Philosophy

The Bishop with all our Clergy in Thessaloniki

The ancient Christian writer and theologian Tertullian once asked the Church, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?”

He asked the question as Christianity spread from Israel into the Greek world; and as Greek intellectuals looked for deeper insight into the Christian mystery. Tertullian was asking whether pagan Greek culture—philosophy, poetry, the arts, history and literature—had anything of value for those first missionaries proclaiming the Christian gospel.

Two weeks ago, on a plane landing in Athens, I asked myself Tertullian’s question.  I was in Athens to begin a spiritual pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey “in the footsteps of St. Paul.” I was with a group of pilgrims celebrating the 15th anniversary of Spirit Catholic Radio: eight priests from Lincoln and Omaha; three deacons;140 lay Catholics from across Nebraska and beyond. 

We were led by Steve and Janet Ray, expert pilgrim leaders, and Jim and Karol Carroll of Spirit Catholic Radio. It was a joy and a grace for me to walk as a pilgrim in the footsteps of St. Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, with fellow disciples of Jesus Christ from our state.

Our Ship Docked on Island of Patmos

By cruise ship on the Aegean Sea, we visited and celebrated Holy Mass in Thessoloniki, Philippi, Istanbul, Pergamon, Ephesus, Patmos, Athens and Corinth. We heard talks at these holy sites, given by Steve Ray, Catholic convert, author and film maker, who leads Catholic pilgrimages all over the world.  We heard inspiring homilies by holy priests. We prayed together for all the special prayer intentions we brought with us from home.

Everywhere I traveled, I asked myself “what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” In Athens itself I learned the answer: Athens has everything to do with Jerusalem.  The Gospel can only really be understood in the midst of understanding culture; to understand Christianity as Western Catholics, we need to understand the fundamental history of western civilization.

The Bishop and Steve on Mars Hill in Athens where St. Paul Taught

When St. Paul arrived in Athens, he preached the gospel at the famous Areopagus, a gathering place just beneath the Parthenon. He was able to speak to the Greeks in their own language. He was able to quote Greek poets and philosophers. He appealed to Greeks in their own cultural language because he was schooled in Tarsus, the successor to the school of Athens as the center of learning and education in Asia Minor.

Paul was run out of town after his first visit to Athens.  But he was able to plant the Lord’s seeds of conversion in the hearts and minds of the Athenians—the movers and shakers of the ancient world. He would eventually come back to cultivate those seeds that were planted.

Paul was able to use his fluency with the language, culture and customs of the Greek world in order to present the compelling message of Jesus Christ in a way that was attractive and persuasive. To be sure, St. Paul suffered a great deal during his missionary journeys to the Greek world. The Greeks were highly educated and influential. They were also utterly pagan. They worshiped false gods, they were self-indulgent and decadent, and they were infatuated with progress, technology, and the latest new fad. Paul preached to a world not much different than ours today….

The whole article is excellent and you can read the rest of it HERE. Also on Zenit.org.

You will find out why the picture below was the highlight of Bishop Conley’s trip.

Iraqi's in Athens

 

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Pope Francis has released his first apostolic exhortation,Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). An apostolic exhortation

…is published to encourage the faithful to live in a particular manner or to do something, e.g., post synodal documents offered to the church in summary of a previous synod and hoping the faithful will do something helpful for the life of the church…

Acton’s Director of Research, Sam Gregg, takes a look at Evangelii Gaudium at National Review OnlineFirst, Gregg points out that this is a beautiful document in many ways, with its emphasis on the Holy Spirit and Francis’ call for more collegiality between Rome and local churches.

However, Gregg also says that some of the pope’s points are “rather questionable.” Gregg mentions the subject of Islam and the pope’s assertion that it is non-violent. However, Gregg’s main focus has to do with the pope’s economic reflections.

Prominent among these is the pope’s condemnation of the ‘absolute autonomy of markets’ (202). This, he firmly believes, is at the root of many of our contemporary problems, not least because it helps rationalize an unwillingness to assist those in need.

