Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, April 21, 2018

George The Great

On Monday April the 23rd, 2018 many churches around the world celebrate the memorial of St. George as they do every 23rd of April since the 5th century.  According to tradition, George was born around 280 AD from a Greek Christian father named Geronitos and a Greek Christian mother named Polychronia. He was a soldier in the Roman army in Lydda, Palestine. When Diocletian, instigated by Galerius, started his persecution of Christians, George was sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian faith. He suffered torture and was martyred by decapitation on the 23rd of April 303. Over centuries, Christians venerating this megalomartyr developed legends around his courage to die for Christ and His bride, the Church. The most famous legend shows George taming and wounding with his lance a monster (Satan) who had terrified the Church (daughter of God, the King). His victory represented for many generations that of Christ's healing of the wounds, both spiritual and physical, that afflicted mankind. 

St. George is invoked in the ancient Churches of the East in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, the Holy Land, and in Russia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Greece, as well as in Europe particularly in England, France, Italy, Poland, North America, South America, and Australia. The Crusades invoked St. George to help them too. Many organizations take the name of St. George for charitable works around the world. In the United States, the State of Georgia is  named after St. George.

I have been particularly blessed by God since my mother of blessed memory asked St. George in her heavy pregnancy to intercede for her well-being and made a vow to call her son "George". When the doctors found twins in her womb, they pulled me out after my twin brother was brought out and named "Shaker" according to my devout father's wish (also of blessed memory) for his son to be named after his dad.

I thank God that He gave me life abundantly beyond the expectations of medical experts.
The reader may wish to read my post here: My Dear Friends - Personal Life
And read my "Living Miracle" post here:

We all influence each other... Not only in prayers but also in acts of good will...
Let us ask St. George to pray, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, for all the sick, especially the ones we know. Please pray for me as I need your prayers. Let me know also whether anyone needs prayers. Our lives are strengthened by love not only on earth but also in the kingdom of our heavenly God who is the source, purpose and end of our existence. God remains our hope even in the dark night of the soul...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Evangelizing the Secular Mind

An article published by Crisis Magazine in 2018 gives Christians an example of how knowledge of the truth is passed and articulated by scholars in different times. The author, Gavin Hurley, is an Assistant Professor of Writing at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, USA. The article can be found here: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/evangelizing-secular-mind
Over thousands of years, the human race found ways to enlarge their knowledge from the curious animal that distinguishes the human mind, through trade and migration which resulted in communicating creative thought. The ancient Egyptians excelled at building and engineering temples and pyramids; the ancient Chinese built The Great Wall of China; the Greeks produced great philosophers, mathematicians, and astrophysicists; and the Babylonians wrote the earliest law or code known as the Code of Hammurabi and made progress in 'astrology'. All human beings need to worship; a fact recognized by the British atheist Richard Dawkins. Historically, man is the only creature that asks himself about himself. Since Christ was born in a Jewish milieu, he spoke the language of his countrymen: Aramaic which constitutes an older form of Syriac. The Apostles went to many places outside Judea including Egypt, Antioch, Greece, and Rome. St. Thomas the Apostle is believed to have preached to Indians in the Far East. The Greeks influenced the early Christians in articulating the Christian faith in their language and culture.  By the time the Apostles Peter and Paul reached Rome, the Roman empire had already conquered the known world. The dominant philosophy was that of Plato known as neo-Platonic. St. Augustine, for example, had to write his philosophy in neo-Platonic terms. As is already evident, scholars need to use the language and philosophy of the time for their students to understand and expand upon. Specialization in different sciences today still requires to be addressed in a language understood by scientists and students of the same field. In America, sciences are taught in English. In France, the same sciences are taught in French. The neo-platonic Augustinian philosophy was the dominant philosophy in Europe until St. Thomas Aquinas made his reform teaching what he found good in Aristotle's philosophy without abandoning St. Augustine's. Thomism was accepted by the pope and made a major school of thought taught in Catholic universities. With the change of time, language, and culture new forms of philosophy appeared - some of them challenged the teachings of the Church. However, as always, the Church responded through her theologians. Christian scholars and teachers today attempt to integrate good views from different sources in history, economics, anthropology, ethics, business and marketing where it makes sense to apply in a Christian outlook.

