Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015 Feature: Nicholas L Rosal: At the Crossroad of Philosophy and Theology

San Vicente Iocos Sur to the World Series

Philosophy takes us to the highest plane of reason, whereas theology takes us to that of faith. Can a philosopher be a theologian, and vice versa? Can a learned person embrace both, their similarities and differences?

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
 

Two books written by Dr Nicholas L Rosal. "Understanding an Exotic Language: Ilokano" is the counterpart of "Balarilla in Pilipino," a scholarly guide to technical Ilokano."Handbook of Miracles is a valuable guide on how to understand what true miracles are and how they relate to the ultimate purpose of our existence -- eternal life in heaven." (Msgr. Armando Perini, the author's former pastor, Edison, N.J.)

Two most important words in the house of learning are philosophy and theology, in either sequence. The science of man and the science of God.

Philosophy takes us to the highest plane of reason, whereas theology takes us to that of faith.

Can a philosopher be a theologian, and vice versa? Can a learned person embrace both, their similarities and differences?

When Albert Einstein, the greatest mind in modern times, was asked, “What more can you not understand, Mr. Einstein?” 

The man behind the splitting of the atom, and adjudged Man of the Twentieth Century, answered in all humility, “I understand just a little about the atom; all things else, only God can understand.” It is manifestation of deep faith in higher Principle, above that of science. .

On the other side of the coin, so to speak, when Pope Francis was bombarded with questions on ethico-morals confronting our postmodern world, he answered calmly and hushed the audience, “Who am I to be your judge.” And he led the faithful to a prayerful meditation. It is deep philosophy, humbling everyone with the biblical lesson, “He who has no sin throws the first stone.”    

And Mahatma Gandhi, Man of the Millennium  brought not only man to his knees, but a whole proud nation that was once the biggest empire on earth – “The sun never sets on English soil,” through asceticism and non-violence – terms that cannot explain the force that liberated India from centuries of human bondage.

To this day, no one can truly explain how one man – simple, frail, devoid of the tools of war  – succeeded in leading India to independence, and preserving democrat cy in this subcontinent with more than a billion in population.      

Milton's query: If Paradise was lost because of man's disobedience, was it regained in his absence?  


Our subjet, a philosopher and theologian, Dr Nicholas Llanes  Rosal, must have reflected on the lives of these great men, the epitome of human values, the models the world looked up to, that produced equally great men and women, including our own, Dr Jose Rizal, and Jose P Burgos.  He certainly found inspiration from the life and works of one of the most learned Doctors of the Church – San Vicente de Ferrer, patron saint of his hometown.  Dr Rosal was a St. Thomas Aquinas scholar, having finished a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, and a doctoral degree in Sacred Theology (STD, Magna cum Laude) from the University of Santo Tomas.

If there is more to add to his rich educational background it is a Master’s degree in Journalism from the Merill School of Journalism in the US, where at the same time became a university professor. Dr Rosal taught Christology at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, moral theology at St John’s University, and contemporary moral problems at Loyola University in Chicago. He is the only Filipino preacher for the National Propagation of Faith under Bishop Fulton Sheen, and on many occasions he conducted recollections for priests, which we call spiritual retreat.  
     
As a child I looked up to Uncle Charito, as I called him then, I will always remember one summer vacation when his family played quartet classical music in violin and piano, and I was there imagining of Vienna in its glorious days.           

How time flies…   

Years passed.  On knowing that he was residing in New Jersey, I dropped at his place on my way back from Canada to the Philippines via the US. That was in July 1976, exactly 33 years since I saw him last in our hometown.

A span of thirty-three years is significant in the Christian world – it was the age of Christ when he died. So with great men like Alexander the Great, Amadeus Mozart, Chopin, Mendelsohn,  Schubert, while others found themselves at a crossroad in life.  I belong to the latter.

I have been a disciple of the Three Wise Men, Magi or sages in their time, powerful and wealthy as kings, for which they are often referred as The Three Kings, and to whose honor we celebrate their feast day on January 6, and until lately, every first Sunday of January.

In one of my readings I came across the life of the great explorer and missionary Albert Schweitzer.  When Albert was young he asked his parents and teachers whatever happened to the three kings, after seeing the Baby Jesus, and presenting Him precious gifts. 

Where were they during the years of His mission, when He was persecuted and condemned to die. What did they contribute to Christianity?  Well, to humanity?  The young Schweitzer was greatly bothered that he took upon himself the challenge to become a missionary. First he studied medicine and became a doctor, and humanities specializing in organ music. Thereafter he set foot on the largely unexplored interior of the Black Continent which is Africa. Another great man who followed his footsteps was Dr David Livingstone. He too, became one of the world's greatest explorers and missionaries.  


There is a story related to the Three Wise Men - The Fourth Wise Man. It is a story about a man who lost his way to join the caravan of the three wise men mentioned in the bible. He never found the infant Jesus, neither the child Jesus, nor Jesus in his mission.

