Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Born that way ... redux.

Mr. Peabody here...

Or "Socially constructed"?

These discussions never seem to get old.

So anyway.  I'm against it - the idea that you are born that way - except in rare cases, I should probably add.  I've spent my entire life trying to figure out what went wrong - I'm still not sure - but I know without a doubt that I was born a male, and all my life I was very happy about it.  So happy I could almost chime in with Tevye singing, “Shelo Asani Isha”: “Blessed are you Lord… for not making me a woman”.  Although if I ran around singing that I would most assuredly be accused of being gynephobic - and maybe I was - but I wasn't born that way...  I definitely know that.

Which leads me to a very insightful essay by Anthony Esolen, titled- you guessed it!  Born That Way.  Citing anecdotal examples of a few famous men with same sex attraction, as well as their conflicted childhood experiences, Esolen makes a good argument against the born that way proponents.

Drunkenness, hatred, loneliness, missing fathers, rape, molestation, over-mothering, all these are inevitable when a certain kind of boy is born. - Anthony Esolen - read the rest here.

I know!  But how do you explain SSA in men who have solid families?  A loving mom and dad?  A well provided, integrated life?  I don't know.  Neither does the Church, the Catechism helps us understand that  its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.  Catholics know that, yet trying to understand these inclinations is helpful - especially to those who go through periods of struggle; seeking to live chastely, making friends, career choices, family, and so on.  Striving for authentic self-knowledge in the way of perfection - or rather, becoming holy - the sanctification of one's life.

Such views are controversial today - but necessary.  I think many of the men Anthony Esolen cites, as well as other famous 'tragic figures' have had a host of other problems coping with real life and relationships as a result of their dysfunctional development.  Many behaviors may have been learned or acquired and forged into habits to such a degree their existence was defined by them.  Understanding how one turned out is one thing, allowing ourselves to be formed and guided is another.  The Church doesn't require more than repentance and conversion from sin and to live chastely.  The grace of God accomplishes the rest.

Looking over my life, I can see the effects of grace.  The forgiveness of sins, the healing of serious wounds.  "I run the way of your commands; you give freedom to my heart."  Ps. 119

You are what you are - as God made you - not what social constructs tell you you are.  Sounds a bit like an argument for 'genderlessness' huh?  It's not.  "God made them male and female" - Genesis.

That's all for today Sherman.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Mass martyrdoms

The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand, by Dürer.
Their executions were varied and heinous, including
being thrown from heights.

Throughout the history of Christianity there have been periods of mass martyrdom.

We are obviously suffering through such an era once again today... perhaps even 'state sponsored' - much as it was in the earliest times.  Which is why I posted the image of The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand, by Dürer.

The altarpiece depicts the legend of the ten thousand Christians who were martyred on Mount Ararat, in a massacre perpetrated by the Persian King Saporat on the command of the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Antonius. 
Dürer’s gruesome scene depicts scores of Christians meeting a violent death in a rocky landscape, providing a veritable compendium of tortures and killings. The oriental potentate in the blue cloak and turban who is directing the action in the lower right corner of the picture, would in Dürer’s time have been perceived as a reference to the threat of Turkish invasion, because of the seizure of Constantinople in 1453. - Source
Persia - on the command of Rome - executed the thousands.  The artist depicts the Persians as the Turkish Caliphate - which threatened Western Christendom after the fall of Constantinople.  (Don't depend on me for specific dates - I'm simply drawing a parallel.)

The image is provocative - at least for me.  Lately I wonder, why the United States refuses to admit that ISIS is Islamic and poses a threat?  Why is the administration reluctant to come to the aid of Christians?  What is with Obama - even Clinton - with her private emails - especially with the scandal of the Benghazi attack shadowing her?  Why is she even considered as presidential material after such a blunder?  Is the United States somehow complicit in at least allowing ISIS to destabilize the Middle East and leaving behind Christians as simply collateral damage?

Sounds crazy?  I suppose it does - but what is going on?  I don't understand the denial, the indifference.

They "came with war, knives, pillaging, forced enslavement, murders, and acts that are not from the good God, but instigated by the chief manslayer, the devil."

