Thursday, April 27, 2006


I've been posting my favorite excerpts of St. Louis de Montfort as a way to lead up to his Optional Memorial tomorrow. But I may not be able to post tomorrow because I'm leaving tonight to go to Erie, PA for the weekend for a brother-seminarian's Diaconate Ordination. Pray for me that I have safe travels with the guys I'm riding with and most especially pray for Justin Pino, of the Diocese of Erie, PA who will be a new Deacon soon!

St. Stephen Martyr, pray for us!

prayer card

I buddy of mine here at St. Mary's gave me a prayer card he had blessed by the Holy Father while he was in Rome for the Easter Break. Here's what it says:

If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ and you will find true life. Amen.

de Montfort quotes 4

"When Mary holds you up, you do not fall; when she protects you, you need not fear; when she leads you, you do not tire; when she is favorable to you, you arrive at the harbor of safety."
-- St. Louis de Montfort quoting St. Bernard in True Devotion to Mary, p. 111

Some strong words from our holy saint:
"If any critic who reads this shall take it into his head that I speak here exaggeratedly, and with an extravagance of devotion, alas! He does not understand me - either because he is a carnal man who has no relish for spiritual things; or because he is a worldling who cannot receive the Holy Ghost; or because he is proud and critical, condemning and despising whatever he does not understand himself. But the souls which are not born of blood, nor of flesh, nor of the will of man (Jn. 1:13), but of God and Mary, understand me and relish me - and it is for these that I also write."
-- True Devotion to Mary, p. 115

Of Mary's "charitable duty... toward her faithful servants":
"She gives them to eat of the most exquisite meats of the table of God; for she gives them to eat of the bread of life, which she herself has formed" (Sirach [Ecclesiasticus] 24:26)
-- T.D.M., p. 130-131

Of the "wonderful effects of this devotion" is "deliverance from scruples, cares, and fears":
"This Mother of fair love (Sirach[Eccles.] 24:24) will take away from your heart all scruple and all disorder of servile fear... If, unfortunately, you offend Him, you will at once humble yourself before Him. You will ask His pardon with great lowliness, but at the same time you will stretch your hand out to Him with simplicity, and you will raise yourself up lovingly, without trouble and disquietude, and go on your way to Him without discouragement."
-- T.D.M., p. 139

de Montfort (T.D.M., p. 140) quotes St. Bonaventure with the now-famous "I am altogether yours" that I believe is the source of our late Holy Father Pope John Paul the Great's motto: "Totus Tuus." Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong or if you know more accurately the reference. JPII did say this though:

"Totus Tuus. This phrase is not only an expression of piety, or simply an expression of devotion. It is more. During the Second World War, while I was employed as a factory worker, I came to be attracted to Marian devotion. At first, it had seemed to me that I should distance myself a bit from the Marian devotion of my childhood, in order to focus more on Christ. Thanks to Saint Louis of Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption".
-- John Paul II in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Arnoldo Mondadori Editori, 1994

"When we praise her, love her, honor her or give anything to her, it is God who is praised, God who is loved, God who is glorified, and it is to God that we give, through Mary and in Mary."
-- T.D.M., p. 145


Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Haha! I stumbled on the greatest post today! It's from an Irish guy in the U.K. and for some reason I thought it was totally hilarious! I found it because I did a Google search for the phrase "Surrexit Dominus Vere," which, I'm ashamed to say I didn't know how to translate (and you should be too). Well... I could have translated it... but yunno how it is, when you just wanna find something really quick Google is a click away. Sorry Dr. Seaton, I know you taught me better! Anyway, read his post for a good dose of Irish humor!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

de Montfort quotes 3

"She also gives her whole self, and gives it in an unspeakable manner, to him who gives all to her."
-- True Devotion to Mary, p. 91

"If we give to her, we give necessarily to Jesus"
-- True Devotion to Mary, p. 93-94

"If this devotion to our Blessed Lady makes the road to Jesus easier, how is it then that they who follow it are the most despised of men?"
-- T.D.M., p. 97

"We make more progress in a brief period of submission to and dependence on Mary than in whole years of following our own will and of relying upon ourselves"
-- T.D.M., p. 98

"he who wishes to have in himself the operation of the Holy Ghost must have His faithful and inseparable spouse, the divine Mary"
-- T.D.M., p. 105

In speaking of the life of Mother Agnes of Jesus, "a Domincan nun of the convent of Langeac, in Auvergne, who died there in the odor of sanctity in the year 1634," St. Louis de Montfort notes that she taught this devotion to "many persons who made great progress in it - among others, Father Olier, the founder of St. Sulpice, as well as many priests and ecclesiastics of the same seminary." Fr. Olier also founded the Society of St. Sulpice, or the Sulpicians, who run my seminary, St. Mary's in Baltimore, and have since 1791.

And another:
Let me remind you again of the dependence shown by the three divine Persons on our Blessed Lady. Theirs is the example which fully justifies our dependence on her. The Father gave and still gives his Son only through her. He raises children for himself only through her. He dispenses his graces to us only through her. God the Son was prepared for mankind in general by her alone. Mary, in union with the Holy Spirit, still conceives him and brings him forth daily. It is through her alone that the Son distributes his merits and virtues. The Holy Spirit formed Jesus only through her, and he forms the members of the Mystical Body and dispenses his gifts and his favours through her.

With such a compelling example of the three divine Persons before us, we would be extremely perverse to ignore her and not consecrate ourselves to her. Indeed we would be blind if we did not see the need for Mary in approaching God and making our total offering to him
-- T.D.M., p. 89

prayer request

Please pray for a friend of mine back home who is struggling greatly from mental disorders. His name is Tom.

