Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bad Max

The Jews! The Jews!

Gibson had a bad-boy image all along - you saw "Mad Max" and "Road Warrior" - so he got a DUI. Who cares? John of the Cross says 'esteem no man because the Devil will show you his faults'. He's a celebrity, drank too much, and the police were on top of their job - they arrested him. I thought - big deal. Then I read remarks he made in a rage during the arrest process, for which he apologized when he sobered up. I expect he'll go to Betty Ford and all the rest and make some grand overture to counteract his ant-semitic slurs. (What an ego for a short guy though, saying "I own Malibu." and other power play phrases. Wow! People sure think they're important. Money, money, money! Honor, honor, honor! Fame, fame, fame!)

Did you ever see his interview with Raymond Arroyo where he couldn't sit still, acted like he had a twitch, and kept rubbing his hair? I thought he was on something, if not, just wierd. He's no saint. people seeemed to want to canonize him for "The Passion of the Christ" - him and Cavesiel. Get out! (Katherine Hepburn was being interviewed once and asked why she did not live in Hollywood and questioned about what she thought of the acting community, she answered, "They're pigs. They're all pigs." Words pretty hard to ignore from a Hollywood insider.)

What I find interesting with Gibson's remarks however is how it is not that uncommon for the "devout" to harbor a deepseated, unexpected hostility towards Jews. I hear it almost every day; I've heard really good priests and nuns express mistrust as well as condemning remarks - it betrays at the very least a suspicion of Jews, if not down right anti-semitism. My dad called Jews "kikes" - Gibson's dad blames them for pretty much everything wrong in the world. Gibson might have picked something up from his dad. Drunken remarks, like the proverbial "Freudian slip" can reveal alot about a person. Little more has to be said.

But don't try to tell me "The Passion of the Christ" was an anti-semitic film - it wasn't - the movie pretty much illustrates what happened to Christ. But don't try to canonize the actors - or the director for that matter.

St. Martha, patron saint of worriers...

Feast day for the very, very nervous.

"Jeepers Richard! I'm nervous!" Madelaine Kahn's character, Victoria Brisbane, from "High Anxiety."

Everyone always likes to use Mary and Martha as examples for the so-called active and contemplative life. I cannot dispute the Fathers and all the other saints, if time allowed I would write how Teresa of Avila praised the so-called active life and called attention to its own unique contemplative qualities. Teresa of Calcutta and her sisters are marvelous examples of this. Enough said on that.

When it comes to Martha complaining about Mary not helping out when the Lord was at her house, I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't incited to do so by the men in Our Lord's company who may have thought it unseemly for Mary to be sitting at the Teacher's feet - after all, it was the men Jesus was speaking to, a woman's place was indeed servile. Martha's exasperation may have been with this attitude, plus having to leave her work to call Mary. Of course we don't know that.

What we do know is that Martha was agitated, a bit anxious and nervous. Don't we all get like that? Today I am. Everything seems overwhelming for me today, I'm worried about many things, I need St. Martha's intercession to help me realize that "Only one thing is necessary." (Hard to understand sometimes when you're in the throes of anxiety.) Nevertheless, I think I should get some medication for panic attacks, while asking Martha for her help.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Neo-Nazi influences in radical Islam

Did you realize there is a connection?

Things are getting more serious by the day in the Middle East.

The Roman Summit failed yesterday, much to the Vatican's dissapointment.

Israel and Hezbollah continue duking it out.

Al Qaeda has thrown their hat in the ring calling for world wide holy war. (I thought that's what they have been doing however.) "It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere."

The neo Nazi President Mohamoud Ahmadinejad of Iran keeps up his threaats, while students in Iran are volunteering to go fight in Lebanon. " Iran is a sworn enemy of Israel and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map". -While Israel accuses Iran of arming Hizbollah"

No wonder polls are saying that Americans are by and large pessimistic about the future. Over 50% of those polled feel The war in the Middle East will escalate to full scale war involving other nations.

