The Collegium Center for Faith and Culture (CCFC) was founded as an independent nonprofit organization within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden, NJ, by Fr. Timothy Byerley, Ph. D., a priest of that diocese, for the purpose of evangelization and catechesis.
Fr. Rivera gave an eye opening presentation on C.S. Lewis’ great work, “An Abolotion of Man.” His purpose was not to give an in-depth teaching of every detail of the book, but to inspire us to read it for ourselves, and to give enough of an understanding to help us comprehend what we are reading.
First, Abolition of Man is actually a series of three talks given by CS Lewis. In this series, Lewis uses Philosophy from a variety of sources, but most especially Eastern Philosophy which goes back even before the time of Jesus by several hundred years. The reason for this is to emphasize the existence of the Natural Law as being an obvious truth, and not something invented by Christians, as is often argued by many non theists.
To clarify, the Natural Law, is that law that is written on man’s heart; the innate knowledge of right and wrong. For example, when you were a child and a sibling took something of yours away from you, what is your first response? “That’s not fair!” Where do we get the sense of what is fair or not fair? Were we taught that response or do we instinctively know that what they did was wrong? Natural Law goes beyond this, in that all things have a purpose designed by God. The purpose in accordance to God’s will is a good. In other words, a cat will behave as a cat. A tree will behave as a tree according to the nature God gave it. This does not mean that all that is natural obeys the natural law. Genetics shows us that things can go against the good it is originally designed to do. God designed cells to perform a specific function, but a gene can make that cell cancerous, and it no longer performs the good it is supposed to do. It’s natural, but does not follow natural law. A lion eating a deer is behaving as a lion is supposed to behave. It follows the natural law. When we behave as human beings made in the image of God, we follow the natural law. When we go against the intention God has for us, we violate the natural law.
Back to the themes in the book. The theme of the first lecture focuses on Lewis’ observation of a child’s grammar book teaching underlying themes, through simple statements which at first glance appear to be innocent. The grammar book in particular talks about adjectives being subjective only to one’s emotions and not to an objective reality. Lewis was concerned that this would lead to those children understanding that there is no objective moral truth. Lewis goes on to explain that our thoughts and emotions are important, but must be rightly ordered. This connection of thought and emotion is in the chest, hence the title of the lecture, “Men Without Chests.”
Fr. Rivera went on to show modern day examples of the subliminal messages we get from movies and advertising, which lead to thinking that goes against an objective truth.
For example, look at many children shows. The theme often personifies animals causing many children to grow up believing animals should have equal or even greater rights than humans.
The second lecture focuses on the existence of Natural Law and the reality of an objective moral truth. In his focus on Eastern Philosophy, Lewis calls this the Tao. This tells us that there is a proper goal and a proper way to achieve that goal. We often hear the argument, let them do what they want to do. What concern is it of mine? They make laws for their community, we make laws for our own community. But what if the laws of the one community involves killing the citizens of your town? You know that it’s wrong, but how do you enforce your belief system on them? Who has the right to make universal laws? The only One Who has the right to make universal law is the One Who created all.
Finally, the third lecture focuses on the right vs. wrong use of science to feed our desires or what we call appetites. Lewis was prophetic in stating that science in the wrong hands will make man a slave to man. The fallen human nature wants control, wants to be like God. Science gives him the opportunity to conquer his own humanity. However, often times it is the person with power or wealth who gets control of the other. Lewis was especially concerned about nuclear war, and the ability of one or a few having the power to wipe out an entire population of other people. Other examples include people trying to be something they are not; where they have taken technology to modify themselves in ways that go against humanity. Transhumanism is the prime example of humans trying to control evolution to become a creature they conjure up in their minds. Examples include those who have surgery to give themselves a forked tongue to look like a reptile, add horns or tattoo themselves to look like a cat. There are also those trying to download the human consciousness into computers.
We know, through the natural law, that science must be used in cooperation with God’s design. It is important that children do not grow up with messages that deny this fact, as it will lead to individuals using science for their own power instead of the good of society, or most importantly for the right order of giving glory to God.
This is just a quick overview of Fr. Rivera’s talk, which included examples to clarify many of the points he was making. He and I strongly encourage you to read or listen to The Abolition of Man, as well as look deeper into natural law. Lewis was greatly concerned about the incremental messages we hear, which lead us to have opinions on ethical questions, which we have not scrutinized against the moral law. It is of great importance to teach our children right reason, to learn to question what we believe in light of God’s design.
Recommended further readings include:
* A Brave New world
* End of Time: Philosophy of History by Joseph Pieper
* Spes Salvi – (Hope of Salvation) by Pope Benedict
* Abuse of Language by Joseph Pieper
*After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre
St. John Paul II said the greatest attribute of God is His Mercy. Pope Francis tells us that Jesus is the face of God’s mercy. He adds that salvation depends on mercy, and when we’re not merciful, our salvation is in danger. Continue reading “Humility: The Road to Mercy – Deacon Bob Hamilton”
On Oct. 23, Deacon Frank Dunleavy spoke to us about the Seven Great Schools of Catholic Spirituality, in which his main source was an audio course from “Now You Know Media” – by Fr. Anthony Ciorra – called The Seven Great Schools of Catholic Spirituality. Deacon Frank was kind enough to email me notes from his presentation. Below are the highlights: Continue reading “Seven Great Schools of Catholic Spirituality”
Monica Ashour MTS; M Hum, Author and National Speaker for
The Theology of the Body Evangelization Team, Inc. (TOBET) and Catechetical Formation in St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body, presented “Theology of the Body” for Children.
What is the very first way we recognize that we are human? Our Body! What’s the first way we know that we are male or female? Our Body!
Maria Coromoto Marrero Bianchini, the daughter of Maria Esperanza, delivered her mother’s message of hope and love to a packed room at the Collegium Center for Faith and Culture. Joining her was her husband Carlos, family friends, Piri and Coky Liscano and Fr. Timothy Byerley, the Vice Postulator for the beatification cause of Maria Esperanza.
Deacon Bob Hamilton took us through the romantic journey of God as our lover, chasing us in a ‘teenage crush’ to a committed, intimate union of souls. Using scripture, writings of St. Catherine of Sienna, Fulton Sheen and others, Deacon Bob shows God as the lover not only of the human race, but of each one of us individually. This written overview cannot express the enthusiasm and emotion of his presentation, but I pray it will at least give you some insights.
Fr. Joseph Byerley used scripture, St. Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic letter on the meaning of human suffering and practical examples to answer the age old question of why God allows good people to suffer.
Tuesday, July 21st at 7:00, Fr. Tim Byerley, the Vice Postulator for the Beatification and Canonization Cause of Servant of God Maria Esperanza, gave a detailed presentation into the life and spirituality of this great mystic of our own times. Fr. Tim shared how she balanced her great gifts of visions, prophecy, stigmata and her mission of evangelization with her vocation as wife and mother. Maria was at the center of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Betania Venezuela, which were approved by the Church in 1987. She brought the message of Our Lady, Reconciler of All Peoples and Nations to people throughout the world, but especially through Venezuela and The United States. She died in 2004, here in New Jersey and her Canonization cause was opened in 2010.