On Pope Francis' Good Initiatives


In April 2017, Pope Francis gave an important TED Talk address - listen to the address here:
https://www.ted.com/talks/pope_francis_why_the_only_future_worth_building_includes_everyone 
OR read the transcript here:
https://www.ted.com/talks/pope_francis_why_the_only_future_worth_building_includes_everyone/transcript?language=en#t-1060153

Remarkable statements by the pope:
1. "The future is made of encounters...Life is about interactions...We all need each other...None of us is an island, an autonomous and independent 'I' separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together including everyone."*
2. "Even science points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else."**
3. "How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us! How wonderful would it be if solidarity were not simply reduced to social work and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples, and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the 'culture of waste,' which does not concern only food and goods, but first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people."
4. "Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The 'you' is always a real presence, a person to take care of."
5. Remembering the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), Pope Francis follows the Master, Christ, in answering the lawyer's question: Who is my neighbor? "The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today's humanity" Francis says. "People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money and things instead of people."He believes that there is "a habit by people who call themselves 'respectable' of not taking care of the others thus leaving behind thousands of people...on the side of the road" but there are those who are taking care of the other even out of their own pocket ...Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta actually said 'One cannot love unless it is at their own expense'. "Now you might tell me 'I am not the Good Samaritan nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta'. On the contrary we are precious...Each and everyone of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and everyone of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness and never the other way around."***
6. He leaves his "bomb" to the end "The more powerful you are the more your actions will impact people, and the more responsible you are to act humbly - Power (for oneself) is like drinking on an empty stomach - you are too drunk, you feel dizzy, you lose your balance and you end up hurting yourself and those around you if you do not connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power - the highest and strongest one - becomes a service, a force for good."

Notes:
* Relatedness and love lead to the resurrection  - This is what the sharply-brilliant Professor Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote in his book "Introduction to Christianity" (see http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2012/04/joseph-ratzinger-truth-of-resurrection.html). But as I wrote in my essay titled "Quantum Synthesis" the cosmos and all its matter (including humans) influence, or are related to, each other. It is the result of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle based on probable existence in quantum space. Furthermore Dr. John Polkinghorne, whose work is mentioned in the same essay, concludes that quantum theory shows that "the physical world looks more and more like a universe that would be the fitting creation of the trinitarian God whose deepest reality is relational." Cf. Polkinghorne, J. "Quantum Physics and Theology; An Unexpected Kinship", 2008, Published by Yale University (see the Cosmic Quantum Universe here: http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2017/10/the-quantum-universe.html AND Quantum Synthesis here:  http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2013/10/the-quantum-sign-of-life.html).

Why would Pope Francis care about the above? Obviously the pope hopes that technology can be used to get people together, pray together, and chat in good manners. One space where computers can be useful is education. Computers are already helping students in select schools to solve their homework problems without cheating or being overburden with requirements. A particular focus is on assisting Christians and non-Christians in religious education especially where religion is used to contaminate society with hatred for others, where Christians are persecuted in their own countries, or where they have been the original inhabitants (e.g. some Islamic countries in the Middle East).

Quantum computers under development by Google and NASA have been demonstrated in 2015 (see http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/a18475/google-nasa-d-wave-quantum-computer/). In November 2015, a TED Talk given by Professor Leo Kouwenhoven at the University of Delft in Holland shows quite a few good applications in which the quantum computer can be used to help the needs of today's society - It is obvious that nature uses the same natural processes in human bodies (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUuaWVHhx-U). Motivated by profits, big companies such as IBM and Microsoft are competing with the above companies with the result of likely getting an earlier supercomputer. The question then becomes a matter of pricing and market demand since we live in a capitalist global economy.

** Pope Francis invites us to learn by imitating those who take care of others like the children who imitate their parents. The first eyes the infant sees are his mother's caring eyes. The infant is nourished from her breast. The infant grows in love of his mom and his dad because they loved him first. This is a psychological insight by the Holy Father that permits us to see how the human race lives. Love begets life. God also promises life "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will never forget you" (Isaiah 49: 15). But more than the above insight, he makes it clear that proper communication for life requires "tenderness" that the parent goes down to the level of the child to understand what he needs and fulfill his needs. In the same way God came down in Jesus to our human level in order to fulfill our needs - eternal needs of joy and life. 
*** Love requires sacrifice as Christ sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world. The Pope gives a number of examples including Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He also shows the grain of yeast that dies in the ground to become a tree - In the same way it was necessary for Christ to die in order to restore humanity to the Father through the Church. 