That said, Christian bloggers and websites should not satirize ISIS persecution - be it making fun of these devils throwing homosexuals from tall buildings, beheading those they wish to exterminate, or threatening the Holy Father.  All of that is inappropriate.    The terror of Islam is real, their manner of killing barbarous, macabre, and gruesomely inventive.  They behead, they maim and dismember.  They throw from cliffs and towers and stone their victims, and they burn them alive.  In times past, they flayed their victims.

On the other hand, a friend sent me this from St. Gregory Palamas:
St. Gregory Palamas (ca. 1296-1359) on Islam: It is true that Mohammed started from the east and came to the west, as the sun travels from the east unto the west. Nevertheless, he came with war, knives, pillaging, forced enslavement, murders, and acts that are not from the good God, but instigated by the chief manslayer, the devil. Consider now, in times past, did not Alexander (the Great) prove victorious from the east to the west? There have also been many others, in many other times, who set out on military campaigns and dominated the world. Yet none of the peoples believed in their leaders as you revere Mohammed. Though Mohammed may employ violence and offer pleasures, he cannot secure the approval of the world. 
Albeit, the teaching of Christ, though it turns away from (worldly) pleasures, it has taken hold to the ends of the world, without violence, since it is opposed to it. This phenomenon is the victory that overcomes the world (1 Jn. 5:4). - Source
Man in center is the convert-martyr from Chad.

“their God is my God“

 And stop making distinctions, when it comes to Christian baptism there is one baptism.  I may be wrong but it seems to me that when it comes to baptism by blood, there is only one martyrdom as well.  The Coptic martyrs belong to all of us who profess Christ.  Perhaps this story, so evocative of the first martyrs and subsequent group martyrdom throughout history, can convince us of that:
ISIS announced the execution of 21 Copts but only 20 names were confirmed, most of them were from the province of Minya(Upper Egypt). There was an inaccuracy in the number of Egyptian Hostages; there were only 20 Egyptians(Copts). Then who was this remaining one non-Coptic victim? 
Ahram-Canadian News was able to gather information about this man. He was a Chadian Citizen (Darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him also. - Source


"Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, 
causing wars, persecutions of the Church. 
The good will be martyred..." - OL Fatima

Prayer to OL of Ransom

O God, Who by means of the most glorious 
Mother of Thy Son 
was pleased to give new children to Thy Church 
for the deliverance of Christ's faithful 
from the power of the heathen; 
grant, we beseech Thee, 
that we who love and honor her as the foundress 
of so great a work 
may, by her merits and intercession, 
be ourselves delivered from all sin 
and from the bondage of the evil one. 
Through the same Christ, our Lord.


H/T Yaya for the story of the martyr from Chad.
H/T Nan for the St. Gregory quote.

I did not know that.

Imitation Game

When the UK decriminalized homosexuality...

One might think a blanket approval was given to homosexuality when legislation was first passed decriminalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults - but it wasn't so simple.  The manner in which it was discussed would be intolerable today.  I came across the following in the combox of an online magazine - the quotes I found are in italics, otherwise the following entry is lifted from Wikipedia to provide context.
In the 1960s, one MP, Leo Abse, and a peer, Lord Arran, put forward proposals to change the way in which criminal law treated homosexual men by means of the Sexual Offences Bill. This attempt to liberalise the law relating to male homosexuality can be placed in a context of the rising number of prosecutions of homosexual men.
In his 1965 Sexual Offences Bill, Lord Arran drew heavily upon the findings of the Wolfenden Report (1957) which recommended the decriminalisation of certain homosexual offences. 
The Wolfenden committee had been set up to investigate homosexuality and prostitution in the mid 1950s, and included on its panel a judge, a psychiatrist, an academic and various theologians. They came to the conclusion (with one dissenter) that criminal law could not credibly intervene in the private sexual affairs of consenting adults in the privacy of their homes. The position was summarised by the committee as follows: “unless a deliberate attempt be made by society through the agency of the law to equate the sphere of crime with that of sin, there must remain a realm of private that is in brief, not the law's business” (Wolfenden Report, 1957). 
There was no political impetus after the publication of the Wolfenden report to legislate on this matter, but by 1967 the Labour Government of the time showed support for Lord Arran's mode of liberal thought. It was considered that criminal law should not penalise homosexual men, already the object of ridicule and derision. The comments of Roy Jenkins, Home Secretary at the time, captured the government's attitude: "those who suffer from this disability carry a great weight of shame all their lives" (quoted during parliamentary debate by The Times on 4 July 1967). 
The Bill received royal assent on 27 July 1967 after an intense late night debate in the House of Commons.
Lord Arran, in an attempt to minimise criticisms that the legislation would lead to further public debate and visibility of issues relating to homosexual civil rights made the following qualification to this "historic" milestone: "I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful… [And] make the sponsors of this bill regret that they had done what they had done" (quoted during Royal Assent of the bill by The Times newspaper on 28 July 1967).

