Thoughts on the Synod for the Amazon

[T]here has sprung up a disturbing indifference to truth, and a tendency to regard the useful as the true, and the impractical as the false. The man who can make up his mind when proofs are presented to him is looked upon as a bigot, and the man who ignores proofs and the search for truth is looked upon as broadminded and tolerant.  —Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Taking a cue from my pastor, it occurred to me on today’s Solemnity of Christ the King to offer an account of some facts concerning the Synod on the Amazon. The media coverage that reached me was overwhelmingly negative even before the synod began. At the very least, this reflects bias in my sources. However, a fact is just that; these days even someone so far removed as myself from the workings in Rome can verify facts with relative ease and a high degree of certainty. While some good has undoubtedly come from the synod already and will continue, I only offer this very abbreviated list of demerits from among those reported.

Like previous synods held under the current pontificate, the legitimacy of the Amazon synod is a subject of much debate. One reason for this is the question of whether or not a mere synod—or even the pope of his own initiative—has authority to sanction some novel departure from the Church’s teaching on matters central to the faith, as implied by the synods’ working documents. No less important is the roster of invitees and contributors to the synod. By one count, the official list of participants includes just three men (out of hundreds) who have identified as favouring Church doctrine against the predilections of those orbiting Pope Francis. Nowhere near to being representative, this is called cherry-picking or stacking the deck. (What is legitimate about inviting your friends to a meeting to agree about something you decided beforehand?) While difficult to spot orthodox or conservatives on the list of synod officials, they didn’t forget to include prominent atheists, abortion advocates, globalists, climate experts, and notorious champions of liberation theology.

The synod is being led by a good friend of Pope Francis, Cardinal Hummes, who is the president of REPAM (Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network), a group conceived shortly after Francis’ election. Already in 2014, Francis was named one of the main promoters of REPAM and coined the phrase “church with an Amazon face”. REPAM organised the Amazon Synod and their experts wrote both its preparatory and working documents. Several media outlets have asked why REPAM and allied Brazilian groups operating the synod accepted millions in funding from the Ford Foundation, the Rainforest Foundation, and the government of Norway. (What return on their investment—ostensibly serving Catholics in the Amazon—did these secular groups expect under the watch of Pope Francis? Was it related to evangelisation… or perhaps to ecology and human development?)

This Friday, the Pope addressed the synod to announce the recovery of what he called “Pachamama statues” from the Tiber. (They had been removed from a side altar at a Carmelite church near Vatican City a few days prior and thrown into the Tiber.) He said they had been on display “without idolatrous intention”. He offered an apology to people who were offended by their removal and suggested they could be displayed again at the closing Mass of the synod. Finally, he called their recovery “good news”.

What can be deduced from these remarks? First, the Pope understands the statues represent a named pagan fertility goddess. Second, he understands the connection of such figures with the grave sin of idolatry (forbidden by the First Commandment, whether used for worship, veneration, or the liturgy). Third, never mind the first two premises: the statues occupy places of honour around the Basilica, the synod hall, and even church altars. People bow and chant before the statues, carry them in processions, offer them incense and vigils. The Pope is pleased with this situation, calling it “good”, and has already determined in advance there would be no “idolatrous intentions”. Fourth, he sides with those who value pagan culture and ignores the distress signal of faithful Catholics who see blatant idolatry and desecration. (After all, to whom is the Pope beholden?) While many celebrated upon seeing men dispose of these idols, there were indignant voices in the synod hall (Paolo Ruffini) and a minority on social media (Fr. James Martin) calling this a theft and a break in!

My response has the gist of comments made by cardinals on down. An act of theft supposes rightful ownership and results in loss to the owner rather than some higher good. In any case, if it was a theft, they’re in good company with the saints who destroyed idols: Moses, Elijah, Benedict, Boniface… If this was a break in, then faithful Catholics should “break in” to churches whose doors are open for private prayer and, if necessary, remove any garbage that may have alighted on its altars.