Lesson Two:
In late April 2017, Pope Francis visited Egypt...In Cairo, he met with the Egyptian President, the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, and scholars of Al-Azhar Islamic University...One of Pope Francis' last messages in Cairo was given in the Mass that he concelebrated with the Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak in the Air-Defense Stadium in Cairo.
The full text of Pope Francis' homily, heard by Christians and Muslims in Egypt, and sent to the media across the world can be found here https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-air-defense-stadium-in-cairo-egypt-full-text/
What True Faith has the Power to do: Nothing is impossible for God!

Based on the Gospel reading (Luke 24: 13-35), two of Jesus' disciples were going to Emmaus and were conversing about Jesus. Jesus was walking besides them but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. Seeing them in a state of despair, Jesus asked why? They answered that Jesus of Nazareth who "was a prophet mighty in deed and word" was crucified to death by their chief priests and rulers - but they "were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this it is now the third day since it took place". Some women of the group, however, astounded them that they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body."  Jesus replied "Oh, how foolish you are!... Was not it necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter in his glory." So, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As the day was almost over, they invited him to stay with them.When he said the blessings, broke the bread, and gave it to them their eyes were opened and they recognized him but he vanished from their sight! It was a surprise which prompted them to quickly return to Jerusalem where they found the eleven saying the Lord has truly risen and has appeared to Simon...

Remarkable statements by the pope:
1. "The two disciples are returning full of despair ...The Master is dead and thus it is pointless to hope...The cross of Christ was the cross of their own ideas about God; the death of Christ was the death of what they thought God to be. But in fact it was they who were dead buried in the tomb of their limited understanding."*
2. "Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power."**
3. "The Church needs to know and believe that Jesus lives within her and gives her life in the Eucharist, the scriptures, and the sacraments. The disciples on the way to Emmaus realized this and returned to Jerusalem in order to share their experience with the others. 'We have seen the Risen One...Yes, he is truly risen!' (Luke 24: 32)"***

Notes
* Fr.  Georges Farah commented on the tomb or rock in which Christ was buried. He called it "the cave of Plato" in the Greek philosopher's Republic. The inmate of the cave is imprisoned and is blind because he cannot see. According to Fr. Farah, we too are imprisoned in our own darkness and fantasies but Christ rose to give life to those who believe and act on their faith.

** Here Pope Francis probably refers to ideologies that do not recognize God's suffering love - These ideologies, such as Islamic Sharia, see in God an omnipotent One but also a God who can hate and deceive.  In Christianity, God is love.

*** Here Pope Francis boldly tells his listeners that the Church continues to be nourished by the Eucharist as a sign of full unity in Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist is a joy because of the Real Presence of Christ.

Coptic Christians teach us lessons marked by their martyrs blood over many centuries - The Church in Egypt was founded by St. Mark and one of the strongest defenders of faith was St. Athanasius whom the Church remembers on May 2 (see an article by Archbishop Charles Chaput in "First Things" here: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/05/the-land-of-athanasius-and-its-lessons).

Finally:

On April 1, 2018, Pope Francis gave his Easter message and blessings. In his homily, he spoke about the joy of Christians in the Resurrection of Christ and the witness of the disciples which often leads to persecution. Recalling that while the fifty days after Easter were a time of joy, it also contained doubt and fear in the disciples minds. Only after Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit, "the Apostles' joy became courageous since they now understood the meaning of the Paschal mystery."  

What courage does this pope have! How is he able to advocate for the poor!  What astronomical hopes take him to places everywhere! How is he able to attract such crowds! Did he really attract the outcast and marginalized to the Church or did he go to them? A question that can be answered only by history.