These are interesting points:
  •  "those who suffer from this disability carry a great weight of shame all their lives"  - Roy Jenkins
  • "I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful… [And] make the sponsors of this bill regret that they had done what they had done" - Lord Arran
At the time, civil authority recognized, as the Church continues to do today, that one often 'suffers' from same sex attraction/homosexuality.  More or less.  It was subsequently debated by lawmakers, and therefore decriminalized, in part, because it was viewed as a 'disability'.  I believe the Church is more charitable, and more sensitive to the condition addressing it as an 'objective disorder', while identifying the condition as a 'cross' a person bears. I think that's fair, especially for those who desire to live according to Catholic teaching regarding chastity and marriage.

However, most interesting to me is the request made by Lord Arran to homosexuals - that is, to avoid ostentatious behavior or distasteful public flaunting - which would cause the sponsors of the bill regret for having decriminalized homosexuality.  The legislators must be writhing with regret in their graves every time a gay pride event takes place.

Distasteful public protests and ostentatious demonstrations, albeit not unusual in LGBTQ celebrations, would certainly erupt today if such language dare be used in the public square.  As one critic once noted:

Inevitably, if the dominant group concedes anything of substance, it will eventually take the place of the subaltern group. A little over fifty years ago, homos in England could be arrested just for being homos. Now people are arrested there simply for offending them. All in a single lifetime. - Dr. Andro

Monday, March 02, 2015

This is nuts: Guru accused of manipulating men to castrate themselves - to get to heaven.


A man has been accused of encouraging hundreds of followers to be castrated in a promise for them to become closer to God. 
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, an Indian pop-star and telepreacher with a reported wealth of more than $50 million, is being investigated after he allegedly manipulated around 400 men to get their testicles removed – according to India Today. 
One of his former followers who underwent castration seven years ago – named Hans Raj Chauhan – is one of the few to break the silence to speak out against him and the group. 
“[The victims] were told that only those who get castrated will be able to meet God,” said Chauhan’s lawyer, Navkiran Singh, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. - Source

I'd never make the cut.  

Anyway, it's much easier to be Catholic.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The "Little French Church"* on the river in downtown Minneapolis: Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church may be in danger.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
Our Lady's sanctuary since 1877.
*Actually, French Canadian.

This lovely, historic, little church is once again threatened - by developers.

I saw it on local news.  Developers want to build a huge apartment tower and the corner, adjacent to this lovely jewel of a church.  It was originally built by Univeralists in 1857 - a year before the Blessed Virgin Mary even appeared to the little St. Bernadette at Lourdes.  French Canadian Catholics purchased the church twenty years later in 1877.

