So I bit the bullet and decided to start blogging again, thinking that if I'm actually paying to get a hosted site I'll blog more. So far (one month into paying for my hosting!) all I've done is fiddle with the look of the site (though in my defense, Wordpress is new to me, and I do like playing around with the different template options available to me - you have no idea how many hits you get back searching for "free wordpress templates!"). But tonight or tomorrow . . . my first post goes up here: http://hugodlr.com. Hope to see you there! :)

Blessings & Peace,

PS: I may or may not move all of this over (mostly dependent on figuring out how it's done!)


Descended to the Dead

So I'm cleaning out files from my work computer and I found one that would make a good, long-overdue post - enjoy! :)

The Apostle's creed was written sometime in the 1st or 2nd century (compare it to the Nicene-Constantinople Creed [the one we say in church] which was composed around the 4th century). It was written at a time when several groups (Gnostics, Marcionites & Manicheans) were denying that Jesus was really human. They said that he was only pretending to be human, that he really didn't suffer, and that he didn't really die (among other incorrect teachings).

To counter this, church leaders at the time composed a creed - a set of beliefs that formed the core of Christianity. One of the beliefs they collectively added in was the line "was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell." [That translation ("descended into hell") is where my student's initial question came in.]

First, we have a linguistic problem. Nowadays, "hell" refers to a place where damned souls reside - people who are turned away from God's presence, people who have been condemned to eternal torment and torture. But when the creed was written, "hell" didn't refer to anything like that - the word we now translate as "hell" was (in the original Greek) "Hades." At that time, Hades was just a holding place for dead souls. It was not a place of torture, torment or eternal separation from God. It was more like a waiting room for dead people. Everyone - good or bad - went there.

The Latin translation of the Greek "hades" was "infernum". Originally, it just meant something like "the lower place." However, the English translation of infernum is "inferno", which has connotations of eternal fire. Hades, in turn, was a translation of the Hebrew word "Sheol", which again, just referred to the place where the dead went.

In all three cases, when the creed talks about Jesus descending into hell, a better translation for our times (which I use in my own prayers and which I try to get others to use) is to say that "Jesus descended into the dead." Why is this important?

Remember that the creed was written in opposition to people who were saying that Jesus didn't die. The creed, in effect, flatly said, "Yes, he did die. He didn't faint, he wasn't pretending, it wasn't a hoax, he wasn't acting - he really did die. He went to the place where all dead people go - Sheol, hades, the infernum . . . hell."

As a quick historical aside, there was one other reference that Jesus made, and that was to Gehenna "the place where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies." Revelation also talks about the lake of fire, a place of eternal suffering. We get a lot of our modern notions of hell from these image. In Jesus' time, Gehenna (the Valley of Hinnom) was Jerusalem's garbage pit. All the trash from Jerusalem was taken there and burned - there was always a fire burning. And, because there was so much trash, there were of course lots of flies and, therefore, lots of maggots (the "worms that never die").

In short, then, the creed affirms that Jesus really did die, and that he really did go where all dead people go. Our Catholic faith further affirms that when Jesus did this, he fulfilled his mission of preaching to everyone, even people who were already dead when he came. When the resurrection of Jesus happened, all the just who were in Sheol entered into the presence of God (the "beatific vision") for all eternity.

Blessings & Peace,


Desired Lifestyle Budget

Today's mission, which you have to accept, is to figure out what kind of life you'd like to lead when you get older. There will be several steps.

0. Work Quietly (or this will be homework, not classwork)

1. You should have your hard copy of the Desired Lifestyle Budget. Make sure you have it. I'll give you a minute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . got it? Good. Let's move on.

2. Right click on the links below and choose "Open in a new window" - that way you'll always have this page open to come back to.

3. Choose a house or apartment to rent or to own. You can look here to find dwelling places around the United States. If you want something else, you're on your own. :-) Oh yeah - if you find another good site, let me know - I'll put it up on the board or add it to this right away.

Century 21 (has an annoying song - sorry)
McAllen Real Estate (just houses in this area)
More McAllen Links
Kellar Williams (mostly houses in the Rio Grande Valley, but links to others as well)
World's Most Expensive Homes (because some of you would look for this anyway!)

4. Once you've chosen your home you should print out a one page picture and price of the home (copy and paste it into Word). Only print once - you'll lose points for multiple printouts.

5. Next comes a car (or cars for some of you!) - choose one and print it out, just like the house. (Our 5 digit zip code here in McAllen is 78501 - you'll need to know that) (also let me know if you find another car pricing site)

6. The next big step is finding a day care. You can search for this, or you can just pick a number between $250 and $1,250 a month. $250 will get you basic day care at a basic facility. $1,250 will get you a day care that is vegetarian, Catholic, elite, or something else that you really, really want in a day care. If you want a live in nanny for your young child, it'll cost you between $1,500 and $4,000 a month.

7. Everything else should pretty much be on your Desired Lifestyle Budget. If you want to work on this at home, this page will stay up until the end of the year (and beyond!) - good luck and enjoy! :-)

8. Find a job you would like to do and find the salary you would get paid each year. Add it to the last page of your paper and turn it in. You're done! :)

Blessings & Peace,


Catholic Gentleman’s Club

So my son and I are driving back from the Dollar Movies (The Green Hornet was enjoyable for $1.50!), and we drive by a local Gentlemen’s Club called the Tex-Mex Lounge. Proudly displayed on their outdoor billboard was a seafood buffet on Fridays. I’m glad to see that good Catholics can keep their Lenten discipline of abstaining from meat on Fridays while visiting this establishment! :) (I know, I know – now I have to go to confession for thinking bad thoughts about the people who frequent places like this – mea culpa.)

Blessings & Peace,


Kids These Days!

I tend to hear statements about how each subsequent generation of children is worse then before. I have some quotes I’ve always found useful to remind myself that yes, each generation/class of kids is different, but one thing stays the same: adults will always look nostalgically back to the past and rousingly say “we were never like this!” :)

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint." (Hesiod, 8th century BC)

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.” (Socrates, 5th century BC)

"What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?" (Plato, 4th century BC)

"The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress." (Peter the Hermit, 1274)

Blessings & Peace,