Analysis by Oswald Sobrino, J.D., M.A., who has published in New Blackfriars (U.K.), Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Answer, New Oxford Review, CatholicExchange.com, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly. He is a lay graduate student at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. © 2002-06 Oswald Sobrino.
"There is much in Christianity which can be subjected to exact analysis. But the ultimate things are shrouded in the silent mysteries of God." --Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)
E-Mail Catholic Analysis: email@example.com
Academic Book Series: Point to Covers to See Titles
Mary: "The Conqueror of All Heresies"
Links below do not necessarily imply blanket endorsement of their contents or sponsors.CrispAds Blog Ads
Google Custom Search
Google Custom SearchBook Reviews
Saturday, December 27, 2003Mary: "The Conqueror of All Heresies"
In the 1985 Ratzinger Report, Cardinal Ratzinger refers to the designation by the Council of Ephesus in 431 that Mary, the God-bearer, was "the conqueror of all heresies" (Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report, an interview with Vittorio Messori [Ignatius Press 1985], p. 105). The Council at Ephesus is famous for recognizing Mary's title Theotokos, or God-bearer, and for condemning the heresy of Nestorianism which claimed that there were "two Separate Persons in Christ, the divine and the human" (see Matthew Bunson, The Catholic Almanac's Guide to the Church [OSV 2001], p. 21, which contains a useful summary of various Church councils). By recognizing Mary as God-bearer, Ephesus was upholding the unity of Christ as one divine person, albeit with two natures, human and divine.
In the same way, Ratzinger sees Mary as playing a pivotal role today as "conqueror" of heresies. This thesis is certainly of great interest because we see the origins of much modernist heresy in the liberal Protestantism of the nineteenth century, which of course had long abandoned the Catholic veneration of Mary. In contrast, the two bodies of Christians that are most loyal to the great Christological doctrines of the first seven ecumenical councils are the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches which continue to venerate Mary. In today's Catholic Church, it is precisely those post-conciliar theologians who propose heresy concerning the person of Christ who also eschew the traditional Marian devotion of the Church as outdated and excessive.
Ratzinger gives six reasons for Mary's importance as conqueror of heresies:
Ratzinger, pp. 106-109.
In this regard, it is interesting to note that some Protestant evangelicals are taking a second look at Mary and rebelling against the diminution of her role in the evangelical tradition. Although the evangelical outlook on Mary contradicts the full Catholic outlook and rejects most of the Marian dogmas, it is noteworthy that those Protestants most concerned to protect the traditional historic beliefs about the person and work of Christ are beginning to see the value of Mary in that regard (see article in the evangelical publication Christianity Today). It is striking that some of the evangelical Protestants, in line with the historic figures of Luther and Zwingli and even Calvin, are embracing the Marian title of Theotokos or God-bearer as a way to affirm orthodox Christology.
It is also noteworthy that Mary as God-bearer is an obvious point of entry in the preaching of the Gospel to Moslems. Interestingly, those who today, to their credit and to our embarrassment as Catholics, are most open and ambitious about preaching the Gospel to Moslems are evangelical Protestants. By embracing Mary as God-bearer, such evangelicals have a key point of contact with their Moslem audiences which continue to affirm the virginal conception of Jesus. It has always seemed odd to Christians that a Moslem who affirms the virginal conception of Jesus refuses to accept the divinity of Jesus. The role of the Virgin Mary is a natural starting point to persuade Moslems of the unique divine status of Jesus.
As many liberal Catholics lose the faith while still absurdly claiming to be Catholic, we will see many incongruous situations. Liberal Catholics will reject the virginal conception of Christ, while non-Catholics will affirm it. As the old joke goes, what is the difference between a liberal Jesuit and a Moslem? The Moslem believes in the virgin birth. We can replace "Moslem" with "Protestant evangelical" while we are at it. As he did in ancient Palestine, the Holy Spirit continues to make surprising choices.
Friday, December 26, 2003New E-Mail Subscription Service
If you care to be notified by e-mail when Catholic Analysis is updated, there is a subscription form in the side margin by Bloglet. If you choose to sign up and find that you are not receiving any e-mail notices or are otherwise not satisfied with Bloglet, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am hoping that Bloglet is now more dependable than in the past.
