Real Science

In honor of the 733rd anniversary of the death of the great scientist, Bishop Albert, let’s recall paragraph 34 of Holy Father’s encyclical on our faith in divine love:

The light of love proper to faith can illumine the questions of our own time… One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all.

…The light of faith is an incarnate light radiating from the luminous life of Jesus. It illumines the material world, trusts its inherent order and knows that it calls us to an ever widening path of harmony and understanding. The gaze of science thus benefits from faith: faith encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in all its inexhaustible richness. Faith awakens the critical sense by preventing research from being satisfied with its own formulae and helps it to realize that nature is always greater. By stimulating wonder before the profound mystery of creation, faith broadens the horizons of reason to shed greater light on the world which discloses itself to scientific investigation.

One thought to take from this paragraph: When we believe in God, we recognize that the material world is something He made according to His infinitely intelligent plan. We, too, possess intelligence. So we can harmonize ourselves with the intelligent order of the material world.

Albert the Great Septicentennial StampThis is what science really is: Not controlling the world, but harmonizing ourselves with it, in a reasonable way. This is what medicine really is: Not controlling our bodies, but harmonizing our minds with them, in a reasonable way. We can read in nature and in our own bodies the plan of the higher intelligence that made all of it, provided we are humble enough to admit that we need to learn in this way.

As St. Albert knew and taught, true science flows from this first step: Our humble acknowledgement that our intelligence is not the highest. Science = seeking to learn something about the much-higher intelligence with which the Creator ordered His creation.

God Answers the Earth’s Question

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord declared:

I did not establish the earth to be a waste, but designed it to be lived in. (Isaiah 45:18)

These divine words certainly come as a comfort to us. Whether the earth was designed for us or not—this question has perpetually troubled mankind.

On the one hand, earth is a beautiful planet. The sunrises and sunsets frequently dazzle the eye. Resources that help us, feed us, shelter us, and give us a good life—they abound. We can live together here on earth, communicate with each other, co-exist, co-operate, improve the place together.

On the other hand, we mortals have to exercise constant care, industry, and vigilance—or this hardscrabble world will eat us up. Predators of countless kinds lurk in many corners, and some of them, too, are men. The winters here can be brutal. Sicknesses and plagues run rampant. And, after the course of a pilgrim life, be it long or short, the earth swallows us up in death, whether we like it or not.

So: Is this place a home fashioned by heaven for us, or not? We did not make the earth. We long to discover all its secrets, and those of the entire universe. But we humbly acknowledge that we don’t know the half of them. So we are grateful for a heavenly word spoken to us to decide the question.

The greatest secret that the earth has is: Why is it here at all? With all its charms and challenges—that it both delights and confounds—it practically cries out the question itself: Why do I exist? In and of myself, says the world, I don’t make sense! What’s the reason for me?

It is certainly nice for us to know the reason. God made the earth for us to live in. He designed it for us.

When He Himself walked it, His pilgrim life was short and full of aching sorrows. But He intends to return and set His feet here again, never to depart anymore.

When everything is said and done–when we have been purified of all our sins, and Christ’s glory fills the earth forever–then we will live here in eternal peace, delighting in all that is good, freed from everything bad.

Thank you, Lord, for explaining this to us.

Christ the Priest’s Prayer

At the end of the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus prayed aloud to the Father.

He prayed for Himself, for His Apostles, and for us. In other words, He prayed as a priest. He offered Himself to the Father, He consecrated Himself, and He invoked divine assistance upon all the people gathered around Him—gathered around Him then and throughout the ages, from St. John and St. Peter down through time to us.

In the eternal Trinity–the blessed communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–there is no need for a priest. The three divine Persons are bound together in perfect, perpetual unity—more inseparable than a ball and its roundness or water and its wetness. A ball doesn’t need a priest to be round; water doesn’t need a priest to be wet; the eternal Son doesn’t need a priest to be consubstantial with the eternal Father.

But then God created. He created something other than Himself. He brought into existence a world with limts.

Don’t get me wrong. The world excites our wonder and esteem. As Woody Allen put it, “The world is the only place where you can get a good steak.” In this lovely world, you can grow blueberries; you can go for a boatride; you can listen to Mozart.

Continue reading “Christ the Priest’s Prayer”


First of all: CAAAAAPPSSSS!!!

Secondly: I have the privilege of initiating two lovely young lasses (who have attained the age of reason) into the Holy Church tonight. Here is a homily for them and for the gathered faithful…

In the beginning, God gave us—human beings—dominion over “the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all wild animals.” He gave us dominion. Dominion.

In other words, the Lord anointed mankind as lords and ladies. He took a diadem bejeweled with mysterious heavenly pearls, and He crowned our heads, making us royalty of the earth. We reign over everything made of atoms. We alone—of all the creatures God formed from the primordial clay—we alone commune with the angels and God Himself, through our intellectual and moral life.

God put us in an enclosed garden: us, God, happiness, and everything we need. The enclosure protected us from disorder and confusion; it gave us a home with a beautiful roof: God. God was the horizon of the garden, and we never had to leave; we never had to fight traffic or labor at unpleasant business. God made us royalty in a palace.

This is not a fantasy. The earth hardened in the meantime; we got born in strife, besmirched with confusion, irreligion, and a great deal of selfish nonsense. We can’t manage to master ourselves, much less reign supreme.

But the dominion for which we were made is no fantasy. The royal throne endures.