The redevelopment of the riverfront area was initially opening up the area to commercial and residential use in the late 1970's, and historic buildings were subsequently reinforced, especially after the construction of apartment towers and condos overlooking the Mississippis and downtown Minneapolis which altered the stability of existing structures.  It's a beautiful area of the city, adjacent to downtown.  It is my understanding that the structural integrity of church was threatened by excessive shaking and had to be reinforced during the construction of new buildings and underground parking.  Before that, the church was also threatened with closure by the archdiocese.  To avoid confusion and misstatement about that history by me, let me reprint an excerpt from Our Lady of Lourdes website on the history and what is happening.
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community has been a vital part of the original St. Anthony Village and later this first neighborhood of Minneapolis since 1877. The historic church of which we are most proud dates back even further, to the year 1857 when it was completed by the Universalist Society. Twenty years later it was purchased by the French Canadian Catholic Community who sought their own worship space. Their descendants worship here today, among parishioners and friends from all walks of life, all ethnicities, and from every part of the Twin Cities. Our historic church is the oldest continually used church in Minneapolis and our parish was the first in the United States to be named for the Lourdes Apparition. In 1934, the Department of Interior recognized “the exceptional historic and architectural importance” of our church, declaring it a national historic landmark. Our Lady of Lourdes is indeed a “precious jewel” not only for our community, but also for our neighborhood and the city of Minneapolis.
In the late 1960’s, city planners of Minneapolis as well as leaders of our parish urged Archdiocesan leaders to allow Our Lady of Lourdes to remain open as the planned redevelopment of the neighborhood had the church as its centerpiece. One can clearly see the wisdom of this planning in the many unobstructed views of the historic church throughout the neighborhood. Parish and city leaders were persuasive and today Our Lady of Lourdes is at the heart of a vibrant and growing neighborhood of Minneapolis. Our Lady of Lourdes welcomes growth and development, yet we will strongly advocate for the protection of this precious jewel when it is threatened. As we have an important duty to safeguard this beautiful national landmark for our community and for generations to come, we strongly oppose the current plans for the development of the Nye’s property, immediately adjacent to our historic church. We do so for several reasons. - Read more here.
Rectory and church.

Where things are at right now.

Though the neighborhood association has approved the project, the city council as well as the Heritage Preservation Commission must give final approval.

The Neighborhood Association approved the plans Wednesday night with overwhelming support, but the new construction could have a big impact on an old church. 
The call to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church has rang loud and clear for more than 160 years. Built in the 1850s, the historic frame is showing its age. But there’s real concern time isn’t the biggest threat. 
“It’s important to us to say we’re opposed to thedesign of this particular project,” Deacon Thom Winninger said. 
Winninger is worried about plans to build a 29 story apartment building next door once Nye’s Polonaise shuts down this summer. The close proximity to the church property is one thing, but the real worry is construction’s impact on the building’s integrity. 
“Its physical structure is going to be threatened by this development,” Winninger said.
Years ago, construction of the River Place project forced the addition of metal reinforcements for the old sandstone blocks. 
“As they drill and hammer to get the bedrock, will this not continue to happen?” Winninger wondered. “How do we reinforce the top of this building?” - CBSLocal

Please pray for the preservation of a historic and spiritual treasure in Minneapolis.  Please contact Our Lady of Lourdes here if you can help in any way.

Go to Our Lady of Lourdes website to learn more.

You may also contact Councilman Jacob Frey here to let him know your concerns:

Jacob Frey
350 S. 5th St., Room 307
Minneapolis, MN 55415

St. Bernadette, pray for us!

Anxiety, concern for the missing, the kidnapped, the refugees, the martyred.

They no longer have a 'worship space'.

“Unfortunately, there is no cessation in the dramatic news ..." - Pope Francis

I am so grateful the Holy Father continually speaks about the persecuted, the homeless - forced from their villages and homes, separated from their families and livelihoods, only to be slaughtered or enslaved.  
Pope Francis following the recitation of the Marian Prayer on Sunday remembered the people of Syria and Iraq saying “Unfortunately, there is no cessation in the dramatic news about violence, kidnapping and harassment against Christians reaching us from Syria and Iraq. 
The Pope went on to say that those facing these situations were not forgotten and prayed that the intolerable brutality of which they are victims would soon be at an end. - Vatican Radio
I prayed and prayed, bowing so low I couldn't get much lower.  I offered my communion, asking Our Lord to show himself to those suffering so acutely - begging him to 'leave me - a sinful man' to go instead to console them, to manifest himself, to give them courage and peace.  I feel completely powerless to help, so I trust in Jesus to surround them with his mercy, and Our Lady, our maternal refuge, to compassionate them and clothe them in peace.

