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Newsletter. Issue 2008-20. September 27, 2008
 
 
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Commentary
 

The statements, opinions, or views in the following articles may not necessarily reflect that of the Goan Voice Canada.

 

Gratitude keeps our society human
Excerpts from article by Michael Swan, The Catholic Register,
http://www.catholicregister.org/content/view/2224


TORONTO - Margaret Visser is much too civilized to tell about the incident which sparked her new book, The Gift of Thanks: The Roots, Persistence and Paradoxical Meanings of a Social Ritual.

Catholic Register Editor’s note: In A Gift of Thanks, Margaret Visser tells us how gratitude might change our approach to a very practical problem. Gratitude could save the environment. In fact, it’s the only thing that will, according to this excerpt from her book.

Gratitude, replacing selfishness, greed and disregard, will in my opinion have to be called upon to help us surmount the ecological crisis that now threatens our very existence. Fears of disaster and the laws we make to protect the environment will certainly be necessary as both pressure to act and restraint from further abuse. But fear and the law will not be enough. What is required is nothing less than a conversion: a turning-around of our ideas, a change of heart, an agreement to see things from a new point of view. Fear can cause rather than avert abuses, and there are infinite numbers of ways to get away with selfish convenience or greed if people care only for their own personal interests.

We saw earlier how gratitude is necessary for the functioning of a healthy society, precisely because it reaches into areas of life that the law can neither control nor inspire. As Charles Taylor reminds us, “High standards need strong sources.” One such source is our knowledge of what it is like to be grateful. We have to retrieve now and bring back into the light something that gratitude entails: respect for what is there, love for it (for itself and not for what we can gouge out of it). Grateful people make good use of the gifts they have been given, out of respect for the giver. To be ecologically aware we shall need to be thankful for what we so continually and lavishly receive, and feel the need to “give back” and restore the Earth’s ravaged bounty. It is an attitude to nature that our most “primitive” forebears intensely understood. We should also remember that we inherited a rich and beautiful Earth, which it is “only fair” to hand on to our children.

Read complete article at: http://www.catholicregister.org/content/view/2224

 

Excerpts from address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to France on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary At Lourdes (September 12 - 15, 2008)
MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE WORLD OF CULTURE
Collège des Bernardins, Paris
Friday, 12 September 2008


I would like to speak with you this evening of the origins of western theology and the roots of European culture. I began by recalling that the place in which we are gathered is in a certain way emblematic. It is in fact a placed tied to monastic culture, insofar as young monks came to live here in order to learn to understand their vocation more deeply and to be more faithful to their mission. We are in a place that is associated with the culture of monasticism. Does this still have something to say to us today, or are we merely encountering the world of the past? In order to answer this question, we must consider for a moment the nature of Western monasticism itself. What was it about? From the perspective of monasticism’s historical influence, we could say that, amid the great cultural upheaval resulting from migrations of peoples and the emerging new political configurations, the monasteries were the places where the treasures of ancient culture survived, and where at the same time a new culture slowly took shape out of the old. But how did it happen? What motivated men to come together to these places? What did they want? How did they live?

First and foremost, it must be frankly admitted straight away that it was not their intention to create a culture nor even to preserve a culture from the past. Their motivation was much more basic. Their goal was: quaerere Deum. Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential – to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself. They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is. It is sometimes said that they were “eschatologically” oriented. But this is not to be understood in a temporal sense, as if they were looking ahead to the end of the world or to their own death, but in an existential sense: they were seeking the definitive behind the provisional. Quaerere Deum: because they were Christians, this was not an expedition into a trackless wilderness, a search leading them into total darkness. God himself had provided signposts, indeed he had marked out a path which was theirs to find and to follow. This path was his word, which had been disclosed to men in the books of the sacred Scriptures. Thus, by inner necessity, the search for God demands a culture of the word or – as Jean Leclercq put it: eschatology and grammar are intimately connected with one another in Western monasticism (cf. L’amour des lettres et le désir de Dieu). The longing for God, the désir de Dieu, includes amour des lettres, love of the word, exploration of all its dimensions. Because in the biblical word God comes towards us and we towards him, we must learn to penetrate the secret of language, to understand it in its construction and in the manner of its expression. Thus it is through the search for God that the secular sciences take on their importance, sciences which show us the path towards language. Because the search for God required the culture of the word, it was appropriate that the monastery should have a library, pointing out pathways to the word. It was also appropriate to have a school, in which these pathways could be opened up. Benedict calls the monastery a dominici servitii schola. The monastery serves eruditio, the formation and education of man – a formation whose ultimate aim is that man should learn how to serve God. But it also includes the formation of reason – education – through which man learns to perceive, in the midst of words, the Word itself.

