Sunday, 20 January 2008

Life with hope

I just want to write a small note on the fact that we are now 4 months in the noviciate. This means that we have about 1/3 of the whole year done... it is amazing how time passes by. Not that is seems like yesterday that we started, or that the time was empty, but it just seems to pass so quick!

I guess that this is a good sign. If time goes quick it is often an indication that one is enjoying it, and that is defiantly the case with me!

Being a Catholic for about 5 years now it strikes me over and over again how rich our belief is. This life, in my experience is definitely my way to life this belief, but more general I think it is just amazing the depth it has, the fullness, the fulfillment towards us being true human beings.

The popes encyclical "Spe Salvi" talks about hope, and the lack of hope in our modern society. The hope that is put in man made systems, and the expectations that are put on science and politics to make this world an utopia. The expectations to undo "the fall", to learn to control it.
He, the pope, points out that the only place where we find genuine hope is in the Church, through our faith, as he explains that hope is the same as faith. There is off course a lot more in the encyclical, and I encourage anybody to read it, but I I find this a striking point.

Before I became a catholic, I would have had put hope in things to come, in a career, in marriage, having a family. To the end of my studies I discovered that God existed, and found the fullness of hope in God. I figured out since that the hope that one can have in work, as I had a good job, and other earthly things are just ways, in my opinion, of comforting our inner unease we have with our lives. The current moment is often not what we expect, there is something missing. It is not as it used to be, or it is not as we expected. We experience some sort of restlessness, and try to find a way out of that. We try to find hope, and often look in the wrong place...

A lot of people nowadays put this hope on things like money, but they don't last. As we can see, rich people are often not happy people. They can buy anything they want, and have almost everything you can think of. They try to buy their happiness, their fulfillment but the more they try, the more they find out that they cannot buy it, and this might lead to despair. This despair might then in some extreem cases lead to the flight to drink, drugs, sex or other temporal means of seeking fulfillment.
For people who are not as well off it is almost the same, but their despair might be that they think they might be happy if they could buy everything like a rich person, but they cannot.

In both cases, hope and happiness are sought in earthly things, in material goods, in things we can control ourselves.This is not where we are going to find hope. Hope is faith, and faith is faith in God. God is where our heart rest, it is where we find the peace deep down in our being. It is not an ideal, not a flight from reality. No instead it is a full embrace of reality, a full embrace of the world. God gives us the wisdom to see the world, to see what it is about, to see the beauty in it, to see the beauty in our fellow humans., and also the beauty of the now and the current moment. Hope is a touch of Gods love in our hearts, a peaceful settlement.

Coming back to the fullness of our faith, I think it is so amazing that the knowledge of God is so long around, and that there are so little people who know it, and who life it as well. It is not a theory, it is a way of life. I am just so amazed that this fullness of life is know by so few, and not accepted. This included myself, I didn't know it, and it makes my heart wants to scream out to tell the world about the beauty they are missing. I want to see Gods love to come over people as a wave, taking them, and carrying them to life everlasting, and indeed also love everlasting.

Let us try and become people of God, let us try to be the light of the world, sings pointing towards Him. I know and realise myself, especially being in the noviciate, that this is a life long challenge, and a daily choice, something one has to work on every day. Trying to be a saint is not easy, and as for me, ask the brethren I life with how far off I am from anything near someone out of whom the light of God is shining. We have to try on a daily basis though, and not give up. There is hope there too, and with Gods help even I might get a bit nearer before the end of my life!

As for the noviciate, I thank God for every minute of it, even if I don't always feel like it! 2/3 of the year ahead, and we will see what happens after that... I life in hope!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Greek vocablist (with Word Frequency in NT)

I also created a vocabulary list according to the Word Frequency a word is found in the New Testament (words occurring more than 10 times). This list again works with Vocabworks.

The words are arranged in groups of 25 allowing for gradual learning, and the frequency filter can be used if required to filter on the amount of times the Greek word is used in the New Testament.

There are two version. One with all the words in the NT (as in the list, 5388 words). Also there is a version with all words occurring more than 5 times (as my old Windows 98 computer doesn't like 5000+ words) which is a total of 1859 words.

Set with all the words used in the New Testament
Set with words occurring more than 5 times

(I am using Rapidshare as it is an easy way to quickly share files. Just follow the procedures as explained, you don't have to register of pay, just pick the free option)

Update:
I have a link to an example configuration of Vocabwords included in my post on my word frequency list of Greek vocabulary for Romans: Please follow this link!

Update:
As I see that this post is often visited I just wanted to add that I found the following New Testament edition very helpful: "A Reader's Greek New Testament", published by Zondervan.

It is a UBS based Greek NT but has every word which is used less than 30 times translated into English at the bottom of the page. This is very helpful in starting to read the text. Where interlinear can make one to lazy, this is a really good help.