Something Much Better

I heard this beautiful story in a sermon on marriage and family, part of a series that was later offered in print:
 
One day while in a library in Florida, [Lieutenant John Blanchard] had taken a book off the shelf and found himself intrigued, not by what the book said, but by the thoughtful and insightful notes neatly pencilled throughout in the margins. On the front page of the book was the previous owner’s name, a woman named Holly. With a lot of research of public records, he managed to locate her address in New York City. Summoning his courage, he wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. She accepted the offer. Not long after that, he was shipped overseas for duty in World War II, and so they wrote each other regularly for the two years he was there. As the relationship continued to grow and mature, though never having met in person, Holly consistently refused to send John a picture of her, assuring him that if he really cared and loved her, it would not matter what she looked like. When his tour of duty was over, the day finally came to actually meet in person. They arranged to meet up at Grand Central Station at a certain time for dinner, and she told him that he would recognise her by the red rose she would be wearing on her lapel, and he was to have the book so she could recognise him. John describes the meeting as such (and this is a paraphrase):
 
“As I stood there looking for Holly, a most attractive woman in a green dress was coming towards me, and I instinctively started toward her, my heart racing, entirely forgetting the fact that she was not wearing a rose. The woman passed by with a smile and said, ‘Going my way soldier?’ Then my eyes fell on Holly, a woman well past forty, the rose fastened to her lapel, quite a bit older than I was expecting. I felt split in two; I was taken aback by my attraction to the first woman, but how deeply was my desire for the woman whose spirit had truly been my companion overseas for two long years. This may not be romance, but something much better for which I must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted, held out the book and with a choked voice that somewhat betrayed my embarrassed disappointment, I introduced myself and warmly invited her to dinner. She smiled somewhat and said: ‘I am not sure what this is about, but the young lady in green who just passed begged me to wear this rose and said that if you were to ask me to dinner, I was to tell you she would be waiting for you in the restaurant across the street.'”
 
End quote. Father Gerard Saguto went on to speak about spiritual preparation for marriage, but I was already fighting back tears. (The rest is good too, if you’re interested.)
 
This story is apparently true and widely circulated in various retellings. Sure, I see problems with it, but I’m interested in the core elements as they relate to recent experiences of mine.
 
John rightly observes that Holly was a true companion to him while he was fighting. She wasn’t merely a distraction from it; whatever the distance, he felt her spirit with him. History tells us how so many soldiers and civilians alike endured the war thanks to steadfast companions who reached them, whether through writing or some other sacrifice. Likewise, people of our time, some of whom you will meet, are walking through battlefields. When it seems like all someone knows how to do is fall down, they are probably fighting an unseen war. You may never know how desperate or afraid they are from the vantage of life across the ocean. Their words are usually inadequate to convey the experience. When bombs wake them from sleep every hour of the night, when weakness and discouragement set them upon a precipice, you may hardly comprehend how much you mean to them. And they won’t easily reveal such feelings, for fear of upsetting the balance. But what a tremendous effort they’ve made to rebuild themselves to meet you on that hopeful day when they come home.
 
I must ask you to believe that letters (of any length) to an isolated man are like bread to a prisoner starving in a tower.  —J. R. R. Tolkien
 
There is an obvious asymmetry in the relationship of John and Holly, for now, which neither mind. She chose this time to fight alongside him. She knows suffering well, that it gives way to peace. Companions can make all the difference, and most of all when they’re the only refuge in sight. Learn this now and never forget. It’s the first thing I’d change about myself if I could go back in time. Look around you. See that person who needs a friend? Don’t wait until your life is in order. It never will be. Even a soldier can be a good friend. Your hour of need will come. God forbid, the bombs might return for Holly as well. And who can doubt that John would be right there fighting alongside her?

Help. I want to move to Europe.

A friend recently wrote to ask me on behalf of her friend about moving to Germany. I’m not certain, but assume her friend is a passport-carrying US citizen. Since this situation is one about which I have first-hand experience, strong opinions, and relevant information for a general audience, naturally I wanted to share. Let’s go in that order.

First-hand experience.

I actually moved to Europe in 2015. The previous year, I flew over to backpack for 6 weeks, hitting 7 countries! As of summer 2017, I still live here but am moving back to the United States in a couple months. You could say my situation is special because, as a full-time university student, I had something of a free pass. However, I planned this as part of a permanent move to Europe. I made all the typical blunders and foolish assumptions, in the process gaining valuable knowledge from which others may benefit.

Let’s be clear at the outset. I do not enjoy my life here (Belgium) compared to where I was (western Oregon). On the other hand, I don’t attribute that entirely to the location and—this is important—I still want to live in Europe! I’m just not willing to do so at any cost or under the conditions in which I now find myself. I’m going to the east coast to do a PhD in mathematics. Then I would certainly consider jobs here and my previous attempt to move to Europe as a valuable learning experience.

Strong opinions.

