Tag Archives: faith and reason

Georges Lemaître remembered at birthday

Lemaitre and EinsteinToday is the birthday of Father Georges Lemaître, born in 1894 in Charleroi, Belgium.

Father Lemaître studied civil engineering at the Catholic University of Louvain before serving in the Belgian army during World War I. After the war he trained to become a priest and a cosmologist. He succeeded in both endeavors. He is a great witness to work of faith and reason and faith and science.

In 1923, he was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Malines. He was a secular a priest and not a Jesuit as some assume. Father received his PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1960 Saint John XXIII bestowed the title of Monsignor on Lemaître. Also in 1960, Lemaître became the presidentof the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.

A biographer writes: In 1927 he published his most famous paper, “A Homogeneous Universe of Constant Mass and Growing Radius Accounting for the Radial Velocity of Extragalactic Nebulae,” in which he applied Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity to the entire universe. According to Lemaître’s analysis, the universe was in a state of constant expansion, having begun at a specific point in time. Two years later, Edwin Hubble published his observations of distant galaxies that supported the idea. Although Lemaître remained a devout Catholic, he opposed efforts to link the creation and expansion of the universe to divine action.”

“He successfully persuaded Pope Pius XII to refrain from making proclamations about cosmology. Lemaître died on 20 June 1966, two years after the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation provided experimental evidence in favor of his bold idea.”

Monsignor died at the age of 71 on June 20, 1966 in Leuven, Belgium.

Once an unbeliever, now a Catholic

In a week’s time many people will be baptized, received into full communion with the Catholic Church or receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Truly an process of discernment on the parts of the persons and the parish staff who take the time to teach the faith, propose a new way of seeing life, and being a good example that it is possible to be a Catholic. The process we use is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults –the RCIA (and there is another process for children of catechetical age but not yet in regular Christian education).

What I have found is that the RCIA not only forms persons in accepting Jesus Christ into their hearts for the first time, but the RCIA also challenges me to live differently and to recommit myself to the salvation offered to me by the Lord. The RCIA has helped me to love the Church, myself, and others in a deeper way. From experience, I can I say with certainty, that a properly organized RCIA process will show the contours of faith and reason by demonstrating a Catholic faith is not decrepit but rooted in Jesus Christ showing the to world how to become authentic apostles. A properly organized RCIA program will give the fullness of the revealed faith and the faith, not chain of opinions or sentimental moralisms.

I think some of the key questions before all of us this Lent is: In what ways has the content of the Catholic faith changed me? Am I familiar with the Lord? Have I developed the capacity with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to share the good news with others? Am I willing to say that Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior and a priority in my life, today and forever?

A recent article by Catherine Quinn, “I Was a Pagan, Hedonistic, Man-hating Feminist. But Now I am Catholic. This is My Story: How I found happiness in the place I least expected.” Ms Quinn will open a new door for you.

Good Pope John was no lightweight…

Earlier today I read a very insightful essay on the First Things blog by William Doino, Jr, “John XXIII’s Prophetic Encyclical.”

I have to say in the effort of full disclosure, I’ve never read Blessed John’s Ad  Petri Cathedram (1959); neither have I read anything about it. No surprise, really, given that so many have overlooked John XXIII as a nice, rotund pope who was not much more than a jolly, inviting person. John’s teaching is not to be obscured, it needs our firm attention and implication. So, this is a great find on my part.

May I suggest that you read Mr. Doino’s essay and the pontiff’s encyclical. It is clear that the blessed pope is dealing with the hard issues of faith and reason, especially the clarity objectivity of Truth. As Doino points out Good Pope John was not a relativist on truth and good order of the proclaiming gospel. Among the contents of this obscure papal treatise are the topics of Christian unity under the guidance of the Pope, Vatican II’s preparation, the role of bishops in the Church, the mission of consecrated men and women, the value of theology, world peace, and social justice.

Christ or Christendom?

There is much consider as the culture many of us live in secularizes, that is, divorces us from a tangible Christian perspective, manner of being, and how we live in a world with diverse opinions. Today, we have to ask about Christ or Christendom. It is said that Saint Augustine asked, what there is of Christian among Christians is Christ.  He is orienting our attention not to an idea but to a person, a meeting, an encounter, with a person. Emphatically we all have to state that to be a Christian is to be in contact with a person, Jesus the Christ. Being Christian does not mean moral norms, cultural ideology, and precepts of the Church. Morality, culture and precepts within an ecclesiology are extraordinarily important, but they are secondary in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and adhering to Him; it is also a firm belief in heaven (salvation).

Is Christ important, or are consequences of Christ? We all have to come to terms with how we let what and who we believe in impact the way we live. That is, does Jesus Christ really mean something to you and does said belief  have consequences in the manner of how you live? As a friend of Jesus Christ, what does it mean to hold to an “economy of salvation”? How do we interpret history of the Christian era? What role does true faith play in this period of history? Where are we as Christians in this history? Does eternal life with the Trinity mean anything anymore?  In order to do so we have to be as objective as possible; our ideological impulses have to be put aside so as to deal with reality without rewriting the past.

Start now in developing a more coherent, mature faith in Jesus Christ and then in His Church. You ought to read the following articles to begin (remember not to form conclusions yet) your thinking on the subject:

Discernment of Church leadership

There is a tendency to think of the Catholic Church in political terms (liberal or conservative) and not in theological terms (communio, salvation, proclamation of the kingdom, sacraments, discernment, etc). I think some of the those who use political terms to describe the Church do so neither know the distinctions that need to be made nor the horizons of the gospel and magisterium of the Church. The Church is asking for the Good News, not personal news. Indeed, the human heart not ideology is what the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Church) are aiming to serve. Conversion to Jesus Christ is hardly a liberal or conservative set of ideas.

Having said this, I think it is fair to point out that some segments of the papacy over time have treated the Church as a political pawn in the game of chess. They have do so to the detriment of the pursuit of salvation in Christ Jesus. We do notice how a pendulum swings in certain ecclesial administrations, corrective or not. As a friend points out, one only has to study the periods surrounding Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX. He notes, “This plague of obscurantism was followed by the more enlightened reign of Leo XIII.”

What ought the laity and lower clergy hope for —discern—in the episcopal and cardinal appointments? Certainly not more of the same. The binary of left-right is inaccurate not matter if it is fitting secular manner of judgement. I think it is fair to say that too many journalists like some of the those working for big media centers do the world a disfavor by obscuring the issues in pointing out silly comparisons and contrasts in the hierarchy such as clothes and fine living (cf. Burke and Wuerl). Each churchman brings to the table certain level of sophistication and expertise.

We need, we desire, a church and therefore for all the leaders: a capacity to preach, to offer the sacred Liturgy with the transcendentals in mind, who are able to read literature other than canon law, morality and speculative theology, who are able to consult with a wide range of people and experience (discernment), who are not afraid of women (and men), who are able to enjoy the creative works of a museum and a symphony, etc. Get my drift?

The Catholic Church needs real men (and where able, women) who have a real humanity and not a reductionistic view of creation. Holy Church wants in her leadership a Trinitarian vision with a recognition of paternity, filiation, spiration, procession and mission. We are all tired of the status quo of the psycho-sexual, anti-intellectual, economic and theologically weak types. These problems are encountered not merely in the secular clergy and religious (Benedictines, Jesuits, Salesians, Dominicans and Franciscans) but also in the laity.

May all things be done so that God may be glorified!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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