This may seem rather shocking at first, but it really comes as no surprise considering our culture’s values.

This week, we’re diving into one of the first characteristics of our isolated culture that is feeding the loneliness epidemic:

Individualism.

There are two types of cultures people can live in this world. There are individualist cultures, like the U.S. and most European countries. But then there are collectivist cultures—which happens to be the vast majority of the world.

Collectivist Cultures

In collectivist cultures, there is a heavy emphasis on relationships. When you look at Latino, African, and Asian cultures, you’ll see that a hierarchy exists across the board for all one’s relationships. Every individual is seen as someone who is connected to a greater web of…

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Are medical professions “free”?

Catholic Voices Comment

[William Kent] On 26th January a new Bill was discussed in the House of Lords – the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill. This Bill, which proposes to clarify the role of conscience in the medical profession, will continue its progression through parliament over the next few months. The time is right therefore for all of us to reflect on the place of conscientious objection within the field of healthcare and to contribute to the public debate that this new Bill will hopefully stimulate.

The sort of questions that form the context to this newly proposed legislation are: “does a healthcare professional have the right to refuse a procedure if they are morally opposed to it?” or “should a nurse or GP be allowed to avoid any involvement with providing abortions or facilitating the end-of-life if they deem it immoral”? Such lines of inquiry have an ever-growing relevance. In 2014…

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The mid-air marriage gets muddier

In the Light of the Law

Popes on planes aren’t supposed to be a setting from which to draw fodder for canon law essay exams, but as far back as Pope Benedict XVI, such flights have occasioned more than their fair share of papal words or actions carrying canonical implications but undertaken with little apparent advertence to canon law.

Let’s start with some fact questions in regard to the mid-air marriage recently officiated by Pope Francis. It is emerging that maybe the wedding wasn’t as spontaneous as reported, that maybe the happy couple were not “astonished” at the pope’s allegedly sudden idea, and that maybe the ‘Here?!’ and ‘It was a great surprise’ portrayals were expected.

Last month, in an interview published in emol.com, Podest and Ciuffardi, picked to serve on the cabin crew for the papal visit, talked about their civil marriage from some eight years ago (which they had been…

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Thoughts on a mid-air marriage

In the Light of the Law

Show of hands! Who wants to rain all over the sentimental parade lining up behind (what is being presented as) the pope’s facilitation of married love? Anyone? Anyone?

I thought not. Oh well.

Readers of this blog know that I am no fan of canonical form for marriage (cc. 1108, 1117)—a cure that has far outlived the malady (clandestine marriage) it was designed to treat—but canonical form is still law for Catholics and that law goes to the validity of Catholic marriage. Based on the reports offered here and here, I cannot tell whether the ‘wedding’ that the pope put together for an unsuspecting couple satisfies Church requirements on marriage, and several other laws impacting the liceity of marriage seem simply to have been disregarded in the event. As happened several times under earlier administrations, a representative from the Vatican Press Office assures us that “everything was valid”. Such…

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Conservative: You’re Using It Wrong (Probably)

Dominus mihi adjutor

Yesterday’s radicals are today’s old farts. This is a loose quotation of something I read somewhere recently. It was to do with la bise, the French tradition of kissing each other on the cheek as a greeting. In the 1960s the student protestors promoted it as an instrument of social equalisation and hierarchical disintegration. Now a French provincial mayor is refusing to give la bise to her colleagues because, given its own conventions, it is sexist and time-wasting (with up to 73 colleagues to kiss each morning one can have some sympathy for her). The question looms: will yesterday’s radicals who championed it rush to its defence or conform to this new, emerging orthodoxy? Will they be conservatives or conformists?

Hang on! Aren’t “conservative” and “conformist” synonyms? Surely a conservative is one who does not like change and conforms to the status quo? The problem lies in the definition

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Christmas Day. Where’s the Beef?

the theological beard

Today we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, our Savior, the Word-made-flesh. It is a mystery that cannot be explained; one can only stand before it in awe or denial. It is the great provocation only surpassed by His death. This day points us to our salvation and everlasting rest, the satisfaction of our heart residing in the Prince of Peace.