The Church continues to live in God's love. The Globe is full of missionaries...Christ saves!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Today

Today is my birthday. I am 64 today. I thank God that he gave me life abundantly beyond the expectations of medical experts. I have been particularly blessed by God since my mother of blessed memory asked St. George in her heavy pregnancy to intercede for her well-being and made a vow to call her son "George". When the doctors found twins in her womb, they pulled me out after my twin brother was brought out and named "Shaker" according to my father's wish (my devout father, also of blessed memory).
The reader may wish to read my post here: My Dear Friends - Personal Life
http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2018/04/jesus-christ-said-thief-comes-only-to.html
And read my "Living Miracle" post here:
http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2008/07/living-miracle.html 
In spite of all the physical challenges I have, my doctor said to me yesterday how mature we should be in looking up in the hope that God incarnate himself died for us and rose from the dead for us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

My Dear Friends - Personal Life

Jesus Christ said "A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10).
If the above is interpreted literally, I would say that it applies to my life here and today. Following a heart attack in May 1986, I was given an ultimatum by Dr. Michael Sole, at the time research director of cardiology at Toronto General Hospital, to expect to live only 2 years if  I did not  have a cardiac surgery that would involve the replacement of my aortic valve in the ascending aorta. Out of fear, I went through the surgery on January 25, 1987 - It lasted six hours rather than the expected 3 hours while my mother and my wife waited (with my first son) crying in the waiting room. The surgery was carried out by Dr. Hugh Sculley and involved the replacement of the aortic valve with a mechanical valve and a double bypass surgery. The surgery lasted so long because Dr. Sculley had to sew the enlarged aorta. Time passed-by as I had an echo-cardiogram every year but troubles started again when my family physician, Dr. Shields found I had an enlarged prostate in 2001, followed by aortic aneurysm found in 2002, kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) treated with a partial nephrectomy surgery in 2005, and stroke in 2007 following my prostate surgery in Montreal. For the depression associated with stroke, I was given an anti-depressant. But throughout the period from 1986 to 2007, I had to take and change heart medication which I still take daily. In July 2008, I wrote an account of my suffering and new life in the post "A Living Miracle" on my blog here: http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2008/07/living-miracle.html The reader who wishes to know about the development of my health situation, can read it in the post.
I continue to thank God for giving me life and giving it abundantly. I have to add that since early 2017, my life was again saved and extended through my current physician Dr. Michael Vecchio who is a Christian missionary too. He found a low level of Oxygen in my blood and sent me to Toronto General Hospital (TGH) where again I was cared for by specialists. In February and again in August 2017, specialists at TGH found out the real problem of poisonous Carbon Dioxide in my lungs. X Rays showed that the left lung was not functional as the Aortic Aneurysm has grown and covered it, leaving only the right lung for breathing. This caused me difficulty in breathing when going upstairs  that requires some walking exercise to maintain the muscles of the body. Thank God again, I was seen by Dr. Ryan, a specialist in Respirology, while I was at TGH in August 2017. In an appointment on January 10, 2018, she ordered a BiPap machine that helps me daily at night to breath better and to reduce Carbon Dioxide in my system. I love my wife, Samia, who (together with our grown up children when necessary) takes care of my needs. 
I cannot stop thanking our God and Lord who offers me, my family and friends, and indeed the world, abundant life not only here but in eternal life through the Sacred Heart of the God-Man Jesus Christ. I pray the Blessed Virgin Mary to help all in every way spiritually, physically, and psychologically; "for nothing will be impossible for God" (Luke 1: 37).

Note: I am convinced that God, in His wisdom, gave me life abundantly in spite of my pride. I was 32 when my heart troubles started – Near mid-April this year I will be 64 which means that I lived double the expected life if I did not seek the medical assistance. God's love works through medical experts, but why me? Why did He let me live when many younger ones are taken from this life? It is a mystery in God’s caring love for his creation.
Here is something else about how my life started in a near-extraordinary way in which heaven was involved: 
When my mother felt that her first pregnancy was heavy, she implored St. George to help her and made a vow to name her child "George". When the child was delivered in April 1954, my father wanted to name him "Shaker" after his father (it is a custom) but as the doctor closed my mother's womb, his assistant doctor said "there is something else inside!" so they opened the womb and found me hiding in the corner inside and took me out. Then my mother rejoiced and gave me the name "George". Shaker and I are twins...


Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)







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