He had been helping people all along the way, living in a colony of lepers, healing them, helping them rise over ignorance and poverty. For 33 long years.

He lost all hope of finding Jesus. He became a very sick man. There was no news from the three wise men, who were said to have seen and given gifts to the Holy Child. He learned that his father had died, so he released his servant to be a free man.

A more detailed story goes like this

“Artaban is a young Magus (Wise Man) who desires to follow the star to the birthplace of the coming King, against the counsel of his friends and family. Carrying three precious jewels to give to the baby Messiah, Artaban and his reluctant servant Orontes set off to join the caravan of the three other wise men. They miss the caravan, but Artaban continues the search for his King, always one step behind. Artaban spends much of his remaining wealth and all of his energy helping the poor and unfortunate people he meets, until at the end of his life he finally finds Jesus--at His trial! Has Artaban wasted his life in a foolish quest? Will he ever get the chance to present his gifts to the King? “ -
Written by Yortsnave The Other Wise Man

The Story of The Other Wise Man is a short novel or long short story by Henry van Dyke. It was initially published in 1895 and has been reprinted many times since then, including a "centennial edition" published in 1996 by Ballantyne Books.

The story is an addition and expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It tells about a "fourth" wise man (assuming the tradition that the Magi numbered three to be true), a priest of the Magi named Artaban, one of the Medes from Persia. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child - a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl of great price. However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men. Since he missed the caravan, and he can't cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell one of his treasures in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip. He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt. He saves the life of a child at the price of another of his treasures. He then travels to Egypt and to many other countries, searching for Jesus for many years and performing acts of charity along the way. After thirty-three years, Artaban is still a pilgrim, and a seeker after light. Artaban arrives in Jerusalem just in time for the crucifixion of Jesus. He spends his last treasure, the pearl, to ransom a young woman from being sold into slavery. He is then struck in the temple by a falling roof tile and is about to die, having failed in his quest to find Jesus, but having done much good through charitable works. A voice tells him "Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me."(Matthew 25:40) He dies in a calm radiance of wonder and joy. His treasures were accepted, and the Other Wise Man found his King.

"I do not know where this little story came from - out of the air, perhaps. One thing is certain, it is not written in any other book, nor is it to be found among the ancient lore of the East. And yet I have never felt as if it were my own. It was a gift, and it seemed to me as if I knew the Giver." -
Henry Van Dyke.
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Nicholas L Rosal – linguist, author of Understanding an Exotic Language: Ilokano, a dissertation that traces the roots and origin of an ethnic heritage distinctly Ilokano yet wholesomely Filipino, borrowing the words of Francisco Cruces, Archbishop of
Zamboanga.

Dr. Nicholas L. Rosal taught Christology at St. Francis College in Brooklyn and moral theology at the former Brooklyn campus of St. John’s University. As an adjunct, he taught contemporary moral problems at Loyola University in Chicago while working toward his master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism. A preacher for the National Propagation of Faith under Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, he gave retreats to nuns and recollection to priests.

Dr Rosal earned (magna cum laude) his STD and PhL degrees at the Pontifical Seminary of the University of Santo Tomas. In addition to writing numerous articles about religious, educational, and government issues, he has published pamphlets on comparative religion and written books, including The Jerusalem Journal (2009), a continuous life story of Jesus (Claretian Publishing House, Manila), Learning an Exotic Language: Ilokano (1980), a linguistic analysis of one of the major Philippine native languages (Paragon Press, Manila) and The Unjust Position of the Church in the Philippine Constitution (1960), study of the state relations in the predominantly Catholic country in Asia (University of Santo Tomas Press, Manila).

He has translated from English into Ilokano the Catechism of the Catholic Church (822 pp), now being reviewed by the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia (Vigan).

Before going to the United States, he taught Religion, Latin, and music at the Archdiocesan Minor Seminary in Vigan, worked in parishes, and held briefly the position of chancellor of the Nueva Segovia Archdiocese. After receiving permission to leave the ministry, he went to work for Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., and the Perth Amboy Board of Education, N.J., as education advocate and, later, as principal of the Adult High School.
 

Dr. Rosal was born in San Vicente, Ilocos Sur to devout parents (Alfonso, a lawyer, and Matilde, a school teacher). He has two brothers (Elias and Antonio), and a sister (Natividad). He has three sons (Anthony Nicholas, Patrick, and Mark) from his marriage to Mimi (deceased) and a step daughter (Christine) by his marriage to Thelma.

NOTE: Antonio Vivaldi great composer and violinist known best for his "Four Seasons" was a former priest. A book by Richard Bennet, Far from Rome, Near to God: Testimonies of 50 Converted Roman Catholic Priests, 1997 cited the following ex-priests of outstanding accomplishments in their later careers: Henry Gregory Adams, Joseph Tremblay, Bartholomew F. Brewer, Hugh Farrell, Alexander Carson, Charles Berry and Bob Bush.

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