Update: So far, the subscription service is working superbly, even telling the subscriber the exact time of the last update. The e-mails notifying of updates go out late at night. Since Catholic Analysis is usually updated in the morning, this means that the e-mail will usually be notifying you of an update that occurred much earlier in the day. In addition, since the e-mails are sent late at night, most subscribers will probably access them the next day, meaning that the update will refer to a post from the previous day. The value of subscribing is that it is a reminder for those readers who forget to check in regularly and that it saves time and effort for those who do not have the opportunity to keep checking the site to see if an update has occurred.
The Mustard Seed Approach
There are two fundamental outcomes as we confront our mission in a swiftly-passing life: either we flounder and never come to grips with our mission, or we eventually live that mission daily. In secular terms, it is the difference between the achiever and the non-achiever. In Christian terms, which are after all the only real terms and foundation of life because life itself is Christological, each mission is a personal call from God who knows us intimately and knows what He has given us. The daily acceptance of one's personal mission can be termed the "mustard seed approach": to perform innumerable acts, however small and insignificant in purely secular terms, for the glory of God (cp. Matt. 13:31-32). We are guaranteed by Christ Himself that those secularly insiginificant acts are of decisive importance (cp. Matt. 17:20).
In modern times, the most famous exponent of the "mustard seed" approach was St. Thèrése of Lisieux (1873-1897), "the Saint of the Little Way" and Doctor of the Church (see Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints ). In her approach, love takes priority over the secular standard of fame and notoriety (see the excellent article on her spirituality at this link). Certainly, her "little way," her mustard seed has sprouted and grown into a large tree.
For those of us who are less mystical, St. Augustine's sermons to his unruly North African congregants states the matter in more prosaic terms, terms especially relevant to those of us living in our increasingly strange Western societies:
You say, say the times are troublesome, the times are burdensome, the times are miserable. Live rightly and you will change the times. The times have never hurt anyone. Those who are hurt are human beings; those by whom they are hurt are also human beings. So, change human beings and the times will be changed.
St. Augustine, in John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., Augustine Day By Day (N.Y.: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1986), p. 14 (hereafter "Rotelle").
In a similar vein, Augustine says in another sermon:
Bad times! Troublesome times! [You can hear the echoes of Cicero's rhetoric by the ever-Latin Augustine!] This is what people are saying. Let our lives be good and the times will be good. For we make our own times. Such as we are, such are the times. What can we do? Maybe we cannot convert masses of people to a good life. But let the few who do hear live well. Let the few who live well endure the many who live badly.
Rotelle, p. 101.
Rotelle's little book is a series of short extracts from the works of Augustine to facilitate daily prayer. It is a worthwhile book to use (although I take issue with some of the headings he has added to some of the excerpts from Augustine). In any event, the message of Augustine is another application of the mustard seed approach: get on with your mission and make no provision for the state of the world.
Some will jump at these remarks and say, "There goes the devout, pious Catholic wrapped up in his own privatized devotion while social injustice wreaks havoc all around him." To such critics, piety and devotion are contemptible escapes from the challenges of the world. There is such a critic in all of us, but it is a critic who is fundamentally immature, who does not have enough experience of the limits of human beings and of the world. When we maturely come to grips with our own limits and imperfections and those of others, we recognize that we must come first to God and follow His will first before engaging in grandiose and utopian plans for social reform. And, surprise of surprises, the Creator's mission for us will mysteriously reverberate throughout the world in union with others whom He has also commissioned. After all, it is His world, and in the end, it is He who determines what will endure and what will succeed.
Thursday, December 25, 2003Christmas 2003
Wednesday, December 24, 2003A Tale of Two Catholic Sociologists: One Incisive, the Other Delusory
Bright Promise, Failed Community is a small book, but it has the effect of dynamite. The title refers to the bright promise of an American Catholic Church poised in the nineteen fifties to influence American culture through the natural law philosophy of Catholicism. But the title also refers to the failure of translating that promise when, with the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy, the apparent political success of American Catholics ironically became a death sentence for Catholic influence in American culture. Here is how author Joseph A. Varacalli, sociology professor at Nassau Community College-SUNY, describes the significance of JFK's election:
Joseph A. Varacalli, Bright Promise, Failed Community (N.Y.: Lexington Books, 2000), p. 23.