St. Dymphna, pray for us

How our Holy Father discerned his vocation

"Pope's Q&A With Young People (Part 2)
"It Was Not Enough to Love Theology in Order to Be a Good Priest"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2006 ( Here is the second part of the translation of the question-and-answer session Benedict XVI had with young people of the Latium region of Italy
on April 6.

The event, in St. Peter's Square, was in preparation for the diocesan-level World Youth Day. Part 1 appeared Sunday.

* * *
4. Your Holiness, My name is Vittorio, I am from the Parish of St. John Bosco in Cinecittà. I am 20 years old and am studying educational sciences at the University of Tor Vergata.

Once again, in your message you invite us not to be afraid to respond to the Lord with generosity, especially when he suggests following him in the consecrated or priestly life. You tell us that if we are not afraid, if we trust in him, then we will not be deceived.

I am convinced that many of us, here or among those at home who are watching us this evening on television, are thinking of following Jesus in a life of special consecration, but it is not always easy to understand if this is the right path.

Can you tell us how you yourself came to understand your vocation? Can you give us some advice so that we can really understand whether the Lord is calling us to follow him in the consecrated or priestly life? Thank you.

Benedict XVI: As for me, I grew up in a world very different from the world today, but in the end situations are similar.

On the one hand, the situation of "Christianity" still existed, where it was normal to go to church and to accept the faith as the revelation of God, and to try to live in accordance with his revelation; on the other, there was the Nazi regime which loudly stated: "In the new Germany there will be no more priests, there will be no more consecrated life, we do not need these people; look for another career."

However, it was precisely in hearing these "loud" voices, in facing the brutality of that system with an inhuman face, that I realized that there was instead a great need for priests.

This contrast, the sight of that anti-human culture, confirmed my conviction that the Lord, the Gospel and the faith were pointing out the right path, and that we were bound to commit ourselves to ensuring that this path survives. In this situation, my vocation to the priesthood grew with me, almost naturally, without any dramatic events of conversion.

Two other things also helped me on this journey: Already as a boy, helped by my parents and by the parish priest, I had discovered the beauty of the liturgy, and I came to love it more and more because I felt that divine beauty appears in it and that heaven unfolds before us.

The second element was the discovery of the beauty of knowledge, of knowing God and sacred Scripture, thanks to which it is possible to enter into that great adventure of dialogue with God which is theology. Thus, it was a joy to enter into this 1,000-year-old work of theology, this
celebration of the liturgy in which God is with us and celebrates with us.

Of course, problems were not lacking. I wondered if I would really be able to live celibacy all my life. Being a man of theoretical and not practical training, I also knew that it was not enough to love theology in order to be a good priest, but that it was also necessary to be always available to young people, the elderly, the sick and the poor: the need to be simple with the simple.

Theology is beautiful, but the simplicity of words and Christian life is indispensable. And so I asked myself: Will I be able to live all this and not be one-sided, merely a theologian, etc.?

However, the Lord helped me and the company of friends, of good priests and teachers especially helped me.

To return to the question, I think it is important to be attentive to the Lord's gestures on our journey. He speaks to us through events, through people, through encounters: It is necessary to be attentive to all of this.

Then, a second point, it is necessary to enter into real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who Jesus is only from others or from books, but to live an ever deeper personal relationship with Jesus, where we can begin to understand what he is asking of us.

And then, the awareness of what I am, of my possibilities: On the one hand, courage, and on the other, humility, trust and openness, with the help also of friends, of Church authority and also of priests, of families: What does the Lord want of me?

Of course, this is always a great adventure, but life can be successful only if we have the courage to be adventurous, trusting that the Lord will never leave me alone, that the Lord will go with me and help me.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

de Montfort quotes 2

"For she is not like other creatures who, if we should attach ourselves to them, might rather draw us away from God than draw us near him."
-- True Devotion to Mary, p. 46

"It is more perfect, because it is more humble, not to approach God of ourselves without taking a mediator."
-- True Devotion to Mary, p. 51

"A true client of Mary does not serve that august Queen from a spirit of lucre and interest, nor for his own good, whether temporal or eternal, corporal or spiritual, but exclusively because she deserves to be served, and God alone in her. He does not love Mary just because she obtains favors for him, or because he hopes she will, but solely because she is so worthy of love."
-- T.D.M., p. 67

"Now, Mary being the most comformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus."
-- T.D.M., p. 77

"We consecrate ourselves at one and the same time to the most holy Virgin and to Jesus Christ; to the most holy Virgin as to the perfect means which Jesus Christ has chosen whereby to unite Himself to us, and us to Him; and to Our Lord as to our Last End, to whom, as our Redeemer and our God, we owe all we are."
-- T.D.M., p. 80

de Montfort quotes 1

"The world was unworthy, says St. Augustine, to receive the Son of God directly from the Father's hands. He gave Him to Mary in order that the world might receive Him through her."
-- True Devotion to Mary, p. 12

"... the Holy Ghost, the more He finds Mary, His dear and inseparable spouse, in any soul, the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul, and that soul in Jesus Christ."
-- True Devotion to Mary, p. 14

"He who has not Mary for his Mother has not God for his Father"
-- T.D.M., p. 18

"Jesus Christ our Saviour, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our other devotions, else they are false and delusive."
-- T.D.M., p. 37

"If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ."
-- T.D.M., p. 38

And the humdinger:
In view of this, my dear Master, is it not astonishing and pitiful to see the ignorance and short-sightedness of men with regard to your holy Mother? I am not speaking so much of idolaters and pagans who do not know you and consequently have no knowledge of her. I am not even speaking of heretics and schismatics who have left you and your holy Church and therefore are not interested in your holy Mother. I am speaking of Catholics, and even of educated Catholics, who profess to teach the faith to others but do not know you or your Mother except speculatively, in a dry, cold and sterile way.