Perhaps this friend who wants to move to Germany (let’s call her Zoe) is destined for a successful move to a new life that’s everything she’s dreamed of. (In any case, I’ll try to offer good advice and wish her well.) But for the sake of this post, let’s assume she is completely unprepared. It is my opinion that, as a first step, Zoe should not move to Europe! Germany is a fine choice but, for God’s sake, this isn’t the 18th century. One can purchase a round trip ticket to Europe from the United States for about two week’s wages. Plus, US citizens can stay in the Schengen Area (most countries in Europe) for a whopping 90 days with no other documentation than a passport and a return ticket home. That, in my strong opinion, is plenty of time to experience life in Europe and one’s prospective host country. In most cases however, 90 days is not enough time to decide if you would be sensible to move there. The simple reason for this is your lifestyle. Going for 90 days, likely during summer, you will be in tourist mode, i.e., you will have money and leisure time. You run the risk of completely missing the point: the locals you see are stuck in their daily grind with minimal power to improve their lives. The difference you don’t notice right away is that, just like the discouraged people you know living back at home, these locals benefit from a deep grasp of their surroundings and a network of reliable interpersonal connections. Zoe is not going to have that when she arrives with her suitcases and household goods. Instead, Zoe will spend two days in line at buildings across the city just to be told she doesn’t have the necessary documents to open a bank account. If you think I’m exaggerating, that is only the beginning. Well, you say, things will get better with a few friends and learning your way around the system. That is true. Things will get better over time… but will they ever be better than the comfort and opportunities you had before? Perhaps, if you’re fortunate. Will that happen in the first few years? For Americans, the answer is “probably not”. Will you ever be as connected and welcome as you were back at home? I doubt it very much.

Relevant information.

You can make the most of a 90-day trip by immersing yourself. Rent an apartment. Get a part-time job. Stop speaking English. Try finding a bar or club that feels right. Try making friends in your neighborhood during winter. Spend a few days fighting the bureaucracy as you apply for work, visas, or social services. Try getting a date…

My friend Jon moved to Hamburg after many trips to Europe. He loves it. He met his German girlfriend while they were both traveling. Jon gave me some details about his experience getting a visa. Apparently, he was able to get a “freelance” visa three months after arriving. (Previously, he had to return home because of an expired travel visa.) Soon he’ll be teaching English at a well-known school. You can also try for a six-month “jobseeker” visa. Perhaps the easiest for someone like Zoe is a regular old student visa. That’s what I got before moving to Belgium. It’s relatively simple after you’re granted admission to a university. You just renew each year until you’re finished. Then you’re back in the same line as everyone else who wants a visa. On the other hand, being an international student does not guarantee you access to European society. Depending on the culture, you could be an absolute pariah who only has other international students for support. This is more or less the case where I live in Flanders.

Here is the process outlined by Jon for his visa.

  1.  Get a portfolio together including certifications, diplomas, letters of recommendation and if possible letters of intended contracts here in Germany. Without the guarantee that you can get work here they probably won’t give you a visa, at least in Hamburg, Berlin seems easier since there are a lot of foreigners there.
  2.  Have a place to live and register when you get to town. Need this contract for everything else.
  3.  Get German health insurance. This will cost around 120 euros a month, and make sure it covers the minimums of what is required. The forms are on the local government websites. I had issues with this.
  4.  Go to local foreigners office and apply for visa. They will need to see all your documents, passport photos, contracts etc, then you pay them 100 euros and they give you a case worker who will review your situation and see if your specialty is needed in the area.
  5.  After a few trips back and forth, you may or may not have a visa. All of this would have been very very difficult without my girlfriend who is German and did all the talking. My caseworker knew very little English. Learn German before or get a friend to go with you.

We should notice that Jon has many things going for his application and you can expect these to be pretty standard across Europe. These show serious commitment and investment towards living in the country.

  • local registration
  • a permanent address (and I’m assuming a local phone number)
  • nationally recognized health insurance
  • organized, up-to-date documents
  • a translator
  • in-demand job qualifications (you’re not going to be a vagrant)
  • proof of financial means (in this case, the employment contract)
  • enough money for fees and living costs while you wait

Great work! Jon was able to show that he can be hired by a German business and contribute to society. Therefore, Jon gets a visa. This is only a preliminary step towards gaining a residence permit (like a green card in the US). A visa means you’re on borrowed time. Hopefully, you don’t have to renew very often. And we should note there are easier ways to get a residence permit, such as marrying a German citizen, obviously.