I am not a very quick learner of languages, and as such try to read every day the Gospel of the day in Greek to work on my Vocabulary, but fairly soon after starting to learn the words occurring more than 30 times it is possible to make sense out of the text!

The ISBN is 0-310-24888-4.

Update
I now have an iPhone/iPad/iTouch App in the AppStore, which makes it very easy to practice vocabulary. It includes Latin, Greek and Hebrew: iTunes App Store

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Wheelock's latin vocab lists

Update: I now have an iPhone/iPad/iTouch App in the AppStore, which makes it very easy to practice vocabulary. It includes Latin, Greek and Hebrew: iTunes App Store

Just a quick post for people who are using Wheelock's latin and are looking for a good way of practising their vocabulary. As I am trying to build my own vocabulary I came across Vocabworks and, although haven't used it a lot yet, think it is a good tool for practising.

I put the Wheelock's latin vocabulary (which I downloaded) into Vocabworks.
The vocab list can be downloaded from:
http://rapidshare.com/files/202793053/Wheelock.vcb

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Talking about the Church

Yesterday I was at a talk by Donald Cozzens. The title of the talk was "Faith that Dares to Speak - Love that Dares to Question". Fr. Cozzens has written a few books under which "Sacred silence" and "The changing face of the priesthood".

I don't want to give a summary of the talk, as I am sure there are a lot of people who can do a much better job than I can, but want to make an observation. Part of the lecture was about the futile system on which the Church operate, and in the way I perceived it, about the inadequacy of this system. That on itself is something that one can agree with or not, but I find sometimes that if these topics are brought up that we get a bit sensitive about words.
Often terms as 'vassals' and 'laity' are brought up, and it is pointed out that these refer to children, and uneducated/unlettered people. The fact that it was that way for centuries upon centuries, does that mean now that we have a much better educated western world that the church doesn't work because we use those words?

I understand that part of the scandals in the church are because of the system the church operates on. If there is one person responsible for many and makes a decision, and maybe a wrong decision, than it is very easy to point this out. However, does that mean that the system doesn't work? Because society has become more educated, does it mean that we have the change the whole church to suit it? Focusing then on the words used feels a bit like putting petrol on a fire, and isn't really needed, as it is common sense that 'laity' in the modern world doesn't mean uneducated. A good portion of the talk was based on this, and although I am sure there is some truth in the problems with positions of power, as we are all human, I am convince it is not the cause of a falling attendance at mass and less vocations to the priesthood.

In my opinion, I think that we shouldn't focus to much of our energy on giving out about the Church hierarchy, but should look on ways to actually proclaim the gospel to people. Changing the structure of the Church is not going to bring people back or convert them. It might make people who don't have any power now, and might have them maybe more happy, but the church is not a secular organisation!

It seems to me in my limited amount of time I am a Catholic that a lot of people are concerned about the state of the church, and often it is mentioned that young people are falling away and stop practicing their faith.

If this is the case, would it not be much better to focus on making our faith real, by living the gospel. By being an example to them, through the reverent celebration of the sacraments, and by the way we life our lives. Would it not be more beneficial to start (youth) prayer meeting to bring people with faith together, and to let them experience what it is to be a community, to share a common belief. Youth 2000 in Ireland is a good example of the need there is among the young!
Should we not focus our energy on proclaiming the gospel, maybe by means of organisations as the Legion of Mary. Young and old giving their spare time to reach out to other through for example house visitation and hostels.

I can agree that there is a things that have to be done inside the church, but instead of focusing our energy on trying to get rid of the hierarchy, could we not first start to build up the body of Christ by living and proclaiming the gospel? We need saints to be examples, not meetings to discuss our feeling about unfairness...

Monday, 7 January 2008

Ordinations

It has been a long time (almost a month) since my last post. The novitiate is going very well (at least from my perspective, don't know of course what others think!). This is the main reason I don't post as much as I like. I really want to try and make most of this year, and don't want to sending too much time on the internet!

More and more I see the challenges that are before me, and I realise more and more that there is a lot that I have to do and learn if I want to become a preacher. Especially on the side of my prayer life! Christmas has been great, and I really enjoyed the few quite days after Christmas, but also realise that we cannot life on chocolate all the time!

This realisation was given a lot of new life during the weekend when we had 3 of the brethren being ordained as deacons last Saturday: brothers Fergus Ryan, Declan Corish and David Rocks. Such a great occasion brings it really home to me that I have to become a man of prayer, and in that way others can see Christ in me. No need to say I have a lot of work to do! I think the Archbishop gave a good homely of encouragement to that respect.
It was the first time I was present at an ordination , and I really enjoyed it! Please have a look at the blog of our vocation director for more information: http://www.irishdominicanvocation.blogspot.com

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The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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