These people seldom speak of your Mother or devotion to her. They say they are afraid that devotion to her will be abused and that you will be offended by excessive honour paid to her. They protest loudly when they see or hear a devout servant of Mary speak frequently with feeling, conviction and vigour of devotion to her. When he speaks of devotion to her as a sure means of finding and loving you without fear or illusion, or when he says this devotion is a short road free from danger, or an immaculate way free from imperfection, or a wondrous secret of finding you, they put before him a thousand specious reasons to show him how wrong he is to speak so much of Mary. There are, they say, great abuses in this devotion which we should try to stamp out and we should refer people to you rather than exhort them to have devotion to your Mother, whom they already love adequately.

If they are sometimes heard speaking of devotion to your Mother, it is not for the purpose of promoting it or convincing people of it but only to destroy the abuses made of it. Yet all the while these persons are devoid of piety or genuine devotion to you, for they have no devotion to Mary. They consider the Rosary and the Scapular as devotions suitable only for simple women or ignorant people. After all, they say, we do not need them to be saved. If they come across one who loves our Lady, who says the rosary or shows any devotion towards her, they soon move him to a change of mind and heart. They advise him to say the seven penitential psalms instead of the Rosary, and to show devotion to Jesus instead of to Mary.

Dear Jesus, do these people possess your spirit? Do they please you by acting in this way? Would it please you if we were to make no effort to give pleasure to your Mother because we are afraid of offending you? Does devotion to your holy Mother hinder devotion to you? Does Mary keep for herself any honour we pay her? Is she a rival of yours? Is she a stranger having no kinship with you? Does pleasing her imply displeasing you? Does the gift of oneself to her constitute a deprivation for you? Is love for her a lessening of our love for you?

Nevertheless, my dear Master, the majority of learned scholars could not be further from devotion to your Mother, or show more indifference to it even if all I have just said were true. Keep me from their way of thinking and acting and let me share your feelings of gratitude, esteem, respect and love for your holy Mother. I can then love and glorify you all the more, because I will be imitating and following you more closely.

As though I had said nothing so far to further her honour, grant me now the grace to praise her more worthily, in spite of all her enemies who are also yours. I can then say to them boldly with the saints, "Let no one presume to expect mercy from God, who offends his holy Mother."
-- T.D.M., p. 39-41

Easter and on

Easter was a little awkward this year... sometimes my prayer life gets nudged off its fragile balance when I leave seminary for a while... so it didn't feel the same... but no matter, that doesn't negate the awesome fact of our Lord's Passion, Death, & Resurrection - all to draw our broken hearts into his Most Sacred Heart.

I do remember waking up early Easter morning, glancing at my watch, and thinking, "ah, thank God, its Easter... *deep breath*

Now I'm looking foward to this Friday, the Optional Memorial of St. Louis de Montfort. As you all know, he is the great Marian Saint and instructor of the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. One of the first things I did when I got to seminary (along with my d.b.) was prepare for and accomplish this Consecration. When I knelt at the same pew as our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul the Great, in our beautiful chapel here at St. Mary's and received a blessing from one of our deacons, I handed my formation over to our most Blessed Mother. I told her I couldn't do this without her help and intercession.

To prepare for the preparation (!) for the Consecration, I read The Secret of the Rosary and then True Devotion to Mary, both by St. Louis de Montfort. Each day up to and including the Optional Memorial I'll post two or three quotes from True Devotion that particularly touched me as I was reading.

Sedes Sapientiae, ora pro nobis!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

on God or the girl

I've been watching God or the Girl and there were numerous times when I thought "Man, I can't believe I'm NOT watching EWTN!" This is an excellent show! It is a little overly dramatic. They aren't considering that seminary is discernment as well, it's like they gotta decide on the priesthood TOMORROW. Knowing that most approach the first two years of seminary as further discernment really helped me make my decision to enter. It almost seems like the producers of the show are the ones setting the deadline! Also, at one point... I think Joe's his name (?)... the 28 year old, blonde guy, said he was attracted to the priesthood because people put you on a pedastal. This is attractive, like he said, but it's not the purest motivation... but at the same time, we all have impure motives at first, then they get purified as we move thru seminary. Overall, I think it's a great show! I like the curly-haired guy's story the best - the guy that carried a cross 20+ miles to help him discern. Sweet!

Other thoughts: I gotta admit this show made me a little anxious! It brought back all the thoughts and worries I had when I was discerning! But it was good because one of the guys would have an insight on something and I'm thinking "yeah man, I thought that too!" and I found myself cheering them on! hehe It's been good. It's reminded me of the insights I came too that helped me decide to take the plunge. I've pre-ordered the series on DVD from the show's website. I hope to watch them again and then blog the insights that I shared with the guys so that I don't forget 'em.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

toward a more natural science

Here is my fourth paper this semester: "Kass on Descartes and toward a More Natural Science"

It seems that in no other field has man made more progress than in modern science.[1] The species he has chronicled, the heights he has scaled, the diseases he has conquered, the lives he has saved all work together to paint a triumphant and heroic picture of modern science. But like all things in which man has invested such a large part of his time and energy, it has its critics. For example, Dr. Leon R. Kass, M.D., former chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, writes, “The teachings of science, however gratifying as discoveries to the mind, throw icy waters on the human spirit.”[2] But, how can he possibly say this? With all the aforementioned progress, should we not assume that the human spirit has been lifted higher than ever before? Modern science is all around us; we’ve all either played major parts in it or have been affected by it in many ways. Because of this, Kass’ critique can seem absurd. But, much to our surprise, if we take a closer look at modern science, if we peek behind the veil, with Kass as our guide, we find much with which to call its progress into doubt.