What I notice is that many Americans assume they can just go to Europe without language skills, without work, and expect to get a visa. Now, Jon is optimistic and offered to help Zoe if she moved to Hamburg. (He’s great.) As for me, having lived here for two years on a student visa, I would remind Zoe that language skills and job qualifications are the major limiting factors for employability anywhere in the world. A bartender who only speaks Portuguese can’t arrive in Boston and expect to find a job with a comfortable salary and vacation benefits. Yet you’d be surprised how many Americans show up in Europe with similar plans. And that is basically my point:

Location makes no difference unless you have the resources to enjoy life there.

This is the lesson I learned over the past two years. When you see others in your age group living in relative luxury, you realize that… poverty is isolating! Despite having a “plan” and speaking a common language in Flanders (English), I haven’t been able to make more than 7000 euro per year. I worked myself into the hospital (which is fine because doctors are cheap) but meanwhile a lot of life passed me by. The whole purpose of the move was to have a life here, not to be a slave. Nearly all of my time is spent in my tiny apartment or within a half-mile radius. My home and surrounding area in Oregon were so much better.

In retrospect, coming to Europe as a student for a year or two was a great way to learn more about the places and cultures that interest me—after the sub-90-day trip mentioned above. I would recommend both to Zoe before “moving” to Europe. If I come here again with the intention of staying, I will be well-equipped with the necessary skills and information to truly have a better life. Here are some of the blunders and foolish assumptions I made on this 2-year trial, from which you may benefit by trying to avoid them:

  • Leave as much as humanly possible at home… or give it away. Valuables taken to Europe will only weigh you down and drain your bank account to move them again. Do this even if your plan to move seems rock solid to you right now. It’s better to ship once than two or more times.
  • Don’t expect people to help you or care about your struggles, especially if you’re a single man.
  • Don’t expect anyone care that you’re a foreigner. European cities are already crowded and immigration is a divisive issue. People (including potential mates) are more likely to see your foreignness as a liability and reason not to trust you, especially (and unfortunately) if you are not well-established in the area. Think about it. You’re more like a tourist to them.
  • Save as much money as humanly possible. Even then, prepare yourself for a huge downgrade to your standard of living. Two-bedroom apartment with a garage and trees in the United States? You are trading that to live in a building as old as your grandmother in a grey neighborhood with people who never speak to each other. Which brings me to…
  • Prepare yourself for Europeans. Outside of some university students and young professionals, the people you meet will generally seem aloof and unavailable. That is, much more so than you would expect from Americans, or Australians for that matter. There are good and bad reasons for this phenomenon, but that’s for another post. Of the countries I know, Germany and the UK tend to be more open and friendly.
  • You are not going to see your family or friends and some of them may die. In this sense, it really does feel like the 18th century! You may be able to get there just fine, but once you start working and paying bills, you could find it hard to manage transatlantic travel just to sit at home for a couple weeks.
  • Don’t expect things to fall into place unless you can afford to take a fall yourself. Normally, it’s hard to get established; sometimes things don’t work out. It’s wise to find an employer before you go. As we saw with Jon, finding that employer was crucial for being able to stay. You may be thinking now, “Who’s going to give me a job?” Well, it’s not going to get any easier when you’re behind on rent.

As the last item suggests, you’ll need demonstrable skills to get hired. Not only do those skills have to be in demand (like plumbing), your employer also needs to trust you enough to produce official documents saying they specifically want you. Regulations may even go so far as to obligate the employer to declare they are unable to find a citizen or permanent resident to hire at this time. Usually, that means you don’t have a chance unless you are highly skilled or have uncommon qualifications, such as being a native English speaker. Many people go overseas to teach English under contracts with education companies. (Beware. Some of the less savvy get scammed or otherwise taken advantage of.) Others work for American companies that have contracts or foreign offices in Europe. The latter, in my opinion, are ideal. Just do an internet search for multinational companies. Or look around for American businesses while you’re there. Being a student in Europe is also a good deal, although, as we have seen, you could be living very low. Graduate students experience the best treatment and may even have a free ride from their faculty (department). Obviously, search for programs taught in English unless you are shit-hot at the language of instruction because your classmates will often be bilingual from a young age.

We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this hypothetical Zoe who wants to move to Germany. I’ve been unfair because I don’t know anything about her/him yet. Hopefully, we saw something of ourselves in the caricature of an American who wants to move to Europe. Remember that LOTS of Americans want to move to Europe. Much fewer would or could do so sensibly. You’ll have much better chances for a satisfying life overseas after your first or second visit to the place. I’d like to thank Zoe for letting me get on a soapbox for my readers. Please alert me of any corrections that need to be made. I will try to keep this post up to date with the best information, although the published date will remain the same.