Today, so-called Catholic politicians, such as Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, openly celebrate the gay lifestyle, proudly proclaim themselves to be pro-abortion, and even engage in theologically correcting the Magisterium by claiming that the Church is not being true to the inclusiveness allegedly practiced by a fictitious, all-affirming Jesus. In the face of all this, the Catholic hierarchy as a whole remains effectively mute, paralyzed by fear, and even refuses to take the mild action of barring such anti-Catholic politicians from Holy Communion (except with a few welcome but isolated exceptions).
Varacalli exposes the components of this crisis in incisive sociological terms: the political failures, the impotent bishops, the internal disintegration of Catholic catechesis, the capture of diocesan bureaucracies by dissenters (p. 79), and the mimicking of the leftist agenda by statements from the national Catholic bishops' conference. Varacalli's crisp and illuminating use of the analytical tools of sociology is in sharp contrast to the limp sociology of another Catholic, Rev. Andrew Greeley, who, instead of applying these sociological tools critically, uses them to celebrate the rise of a vaporous and contentless form of Catholicism called "communal Catholicism" (Bright Promise, p. 23).
This ersatz, pick-and-choose "communal Catholicism" touted in the work of Greeley is the substitution of secular American ideologies in place of "the Faith, correctly understood" (Bright Promise, p. 79). It has even infected the bishops' conference in which:
Bright Promise, p. 80.
Varacalli points out that this bad situation has improved because the "many new bishops appointed during John Paul II's reign are, as a group, more orthodox and obvious in their allegiance to the historic Faith" (Bright Promise, p. 105). What Varacalli does is use realistic analysis to point to the problem and the solution. The solution in this case is for the Catholic Church in America to return to boldly teaching the whole of Catholic truth: "The first priority, then, in the goal of effective evangelization is the restoration of integrity to the Catholic house" (Bright Promise, p. 100). In this quest, Varacalli ends his book with Christian hope by noting that while the "Americanists" [those who seek to uncritically accommodate to secular American ideologies] may control the Church bureaucracy in the United States . . . it is the orthodox Catholics who possess the ideas, the energy, the will, and the faith . . . . [making it] possible, then, that the hollowed out, lifeless Americanist bureaucracy may soon collapse as did its Soviet analogue" (Bright Promise, p. 113)(original emphasis).
In the course of his analysis, Varacalli makes use of various sociological concepts such as the concept of "plausibility structures" to analyze the need for rebuilding Catholic institutions supportive of orthodoxy and also various specific factors to analyze the failure of nerve by American Catholic bishops (see pp. 4-5 for a summary). He also makes use of the insights of great figures in sociological analysis such as Durkheim and Troeltsch (pp. 93-96).
This use of sociological concepts to enlighten the situation of American Catholics is in sharp contrast to prominent Catholic sociologist Andrew Greeley. Why the difference? The difference is a matter of initial definition and starting point. Varacalli clearly analyzes an institution that has an explicit self-definition originating with authoritative and official teachers: the college of bishops headed by the Pope defining the boundaries of Catholic belief in faith and morals. He then proceeds to analyze how the reality in the United States diverges from that explicit, authoritative content of belief. This approach is surely most appropriate for a religious reality like the Church that views its teachings as divinely inspired.
