Category : Article

The Creation of Adam
Article, Informational
0

Creation and Evolution and Pope Francis

The Religion headlines of a variety of mainstream media news sources have noted that Pope Francis says evolution is real and God is no wizard.  Social media was all atwitter with reaction, from shock and excitement…

Evolution and Creation 2

 

…to sarcasm, because this is actually not new.

Credit - Catholic Memes

Creation Evolution

No Conflict

Sarcasm aside, the Catholic Church does (officially) teach that there is no conflict between faith and evolution / the Big Bang theory.  Specifically, the Church teaches that Scripture is authoritative only in matters of faith, not science.  To put this another way, the Church will speak to the Why of creation, but not the specific details as to the How.  Catholic teaching asserts that God created all things from nothing, but does not say how.  Explaining how everything came to be belongs to the realm of science.

Continuity

The Church has held this position that there is no conflict between faith and evolution / the Big Bang theory since Pope Pius XII in 1951.

  • Pope Francis made a statement at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 28, 2014.
  • Pope Saint John Paul II made a similar statement to that same group in October 1996.
  • Pope Benedict XVI not only agreed with his predecessor and his successor there is no conflict, he specifically spoke against the idea of teaching “Intelligent Design” as a scientific theory.

It is important that popes reaffirm this teaching in continuity with one another because many people still do not know that this is what the Church teaches.  So, of course Pope Francis made the statement!  But no, Francis did not disagree with Benedict, nor is Francis’ statement in stark contrast to Benedict’s.  There is continuity, as there should be.

Intelligent Design

In 2006-2007, during Pope Benedict’s papacy (2005-2013), there was a heated discussion about teaching Intelligent Design and/or Creationism alongside the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory.  Concern arose because proponents wanted to teach Intelligent Design and/or Creationism as alternative scientific theories.

“Intelligent Design Theory” attempts to be a form of science, redefining science to accept miraculous explanations; Creationism specifically uses the bible as a source of scientific authority.

An article in the Vatican newspaper made it explicitly clear: “Intelligent design is not science and should not be taught as a scientific theory in schools alongside Darwinian evolution.” (Catholic News Service)

Good theology understands God’s role in creation, but that’s theology, not science.  Believing in an “unmoved mover” or “superior cause” or “intelligent designer” is theology, not science.  The Church grants science the rightful domain of explaining the origins of the universe, but acknowledges God’s guidance in some way (and does not define what that “way” is).

Recognizing that it speaks with authority in matters of faith, not science, the Church does not officially endorse any one specific theory. However, the Church does recognizes the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the Big Bang Theory and evolution, and officially states that creation and evolution are not contradictory (the faithful do not need to choose one or the other).


Adam creation © Depositphotos.com/savacoco

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Old Bible
Article, Questions, Scripture
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Have You Ever Wondered: Why the Different Bibles?

Did you know that Catholics use a slightly different Bible than other Christian denominations? Have you ever wondered why?


My 8 year old son (mini-Bill Nye the Science Guy) made his First Holy Communion in May, and has been obsessed with what the differences are, and why there are differences.

When your kid suddenly becomes obsessed with a facet of faith, you do your best to respond in kind.  The explanation–which is wrapped up in Church history–is actually quite interesting.


Alex and Fr. Wencil at 1st Communion

Why the Differences?

A brief recap Jewish history to get some context:  

  • Around 1280 BC, Moses led the Chosen people to the Promised Land
  • King David reigned around 1000 BC
  • In 721 BC the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians
  • In 586 BC the Southern Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians  

As each kingdom fell, the Jews were exiled and scattered–or dispersed (“diaspora”)–around the region.  In the Diaspora following the fall of the Southern Kingdom, many Jews settled in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, which was immersed in Greek language and culture.  After about fifty years, the Persian Ruler, Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, but a whole generation had been born and raised while living in foreign lands, many of whom chose to stay.  As time passed and more Diaspora Jews spoke Greek, there was a desire to have a copy of the Jewish Sacred Scriptures translated into the Greek language.