It is an incredibly unstable time all around. I can't help but take it all very seriously. A person in my office commented how unusual it is for our country to be at war and yet nothing has changed in our daily lives. So much so, that if one does not watch the news and has no one they know in the armed forces, one's lifestyle is not at all affected. We are in big denial I think.

Naturally I have been pondering the Arab-Israeli hostilities and wondered what it all means. Did you ever read Roy Schoeman's "Salvation Is From The Jews"? It's a couple of years old now but still available and relevant of course. Mr. Schoeman is a convert to Catholicism from Judaism, although he sees his conversion more as coming into the fullness of faith, as do I.

He traces the history of Judaism very simply and intelligently, as well as it's fullfillment in the Roman Catholic Church. I misplaced my copy but I recalled many points of his connecting the current virulent anti-semitism of the Arab world and radical Islam to Nazi Germany. The above picture is from Roy's website of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem meeting with Hitler. They were in each other's back pockets, as it were, when it came to anti-semitism. An irony of course because Arabs are also non-Aryan semites. Isn't it curious however that Islam and Naziism could find a common ground. Hitler wanted to use Islam to help exterminate the Jewish people. Schoeman believes that today, radical Islam has continued the Nazi legacy. He's not alone in this thought.

Chuck Morse has a splendid article on the connection of Islamic terrorism to Nazi Germany, covering much of the data written about in "Salvation Is From The Jews".

From David Greenberg I have this concise history which corresponds succinctly the association of Nazi influence and fascist Arab anti-semitism we are seeing today:

"Then came the Holocaust, which not only marked the pinnacle of European anti-Semitism but encouraged it in the Arab world as well. Because Arab leaders shared the Germans’ hostility to Britain and France—the dominant colonial powers in the Middle East—they were eager to make common cause with Hitler, despite Nazi belief that they, like the Jews, were inferior to Aryans. The mufti of Jerusalem, among others, actively spread propaganda about “Anglo-Saxon Jewish greed” while praising the Nazi war effort. Even years later, sympathy for Nazism could be easily found in Arab culture. When Israel apprehended Adolf Eichmann in 1960, a Saudi newspaper headline read, “Capture of Eichmann, Who Had the Honor of Killing Five Million Jews.”

If the Holocaust nurtured Arab anti-Semitism, it also helped to discredit such bigotry in the West. Indeed, it helped mobilize support for a Jewish state internationally. In 1948, Israel was finally granted independence. As if to welcome their new neighbor into the region, the Arab countries promptly invaded. Israel repulsed the attacks, and in the three Arab-Israeli wars that followed (1956, 1967, 1973), the Jewish state managed to survive and even to expand its territory. Most controversially, it took over the Gaza Strip from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan, which were home to large numbers of Palestinian Arabs."

Our Lady and Islam, the better connection.

I always go back to Our Lady of Fatima and her call for prayer, penance, and fidelity to the Commandments, as the means to acquire peace, that peace God has entrusted to her. I just can't help but think there is a connection of her apparitions in 1917 to the times we are now living, even if only by inference. We must pray, pray the prayers of the rosary for peace.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Secularism and the denial of the Truth

You have got to read this from Don Marco, my priest-monk friend from the Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome. (I'm not posting tomorrow so this is it! He is absolutely brilliant and ought to have either his own blog or write more books!)

"We live in the company of the saints. We are in communion with them, and communion implies communication. There is, at every moment, a mysterious exchange taking place between us and the saints who surround us. The Letter to the Hebrews says that we are "watched from above by such acloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1).

I was shocked and saddened to read that a group of citizens are planning to bring a lawsuit against the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico to have the three crosses removed from the city's official seal. (The city is named after the three crosses of Mount Calvary.) Similar objections have been made against the symbolism associated with Sacramento, California and Corpus Christi, Texas, both named for the mystery of the Eucharist. California is dotted with cities and towns named after the patron saints of the missions around which they grew up, San Francisco being the most famous of these. Ignorance of the saints, or even indifference to them, is one thing: an ideology that seeks to erase their memory from the collective consciousness is quite another.