I thought of Willy Herteleer and other pilgrims, who left home and possessions behind to go to a strange land, to pray and do penance.  Pilgrimage is a sign that 'we have here no lasting home' ... pilgrimage is a sign of 'exile and dispossession' - hence it can be done as a penance and sacrifice in union and solidarity with the suffering Church elsewhere.  In those moments of thanksgiving, I also prayed with and for Willy, and asked that he could now go to those most in need, the suffering, the lonely, the terrorized - to help distribute the grace and mercy Jesus wants to pour out upon them.

I can only offer the sacrifice of not knowing if my prayers can be felt, not knowing what happened to the kidnapped, not knowing if they are tortured or molested or slaughtered.  Men.  Women.  Children.  Little children so scared - not daring even to cry.

The Holy Father greeting the homeless.
Love the one(s) you are with - no matter what.
Love them so much - until your heart bursts.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Screenshot: FrancisChurch: Bum given bishop's resting place ...

Willy Herteleer, pilgrim.
Photo credit, Paul Badde

What editorial headlines tell you about the editor.

FrancisChurch? Bum?

It's almost funny... giving the impression that Francis the talking mule and bungling fools are running the Church...   Enemies of the Church would approve of such language.

But editorial headlines don't tell the whole story.

By now everyone has heard the story of Willy Herteleer the homeless man buried at the Vatican, in case you haven't - here is a brief summary:
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See press office has confirmed the news of the burial of a homeless man in the Teutonic College cemetery within Vatican City State. Willy was a homeless man of Flemish origin.  His exact age was unknown but he was believed to have been around 80 years of age. He died on  December 12 last year and was buried in the Teutonic Cemetery on January 9 this year. 
Willy was a familiar face to many in the area of the Vatican. He attended daily Mass in  Sant’Anna parish in the Vatican and spent his days and nights on the streets around St. Peter's Square, Borgo Pio and Via di Porta Angelica. The pastor of Sant’Anna in the Vatican, Father Bruno Silvestrini, had dedicated the Nativity Scene at Christmas to Willy, adding a homeless man among the shepherds. He loved to pray, he had a good heart, attended the morning Mass at St. Anna every day and always sat in the same place. Read more at Vatican Radio
Tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labre

Many bloggers have since picked up on the story and so I wasn't going to post on the man until I saw the offending headline at Pewsitters.  Mr. Herteleer wasn't a bum.  He was a pilgrim, a homeless pilgrim.  For centuries pilgrims have journeyed to Rome and for centuries some who did so remained - to pray in the heart of the Church.  Naturally I first thought of St. Benedict Joseph Labre - who was a homeless pilgrim from France.  He too lived among the other homeless people on the streets.  Willy Herteleer chose to live among those who did not live in the shelters.
After morning Mass, he would stop for a while and speak with the people.

“When did you last go to confession?” he would ask everyone he met. “Are you going to communion? Do you go to Mass?”

He asked the same of other homeless people, those with whom he chose to live.

For a time he lived in a shelter. “Yes, it’s nice, welcoming and clean. Yes, you eat well and the people are nice,” he told people. “But I need freedom. I love freedom!”

He preferred his friends. He preferred the streets. He preferred the monsignor that brought him oranges, the journalist that took his photo.

After Mass, he would speak with his friend Msgr. Amerigo Ciani. “Thanks for your homily pronounced so calmly. I understand it well and it helps me to meditate throughout the day,” he said. - CNA

I find his story edifying and encouraging.  After St. Benedict Joseph's death the Romans immediately hailed him as a saint.  He was given a wonderful funeral and burial - and today his tomb, containing his relics are enshrined in a church.

I suspect Mr. Herteleer wouldn't object to being called a bum, a vagrant, a beggar - though it is said he didn't really ask for funds or food.  I suspect he was very humble and aware of himself - that is - he had such humility that he knew himself completely - as Christ knew him.  Jesus knows each of us deeply - he recognizes us - he recognizes himself in us.