In his major work on the philosophy and meaning of modern science and its view of and affect on humanity, Toward a More Natural Science, Kass gives us a very eye-opening look indeed. He shows us that during most of our modern experience of science, we have viewed the world and ourselves through squinted eyes. And he shows us that we can engage in a science that more rightly approaches nature[3] and man by properly analyzing the intentions of its architects, Francis Bacon and René Descartes. In this essay we will focus on the contributions of the latter of the two.

First, what does Kass mean when he says that science has thrown “icy waters on the human spirit?” What do Descartes’ contributions to modern science have to do with the human spirit in the first place? Aren’t the two distinct and unrelated, the former being unconcerned with the latter? But, as we will see, modern science has much to do with the human spirit. In the name of progress and the mastery of nature, modern science has made a concerted effort to bring all human aspiration, longing, and hope into doubt and, ultimately, oblivion.

For example, Descartes begins his Discourse on Method by stating that of the “various actions and enterprises of all men, there is hardly one of them that does not seem to me vain and useless.”[4] This is a telling comment on man’s ability and achievement. On the other hand, he believes man has been given too much credit by the classical traditions of Socrates, Aristotle, Aquinas, and the like. Descartes wants to lower man from the peaks of classical philosophy, theology, and morals so that he can build him up again his way, through a novel, methodical science of mathematical physics[5]. The awe and wonder that were the foundation and beginning of philosophy and wisdom for the ancient philosophers – and which still animate man today – are simply explained away in terms of “stimulus and response, of input and output, and neurotransmitters and end-plate potentials, and… [relegated to oblivion are] human inwardness, purposiveness, and consciousness.”[6] So much for our icy water.[7]

But what is this science of mathematical physics? It can be looked at as a theoretical attitude and as a practical enterprise.[8] But first a definition is necessary. Descartes explained it this way:

So soon as I had acquired some general notions concerning Physics… they caused me to see that it is possible to attain knowledge which is very useful in life, and that, instead of that speculative philosophy which is taught in the Schools, we may find a practical philosophy by means of which, knowing the force and the action of fire, water, air, the stars, heaven and all the other bodies that environ us, as distinctly as we know the different crafts of our artisans, we can in the same way employ them in all those uses to which they are adapted, and thus render ourselves the masters and possessors of nature.[9]
Descartes’ 17th-century vision for science is today its primary goal. Therefore, Kass explains that modern science:[10]
* Is opposed to ordinary experience and to speculative philosophy;
* “Redefined what it means to know something, in terms of the standards of certainty and clarity possessed by symbolic mathematics and through the rigorous application of a universal method”;
* Is “neutral to the large human and metaphysical questions that dominated ancient philosophy and which human beings still ask and will always ask” and
* Studies man’s political and moral life scientifically “not the way it is lived, but abstractly and amorally, like a mere physical phenomenon.”
This theoretical attitude is clearly seen in a few real-world examples, the first one concerning the human mind.

One of the more disturbing developments on the horizon of modern science is its attempt to construct a “peace of mind” that before was accomplished by old fashioned discipline and experience.[11] Kass tells us of the experiments of neurophysiologist Jose Delgado to place electrodes on certain areas of the brain in order to stimulate feelings of pleasure in the patient. He was even able to outfit the patent with a portable device – leaving the electrodes implanted – that she could then use to stimulate the feelings of pleasure herself. No longer tied to the doctor’s lab, and cleverly concealing the wires of the contraption, Dr. Delgado’s subject could now freely experience pleasure at her every whim. So much for experience.

A second example broadens our scope a bit, from science in the interest of peace of mind to science in the public interest and the mastery and possession of life itself. But as we said before, modern science is neutral to the ultimate questions, those of “meaning, being, ultimate causes, the eternity or noneternity of the world, justice and injustice, the good, the true, and the beautiful.”[12] So how can it possibly speak for what is in the public’s best interest? This neutrality, rather than liberating modern science, has actually enslaved it in standardless, limitless experimentation. In one particular case of misguided zeal for the public interest, “On June 16, 1980, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a living microorganism was patentable matter, under the provision of patent laws enacted by Congress in 1952.”[13] Here microbiologist Ananda Chakrabarty was given a patent on bacteria that he produced in a lab to breakdown oil spills. This has profound implications and tells us many things about modern science’s view of life:[14]
* It is no longer concerned with what living things are but how they work;
* Knowledge of life is not a good in itself but a means to some sort of power;
* “A living organism is no more than a composition of matter”;
* “All forms are but accidents of underlying matter: Matter is what truly is”;
* All of living nature, our own included, is absent of any special dignity; and
* “There is nothing in the nature of a being, no, not even in the human patenter himself, that makes him immune to being patented”

Returning to Chakrabarty’s new bacteria, we are justified in feeling a certain uneasiness, to say the least, at the concept of human ownership of an entire species. Kass, making this even clearer, warns us that “It is one thing to own a mule; it is another to own mule”! And he asks an important question: “What is the principled limit to this beginning extension of the domain of private ownership and dominion over living nature?” It seems to be nowhere in sight, but Kass gives us a brilliant piece of advice:

[T]o respect art [of science] without respect for life is finally self-contradictory. For human art depends on the human artificer, whose inventive mind depends on his living body, not only to sustain it that he might practice its cleverness, but also because the ends of his artfulness emerge from the inner needs and aspirations of his embodied life.
And at the end of the day, as much as Mr. Chakrabarty and the Supreme Court believe he has created this new living organism from his own power and creativity, let them and modern science in general be reminded that “nature is commanded only as she is obeyed.”
[15] Chakrabarty put the necessary conditions in place, but ultimately it was Nature who was in control.