The names of saints are more and more rarely being given to Catholic babies. While there is a part of ignorance here, today's parents were the victims of the disastrous lack of catechesis that followed the Second Vatican Council, there is something more. The pressure to secularize every area of life is picking up momentum. Change what people say, and you will change what they think. The modification of vocabulary, and in this case the suppression of the glorious heritage of Catholic saints' names, will lead to a modification of values and, ultimately, of morality.

Monasteries have the splendid custom of attributing a saint's name or a biblical name to every room and place, from the cells to the workrooms to the storage rooms. The significance of this age­ old custom is as beautiful as it is profound: the monastery is inhabited not only by the visible people who live within its walls, but also by its invisible residents, the angels and the saints. The naming of a room for a saint is a confession of faith; it flies in the face of secularist ideologies that would have us believe that reality stops with what is visible.

The movement to secularize every thing and every place is as pernicious as it is aggressive. It is part of the "smoke of Satan" that Pope Paul VI saw penetrating the Church to foment confusion. It is important that we respond to the crisis with courage and with conviction. The invasion of the secular must be countered by a renewed acceptance of the sacred, and by re­claiming all things for Christ under the patronage of his saints and his mysteries: our cities, our towns, our homes, our institutions, our rooms, and, yes, our children.

The feast of Saints Joachim and Anna invites us to consider these things. Joachim and Anna arrived in North America with the first colonizers from France and Spain, those who named every new place for the saints of Christ. By this, they made it clear that the Kingdom of Heaven was also expanding and that all places and peoples were invited to live in communion and in communication with the saints.

In seventeenth century France devotion to the Holy Family became a mark of the renewal that, following the Council of Trent, blew through the Church like a refreshing breeze, a mystical invasion. The Holy Family was understood, at that time, to refer to the entire extended family of Jesus, including his grandparents, Joachim and Anne.

From France, Jesuit missionaries, Ursuline and Hospitaller nuns,and devout layfolk carried the devotion to the Holy Family to New France. A sanctuary dedicated to Saint Anne was built in 1658 between the Saint Laurence River and the Beaupré coast in Québec. Other smaller shrines to Saint Anne mark the "Catholic geography" of New England.

After the French Revolution, the Church knew an extraordinary burst of energy characterized by the foundations of hundreds of new religious communities of women; many of these nineteenth century foundations were dedicated to the Holy Family and, again, the grandparents of the Lord were not excluded. Some of these French communities came, in turn, to America where they taught generations of Catholics to reverence the human family of Christ and to live in communion with the saints.

Saint Anne and Saint Joachim have a special message for the grandparents among us. Grandmothers and grandfathers have a particular vocation in the order of grace. Grandparents are called to foster the supernatural life of their grandchildren, to pray for them, to pray with them, and to model holiness for them. Grandparents can reach places in a child's heart that no one else can reach. Grandparents can introduce their grandchildren to the joy of living with the saints.

We are the spiritual descendents of the saints. We profess our faith in the communion of the saints and acknowledge their presence in our homes and in our lives. We renounce the evil ideologies of secularization that, by suppressing the things that call to mind the saints, aim at erasingthe supernatural from daily life.

In the Eucharist, heaven descends to earth and earth is assumed into heaven. In the Eucharist there is infinitely more than what meets the eye. Saints Joachim and Anne are present to us; their most holy Daughter, the Virgin Mary, is present to us. Let us ask them to join their intercession to ours, imploring peace for the Middle East. This too is the communion of the saints: the Holy Sacrifice offered here can bring peace there. Live then, as if you were seeing the invisible! There is nothing more real than that."

The Holy Father and peace...