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It is, therefore, “the most wonderful time of the year” and “the hap-happiest season of all.” And yet one may say…

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Please pardon my irreverence, especially on one of the most holy days of the year. Does this not, however, express what many people feel? Does it not express what many Catholics would not in actuality be able to answer? It’s been a while since I’ve read any news articles or statistics on this, but the “holiday” season also has a reputation for being the…

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Divine Interruption and Snow Days in a Sacramental Worldview

the theological beard

Every year in December, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in downtown Indianapolis has the Christkindl Village. There are games for kids, vendors, and of course German food and beer. The beer is provided by a local brewery around the corner and has the parishioners of St. John name their winter ale. This year it is St. John the Evangelager.

Alan Rickman - eye roll

Last night while enjoying food and beer with friends at the Christkindl Village, we had an interruption, a divine interruption. We heard caroling which was the sign that the Eucharistic procession had come to us. It really was an interruption. One moment you’re talking about Star Wars and the next you’re on your knees, adoring our Lord, and joining in the caroling. There is no transition; it is immediate; it is an interruption. It was interesting to see the sudden change among everyone there. Some went to their knees and…

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Advent, Prayers, Translations, and Life

the theological beard

A prefatory note: One may rightly wonder, why now? After six years of a new corrected translation of the Roman Missal isn’t a post like this beating a dead horse? Life just isn’t that simple. Sometimes you realize how wonderful a thing is and it brings you joy; sometimes you realize how much the negligent absence of that thing influenced you and your joy has been mixed with a good dose of pissed. The fact is that the old people of the Church robbed my generation and the succeeding one of much, then in pastoral solicitude scratch their heads at our wanting what was kept from us while telling us we don’t know what we’re talking about and diagnosing us with some sort of neurosis. Bitter? It’s obvious I am, but also hopeful and grateful. So let’s dig in to the season of Advent, its prayers, the translation of…

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Paternostergate

Dominus mihi adjutor

Yet again the pope has captured the headlines of the mainstream secular press, both in the UK and the USA, as elsewhere. The coverage is generally laudatory, with +Francis presented as courageously facing sacred cows that have had their day, or never should have had a day at all. The issue this time, as you know, is the Lord’s Prayer. Pope Francis feels that “lead us not into temptation” is “not a good translation”. A father does not “push” his child into temptation, but only Satan leads into temptation, and we can fall or not. Well, that’s his case in a nutshell.

Others, Christopher Altieri for example, are addressing this more comprehensively than I can. Some are more shrill than others. The points they raise are salient in the main.

There are just two things I would dare to note.

The first is that,

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On the Mystery of Christmas from Edith Stein

Intellectual Charity

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Edith Stein, the philosopher, nun and saint, recommends in her essay “The Mystery of Christmas” in a spiritual yet practical way that it would be good to live our daily life with a constant awareness of the awesomeness of the true meaning of Christmas, as found in the book Writings of Edith Stein (Trans. Hilda Graef.  Peter Owen Limited: London. 1956).  She says, “We have time for so many useless things: we read senseless rubbish in books, periodicals and newspapers, sit in cafes and chat for a quarter or half an hour in the street.  All these are distractions by which one wastes time and strength.”(p.29)  It seems that her point here is not that socializing is bad at all, but that people who claim not to have time to contemplate God in their life, freely spend their time in other ways.  She continues, “Should it really be impossible to save…

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MYSTICISM: Elizabeth Of The Trinity, An Introduction by Hans Urs Von Balthasar

The Value of Sparrows

From Elizabeth of Dijon, An Interpretation of Her Spiritual Mission

The Carmelite Order seems to have been specially entrusted, in recent years, with the function of proclaiming to the church and the world certain truths strongly opposed to the spirit of the age.  We allow ourselves to be absorbed in external action, and measure values according to its visible effect; the Carmelite reminds us that contemplation is the “one thing necessary,” and that its effects are not to be measured by even the churchly statistician.  We are strongly influenced by the theories of the psychologist with his insistence on the untrammeled development of personality.  The Carmelite shows us where individual difference is of small account, in the life of the cloister, in liturgical worship.  Even in the domain of religion, we continue to lay exaggerated stress on the individual and his needs.  To the Carmelite a supernatural vocation implies a…

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