Our final example returns to the human person and his encounter with modern medicine. Kass explains that like our laboratory science, medicinal science lacks the character it needs to give it necessary guidance and purpose. Indeed, the motivation of the physician’s art, rather than lying in the healthy human being, is in several false goals:[16]
* Happiness, pleasure, and contentment or convenience rather than health;
* The redefinition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being”;
* Social adjustment and obedience or civil and moral virtue;
* The alteration of human nature;
* Research not for the immediate benefit on and for the patient but rather in a way that uses him as a means to a scientific end;[18] and finally
* The prolongation of life or the prevention of death rather than health, per se

A look at the word “health” itself can help us stay focused on its true meaning and the proper goal of medicine: the healthy human being. “Health” literally means “wholeness” and so “to be whole is to be healthy, and to be healthy is to be whole.” Ancient Greek has two words for “health:” hygieia [“hygiene”], meaning “living well” or “a well way of living;” and euexia, meaning “well-habited-ness” or “good habit of body.” This reminds us of Aristotle’s treatment of virtue. “Just as courage is the cause of courageous action and hence also of courage, so ‘living well’ is health, is the cause of health, and is caused by health.”[20] And speaking of virtue in turn reminds us of the soul, the oft-forgotten harbinger of health and wholeness. Socrates criticizes this forgetfulness in the Platonic dialogue Charmides: “just as one must not attempt to curve the eyes without the head or the head without the body, so neither the body without the soul.”[21]

In the three examples above, we have seen how Descartes’ vision has had a strong influence on modern science. To clarify, it would be incorrect to equate 17th century thought and science with our modern science today; many later modern thinkers have deepened and furthered Descartes. But, one cannot deny the key role he played in establishing the present motivations and goals of modern science. On the other hand, Kass has been one of many key figures that have gotten us out from under and away from these modern formulations and that have been thoughtful of a new post-modern science.[22] He advises that, first and foremost, we must “awaken the sense of awe and wonder, itself more human than even the desire for mastery.”[23] And “we must ponder the full range of questions raised by the relation between knowledge and human life, or between science and the broader community.”[24] Finally, “If we are sober in our practice and mindful in our thought, it is given to us human beings to learn our place in the natural whole and to discover something of its distinctive beauty and mysterious ground.”[25]

[1] Notice I say, “It seems.” We will discover reason to doubt if we have made true progress after taking a closer look at modern science here.
[2] All quotes from Kass are from Toward More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs, by Leon R. Kass, M.D., The Free Press, ©1985 – hereafter referred to as “Kass”. Here: Kass, p. 6
[3] A science that more rightly approaches nature is the “more natural science” that Kass argues we need to return to. And he states: “ ‘Natural’ and ‘more natural’ mean here only ‘true (or truer) to life as found and lived’ ” – Kass, p. xii
[4] All quotes from Descartes are from Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, translated by Donald A. Cress, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., ©1998 – hereafter referred to as “Descartes”. Here: Descartes, p. 2
[5] From notes given by Dr. Paul Seaton, History of Philosophy II, 1-27-06
[6] Kass, p. 6
[7] Sorry, I couldn’t resist (cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, II-5, para. 10.)
[8] Comment on draft by Dr. Paul Seaton
[9] Kass, p. 130-131 quoting Descartes, p. 34-35.
[10] Kass, p. 5
[11] Descartes expresses this desire as well, noting “the tranquility I esteem above all things” and the “perfect peace of mind I am seeking” in the context of a discussion on if he should go public with his new method of mathematical physics. Descartes, p. 42
Note: Our Holy Father is aware of this: “If it is true…that in the 19th and 20th centuries, technology has gone through an amazing growth, at the beginning of the 21st century further steps have been taken: Technological development has taken over, thanks to information technology, even a part of our mental activities, with knowledge that affects our way of thinking and can condition our freedom itself.” –
Zenit April 4, 2006
[12] Kass, p. 5
[13] p. 128
[14] p. 149-150
[15] All quotes in this paragraph, p. 151-152
[16] p. 160-162
[17] “New biomedical techniques provide vastly greater powers to alter directly and deliberately the bodies and minds of human beings, as well as many of the naturally given boundaries of human life… [T]he possible and likely uses [of these powers] extend beyond the traditional medical goals of healing; they promise – or threaten – to encompass… ultimately, perhaps, new human beings and ways of being human.” – Kass, p. 1-2
“For the mind depends so much on the temperament and disposition of the bodily organs that, if it is possible to find a means of rendering men wiser and cleverer than they have hitherto been, I believe that it is in medicine that it must be sought.” – Kass, p. 130-131 quoting Descartes, p. 35.
[18] Again, Our Holy Father: In this context, "it is necessary to say forcefully that the human being cannot and must not be sacrificed ever for the sake of science and technology," the Holy Father stressed. "This is the reason why," he added, "the issue is so important of the so-called anthropological question which for us, heirs of the humanistic tradition founded on Christian values, must be addressed in the light of principles that inspired our civilization." – Zenit April 4, 2006
[19] “To be alive and to be healthy are not the same, though the first is both a condition of the second and, up to a point, a consequence… If medicine takes aim at death prevention, rather than at health, then the medical ideal, ever more closely to be approximated, must be bodily immortality.” – Kass, p. 162
“No other area of present biomedical research promises such profound alterations of our way of life, not to say of our condition.” – p. 300
[20] p. 170
[21] Plato, Charmides, 156d-157a
[22] Just as Aristotle, always our example, can help us “get out from under Kant and away from his formulations of moral terms and alternatives.” – The God of Faith and Reason: Foundations of Christian Theology by Robert Sokolowski, ©1995 The Catholic University of America Press, Ch. 6, p. 54-55
[23] Kass, p. xii
[24] p. 8
[25] p. 153

