Sunday, 26 February 2012

Angels and Academics

I have always said that if I was going to pursue theological studies at the graduate level, I would do it in the area of Angelology. Specifically with regards to the question "When are we assigned our Guardian Angel?"

Angelology, if the name does not speak for itself is, of course, the study of Angels. Yes I do believe in Angels. Many of the various popes in the history of the Church have encouraged us to frequently pray to our guardian angel. I pray to my guardian angel all the time. I know that my kids' guardian angels put in a lot of over time. If any of you have ever seen a precocious two year old narrowly miss smacking his face off the kitchen table as he leans just a little too far over to reach the jam, you know what I mean. There have been many amazing stories, both anecdotal and historically verified about how angels have come to our aid throughout history. The Church teaches that each one of us is assigned a guardian angel, but what I would like to examine is, at what point does our angelic guardian get assigned to us?

You see, much of what the church teaches about angels comes from the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote extensively about the nature, intelligence, origin and substance of angels. While I would not presume to take on the Seraphic Father, I would argue that what he wrote regarding when we are assigned our angelic guardian was technically inaccurate.

The Church clearly teaches that ensoulment (the moment in which we are given a soul) happens at conception, which is incidentally when science clearly states that life begins. By the way, the question as to whether or not human life begins at conception is really just a philosophical debate, because anyone who has taken grade 9 science knows that as soon as an organism is fertilized it is considered a zygote, which is scientifically recognized as a stage of life for that particular organism, whether it be a plant, or an animal.

According to the Summa, a person is assigned their angel at birth, (Summa 113:5) under the assumption that while in utero they are protected by their mother's guardian angel. However we know that the conventional scientific explanation of human gestation at the time the Summa was written was erroneous and has since been scientifically proven wrong.

So, it stands to reason that:

If a guardian angel is assigned to every soul, and if ensoulment occurs at the moment of conception, then it is reasonable to presume that our guardian angel is assigned to us at the moment of our conception.

The thing I love about academics is the process by which an argument or position is reasonably proposed and defended for the sake of pursuing knowledge. However there is a danger in academia to become disconnected with any real practical application for such knowledge. So what practical application could such a question be applied too?

Well, I think that the application of this pursuit is a pastoral one. If we can reasonably assume that our guardian angels are assigned to us at conception, then we can confidently invoke the guardian angels of the unborn. Because God knows, in this day and age, they need all the help they can get.

Now, I fully admit that given my limited knowledge, I might be totally off base. If there is a theologian out there who can give some insight (fully supported of course) about our guardian angels, I would really appreciate it! In the mean time,

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen



Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Happy Pancake Day!


Greetings everyone!


Thank you all very much for all the birthday greetings! As I write this post, it is the day after my 38th birthday, which is usually not so much cause for celebration but it happens to also be Pancake Tuesday or by its other name, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the connection between Mardi Gras and the liturgical season of Lent, allow me to clarify. Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of lent which is the period of forty days of fasting and abstinence in preparation for Easter, which also last forty days. In time when there was no refrigeration, it was customary to "clean the fat" out of the pantries by having a great big feast the Tuesday before ash Wednesday...hence Pancakes!!!

By the way, in case some of you don't know, Sundays do not count as days of fasting or abstinence which is why if you did the math, the forty days of lent always seem longer than the forty days of Easter (yes that means that you can have chocolate on Sundays during lent)

I have always found the correlation of science, psychology and religious practice fascinating.....

The purpose of the lenten season for adults is to examine any particular vices we have that may be impeding our relationship with God, our families or our personal growth and to "give them up" in exchange for behaviors that are healthier, more positive and lead us to become better people. And we actively, consciously practice these behaviors for the forty days of Lent.

