It was the editor, not Tom McMahon who got mixed up and mislaid a commentary last week. Here is the mislaid Part II of Tom's exploration of the lessons we draw out of the Renaissance. He argues one the greatest developments were the initiatives to respect the freedom of the individual.
Back on track … few things connected to the Middle Ages
As I open I would like to address Brian Coyne's idea that I was reaching out to the lapsi in my January commentary. I never heard the word before and if our good editor thinks I am fishing for lost souls I dutifully respond with an old Mexican saying … no comprehende,senor! [Editor's response: I understood what you were writing, Tom, more in the sense of wanting to express a sense of empathy and solidarity with those who have departed the Church, or active sacramental participation, rather than wanting to convert or re-convert them, or 'fish for their souls'.]
I long have abandoned Plato's division of body and soul as I fantasize myself as still riding the run away Polar Express of 2008 commentaries I have a sense that conservatives may choose not to read my language and that most of Catholica's readers are jetting together into a religion fit for the age of technology. I see our editor as Captain Kirk of the space ship Catholica and myself as a navigator on a serious and blissful space journey outside Vatican jurisdiction. Jesus has returned to space station earth and is sending us out as probes; our duty as followers is to learn from the past and move on to the future. Be attentive to the human if you want to appreciate Jesus. A young generation who have been intoxicated with technology quietly yearns for love and understanding. Ours is the task of converting the mechanical back into being human.
A late insertion, after the commentary was fully written: I have just returned from breakfast with "Sam", 64 year old who has complete government disability due to brain damage while in the US Army. We eat at "Just Breakfast" a hole in the wall joint that jumps with positive atmosphere, good food, and waitresses who takes care of the human in us hungry males. I complimented Laurie for her genuine smile and her response "I love my job", which really translates into "I respect and care for our clients". I complimented the cook for his kindness, he coming out with a specially prepared omelet for a Mexican who was dissatisfied with his first plate, probably not cooked like Mama did down Tiawana way. The meals are truly served as eucharist, with Jesus-style love and friendship. (See my commentaries on Eucharist/eucharist in 2008. www.catholica.com.au/gc1/tm/011_tm_091107.php) The next time I feel depressed I shall motor down to Monterey Road and take in some healthy therapy. Ah the mystery of that Jesus fellow and the disguises he wears.
I took two reads of my own last commentary to buckle down to looking again at the Middle Ages and my promise to ferret out what we have today in modern culture that has its roots in the medieval times. New-found discoveries in the Middle Ages beacon me like the Odyssey's Sirens. I need buckle myself to the mast of future study and return on my own in secret to the marvels of that period from which the Renaissance evolves. (Positive thinking, curiosity, and imagination are great medicine for stimulating the chemistry of the brain and avoiding dementia … so Tom teaches in our Senior Health Course.) We saw universal coinage, the separation of the secular from religious education, and the establishment of republics as well as some of the masters of Florence like Michelangelo and Dante.
The human thirst for freedom...
One of the prominent world-wide phenomenon that roots from the 1500's is the human thirst for freedom. Remember the Gospel where Jesus says "I have come to set you free".
Official White House portraits of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt.
I saw it coming universally soon after World War Two, indigenous people overthrowing Colonial powers and the Roman Institution issuing the Vatican Two document on Religious Freedom, orchestrated by John Courtney Murray SJ. America would never have had Norman Rockwell's freedom portraits without the wool combers of Florence striking in 1394. I copy from Wikipedia the relevant Four Freedoms portion of the speech of FDR on January 5, 1941.
I was 13 — six months away from seminary — the world was at war and I was embarking on abandoning my freedom to the roman clerical system.)
FDR: In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called "new order <http://www.best-norman-rockwell-art.com/four-freedoms.html>" of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb. ...Franklin Delano Roosevelt
(Tom calls this FDR's Sermon on the Mount, knowing full well that wonderful woman and wife Eleanor put the ideas in the president's head.)
The Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell
The Four Freedoms as portrayed by Norman Rockwell for the Saturday Evening Post.
These paintings were subsequently turned into posters to encourage support of the American War effort.
Parger size images can be viewed and prints purchased at www.best-norman-rockwell-art.com
The new order of Hitler and other tyrants has gratefully passed into history with a tremendous cost of human life; the Catholic institution has been called to acknowledge the above four freedoms, this truly done by Vatican Two. Concerning the 4th Freedom from fear we might substitute for the institution a reduction in power from pope and bishop with a greater openness to people as we see written by George Ripon in a Catholica commentary of February 5, 2010 [LINK]. One of the hold overs from the days of the Magna Carta is the thirst for self government by the people and for the people and this yearning includes religion. Perhaps emancipation of the individual as genuine person is the great inheritance we share today. Now we must strive in justice to bring this about in God's earthy kingdom. The article by George Ripon is a great start of giving the people a voice. I recommend getting to know the work of Professor Len Swidler and his reform of the Roman Church [LINK].
In conclusion I thank my readers for giving me the opportunity to express myself freely, that wonderful gift embodied in human nature by the Creator. Look around and see the deep thirst for freedom in everyone of God's creatures … and knowing the way of Jesus can be of big help. Ask yourself, as I do often, do I let others of my acquaintance enjoy freedom? The historical Jesus is a fine example as he frees those bound in fear.
Tom McMahon in San Jose.
Tom McMahon, ordained in 1954 and now married, lives a very fulfilled life in San Jose and continues to contribute voraciously to several Catholic discussion lists in the States. He has been an enthusiastic supporter and encourager of the Catholica initiative from the very beginning.
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