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

For Holy Thursday, yesterday, and Good Friday, today, I'm helping out Fr. David Naylor because he invited me to stay with him a while ago, during my Easter break. I'm excited about M.C.'ing the service (Good Friday is the one day of the year where there is not a Mass) tonight. Look for pictures of his newly-renovated parish soon. It's one of the most beautiful Vatican II parishes I've seen in the Archdiocese of Louisville!

St. Mary's Diaconate April 06

Here is a photo album I put together for the April 2006 Diaconate Ceremony celebrated at St. Mary's. Please pray for these two new Deacons and seminary brothers of mine from the Diocese of Syracuse, NY! Michael Galuppi and Gregory Kreinheder

St. Stephen, first Deacon, and first martyr, pray for us!

thoughts on the first year of blogging

As promised, here are my thoughts on the first year of blogging:

A friend of mine got me started blogging, a year ago, and I was embarrassed to not have one already! I was at the climax of my discernment (at least my discernment of seminary) and thought it would be a good idea to blog my thoughts during the application process. I thought it would be good to be able to look back, down the road, and see if/where I've grown and changed.

Hehe, I remember vividly the whole process! It seemed like so much and I was very anxious! Work was increasingly unfulfilling and I was miserable at my job. Well, to be clear, the job itself was awesome: awesome people, awesome pay, awesome company, good family values, high-paced, high-tech, high-rise! But I just couldn't do it anymore and I was thinking more and more of the priesthood. This blog has been great for getting my thoughts off my chest and it's also been a good place to store all the neat little prayers and other finds I've come across over the year... things that have inspired and motivated me. Now I can always have them to look back on. I also hope that this has been a good means for all of you, friends, and family to keep up with how I'm doing. Lastly, I hope that this has encouraged others to prayerfully discern God's call for their life as well.

Some memorable posts, in chronological order:! It's been a very eventful and exciting year! It's been very hard too... but as I told some seventh graders recently: It should be. Becoming a holy and learned priest should be through hard work. But I've struggled alot over this past year with procrastination and doubts. But our Blessed Lord won't let me stop thinking about the priesthood and throughout it all, and despite myself, he's been sending me little affirmations here and there that have helped me persevere. And that's what I'm trying to focus on during this second year of blogging: Praying, in times of trial, not for consolation or favors, but simply for perseverence to endure the trials and downtimes of discernment that Our Lord desires that I go through, according to his most Loving and Holy Will. Jesus, I trust in you.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

God or the girl

"God or the Girl": Vocational Struggles on TV
Interview With Father Brian Bashista

ARLINGTON, Virginia, APRIL 13, 2006 ( Four young men struggling with discerning their vocation to the priesthood give a glimpse into their real-life journey on national television in a five-part series starting this Easter Sunday.

The series, "God or the Girl," captures the tension and triumph of Joe, Mike, Steve and Dan, four men in their 20s who are at a crossroads in their lives. Over the course of this series they decide whether or not to enroll in the seminary.

The series on A&E Television includes one of the mentors, Father Brian Bashista, vocations director for the Diocese of Arlington. The diocese has 24 seminarians studying for the priesthood.

Father Bashista shared with ZENIT his impressions of the A&E series and the state of vocational discernment in the United States.

Q: What is the main purpose of this series on vocational discernment?
Father Bashista: I do not believe the producers claimed to have created a show specifically on vocation discernment.

As I understand, they were just trying to present the real-life struggles of four young men who are considering the very important life decision of whether or not they are being called to the priesthood, and to share these struggles with a wide and -- as the producers discovered -- a very curious secular audience.

The series does, however, provide good examples of individuals who are being faithful to their responsibility to seriously discern their God-given vocation, and gives a very frank presentation of the various aspects of discernment.

From my perspective, as a vocation director, the producers did an incredible job of capturing a snapshot into the reality of this discernment with all of its twists and turns, ups and downs, highlights and lowlights.

Q: What are the most common struggles that young men have today in discerning their vocation to the priesthood or marriage?
Father Bashista: In general, many of our youth have not built the habit of prayer through which the Lord disposes them to hear and respond to his vocation invitation.

Most just "happen" into the married life without being sincerely open to the possibility that
Christ might be inviting them to follow him as a priest or consecrated religious. Without prayer, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to receive the grace one needs to realize and embrace their vocation with trusting faith and reasonable conviction.

The struggles of young people discerning their vocation are illustrated best in Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed. Sometimes the call falls on souls who are hurrying about on the path of a busy world. The apprehension of making a lifelong commitment coupled with a fear of losing one's independence means the call goes unheeded and is thus trampled underfoot.

Some souls are more open to the call, but are like the rocky ground. They sense the initial call,
but the unrealistic expectation of immediate clarity or a "sure sign" that this is God's will means that the call is never really nurtured either by themselves or, more often than not, by friends and family, particularly parents.