It's a very great, wondrous mystery contained in such self knowledge.  Great freedom - freedom of spirit.  Willy said, "I love freedom - I need freedom!"

How entangled we make ourselves.  It must be so obvious to people like Willy, observing those who pass by in the square ... each carrying about a facade of how we want to be perceived or what we want to become.  Willy wouldn't have been there to judge of course, but rather to encourage others to go to Mass, to go especially to confession.  They want to call him a 'street evangelizer' because they need to categorize him, to dignify him - just as those who wish to denigrate him as a bum - a good for nothing.  We do that all of the time - to ourselves and to others.

We confine ourselves within social definitions of what we ought to be, or want to be, or think we should be.  Some people can't do that.  They can't live up to the expectations of others.  Willy Herteleer demonstrates that it doesn't matter:  Be what you are and let the holiness of God define your existence - allow him to love you.

“Although he was alone, he didn’t feel alone,” said Msgr. Ciani in the homily. “The presence of God was strong and alive within him. He prayed and prayed. He prayed for the conversion of everyone, even for strangers to repent.”
And, that’s how Willy’s story on earth finishes, with a tomb in the Vatican’s cemetery, surrounded by the affection of those who were close to him in life.
His was a life lived in the margins, but a life full of love. - CNA

Today I found added encouragement from the writings of Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus:

Why can't we love in a way that is both passionate yet very pure?  Don't you think that that should be possible?  I assure you the world needs love ... I am nothing but Jesus has given me a tiny spark of his love.  We can't continue to let people suffer all around us and not go to them under the pretext that we have to protect ourselves, like a soldier who, in order to keep his uniform impeccably clean, avoids the mud of the trenches and the danger of bullet wounds. - Magdeleine of Jesus

Pope Francis or Willy Herteleer might have said the same exact thing.

"... For if you love those who love you, what compensation will you have?  Don't the tax collectors and people you despise do the same?  And if you greet your family and friends and those you esteem only, what's so special or unusual about that?  The non-believers and dissenters do the same things ..."

Humor break...

This is the best car ad on TV right now ...  What?

Back to regularly scheduled blogging in 1, 2, 3, ... 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Turkish Border Closed to Syrian Christians. Who will help?

"Look! Don’t you see many roads, paths and fields full of people 
crying of hunger, not having anything to eat?
 . . . And the Holy Father in a Church praying next to the Heart of Mary?"
- Bl. Jacinta Marto
.- The number of ISIS hostages in Syria has increased to at least 250 after continued attacks on Christian villages, and civilians fleeing to the Turkish border have been stranded when not allowed to cross.

“There are 200 families who were running away and trying to escape to Turkey, but the border is closed for Syrians. No Syrian can cross into Turkey,” Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo told CNA Feb. 26.

Archbishop Hindo oversees the Syrian archdiocese of Hassake, which is located in the Al-Hasakah region of Syria. The region sits between the country’s borders with both Turkey and Iraq.

He spoke to CNA in French over the phone with a patchy connection from his diocese in Syria, where internet is currently down, saying that ISIS has continued its assault in the area, raising the number of hostages to more than 250 after an estimated 90 were kidnapped during attacks earlier this week. - Elise Harris, CNA

Spock is dead! RIP

“I am what I am, Leila. And if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.” - Spock

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr. Nimoy announced last year that he had the disease, which he attributed to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week. - NYT

The Kidnapped Syrian Christians are being slaughtered.

The world - all of us - must pay attention to what is happening and come to their aid.
ISIS has killed the first Christians who are being held hostage in the governorate of Hassake in Syri, on the northeastern border with Iraq. The Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, who reported the abduction last Monday, informed Aid to the Church in Need (a Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church, supporting the Catholic faithful and other Christians where they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need) that 15 of the hostages have been killed. “Many of them were fighting to defend and protect the villages and families,” Youkhana says.
In the village of Tel Hormizd one woman has been beheaded and two men were shot. There is currently no information about who the other executed captives are. 
Archimandrite Youkhana informs that at least 350 people have been captured by IS. In addition to the fighters mentioned above 81 people were seized from Tel Jazira, 21 from Tel Gouran, five from Tel Feytha and three from Qabir Shamiya. All of the above are being held in the Arab Sunni village of Um Al-Masamier. 
Also, 51 families from the village of Tel Shamiram have been taken – Archimandrite Youkhana adds: “The average is five persons per family”.He added that there was no news about where the families were being held: “Most probably they have been captured and transported to Mount Abdul Aziz, a nearby region controlled by IS.” 
Another source says there was an unconfirmed report that the mosque in the Arab Sunni village of Bab Alfaraj had called on people to attend “a mass killing of infidels” at Mount Abdul Aziz on 27 February. - Source