Yet in order to have a full vision of the culture of the word, which essentially pertains to the search for God, we must take a further step. The Word which opens the path of that search, and is to be identified with this path, is a shared word. True, it pierces every individual to the heart (cf. Acts 2:37). Gregory the Great describes this a sharp stabbing pain, which tears open our sleeping soul and awakens us, making us attentive to the essential reality, to God (cf. Leclercq, p. 35). But in the process, it also makes us attentive to one another. The word does not lead to a purely individual path of mystical immersion, but to the pilgrim fellowship of faith. And so this word must not only be pondered, but also correctly read. As in the rabbinic schools, so too with the monks, reading by the individual is at the same time a corporate activity. “But if legere and lectio are used without an explanatory note, then they designate for the most part an activity which, like singing and writing, engages the whole body and the whole spirit”, says Jean Leclercq on the subject (ibid., 21).

And once again, a further step is needed. We ourselves are brought into conversation with God by the word of God. The God who speaks in the Bible teaches us how to speak with him ourselves. Particularly in the book of Psalms, he gives us the words with which we can address him, with which we can bring our life, with all its highpoints and lowpoints, into conversation with him, so that life itself thereby becomes a movement towards him. The psalms also contain frequent instructions about how they should be sung and accompanied by instruments. For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required. Two chants from the Christian liturgy come from biblical texts in which they are placed on the lips of angels: the Gloria, which is sung by the angels at the birth of Jesus, and the Sanctus, which according to Isaiah 6 is the cry of the seraphim who stand directly before God. Christian worship is therefore an invitation to sing with the angels, and thus to lead the word to its highest destination. Once again, Jean Leclercq says on this subject: “The monks had to find melodies which translate into music the acceptance by redeemed man of the mysteries that he celebrates. The few surviving capitula from Cluny thus show the Christological symbols of the individual modes” (cf. ibid. p. 229).

To view full speech.click here

 

Opinion - 'Politics of hope' drowning in swamp of indebtedness
U.S. economic crisis makes a mockery of election promises
Excerpts from:
http://www.thestar.com/printArticle/499746
September 16, 2008 Michael Warren

There is mounting evidence that America’s current standard of living is not sustainable, writes Michael Warren.

While Canadians may envy America's "politics of hope" it has a dark underbelly. There is an issue so big, complex and daunting that neither John McCain nor Barack Obama wants to touch it. It is more serious than most Americans imagine. And it has the potential to eclipse and ultimately undermine the election promises and policies of who ever wins the White House in November.

It has been called the "dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows." There is even a documentary film entitled I.O.U.S.A that spells it out in convincing detail. But like other inconvenient truths this one is not politically sexy. Solving it requires sacrifice.

Simply stated, the United States is living beyond its means. When the income, liabilities and future obligations of its governments are added up there is mounting evidence that America's current standard of living is not sustainable.

The signs are everywhere. The U.S. national debt is now well over $9.6 trillion and climbing at a rate of nearly $2 billion a day. More to the point this debt as a percentage of their GNP (all the goods and services they produce) is the highest in fifty years. It is being financed by exponential credit expansion.

The financial system is in crisis with venerable firms, staggering under the weight of bad debts: first Bear Stearns last March and now in rapid succession Lehman Brothers, AIG insurance and Merrill Lynch.

Read full article at: http://www.thestar.com/printArticle/499746


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