Greeley, on the other hand, purports to use sociology to analyze Catholicism from the wrong end. He begins with secular trends in American society and then redefines Catholicism in terms of those trends, with heavy reliance on survey data. Thus, Greeley, in spite of his claims, is not really analyzing Catholicism at all, but rather the confused ideological jumble forming the opinions of modern Americans. Greeley's starting point in his research is not Catholicism, but American opinion. As a result, his research is ultimately irrelevant to a study of the Catholic Church, for he commits the fallacy of, what I call, "switching the object of study," that is, he claims to be studying Catholicism but instead is merely studying the flux of confused opinions among Americanized Catholics. This is an especially fallacious starting point for analyzing the Catholic Church because Catholicism is certainly not an American reality, but, as the name "Catholic" implies, a universal, metacultural reality. Greeley's starting point is grievously fallacious because he claims to be defining what Catholicism really is. In the study of any other social institution, Greeley's starting point for his research would be laughed out of court. For in the Catholic Church we have a highly structured, ancient hierarchical institution, that is international in scope and inculturated in many different and divergent settings, with an explicitly and officially defined content of belief being inappropriately defined by Greeley through the opinions of eclectic, secular, late 20th century Americans. That such a method will give you insight into the true predicament and challenges of the social institution under study is absurd. At best, you will get insight into a distortion of that social institution.
Varacalli, in contrast, begins with the explicit and official self-definition of an international social institution ("orthodoxy") and then proceeds to analyze its failures and successes in its American presence. The end result is a realistic picture of the institution, not a Greeley-like redefinition of the institution under study ("switching the object of study"). Unlike Greeley, Varacalli's claimed object of study is the same as what he actually studies. Varacalli has, to use a scientific term, a "control" present in his use of sociology: the official teachings of the Church, while Greeley has no such "control." As a result, it is no surprise that Varacalli gives an interesting prescription for action by the Catholic Church, while Greeley merely offers unconditional surrender to Americanism. It is analysis by sociologists like Varacalli that can repair the dismal reputation of so much that passes for sociological analysis but is instead thinly disguised ideology. In that sense, he has done a service not only for Catholics but also for his chosen academic specialty.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003Scottish Cardinal O'Brien No Longer a Disappointment
It is a joy to report that Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien no longer deserves to be viewed as a disappointment. He has courageously reiterated Church teaching that gay sex is wrong--a statement that in Western nations does require courage to make. He has also pointed out that heterosexual shacking up is also wrong. Here is the link to the Scottish press account of his remarks. The Pope's challenge to the Scottish bishops has paid off. With this providential turn of events, we may even hope that Cardinal Martino may soon condemn Saddam Hussein as the genocidal and murderous tyrant he is and even express compassion for the thousands murdered by the Iraqi tyrant.
A Decisive Turn for Politicians in the Culture Wars
The success of gay activism in 2003 marks a decisive turn in the culture wars. There are two types of politicians defined by their predominant way of politicking: the pander-to-power politician and the idea-to-power politician. There are both types in every portion of the political spectrum. The quintessential idea-to-power politician in recent history was Ronald Reagan, as confirmed in the recent release of his letters which confirm that he was immersed in a world of conservative ideas that were the fuel of his political career. On the left, the finding of a quintessential idea-to-power politician is much more difficult in recent American history because such leftists have not achieved the ultimate success of the presidency. The best examples come from failed candidates, usually from a third party or from those leading an insurgency in the Democratic Party: Socialist Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) in the early 20th century and Eugene McCarthy in 1968 (must be something in the name "Eugene"). So far, Howard Dean has come the closest to successfully pursuing a presidential quest driven by leftist ideas. What remains to be seen is whether he remains loyal to his grass-roots leftists in the general election.
The other, more common type of politician is the pander-to-power politician and here the Clintons and their admirers, like Wesley "Ashley Wilkes" Clark, take the prize. You can see the pander taking place before your very eyes as Sen. Hillary Clinton tries assiduously to transform herself into a Democratic Margaret Thatcher, given the new national security era that began on September 11th. The Clintons know that we are now in a national security era with a long war on terror overshadowing America, possibly for decades. So Mrs. Clinton is now a "hawk" on Iraq. You can easily imagine her becoming a "dove" if events turn out differently: the mark of the true pander-to-power politician.
These two types of politicians, the idea politicians and the pander politicians, fare quite differently when a new wedge issue opens up in the culture wars. That new decisive wedge issue is gay marriage. The idea politician will ultimately take sides. The pander-to-power politician will attempt to blur the wedge issue. The problem is that the gay marriage issue, incessantly pushed by idea-driven gay activists, presents such a clear-cut choice that the attempt to blur is fated to ultimate failure. So that is why the stark wedge issue of gay marriage is a decisive turn: it favors idea-to-power politicians and disfavors the pander-to-power politicians. It is quite inconvenient to have principled choices disrupt the all-consuming quest of personal ambition. So it will be quite interesting in the coming years to see what choices are made by unprincipled politicians. The choice to make no choice will be dangerous because voters like principled politicians, even when, to the astonishment of pollsters, the voters don't necessarily agree with the specific stands taken by such politicians on certain hot button issues.