Pope Benedict XV

Pope Benedict XV had a peace plan in 1917, in accord with Emperor Charles' support (now Blessed Charles of Austria) which was subsequently ignored by other world leaders who were capable of preventing the 'Great War', World War I. Popes have often gone ignored in history, or defamed and lied about, such is the case with Pius XII, and more recently, Paul VI in his encyclical "Humanae Vitae". Now perhaps Benedict XVI is being ignored as one of the lone voices speaking out against the escalating conflict in the Middle East.

It is reported today that the Holy Father emerged from a chapel dedicated to the Holy Virgin saying, " 'It seems to me that in this moment, something is moving,' Benedict told reporters on his return from a visit to the Our Lady of Healing shrine where he prayed for peace." [snip - Guardian] He must believe something is happening that may lead to a peaceful settlement. He asked prayers for the meeting in Rome today of leaders seeking a peaceful solution to the war betwen Hezbollah and Israel. (Although it appears there has not been any firm resolution forthcoming from the Roman meeting as of this post.)

"Pray the prayers of the rosary for peace." Our Lady of Fatima from her peace plan of 1917.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Remembering St. Olaf, the Downtown Church

Icon: St. Xenia of Petersburg, Fool for Christ

St. Olaf in Downtown Minneapolis used to be my parish when Monsignor Flemming was pastor. I have some fond memories from back then. The Church has changed physically with the latest renovations, but the spirit of the parishoners has remained as vital as ever. It's a good parish, always noted for its middle of the road stance, welcoming everyone, conservative and liberal alike. It's mission in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis is essential, the Church is a haven amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, a real 'soul saver' offering the sacraments to people who may not otherwise receive them.

I posted a picture of St. Xenia, because I think of many types like her that worshipped with me at St. Olaf. Lovely and holy people in their own right, or so I am convinced.

One woman, Mary Ellen, always edified me. She would call out, "I want to be a nun in Rochester!" Sometimes Monsignor would quiet her down at Mass by saying, "Now, now, Mary Ellen, keep quiet." Once she turned and saw me coming in for confession during noon Mass wearing shorts and she yelled at me, "You can't wear shorts in Church!" I mouthed "Shut up!" back at her and she just smiled at me and turned around. She always smiled at me. Once she was next to me and wasn't approaching Communion, I patronizingly thought that she was too simple to have any sin that could keep her from Communion and I whispered something to that effect. She blasted me with, "How dare you! You don't know my soul!" She so much put me in my place.

There was another woman, very anorexic who went to confession every day, sometimes three times in a row. She would dissapear for some time and when I saw her again she would have new clothes and would have gained weight, I figured out she had been hospitalized and her medication adjusted, since she seemed much more peaceful and less agitated. I see the same woman now at St. Agnes where I believe she has found some stability.

Once, before the chapel was built I was in the main Church for adoration. (It was around the time "Brother Son, Sister Moon" had come out, when Francis took off all of his clothes and laid them at his father's feet.) This man walked up slowly towards the altar, I heard gasps and looked out of the corner of my eye to see what was going on. The guy was stark naked and suddenly prostrated himself on the floor before the Blessed Sacrament. The old ladies were gasping and so I knew they would fetch someone to take care of the matter, and I laughed out loud.

I have fond memories indeed of the old St. Olaf's. It's a lot more slick these days. I don't care for the renovated sanctuary - it reminds me of the Mormom Tabernacle. Everyone else I know still likes it. It doesn't matter, it's a good parish.

July 29 and 30 St. Olaf is celebrating their patronal feast as well as their 65 year anniversary. What an appropriate time for their new pastor, Fr. Mark Pavlik to be installed by Archbishop Harry Flynn. See Ray's post at Stella Borealis for all of the details.

Little Murders

Little Murders - a play and movie by Jules Feiffer, 1970. Still; Alan Arkin.

Plot summary:

"A girl brings home her latest boyfriend to meet her parents. This is done against the background of random shootings that had just begun in NYC at the time the play was written, 1969. How the family's failings are magnified by the social confusion of the times is the crux of the plot."