Incidentally, psychological research has shown that it takes between three to six weeks to create a habit, which is precisely the length of the lenten season! Hmmmmm

Anyway, over the years I have come up with several creative lenten practices however for this post I thought I would pass on suggestions of what NOT to give up for lent:

  1. Shoes, especially if you live in Canada at this time of year.
  2. Brushing your teeth, unless you want everyone else around you to do penance too.
  3. Fibre (that was probably my worst lent ever)
  4. Sarcasm (that was actually harder than giving up fibre)
  5. Your job
  6. Salad
  7. Complimenting your wife, unless you like sleeping in the garage.
  8. Sleep
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cleaning around the house

Incidentally if you want to be particularly penitential this lenten season, give up coffee cold turkey.....

Enjoy your pancakes!!





Monday, 13 February 2012

Punch it Chewy!

In her classic work of spiritual literature, "The Interior Castle," St. Teresa of Avila explains that God's providence is often revealed through His timing. Personally, I have come to the realization that God's timing often reflects the way we tend to do things, which in my case is very last minute. 

Waiting for God is not easy. We live in a world of push button convenience, I can't tell you how impatient I get heating coffee in the microwave, or when it takes longer than two seconds to load a webpage. In a lot of ways, we have been conditioned to rush through life. Haste makes waste, goes the old adage. This is true for any endeavor, whether carpentry or accounting. In fact, one can also say that a rushed life is a wasted life.

One of the results of this perceived urgency is that it makes waiting for God that much harder. It is easier to reach for the credit card to make purchases and waiting for God to provide either the resources, or even something better. 

The reality is, waiting is exactly what we are called to do. 

Living according to scriptural financial principles involves a surrendering to God and trusting that He knows what you need more than you do. He also knows when you will need it. I remember reading Kimberly Hahn quoting her father in "Rome Sweet Home" that Jesus is either the Lord of your entire life, or He is not. This is true for every aspect of your life, whether it is in the area of fertility, or finances. As I have said before, you either believe in God, or you don't. If you do believe in God, then you either trust Him, or you don't. 

One of my favorite scenes in Return of the Jedi is when Lando and Nien Nunb are flying the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Endor. Just after they take out the main generator they fly out at breakneck speed through the exploding Death Star as the flames are overtaking them.

I can personally say that waiting for God's timing, while living on a single income can be like flying the Millennium Falcon out of the Death Star. There have been times when we were down to our last dollar, and payday was still a week away, when we have received financial blessings in ways that can only be described as God's timing. It takes courage to wait for the Lord, not just patience.

There are tons of scriptural passages that give examples of God's provision...."Ask and you shall receive" (Mt 7: 7-8) "Do not worry" (Lk 12: 22-31) but my personal favorite is an obscure passage found in the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 17 Verses 24 through 27. Allow me to paraphrase:

Tax collector: HEY YOU! Do you think talk is cheap? You guys gotta pay the temple tax!

Peter: ummm....let me check with the Boss... Uhh Jay Cee? The guy says we gotta pay some sort of temple tax.

Jesus: Dude, do kings make their own kids pay taxes? I don't think so. But just so this guy doesn't get all uptight about it, go down to the water, throw in a fishing line, and you will catch a fish, in its mouth you will find a gold coin. Give it to the guy and let him keep the change.


How cool is THAT??




Friday, 3 February 2012

TiPSI Dad Push Up Challenge Month 2

Greetings Everyone!
Welcome to month two of the TiPSI Dad push up challenge! If you have been following since the beginning, congratulations for completing 499 pushups! (at the time of this post)

Now, chances are, if someone told you to do nearly 500 pushups just over a month ago you would have probably shook your head and said they were crazy, however, just by doing a little more each day you were able to accomplish just that.

If you think about it, many of the accomplishments we achieve in life happen just like that, as a result of doing just a little more each day.

If you joined us a little late in the challenge, worry not! Just join in when ever you read this and you too will be doing 500 or so pushups a month in no time!

So each month I am going to post an additional challenge for days one to ten for those of you out there who are feeling especially ambitious, however there is no obligation to go beyond doing one push up for every date of the month.

Here is this months extra challenge:

For days one to ten, make every pushup a ten second pushup.

Here is what it looks like:

More TiPSI Dad videos to come!

Next post: Flying the Millennium Falcon