May 01, 2008

pánta hósa échei ho patèr emá estin

A powerful masculine identity statement!
The Greek of John 16:15a— “ALL THAT THE FATHER HAS IS MINE.” [That’s one line from the Gospel reading for the Mass of Wednesday of the sixth week of Easter.]
When a child is born, whether male or female, the child is literally dependent on the body of a female, the mother, for life, for nourishment. Even if nourished with a manufactured feeding formula, the formula is a substitute for natural milk from the body of the mother.
However, if the infant is to grow into a healthy human person, he has to acquire a sense of personhood or personal identity that is independent of and distinct from the mother; and this is necessary for both male and female infants.
However, there is a difference.
A female infant can continue to hold onto identification with the mother and the mother’s body in terms of female gender.
While a female infant absolutely must acquire a sense of identity as person separate from the person of her mother, the female infant does not have to “break” with the gender identity of her mother— and it is best that she not do so.
A male infant must acquire BOTH a sense of personhood that is separated (“broken away”) from the personhood of his mother AND a sense of gender identity different from his mother’s; for this last separation, a male infant needs to “latch” onto, or identify with, gender-wise, a male, a father.
In terms of the body, in terms of roles to be played as a human being, in terms of emotionality, a male infant, a male child, needs to recognize, “All that my father has is mine.”
Jesus, in John 16:15a, “All that the Father has is mine,” is not expressing his sense of physical gender identity, so to speak.
Nonetheless, we cannot conclude from his words and his meaning that his identification with God his Father has NO relevance to his sense of human masculinity, maleness.
Jesus overtly uses specifically male titles for himself: Bridegroom; Son.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is a male who is powerfully, absolutely sure of himself, his identity, his origin, his goals, his intentions, his wants, his expectations, his mission.
In John 16:12-15, Jesus powerfully affirms not only his sense of identity as Son of the Father, but also the way in which we can and must identify with Jesus, and thereby identify with the Father.
Unless we identify, as sons, with the Father, we cannot grow as men in Christ. [Women, too, need to identify and grow as daughters of the Father.]
However, while we can naturally identify with human persons, it is quite another thing to identify with God the Son and God the Father.
We cannot bear to do so, and Jesus alludes to that in this passage, revealing, nonetheless a supernatural power— the Spirit of truth— that enables us to be identified with Jesus and the Father.
I have yet many things to say to you,
BUT YOU CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW.
When the Spirit of truth comes,
he will guide you into all the truth;
for he will not speak on his own authority,
but whatever he hears he will speak,
and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me,
for he [THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH] WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE
AND DECLARE IT TO YOU.
ALL THAT THE FATHER HAS IS MINE;
therefore I said that he [the Spirit of truth] will take what is mine
and declare it to you.

Because of the Spirit we can bear to receive all that Jesus has as Son of the Father.
Jesus has all that the Father has.
It is the Spirit, then, that empowers us to be sons and daughters of the Father, even as Jesus is Son of God.
In Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, all that the Father has is mine, and I can bear it.
My (sinful) difficulty is that I am not daring enough, and so I settle for far less.


April 30, 2008

Today the Holy Father says of his recent visit to the U.S.A.,

“I ask all of you to join me in praying that this Visit will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the growth of the faith in America and for the unity and peace of the whole human family.”

“My visit was meant to encourage the Catholic community in America, especially our young people, to bear consistent witness to the faith, and to carry on the Church’s mission, especially with regard to education and concern for the poor.”


Read his brief message about this from his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square today.
Click HERE for it.

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, 2008, my monastery observes the Solemnity of the Ascension on the 40th day of the Resurrection (as in Scripture)

The reasons our bishops gave for transferring it to the Seventh Sunday of Easter don't apply to monks in their monasteries.


For “World Communications Sunday,” The Australian Bishops have posted an online video to promote internet safety

They have also published a pastoral letter for the occasion.

The following article is from Zenit.org, April 28.