I think of Feiffer's play everytime I hear about snipers and serial killers and killings in our Country's cities - such as the freeway sniper now active in Indiana. Violence it seems is apparently escalating once again. His play was rather prophetic in many ways, albeit a black comedy. For people in Lebanon and Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan, and not a few other places in the world, it is everyday life once again.

I am also reminded of Mother Teresa's prophetic words that made her listeners, the Clintons among them, rather uncomfortable:

"February 1997 - National Prayer Breakfast in Washington attended by President Clinton and the First Lady. 'What is taking place in America,' she said, 'is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another.'"

In the late '60's the musical "Hair" opened on Broadway and I was in NYC to see it, in one of the songs they shout out sexual terms for various sexual acts as a sort of declaration of sexual freedom. One could substitute those words in the same mantra like fashion regarding what has brought all of this upon us;

"Sexual Promiscuity"

On and on. Pope Paul VI in his encyclical "Humanae Vitae" also prophetically foretold what might happen to us in the future. (The future is now.)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pro-life but immodest...

(Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the unborn.)

Or is it pro-choice and tacky?

When Our Lady appeared to Blessed Juan Diego and left as a sign her image upon his tilma, the impression is obvious, she was pregnant, signifying her Motherhood of Jesus Christ. The apparitions occurred after her feast of the Immaculate Conception in Advent,the time of preparation for the birth of Christ. Our Lady's miraculous image demonstrates that maternity is beautiful as well as being a sacred event.

So I went to my little 'upscale' Store nearby, shopped by the "Creek" people just as nearby. I see this young, very good looking, obviously affluent couple with a young child in a stroller, shopping. The attractive wife is very pregnant, wearing a low cut, form fitting, strappy top that would ride above her waist even if she hadn't been pregnant. She had tiny little tight shorts on - she was very fashionable. I've seen it before so I wasn't really reacting. Nevertheless, I wanted to see her face and saw she was very pretty, looking at her I realized she was also rather sexy - that's when I turned away and then the objective thought process began.

I would have thought someone of her station and beauty would have better taste. She looked intelligent enough, thus one might rightly assume she would not be such a victim of trend and follow immodest fashions. Then it occurred to me that women really want to look sexy, they think that by looking like street life - if you're half-ways beautiful, is fashionable and appealing. (Hey - is pregnancy a time to try and look sexy?) This woman with her belly hanging out would be the same type that would gag if she saw a pot-bellied man in a wife-beater undershirt drinking a can of beer on his front steps, or a plumber bending over showing man cleaveage as he fixed her kitchen drain. Is walking around with your belly hanging out any more acceptable? It's really immodest, if not indecent. I wonder if they realize that there is a genre of pornography devoted to sex with pregnant women? I wonder if they understand that they sexualize themselves, and the baby they carry, because of the way they dress?

A pregnant woman is indeed beautiful, the grace of pregnancy is wonderful. There is no shame at all in it. Posing nude like Britney Spears, Demi Moore, and others is not so much celebrating the beauty of it but rather sexualizing it. These women and others are more likely than not pro-choice/pro-abortion 21st century forward thinking people. Fashion people like to say they are celebrating a woman's right to choose and that a chosen pregnancy is beautiful and therefore should be flaunted. They dismiss the idea of modest pregnancy clothes as having been born of a shame of being pregnant or of appearing fat. They obviously do not study history in fashion schools.

Coco Chanel started this whole 20th century obsession with being thin and minimally dressed. The fashion evolved through the century and women like my mother, cried becuse she looked "like a cow" when she was pregnant, while lamenting not being able to wear normal clothes. After the pregnancy, she dieted and starved herself to get thin again, just as all the Hollywood ladies do today. Now we find ourselves where we are today - the other extreme. I think women should be more modest all of the time, but especially in pregnancy. It's not a public thing, it's a sacred familial event, and it ought to be protected.

Put some damn clothes on!