If, however, we follow Evangelii Gaudium’s injunction (231–233) to look at the realities of the world today, we will soon discover that there is literally no country in which markets operate with “absolute autonomy.” In most Western European countries, for instance, governments routinely control an average of 40 percent of their nations’ GDP. In many developing countries, the percentage is even higher. How much more of the economy do we really want to put into the state’s hands? Is there no upper limit? In private correspondence with the British-Australian economist Colin Clark, for example, even John Maynard Keynes suggested that the figure of “25 percent [of GDP] as the maximum tolerable proportion of taxation may be exceedingly near the truth.”

Nor does there appear to be any consciousness in Evangelii Gaudium of just how regulated most of the world’s economies are. The rules and regulations that apply, for instance, to economic life in North America and Western Europe are fast approaching the status of beyond counting. The situation in most developing countries is hardly any better. So extensive is the range and scope of regulation that, as I’ve argued elsewhere, it is now creating genuine rule-of-law problems in many countries. The amount of regulation affecting developed Western economies is now so great that it is likely that even good judges with no interest in judicial activism are issuing rulings that are ad hoc and arbitrary in nature.

Gregg believes the pope leaves too many assumptions regarding economy unexamined, and that “particular realities” are missing from the pope’s thoughts here. As Gregg concludes:

If we want ‘the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good’ to be more than what the pope calls a ‘mere addendum’ to the pursuit of ‘true and integral development’ (203), then engaging more seriously the economic part of the truth that sets us free would be a good start.

Everyone would gain — and not least those who endure poverty.

Read “Pope Francis and Poverty” at National Review Online.

Also read: Rush Limbaugh is Wrong, Karen Finney of MSNBC is Nuts: Pope Francis and Capitalism

Related posts:

  1. Audio: On NPR, Samuel Gregg Discusses Pope Francis and Economics
  2. Samuel Gregg: Is Pope Francis a Man of the Left?
  3. Can Pope Francis Deal With Toxic Contamination?
  4. Will Pope Francis Go Left on Economics?
  5. Pope Francis and Poverty

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Atheism Rationally Explained :-)

by Steve Ray on February 29, 2012

ATHEISM: The belief that there was absolutely nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits of random stuff thrown together by chance which then turned into dinosaurs who crawled out of the muck. Makes perfect sense to me.

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“Life is about the Journey, not the Destination!” Huh?!

February 24, 2012

“Life is all about the Journey, not the Destination!” (paraphrase of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.) I saw this sign at the airport today. Imagine! In an airport of all places! What stupidity! Grab a passenger arriving at the airport to catch a flight and shout, “Hey, take any flight you want sir, it [...]

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Dr. Peter Kreeft is the Devil: Advising How to Win the World!

December 21, 2011

What a delightful and fun hour! If you have two brain cells that connect and wish to understand God and the world — and if you aren’t afraid of the truth and talk about sex — you will LOVE this. If you aren’t polltically correct about atheism and Islam and other such things, you will [...]

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Why Young People Drop Out of Church (Protestant and Catholic) and Leave the Faith

November 26, 2011

A book and a review evaluate the sad but predictable situation. The Zenit article begins: 1. Churches do have an active engagement with teens, but many of the young people do not grow up to be faithful adult followers of Christ. 2. There are a variety of reasons people drop out, so it is important [...]

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Four Last Things in a Terrifying Story

February 20, 2011

Watch my YouTube Video: Going to Hell *************** The Last Nightmare A Short and Terrifying Story by Steve Ray Everything went blank for a moment, but that moment seemed like eternity. He felt a motion, not with wind and breeze, but a motion none the less. He was traveling, moving, floating, transcending-he wasn’t really sure. [...]

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Enormity of the Universe

November 11, 2010
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On Philippine Radio (on internet)

July 11, 2010

http://radiotime.com/WebTuner.aspx?StationId=14674 We are one the #1 Radio station in the Philippines from 8:30-10:00 AM Eastern time (8:30 PM Philippine time). Tell your Filipino friends in the US that they can listen at the address above

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Creation vs. Evolution: Debating the Really Big Questions in Life

October 6, 2009

“The combination of Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong as presenters of two contrary views on the existence of God (“Man vs. God,” Weekend Journal, Sept. 12) is in itself a “creative act.” For one, God is a fairy tale, and for the other “at least it’s a nice fairy tale.” One may as well have [...]

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