In the end the best prescription for a politician from a political point of view and from the point of view of personal integrity is to stand for principle. That is the path of ultimate success, both politically and, most importantly, personally. That was the mark of Margaret Thatcher and Eugene Debs. That is why Hillary Clinton is not and will never be a Margaret Thatcher.
The gay marriage wedge issue has an even more important role in the religious divisions within American denominations and within the Catholic Church, but that is a topic for another day.
Monday, December 22, 2003Dialogue on the Morality of Premarital Sex
A blogger by the name of Will Baude wrote a post defending premarital sex as somehow being "virtuous" at the Crescat Sententia blog (this blog appears to be connected with people at the University of Chicago). While strongly disagreeing with his logic, I do think he describes accurately the view of sexuality among a lot of otherwise bright people. A friend requested that I post my response to Mr. Baude's apologia. As I understood Baude's post, which is linked to above, he is arguing that sexual intercourse between unmarried people is in itself an intrinsically good and effective way to get to know other persons so that you can finally pick a compatible spouse. Here is my response (slightly edited):
Although I believe your view of premarital sex is mistaken, your argument does frankly reflect the view of sex among many, many people: sex as a way of personal introduction. In fact, that is how many women today go about finding a boyfriend: perform sexually until one sticks.
Here is where the issue of personal communication arises. The Catholic view--and I believe that of many non-Catholics-- is that persons get to know each other through disclosure of their deepest selves. Disclosure requires a relationship of faith in which one is ready to disclose oneself because one has confidence and trust in another person. Sensibly enough, most people seek to verify in some way that the other person is worthy of such trust and self-disclosure. [The preceding argument relies on the description of the experience of faith by German fundamental theologian Heinrich Fries.]
That is why between sober persons a relationship of trust must exist prior to the self-disclosure involved in the sexual act. If the physical act of sex is in itself, as you implicitly argue, a sufficient means of personal communication and introduction, then you cannot logically exclude rape as a form of personal communication as you say you wish to do.
A rapist could easily argue, based on your view of the sexual act, that he is merely communicating his true self to another in the most efficient way possible, a way that is true to his passion and temperament. I don't see how you could deny the possibility of an intelligent rapist making such a persuasive argument, based on your implicit focus on the physical sexual act as an intrinsically sufficient form of personal communication.
My guess is that what you really mean is that, after there is a personal relationship, then sexual activity is appropriate. Otherwise, you cannot logically exclude the intelligent rapist's argument.
The Catholic would then agree with you that there is indeed self-disclosure through the sexual act following the establishment of a personal relationship. But the Catholic and many others would go one step further and say that a permanent commitment is required prior to the self-disclosure of sex because each person is a priceless end in himself or herself. And that permanent commitment is what we call marriage.
To reject that permanent commitment is really to say that the other person is disposable, that their self-disclosure has no permanent value. And so we move on from partner to partner. Then, finally, we may find a sexual partner we wish to marry. But, at some point during the course of the marriage, that person may turn out to be just as disposable as our prior sexual partners. And so we commit adultery or simply divorce. And the experimentation resumes.
The cycle has no logical end until we come to the conclusion that persons are not disposable. Person are not guinea pigs to be tested, evaluated, and discarded, after the intimacy, self-disclosure, and vulnerability of the sexual act.
The Self-Help Culture: Is It Feasible?
Among the many Christmas purchases, I am sure there will be not a few "self-help" books in time for New Year's resolutions and personal inventories. Part of the "self-help" craze has a spiritual aspect. I recall one young couple who regularly engaged in Eastern meditation. Their interest was so high that even their Western child received a Hindu-sounding name. We are in search of something, and that is good. We are unsatisfied, and that is very good. But are we looking for the lost pearl in the wrong places?