The call also falls among souls enmeshed in the thorny dangers of the riches and inordinate pleasures of life. They fail to cherish the call by reforming their lives in harmony with the Gospel, or in fully appreciating the great gift of chaste living, whether as a celibate priest or as a married man. Therefore, the call is choked and eventually dies.

But others are like the good and fertile soil. They are souls who are prepared to properly receive the Lord's call through the watering of prayer, the tilling of hard work, the warmth of their humble generosity, and the light of their sacrificial lives.

These souls welcome the possibility of whatever vocation the Lord may be calling them to. They are thus able to follow his voice by either entering the seminary for further discernment or to seek confirmation of their vocation elsewhere, perhaps on the road to marriage.

Q: What advice would you give to young men in the midst of this struggle?
Father Bashista: I would advise them to focus on these virtues of prayer, hard work, generosity and sacrifice.

They provide the active, practical means of countering the temptations against the Lord's call,
especially the false humility of a sense of unworthiness, the difficulty of choosing and living celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, and the need for objective certitude before answering
the call.

"Fear is useless, what is needed is trust," says the Lord. And that is especially true in vocation discernment.

Q: Do you think that this television program will help those who are struggling with their vocation and also help those who don't understand what a vocation to the priesthood is about?
Father Bashista: Absolutely. This series shows how these four faithful Catholic men grapple with their strengths and weaknesses in responding to the Lord.

Their sincerity is contagious and will be a source of insight, challenge and encouragement to those who watch.

The pastoral, priestly example of the missionary, Father Jorge, will go a long way in clarifying the essence of priesthood as a life of loving, sacrificial service for others.

In a wider context -- and contrary to popular opinion -- the series will also reveal to its viewers what many in the Church have already know for years, namely, that numerous outgoing, affable, balanced and intelligent young men are seriously considering a call to serve Christ and his Church as a future Roman Catholic priest.

As we see in these four men, many others like them are well on their way to become highly successful in the eyes of the world … but are willing to give up everything for a life which points to a reality beyond this world.

Despite what their friends, family, classmates or co-workers might think, they are willing to
seriously explore this road less traveled.

Despite their mixed motives and normative questions, fears and doubts, they will be admired for their courage and faithful witness in taking serious note of the Lord's invitation to "Come follow me" … and will no doubt inspire others to do the same.

Q: What do you think is the current situation of priestly vocations in the United States today?
Father Bashista: It is a new springtime of hope for priestly vocations.

I believe that we are experiencing a time of purification which will produce the lasting fruit
of strong, courageous responses on the part of those men Christ is calling to tend "his flock."

His people are hungry for holiness and truth. Through persevering prayer, that hunger will
indeed be satisfied by faithful, sacramental and pastoral care on the part of future priests and consecrated religious.

A close priest friend of mine commented after viewing this series that "We are indeed entering into exciting times if men like these are the future husbands, fathers and priests of the Church."

Q: How can we help young people to consider the priesthood and to discern wisely?
Father Bashista: Families must pray for and encourage their children's vocation responses. They must begin to give their children the tools with which to uncover each child's unique vocation.

Parishes must pray for and support vocations from the young people in their midst.

Priests, religious and educators must be attentive to the qualities of the youth to whom they minister and invite those who seem to have the disposition and qualities of a potential priest to consider a vocation to the priesthood.

If young people see that we, as a Church, value and esteem all vocations and the importance of their individual discernment, they will themselves give it the attention and prayerful consideration necessary for its discovery.

I also believe that faithfully living of our own vocation will go a long way in helping others to discover, fully embrace and faithfully live their vocation as well.

day of prayer for vocations

Message for 43rd Day of Prayer for Vocations
"Weaknesses and Human Limits Do Not Present Obstacles …"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2006 ( Here is the full text of Benedict XVI's message for the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be observed May 7.

* * *

Vocation in the Mystery of the Church

Venerable Brethren in the Episcopate,
Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

The celebration of the coming World Day of Prayer for Vocations gives me the opportunity to invite the entire People of God to meditate the theme Vocation in the mystery of the Church. The Apostle Paul writes: "Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ... even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world ... He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3-5). Before the creation of the world, before our coming into existence, the heavenly Father chose us personally, calling us to enter a filial relationship with Him, through Jesus, the Incarnate Word, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Dying for us, Jesus introduced us into the mystery of the Father's love, a love which completely embraces his Son and which He offers to all of us. In this way, united with Jesus, the Head, we form a sole body, the Church.

The weight of two millennia of history makes it difficult to grasp the novelty of this wonderful mystery of divine adoption, which is at the center of St. Paul's teaching. The Father, as the Apostle reminds us, "has made known to us the mystery of his will ..., as a plan to unite all things in him" (Ephesians 1:9-10). And he adds, with enthusiasm: "In everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:28-29).

The concept is indeed wonderful: We are called to live as brothers and sisters of Jesus, to feel that we are sons and daughters of the same Father. This is a gift that overturns every merely human idea and plan. The confession of the true faith opens wide our minds and hearts to the inexhaustible mystery of God, which permeates human existence. What should be said therefore of the temptation, which is very strong nowadays, to feel that we are self-sufficient to the point that we close ourselves to the mysterious plan of God for us? It is the love of the Father, which is revealed in the person of Christ, which puts this question to us.

In order to answer the call of God and start on our journey, it is not necessary to be already perfect. We know that the awareness of his own sin allowed the prodigal son to start on his return journey and thus feel the joy of reconciliation with the Father. Weaknesses and human limits do not present obstacles, as long as they help us to make us more aware of the fact that we need the redeeming grace of Christ. This is the experience of St. Paul who confessed: "I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). In the mystery of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, the divine power of love changes the heart of man, making him able to communicate the love of God to his brethren. Down the centuries many men and women, transformed by divine love, have consecrated their own existences to the cause of the Kingdom.