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Australian bishops are educating the faithful about the possibilities and dangers of the Internet, and doing so with their own Internet ventures.

A pastoral letter called "Internet Safety" marks World Communications Sunday, celebrated in Australia this Sunday. And the letter has a unique element— a video introduction featuring Bishop Peter Ingham on YouTube.

Bishop Ingham, the Australian bishops conference's delegate for media issues, said the video is a way to get the message out.

"That's where we have to be, if we're going to be talking to people, especially to young people about navigating the Net safely," he said. "If only a few people see this video message and think over the points raised, it will be most worthwhile."

The letter is directed primarily to parents, grandparents and teachers, and includes an initial explanation of what the Internet is. The YouTube video talks directly to young people about safety on the Net.

The letter warns parents about the dangers of the internet, including "stranger danger," a term that refers to the threat of children thinking that they are talking to a friend or peer and giving personal information to would-be aggressors.

The letter also mentions the problems of "cyber-bullying," the same sort of problem kids of all generations have faced, though now with a virtual, rather than physical dimension.

The Australian bishops also stressed the dangers of Internet pornography.

"Figures provided by Nielsen/NetRatings NetView show 2.7 million Australians visited an 'adult' Web site in March of 2007— this figure counts repeat visitors to adult Web sites only once; 4.3 million visited in the first quarter of that year," the letter notes. "More than 35% of all Internet users in the quarter ending March visited an adult Web site at least once."

The danger of pornography affects both youth and adults, the letter lamented.

"A recent online survey of teenage girls run by an Australian teen magazine, found that seven out of 10 of those surveyed had accessed pornography sites by accident and 21% on purpose," the bishops reported.

Discernment

Thus, the prelates affirmed, despite the many positive uses of the Internet, the avalanche of information means that users must be discerning.

"Parents, educators, Church leaders, psychologists and others are increasingly raising concerns about the dangers of the Internet, particularly for young people, but for older people as well," the bishops wrote.

"A generational and technological divide can often mean that parents feel out of their depth when trying to monitor their children's Internet use," the letter acknowledged. "This pastoral letter seeks to address these issues through the context of faith.

"In identifying some of the dangers of the Internet, and bringing some of the wisdom of our faith tradition to bear upon them, it is our hope that we can all be alert to those aspects of the Internet which can be a danger to our safety, to our human dignity, and to our relationships with each other and with God."


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Click on the following to access them on the internet:

Bishop Ingham's YouTube video

Pastoral letter "Internet Safety"


April 27, 2008

Retreats at my monastery and elsewhere

Generally speaking, one who wishes to make a retreat at my monastery calls up and makes the reservation for a room. Such retreatants join us in our prayers and Mass throughout each day, take their meals in the guesthouse, and are free to walk the grounds, read, etc.

Sometimes groups rent our retreat facilities and run their own programs there.

One such group is the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, a secular institute that I wrote about in a blogpost a few days ago. They promote a spirituality movement for laypersons called "Militia Immaculatae" (M.I.). The movement will hold several retreats next year at my monastery, Prince of Peace Abbey, Oceanside, California.

M.I. Married Couples
May 9 to 11
(Yours truly, Fr. Stephanos, will be the speaker for this one.)

M.I. Young Adults
May 23 to 25
However, this retreat is going to be in Montebello, California, not at my monastery.


For more information, contact the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata.
Telephone(626) 917-0040
E-mail: fkmincal[at]aol.com


Fast food, kindness, generosity

Yesterday a carload of us from the monastery drove up to West Covina's St. Christopher Catholic Church to attend a Mass for the 25th Anniversary of the vows of a member of the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata.*

We wore our habits of course.

On the way, we stopped at a fast food restaurant for lunch.

An elderly woman was behind the cash register.

She took our order, then asked where we were from.

"Prince of Peace Abbey."

She responded, "Oh, yes, I know that place."

She rang up our order, and then refused to take our money for it. Her explanation: "You have a guardian angel.


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*I have posted about the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata before.
Click HERE for it.