Von Balthasar gives the Christian perspective on personal fulfillment in a book entitled Prayer. His analysis inverts the usual American quest for self-improvement:
God is and remains the sovereign Lord, deciding, choosing and determining according to his good pleasure; nothing in man can give him a reliable clue as to what a particular word to particular men at a particular hour of their lives might be. Man can never deduce the will of God, the goal of his life, from his own nature alone. It would be to ask of the servant what only the master can give.
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer (Ignatius Press 1986), p. 24 (emphasis added).
If Balthasar is right--and Christian revelation insists on the correctness of this insight--then we certainly have a lot of things backward. The American gospel is that we are masters of our destiny constantly straining to actualize our better selves to reach fulfillment in the pursuit of happiness. Certainly, there is an element of truth in that American gospel: we are free and responsible human beings. But freedom is never sufficient for fulfillment or happiness. It is at best a necessary condition.
The "word of God," a term by which Balthasar refers to Christ, especially as present in Scripture, is our fulfillment:
Balthasar, p. 26.
Ironically, to find what is most personal we must look to God, to what is most transcendent. It is not a matter of gazing at our bellybutton or reciting a lulling mantra:
Balthasar, p. 60.
At this point, Balthasar points to the figure of Peter, the sinner called to be the rock:
Balthasar, p. 60.
Self-knowledge requires a confrontation with the transcendent Word of God. Its requires obedience, it requires kneeling. Now, you can see how far our own culture is from ever discovering the truth about itself for it always looks within, instead of upward. We are always trying to calm ourselves, to make ourselves happy and successful, but we end up only sedating ourselves temporarily. At the end of our lives, the approach of death may ironically be what wakes us out of this stupor. At that moment we may very well see in a flash of insight and intuition the paltriness of our massive efforts at self-help. It would be better to see that truth much earlier.
Sunday, December 21, 2003Last Sunday in Advent: Micah 5:1-4a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
Micah transmits what the Lord says: "You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel . . . . his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth." This extract is a restatement of the constant theme of Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, of what I call the "mustard seed approach," namely from what to us is the most humble of origins there emerges something of universal, catholic significance. From humble Bethlehem, the city of David, comes the ruler of the universe. Recall how David himself was the least of his brothers, yet was chosen to be the next king of Israel.
Micah also explicitly states that "the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne . . . ." (Micah 5:2). The New Jerusalem Bible notes that "Micah is perhaps thinking of the famous prophecy of the 'alma[h] [young girl], delivered by Isaiah some 30 years previously," in Isaiah 7:14. The Septuagint translated the Hebrew 'almah into Greek by using the word for "virgin." As stated by the New Jerusalem Bible, this use of "virgin" is evidence of an early Jewish interpretation of Isaiah's prophecy which has been confirmed and taken up by Christian tradition in Matthew 1:23.
In Hebrews, Paul teaches how we are "consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (I know it is a convention to doubt Paul's authorship of Hebrews, but it is a convention that remains an unprovable hypothesis.) That body born in humble Bethlehem of a young girl is the key to our destiny.
In Luke, Elizabeth, "filled with the Holy Spirit," greets the Mother of Jesus, the humble young girl of Micah and Isaiah, with the words repeated in countless Hail Marys on a daily basis: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." As noted by St. Louis de Montfort:
St. Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, pp. 44, 47, 48.
Mary, the young virgin maiden of Israel foretold in Isaiah and Micah, receives the seed of the Holy Spirit that is to be the source of our blessing. Again, "the mustard seed approach." The teenage Mary becomes the first Christian and offers thanksgiving in the Magnificat, just as each of us does through our baptism when we participate in the Eucharist, the giving of thanks. When Christ the presiding and eternal High Priest described in the book of Hebrews, already mysteriously present in Genesis in the form of Melchizedek, becomes flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit in her womb, Mary participates in the first eucharistic thanksgiving. In this thanksgiving, both Mary and we inject marvel, wonder, and praise at God's lifting up of the humble seed as the means of universal salvation. Mary herself, the humble young virgin, will henceforth be called blessed by all generations and will continue to be a source of blessing.