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Friday, July 20, 2012

Comments on the Aurora Shooting

Violence saddens me... especially senseless violence like the shooting and killing of some 12 innocent people in a movie theater in Colorado... and the injuring of dozens more.  Why would it even cross someone's mind to ever do something such as this?

Human beings... in our free-will, our gifts of intellect, and the gift of our passions, are capable of great sacrifices of Love and virtue.  It is apparent, however, that we are also capable of grotesque and abhorrent acts such as the one in Colorado this morning.

The motive of this "alleged" shooter, a 24 year old man, is unknown.  New information says he also planted bombs in the apartment which he lived, and that he just waited there for Police to come and arrest him.  He did not take his own life, which so many of the shooters like him tend to do.  It seems he was not afraid of what would happen to him.  This makes me believe that this was well planned on his part, not an act of passion, and that through it, he wishes to make some statement.  He will surely get enough stage time to say what he wants.

But really... why does anyone do something like this?  While this action can never be excused, and we can never initially know the fullness of motives for why violence happens, especially in this case, there is a history of shootings among those who are bullied.  We live in a SINFUL world, my friends, and we MUST, we are OBLIGATED, do to everything we can individually and as a community to make sure things like these never happen.  At the end of time, when we stand before God and he shows us the effects of our actions throughout our whole lives... how many of us will be happy with what they see?  I urge you, do not let this act, or Columbine, or Cold Springs, or Virginia Tech, go in vain!  Keep them in your mind, pray about them, and let them motivate you to live every moment of every day in love for your neighbor... especially those who feel as though no one loves them.  Love can change hearts.  Love can convert sinners.  Love can prevent acts such as this shooting.

Finally, brothers and sisters, I wish to impress on you the importance this shows us of being ready for our death!  Those people in the movie theater, I say with confident certainty that none of them went to the movie expecting to be killed.  How many of them now, wish that they had lived lives closer to God, that they had gone to Church or confession just one more time, or that they had made amends with broken relationships they just never got around to?  Life is precious! But even more important is what happens to us after life... let's not take either for granted--let's live life to the fullest, loving, maintaining healthy relationships, and doing what God wants us to do, and lets do it with our eyes set to heaven, taking care to avoid any sin, and asking for forgiveness as soon as we can for those sins we do commit.

We pray, O Lord, for all those affected by the shooting in Aurora, CO this morning.  For those who were taken, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let your perpetual light shine on them.  For those who loved them, or who will be forever changed by the experience, we ask you to send down your Holy Spirit to console them.  We pray that, in the devastation and suffering that they are feeling, they cling closer to you and that they're hearts not be hardened or despair.  Finally, we pray for the man who committed this atrocity, may he feel true sorrow and repent of his sin, and may everyone who hates him, who wishes damnation on him, experience a softening of heart and pray for his conversion.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reflections on the Purpose and Size of the Universe

One of the things I've been meditating on lately is the universe, particularly: Is there other life out there, and if not, then what is the purpose of the universe being incomprehensibly "big".

First of all, let me just give a little background for those of you who have never studied how big the universe is...  Our Galaxy, the milky way, is one of millions in the universe.  Even if we could channel the science of Star Trek and travel at "above light speeds" (in a sense), we could never hope to physically explore more than a fraction of the universe.  Furthermore, the universe is bigger than we can even observe, and its constantly expanding.  To use theological terms, the universe is somewhat like a mystery... we can begin to comprehend its vastness, but there's things we just don't even know we don't know about it.

So why did God make a universe that is so big?  I have a few theories, and if you as a ready have others, or agree with one or more of these, please feel free to let me know.

1) Mystery: The reason God made the universe a mystery is exactly that--to give us something that will always be a mystery, even to the realm of science.  In some sense, it puts humans in their place, reminding us of how small, finite, and powerless we are compared to the rest of creation.  It helps us to be OK with mystery... we can keep trying to understand it, but ultimately, much like some of revelation, we must be OK with not understanding it completely.  It enables us to continually be amazed at the beauty of creation--it's nearly impossible to meditate on the universe and feel awe at its beauty and complexity.  Finally, this also helps us be a bit more humble.

2) A Purpose Unknown:  It's possible that the universe is so big because God has it purpose for it that we just don't even begin to realize.  While this is much like the first reason, this theory postulates that there is a reason beyond just being a means of exploration and beauty for the universe.

3) Other Life: This is the most commonly believed theory as to the universe, and it's the one that I personally struggle with the most.  As far as I know, the Church holds no definitive teaching about whether alien life exists, or even if believers shouldn't believe in it.  I remember reading something about JPII saying it was up to the choice of the believer, but don't quote me on that.  Anyway, I'm not sure where I stand on the issue.  I know C.S. Lewis, in his sci-fi space series, posits a very believable scenario in which alien life could exist on other planets.  Furthermore, from a statistical standpoint, it's very hard not think that intelligent life could exist on at least one other of the millions of planets in the universe.
      However...from a theological standpoint, it would seem that believing in other beings would compromise the state of human persons as the crown and center of creation, Christ's sacrifice for human's of all time, and our unique relationship with God.

I haven't made my mind up about reason #3, but the first two seem completely reasonable.  Am I missing anything?  No matter what the reason why the universe is so dang huge, it's still one of the most fascinating things in existence, and I will probably never grow tired of thinking about it.