 

Special thanks to Jon Young  :-)

Myths about Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the joys of life. For some people, coffee fills this role. Although I enjoy the wonderful taste of coffee, the amount of caffeine it contains aggravates my stress condition until I become a useless mess. Why am I comparing chocolate to coffee anyway? They both come from roasted “beans” from tropical places, are rich and dark, and have millions of adoring fans. They both have well-known stimulating properties. So what makes them different enough that I would prefer one over another? Do you avoid chocolate due to one of these myths?

 

  1. The major stimulant in chocolate is caffeine.

    Actually, it’s theobromine.

    Dark chocolate has about twice as much caffeine by weight as brewed coffee. However, a serving of coffee (8 ounces) will give you about five times more caffeine than a serving of chocolate (20 grams). I’ll wait for a second while you process that. So then chocolate is like weak coffee, right? No! Chocolate’s major alkaloid is theobromine—having 20 times more of it than caffeine—with a compound called theophylline trailing in the distance. Both are metabolites of caffeine with established medicinal properties. Translation: doctors use therapeutic doses of them to treat real medical conditions! The benefits of theobromine (and theophylline) over caffeine are precisely these health-promoting qualities. They strengthen the heart, ease breathing, increase blood circulation (vasodilation), and the list goes on. They are stimulating in a more gentle way than caffeine but have the same half-life, meaning they will keep you going if that’s what you want.

    Your body makes theobromine when you give it caffeine (essentially what it means to be a metabolite) but only at the rate of 12 percent. Most of the caffeine you ingest is converted into paraxanthine which causes a spike in epinephrine (AKA adrenaline) that leads to increased blood pressure and heart rate, which may be desirable for some conditions, but also symptoms of stress and anxiety. That’s why I prefer chocolate: the extra caffeine in coffee and short supply of theobromine gives it an overall negative effect on my nerves.  If you enjoy daily coffee, you are probably very healthy because you can withstand regular shots of adrenaline, the same stuff that’s injected into a person’s heart when it stops beating. This explains the addiction and withdrawals associated with coffee.

  2. Chocolate has too much sugar and fat.

    Here is where we discuss nutrition. Most products sold as chocolate are, in fact, candy. I eat them sometimes, but do not consider them chocolate, a term I reserve for food containing at least 50 percent cacao. You’ve seen the markings on chocolate bars. The percentage tells you how much came from cocoa beans and how much didn’t. A bar of chocolate stamped 85 percent can contain no more than 15 percent added ingredients, primarily sweeteners. We’re talking about three grams of sugar per serving, the same amount that’s in one sugar cube or half a cup of milk. Not much.

    What about fat? Cocoa beans are high in fat. Even very good chocolate can be half fat because pure cocoa butter is added to make the mixture smooth and palatable. Is that too much? That depends on how much chocolate you eat and whether there is a reason for you to be restricting fat in your diet. The conventional story about dietary fat has been challenged and overturned. I could write several posts on this subject alone. Dietary fat does not make you fat. It’s what you eat in combination. Cells do not absorb fat in the absence of insulin, the body’s response to elevated blood glucose caused by eating carbohydrates. Rather than storing fat, your body can be properly disposed to use it for energy. Fat has more than double the calories of protein or carbohydrates, which is why we love it. Calories keep us alive.

    In any case, fat is essential to life and cocoa butter (being saturated fat) is a benign source. If there’s no room in your diet for a few more calories, it’s not because of that small serving of chocolate. It’s because of everything else you’re eating. Since strong chocolate is not candy, I don’t feel there’s anything strange about eating it when I wake up. That’s when people usually drink coffee.

  3. High cacao percentage means dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is the healthy stuff.

    Actually, white chocolate can have the same amount of cacao as dark chocolate. Remember, the percentage tells you how much comes from the bean. Well, the main derivatives of cocoa beans are butter and solids. Pure cocoa butter is pale yellow and technically 100 percent cacao. On the other hand, the darkness of chocolate—and its stimulating, healthful properties—comes from cocoa solids. The solids can be separated as a power during processing, which is very common since pure cocoa powder is expensive and used in many other products. Candy companies would like to sell you “dark” chocolate made with as little cocoa powder as possible. So don’t assume it’s healthy because it says “dark” on the package or even if it looks dark. I’ve seen 50 percent chocolate look the same color as 95 percent. That 50 percent chocolate is nearly half sugar. You can eat it, but I’d find another brand for your daily chocolate. Better yet, get a high-quality cocoa powder. These are 100 percent cacao and you have control over any additives. Incidentally, it’s possible to calculate how much solids a product contains using the nutrition facts label. Cocoa starts out approximately half butter and half solids. Don’t worry though because a lot of good brands pack in the solids for a strong flavor. After a while, you’ll be able to taste the difference…