Prayer to Our Lady of Ransom

O God, Who by means of the most glorious 
Mother of Thy Son 
was pleased to give new children to Thy Church 
for the deliverance of Christ's faithful 
from the power of the heathen; 
grant, we beseech Thee, 
that we who love and honor her as the foundress 
of so great a work 
may, by her merits and intercession, 
be ourselves delivered from all sin 
and from the bondage of the evil one. 
Through the same Christ, our Lord.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Here's something ...

...something for Larry ...
- he misses the best stuff.


H/T Fr. Martin.  He likes everybody.  I love him.

I bet Oprah lands the Pope interview when he gets here.

Vatican issues new guidelines for Pontifices: Caution Labels mandated for cappa magna: Capes can be dangerous!*

Editors note: The cappa magna ("great cape"), 
is a voluminous ecclesiastical vestment with a long train.
The cappa magna is not strictly a liturgical vestment, 
but only a glorified cappa choralis, or choir cope.

Why the new guidelines?

Ask Madonna ...

Madonna's shocking fall backwards while a dancer
attempted to remove her beautiful cape during a
performance.  Trooper that she is, the elderly singer,
flat on the floor, continued with her song, ironically belting out the

Madonna claimed to be unhurt and continued
with the performance, but a nursing assistant
tweeted this photo of the star going upstairs 
to the bathroom in her home.

Unconfirmed reports suggest Vatican spokesman, Fr. Rosica 
leaked to reporters that the new regulations
 are a sign of the Holy Father's deep concern for the 
safety of those prelates 'who like to travel and dress up'.

Outside the Vatican sources insist the new mandate was 
necessary after the Holy Father saw photos of
Madonna's fall on stage.  Conscious of his own missteps, 
the concerned Pope reportedly told kitchen workers:
'Pontifical Masses can be just as dangerous for elderly prelates
going up and down all those stairs, with swarms of altar boys underfoot.'

*H/T Jackie

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On The Sign of Jonah

"Jesus speaks to us usually from the pulpits, from the altars; in our conversations, in our affairs and recreations; and yet we do not sufficiently esteem his words or inspirations." 
 - Fr. Nicolas Caussin, S.J.
I found a great meditation on the seeking of signs.

It is a very ill sign when we desire signs to make us believe in God. The signs which we demand to fortify our faith are often marks of our infidelity. There is not a more dangerous plague in the events of worldly affairs than to deal with the devils or to play with predictions. All these things fill men with more faults than knowledge. For divine oracles have more need to be reverenced than interpreted. He that will find God must seek him with simplicity and possess him with piety. Fr. Nicolas Caussin, S.J., posted by New Catholic*
I wanted to post this because I have read several 'new' prophecies and locutions floating around the Internet, supposedly decoding the dire events we are witnessing these days.  We have to be careful that in our confusion we are not misled by false visionaries and locutionists.

Praying very much for the exiled Christians in Iraq and Syria - most especially those Syrian Christians abducted this past week - and for all in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria and elsewhere suffering under the Islamic Jihadists.

ISIS blew up tomb of Prophet Jonah, 7/24/14.

*I like very much the spirituality of New Catholic and find many of his posts edifying and instructive. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Graham Moore Oscar acceptance speech.

Graham Moore

You know - the one where everyone thought he was gay?

Screenwriter Graham Moore received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Imitation Game.  In the course of his acceptance speech, Moore spoke movingly of his attempted suicide at the age of sixteen, encouraging other young people who felt 'weird or different or they don't fit in' to not give up and "Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass this same message to the next person who comes along.”