Legend has it that 72 scholars set out to translate the Scriptures from Hebrew to Greek.  The Greek word for seventy is “septuaginta,” which is why this translation is known as the Septuagint [sep-tue-ah-jint].  It was completed around 100 BC and was widely used by Jews outside of Jerusalem.

So then the New Testament came to be:

  • The life, ministry, parables, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus happened around 30-33AD.
  • The Letters of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude were written to various Christian communities in the years that followed the Resurrection.
  • These Letters were so profoundly powerful that they got passed around from community to community while the stories of Jesus were told and retold orally.
  • Eventually the Gospels were written down and passed around as well.
  • Since most people spoke and wrote in Greek, the Gospels and Letters were also composed in Greek.

Although the New Testament itself was written in Greek, since Jesus and the Apostles lived and traveled in and around Jerusalem and Judea, they probably did not use the Septuagint when they read from scrolls.  They probably used scrolls written in Hebrew and Aramaic.  Which brings us to the next part of the story…

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Priest giving homily
Article, Evangelization, Faith, Liturgy
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A Bad Homily is a Missed Opportunity

We have all sat through bad homilies.  Too many of them.  Too often.

In “Connecting Sermons to Life,” Margery Eagan is spot-on in her criticism of the disconnect between what’s happening in the world and most priests’ homilies at mass.  Between ISIS, Ebola, air strikes in Iraq, climate change, Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Ferguson, and the NFL’s mess with domestic violence, there’s a lot going on in the world.  The Church needs to help Christians process all of this from a faith perspective.

It matters when a priest acknowledges the overload of worldwide suffering, then reminds us that light always emerges from the darkness.

I could not agree more with this part of Eagan’s criticism.

However, Eagan stepped over a liturgical line by concluding that bad homilies mean that Mass is abig bust.”

Uninspiring Sunday sermons, described as “boring,” “irrelevant,” and “poorly prepared” [are a big reason why many Catholics no longer go to Church]. In other words, the Mass — the main contact many Catholics have with their faith — was a big bust.

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Do not forget reminder
Action, Article, Faith, Love, Scripture, Service
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Help Me Remember

The last week of August is the first week of school in our area.  The Friday before school started, the boys and I returned from four weeks of traveling and visiting family (New York, New England, China, and Malaysia… including the rides to and from the airports, the trip home took 42 hours).  We spent the first week of school recovering from jet lag and readjusting to home, schedules, and packing lunches.   Things were chaotic and everyone was exhausted, but we were slowly-but-surely finding our way back to normal.

Mid-morning Thursday on that first week of school, my sister called with an urgent request.  Laurie is the Executive Coordinator for both SafePlace (an organization focused on ending sexual and domestic violence through safety, healing, prevention and social change) and Austin Children’s Services (ACS offers protection and healing to children who have experienced abuse and neglect).

ACS has received eight children this week, and our clothing closet is empty.  Three brothers came in late last night with nothing but the clothes on their backs…and they are going to be here for a while.  Do you have any clothes that you could donate for these three boys?  We need size 3T/4T and size 5/6, as well as size 9 shoes.
Sorting through clothes to make a donation was not on my to-do list.  It wasn’t even on my radar.  But I didn’t even hesitate; of course we can help!  We live in Houston and were planning to visit Austin for the weekend.  I had a little over 24 hours.  As I went through the closets and bins of clothes, I found a lot of 5/6 clothes but I had already passed the 3T/4T on to my nephews.

So I reached out to five local friends who also had boys.  Not one hesitated.  Every single one of them found something to donate – with apologies: “sorry it couldn’t be more…”  The generosity was overwhelming.  We barely had room in the trunk for our luggage.

IMG_3104


  • Recall a time when you were asked to help someone in need.  What happened?

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