  4. Dark chocolate tastes bad. That’s why I don’t buy it.

    Some people hear that dark chocolate is healthy and they go buy a bar of unsweetened baking chocolate. They are disappointed after a few bites, put the rest in a drawer, and forget about it. First of all, if you want to be healthy, look at the big picture. Strong chocolate won’t solve all your problems, but it’s delicious, stimulating, and has profound health benefits. Before I started drinking hot chocolate regularly,  my initial venture was with bars at around 70 percent. They were a little bitter but also rich and eye-opening. At the time, I thought my friend who ate 90 percent chocolate was just forcing herself to like it. Now, I’ve settled on about 85 to 90 percent as the sweet spot of well-blended chocolate. Solid chocolate should have some added sugar. One hundred percent is not really for direct consumption, in my opinion. Strong chocolate, like coffee, is an acquired taste though. It’s also self-limiting, meaning that you can feel satisfied with small portions throughout the day.

Ecclesiocalypse

This semester’s course in Dogmatic Theology was organized by Dr. Jacques Haers. We were assigned eleven readings from big theologians, mostly single chapters of their books. With the exception of Pope Francis and Saint Anselm, every author had a history of negative reactions from Rome. Further, most authors got very negative reactions from students in my class. Part of our assignment was to post responses to a discussion board. Below is my response to our last reading, by the Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff. My earlier responses were more academic in nature, but I just could not bring myself to take the readings seriously. Often I was put in a foul mood by the first few pages, as were some of my classmates. All semester we were fed liberation theology, ecofeminism, and other heterodox nonsense. The course was supposed to be on “Creation, Church, and Salvation History”. However, the selection of readings seemed calculated to leave the impression that the Church has nothing of value to say on dogmatic issues. Otherwise, we could have read some of it. Understandably, my frustration spilled over into the responses, which developed something of a following.

Before I turn in for the night, I want to offer you, my faithful readers, some thoughts about Boff’s article. This chapter is called The Reinvention of the Church. If you read a little bit of Boff’s story, you’ll discover he’s been at it for decades. The powerful hierarchy of the Church simply won’t give this guy a break. Otherwise, he could just go about reinventing local churches to his heart’s content. What other reforms are lurking in Boff’s closet of horrors? No matter for his supporters. They’ve got the Holy Spirit. Well—you’re going to want to sit down for this one—the other side has as well.

Suppose I belong to your local church. Me and half the congregation are sickened by anyone who advocates an inversion of Church hierarchy. (Some of them even pray for Pope Benedict XVI’s return as head of the CDF.) Obviously, at least one side of the congregation merely claims the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but in reality is driven by pride to imagine that, between them and the Magisterium, they are the wiser. What yardstick shall we use to measure the level of grace (or pride) operating among these communities of the faithful? Because as it stands, my community is at an impasse. Isn’t there someone who can restore order, someone who can say what is or is not in line with the universal Catholic Church? Oh, wonderful! We’ve got priests. And you have to do what they say. Otherwise, you’re sure to find among the many Protestant churches one that serves up theology according to you.

I must apologize for my tone this week. All semester, I have been truly enriched by these opportunities to probe the landscape of so-called theology and express my opinions, realizing they are often completely unfair and uninformed. For a more thoughtful analysis of Boff, I recommend Stefan Gaßmann’s post lovingly titled, “What was the sense of reading this text?”

Yours truly,
Nicholas

Boff, Leonardo. Ecclesiogenesis: The Base Communities Reinvent the Church. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1986.

 

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Ojcze Przedwieczny, ofiaruję Ci Ciało i Krew, Duszę i Bóstwo najmilszego Syna Twojego, a Pana naszego Jezusa Chrystusa na przebłaganie za grzechy nasze i całego świata.

eucharist

These are the words given by Jesus to Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska (†1938) forming part of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Translated from the Polish, they read:

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC 1324, LG 11). In this spirit, I open the archive you are now reading. Many of my writings have worldly subjects. They could be adapted from letters to friends (or foes). Some will be entirely new compositions. Whatever in my life may be at odds with the Church is my own failing. I am a work in progress, submitting to the Holy Spirit so that truth prevails.

Saint Faustina pray for us.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.