Already on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, many allowed themselves to be conquered by Jesus: They were in search of healing in body or spirit, and they were touched by the power of his grace. Others were chosen personally by Him and became his apostles. We also find persons, like Mary Magdalene and other women, who followed him on their own initiative, simply out of love. Like the disciple John, they too found a special place in his heart. These men and women, who, through Jesus, knew the mystery of the love of the Father, represent the variety of vocations which have always been present in the Church. The model of one who is called to give witness in a particular manner to the love of God, is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who, in her pilgrimage of faith, is directly associated with the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption.

In Christ, the Head of the Church, which is his Body, all Christians form "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him" (1 Peter 2:9). The Church is holy, even if her members need to be purified, in order that holiness, which is a gift of God, can shine in them with its full splendor. The Second Vatican Council highlights the universal call to holiness, when it affirms: "The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to his own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the Baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way, they are really made holy" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 40).

Within the framework of this universal call, Christ, the High Priest, in his solicitude for the Church, then calls, in every generation, persons who are to take care of his people; in particular, he calls to the ministerial priesthood men who are to exercise a fatherly role, whose source is the very fatherhood of God (cf. Ephesians 3:14). The mission of the priest in the Church cannot be substituted. Therefore, even if in some regions there is a scarcity of clergy, it should never be doubted that Christ continues to raise up men who, like the Apostles, leaving behind all other work, dedicate themselves completely to the celebration of the sacred mysteries, to the preaching of the Gospel and to the pastoral ministry.

In the apostolic exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis," my venerated Predecessor John Paul II wrote in this regard: "The relation of the priest to Jesus Christ, and in him to his Church, is found in the very being of the priest by virtue of his sacramental consecration/anointing and in his activity, that is, in his mission or ministry. In particular, 'the priest minister is the servant of Christ present in the Church as mystery, communion and mission. In virtue of his participation in the "anointing" and "mission" of Christ, the priest can continue Christ's prayer, word, sacrifice and salvific action in the Church. In this way, the priest is a servant of the Church as mystery because he actuates the Church's sacramental signs of the presence of the risen Christ'" (No. 16).

Another special vocation, which occupies a place of honor in the Church, is the call to the consecrated life. Following the example of Mary of Bethany who "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching" (Luke 10:39), many men and women consecrate themselves to a total and exclusive following of Christ. Although they offer different kinds of services in the field of human formation and the care of the poor, in teaching or in assisting the sick, they do not consider these activities as the principal aim of their life, since, as the Code of Canon Law well underlines, "The first and foremost duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer" (Canon 663 §1).

Moreover, in the apostolic exhortation "Vita Consecrata" John Paul II noted: "In the Church's tradition religious profession is considered to be a special and fruitful deepening of the consecration received in Baptism, inasmuch as it is the means by which the close union with Christ already begun in Baptism develops in the gift of a fuller, more explicit and authentic configuration to him through the profession of the evangelical counsels" (No. 30).

Remembering the counsel of Jesus: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:37), we acknowledge the great need to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. It is not surprising that, where people pray fervently, vocations blossom. The holiness of the Church depends essentially on union with Christ and on being open to the mystery of grace that operates in the heart of the Christians.

Therefore, I should like to invite all the faithful to nurture an intimate relationship with Christ, the Teacher and Pastor of his people, imitating Mary who kept the divine mysteries in her heart and meditated them diligently (cf. Luke 2:19). Together with her, who occupies a central position in the mystery of the Church, we pray:

O Father, raise up among Christians
numerous and holy vocations to the priesthood, to keep the faith alive and guard the gracious memory of your Son Jesus through the preaching of his word and the administration of the Sacraments, with which you continually renew your faithful.

Give us holy ministers of your altar,
who are careful and fervent guardians of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the supreme gift of Christ for the redemption of the world.

Call ministers of your mercy,
who, through the sacrament of Reconciliation, spread the joy of your forgiveness.
Grant, O Father, that the Church may welcome with joy numerous inspirations of the Spirit of your Son and, docile to His teachings, may she care for vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life.

Sustain the Bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, and all the baptized in Christ, so that they may faithfully fulfill their mission at the service of the Gospel.
This we pray You through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.

From the Vatican, March 5, 2006

Benedict XVI

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Saturday, April 08, 2006

prayer request

Please pray for me as my PT class and the 1T class go on our Spring Retreat together. It's from Saturday to Wednesday. Please pray that God might grant me perseverence and purity of mind and heart so that I might grow in holiness as a seminarian and model more closely the virtues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Friday, April 07, 2006


It's been a while since I've posted so I thought I'd check in. I've been very busy with papers and other stuff so it's been impossible to post.

I told you I'd give a review of the Baltimore Pro-Life Conference but it may be too late for that - to make a long story short, it was good :)

I also said I'd share my thoughts on the last year of blogging - I haven't scratched that idea yet.

There was a Diaconate Ordination here at St. Mary's last weekend that was beautiful to say the least. I took some great pictures that I hope to share here too.

And some good news: I finally did my "Kass on Descartes" paper! Look for that soon... I know you'll be waiting with bated breath ;) Does anyone read my papers?

Finally, this weekend the PT and 1T classes are going on a retreat till Wednesday and then I'll be off on Easter break till April 22! I'm not sure how much I'll be able to post over the break but look for some pics of these too.

C-Ya! Gotta finish another paper, this time on "Sokolowski's Treatment of Aquinas on Being and Essence"... Good stuff!