It was a beautiful statement which everyone seemed to think meant that he was gay.  People made that assumption because he 'sounded gay'.  Even gay people made that assumption based on appearance, voice inflection, emotional expression, and so on: Gay stereotypes.

Bad gays. ;)

Hmmmmmmmmm.  I think this means gays can be bigots.  I think this means gays discriminate too.  I think this means gays are are also prejudiced.  I say that because so many like to accuse everyone else of the same stuff, as well as 'homophobia'.
Graham Moore told Buzzfeed: “I’m not gay, but I’ve never talked publicly about depression before or any of that, and that was so much of what the movie was about, and it was one of the things that drew me to Alan Turing so much. 
“I think we all feel like weirdos for different reasons. Alan had his share of them and I had my own, and that’s what always moved me so much about his story.”

Like I said - it was a great acceptance speech, especially on an evening when suicide was the topic of other works nominated.

Moore's surprise at public reaction to his speech, as well as his response, says something about our tendency, our inclination to define persons by their sexual inclination/orientation.  It stops us in our tracks to reconsider identity outside the confines of sexual orientation.  Graham Moore is a man.  As a teenager he felt weird - he felt he didn't fit in?  Why?  He didn't say, and it's no one's business.

I find it amazing and distinctive that whatever it was, he didn't just settle for some pop-cultural label or range of sexual identities to limit and define himself by.  That whatever it was, he maintained his true identity as a person, a human being, a man.

Indeed, he's a gifted, talented man.

Congratulations to him for this current success and best wishes for his future.  He's a sign of hope - and with one speech expanded our horizons tremendously.

Post Script:

Gay writers/activists are complaining the Imitation Game didn't go far enough - saying the film whitewashed the gay aspects of Alan Turing's life out of the film, avoiding sexual/romantic scenes which must have been part of his life, and would have helped fashion him into more of a cause célèbre for gay rights.

They're never happy.

ISIS threatens to throw homosexuals from the Leaning Tower of "Pizza" - after they conquer Rome.

Italians are making fun of the threat, but ISIS really does throw homosexuals from the tops of buildings, only to stone them to death at the bottom if they survive the fall.

As the above photo illustrates, there is precedent for the threatened atrocities - though it seems highly improbable, unlikely, even impossible that ISIS could invade and conquer Italy any time soon.  Nevertheless, the targeted executions which have already taken place, coupled with such specific renewed threats, outrageous as they may be, ought to at least get the attention of gay rights activists*, not to mention Obama - who refuses to call terrorism terrorism, refuses to admit ISIS is Islamic, refuses to admit the threat of radical Islam is spreading like wildfire and is a threat to the world, and refuses to put forward any meaningful plan to deal with ISIS.

* Yet gay activists continue to blast the Catholic Church as homophobic and oppressive.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lesley Gore, RIP


Last week I skipped posting on the death of a pop-singer-songwriter from a long time ago - when I was really, really little - for reasons I can't recall now.

Lesley Gore 68, died last week, February 16.  I wasn't a huge fan really - I just remember her on Bandstand and knew she was in High School when she came to fame for "It's My Party" and "You Don't Own Me" - and I kind of had a crush on her.  (I sort of dumped Annette Funicello for her.)  I also thought she was Catholic - but found out now that she wasn't.  I lost interest in her when Motown got big, and as the saying goes, once you go black ... you never go back.

Which means I actually under rated Gore.  Why do I say that?  Because she wrote the very great, albeit under appreciated song: "Love Me By Name".  Patti Austin covered it best - song here.

Lesley Gore was a fine singer, songwriter and actress - under appreciated by many, I'm sure.  RIP.

Now THEY want to silence Catholic bloggers just as THEY silenced Pope Benedict XVI!

Who some feel fled "for fear of the wolves."

What should I do now?

Remember how THEY replaced PPVI with an impostor?*
Which one was beatified?

*THEY did the same thing to Sr. Lucia.


Oh! Oh!  THEY probably murdered JPI too!