Let us look at the amazing picture: Christ walked the earth a penniless man. He ate what was set in front of Him; He slept wherever the door of hospitality opened. He feared no one. He lived in the truth. He prayed. He smiled with the joy of God. Unarmed, with bare feet and a gentle voice, He reigned over the world.

He lived the spiritual life. The crown of holiness from above sat on His brow from birth to death. He made His pilgrim way on the same hard earth as we do, but He lived in the enclosed garden of a pure soul, a clear conscience, and an unswerving dedication to His destiny, a destiny of undying glory.

Jesus the Christ. Jesus the anointed. Anointed with the Holy Spirit. Consecrated in life, unbreakable life; consecrated in true dominion.

He wore His crown to the Cross. He reigned while they mocked Him and excoriated Him; He reigned while His lifeblood flowed out. Satan had no power over Him. What the Lord had said about the suffering of His dear friend Lazarus applied to His own apparent defeat: “This sickness is not to end in death. It is for the glory of God.”

Jasmine. Lillian. Wake up. The time has come to bathe and anoint your brows. The time has come to set the Christian crown on your foreheads. God is giving you the spiritual life. God is giving you dominion over everything that is made out of atoms. God is anointing you as princesses of His own royal house. Believe, girls. Believe.

And so I ask you, do you reject Satan…etc.

Happy to Be Alive

This time last year–quarterfinals of the Big East tournament–the Hoyas were already dead.

But today we visited sweet revenge upon the USF Bulls.

Tomorrow? …Oh, yes: Syracuse. High Noon.

…Check out this interesting sculpture from Chartres cathedral.

The Lord is forming Adam from the dust of the earth, sculpting the head of the first man.

The original Adam was made in the image of the New Adam–Christ. This sculpture reflects this.

May it also reflect the way that the New Adam shapes and moulds us. Only Christ can form me into the person I am truly meant to be.

I allow Him to form me by worshiping Him, studying Him, obeying Him, imitating Him.

May He make saints out of us all!

God Asks Permission His Way

annunciationI am ashamed to admit that I am just now getting around to reading all the homilies and speeches our Holy Father gave when he was in the Israel in May.

When he was preaching in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Pope made a remarkable observation.

He was recounting what happened at that spot, when the Archangel Gabriel awaited the Blessed Virgin’s response:

The narrative of the Annunciation illustrates God’s extraordinary courtesy. He does not impose himself, he does not simply pre-determine the part that Mary will play in his plan for our salvation: he first seeks her consent.

In the original Creation there was clearly no question of God seeking the consent of his creatures, but in this new Creation he does so.

Of course it is a beautiful thing to see the Archangel waiting on Our Lady’s free response–to see the Lord waiting on it, all creation waiting on it.

Pope in Nazareth
Pope meditating during Vespers in Nazareth
What struck me here the most, though, is the way the Pope blithely contrasts this with the way God created us in the first place.

In the original Creation there was clearly no question of God seeking the consent of his creatures.

Of course there wasn’t. He created us out of nothing. You can’t ask nothing permission to create it, because there is nothing to ask.

You can only seek the permission of a free person who already exists. Existing is a given–literally. God gave us ourselves.

Then, He asks us to give ourselves back. Freely giving ourselves back is the one and only way for us to deal with having ourselves in the first place.

It is pointless and absurd to fuss about existing, because it never was, and never could have been, a matter for advice and consent.

But offering oneself back to God as an oblation of love–now that is something to fuss about…

My brother Ben
Speaking of which, a friend asked me to mention that The Bethlehem Monastery of Colettine Poor Clare nuns in Barhamsville, VA is having a “Come and See” day on November 14 for women 18-35.

…P.S. Just in case you were looking for White in the Grey Lady recently, Ben White has moved on from the NYT and is now contributing to a daily briefing on called “Morning Money.”

Turning Your Back to the Sun

earthsunAmong the pagan people who surrounded the ancient Israelites, it was customary to build temples on high places so that, at dawn, the priests could face east and worship the sun.

The Temple in Jerusalem was built in such a way that in order to worship God at daybreak, the priests had to turn their backs to the rising sun in order to face the Holy of Holies.

The Creator has made a beautiful earth for us to live on. The least we can do is take care of it.

Without Christ, however, this planet would be nothing but a rock hurtling us toward doom.

Happy Earth Day! Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever!


Divine Mercy

God prays. He prays to Himself. The Son of God, Who became man, prays to the Father. Christ is our High Priest. God prays as one of us, in the eternal church in heaven.

There was a rabbi in the 1700’s who had some inkling of this. Someone asked the rabbi, “Does God pray?” The rabbi replied, “Yes, He does.”

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Holy Week


Who made this week holy?

We human beings do not have the authority to consecrate a week.

Human authorities can designate federal holidays, Cherry Blossom festivals, tax-due dates, and such things. But no government can make a week—or even a day—holy.

It is not easy for us human beings even to know when Holy Week is. Sometimes it starts in March, sometimes in April. The ancient Romans invented the months. But Holy Week is more primordial than the months.


God made Holy Week. He sanctified this particular week not once, not twice, but three times.

The Lord first sanctified this week when He made the world. Holy Week is when God originally created everything.

Then He sanctified this week again when He led His people out of slavery. This is the week when the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites. It is the week when Moses led them out of Egypt, and the Red Sea parted before them.

vatican-red-seaFinally, the Lord came in the flesh and sanctified this week a third time.

He went to Jerusalem to offer His life as a sacrifice. He consecrated this week forever by sprinkling it with His own Blood.