See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Is it just me...

Or are we getting a lot of mixed messages these days?
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Fr. Z has a provocative post on the God of Islam.  These days, some people still can't be sure it's the same God.  A Church document, Nostra Aetate seems to think it is.  Fr. Z raises some interesting questions regarding the issue here.
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For me - a simple Catholic - I find it all very confusing, this idea that everyone worships the same God.  Mohamed came after Jesus Christ, True God and True man, yet he is only recognized by Islam as a holy man, as Fr. Z points out:  "Christians obviously believe that God is Triune. But, "O People of the Scripture! Do not speak lies against Allah, but speak the Truth. That Jesus Christ, son of Mary, was a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not ‘Trinity.’ Desist! It is better for you. For Allah is one God." (An-Nisa 4:17)"
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In centuries past, Christians died as martyrs rather than embrace Islam, much less kiss their holy book or worship in a mosque.  In our own day Muslims still slit the throats of Christians, burn sacred images and Bibles and churches in the name of Allah.  Are we in the West saying that Muslims are too dumb to realize that we both worship the same God?  Or that the martyrs died in vain?  Did we suddenly wake up in the late 20th century, from a great sleep after some dreadful dark night and suddenly realize Islam is a religion of peace?
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I often think of Paul's words to the Corinthians repeated in this morning's Mass whenever I see photos of cardinals and bishops scattering flowers or lighting candles before Hindu deities - in effect offering sacrifice to idols, and even when I view that most confusing of all photos - Pope John Paul II kissing the Koran.  Yet this is what the Holy Spirit says to the Church on September 11, 2010:  "My Beloved ones, avoid idolatry.  What they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God."  1 Cor 10 14-22

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One thing you have to give Islam credit for however, they adhere to their teachings.
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Top photo:  Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Sambi lights candle to Hindu deity.
Middle photo:  Our Lady of Mercy directed the founding of the Mercedarians to rescue Christians hostages enslaved by Islam.
Bottom photo:  Cardinal Dias lights votive candle to Hindu deity.
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What the the USPC bishops say:
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Numerous religious leaders from Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths attended a Sept. 7 meeting in D.C., titled “Beyond Park 51,” which was hosted by the Islamic Society of North America.

In a statement on Thursday, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Bishop William Murphy and Bishop Howard Hubbard said they voiced their “solidarity” with the leaders who gathered to “denounce categorically derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America’s Muslim community.”

The Day After the End of Ramadan.


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Interesting video.
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H/T to John Sonnen

9/11 Declared A National Day of Service.


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A Day of Service?


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Video:  911 Jumpers

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Nightmare in Belgium...



Most of the abuse happened during the 1960s and 1970s...

BRUSSELS (AP) - Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, a special commission said Friday.
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Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more rampant than the 200-page report suggests.
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Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims.
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"We don't just talk about touching. We are talking about oral and anal abuse, forced masturbation and mutual masturbation. We talk about people who have gone through serious abuse," Adriaenssens said. - myway news
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What happened?
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I have no idea, but for decades there have been published accounts suggesting the Communists successfully infiltrated the Church, planting agents in seminaries who went on for ordination.  How likely is it that this problem of sexual abuse is some how associated with such corruption intended to undermine the Church and destroy the faith?  Nothing destroys a person so deeply as sexual abuse - it is truly diabolic.
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Albert Vassert, a former member of the French Communist Party revealed in 1955 that Moscow had issued a 1936 order that carefully selected members of the Communist youth enter seminaries, and after training, receive ordination as priests. Some of these were to infiltrate religious orders, particularly the Dominicans. (In his essay "Satan at Work", Deitrich Von Hildebrand reported that the French Dominicans had become so Communistic in their 'evangelization' that in 1953, the Order barely escaped dissolution by the order of Pope Pius XII).
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Photo:  Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels

Why you weren't supposed to wear white after Labor Day.

Just for Enbrethiliel...
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"Never wear white after Labor Day". 
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The idea of a hard fast rule seems to be an American thing all right. The dictum most likely stems from the turn of the century when women wore a lot of black - a hold over from the Victorian era.  Yet in summertime, while on holiday and in the city, the girls wore pastels and white - often with white shoes if they were well to do.  White deflected the sun and was slightly cooler of course.  After everyone returned from the beach, the cape, the tropics, what have you, they all once again assumed the dull, drab dowager look of the era.  One would never wear white shoes with black anyway, although black shoes were worn with white.  Nevertheless avoiding white shoes was a practical solution to the dirty, muddy city streets in the fall, winter, and spring months.  White was simply impractical. 
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That said, the custom was clearly adopted from the aristocracy and upper class who loved rules.  Subsequently the emerging middle class and nouveau riche adopted the maxim - no white after Labor Day, and the dry goods stores (department stores) discovered a new merchandising strategy, as well as a marketing tool, thus introducing the novelty of the fall line... 
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European fashion never limited itself in this way - white was always fashionable.  Look at the Pope.
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So you see Sherman, anyone may wear white after Labor Day today...  fashion hasn't changed - it died.

Burning books since the invention of the printing press...


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Is religion the problem?  Or is it just religious people?  Irreligious people - that is secular culture - say religious intolerance is the source of the world's troubles.  Can anyone else see why they might believe that?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Burning the Quran: What Would John Paul "the Great" Do?


More weird news:
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Ann Coulter on WDTPRS.

Christopher West is back: Admits he's unbalanced.


Well not exactly...
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Catchy headline though, huh?  This is what Mr. West really said:


Author and speaker Christopher West has ended his six-month sabbatical, saying he has come to see “a need for greater balance in my life.” He reported that he will address critics of his interpretation of John Paul II’s theology of the body, adding that some have been helpful while others continue to “misunderstand or misrepresent” his work.
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“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those who made sacrifices to afford my family and me this time, and to all who lifted me up in prayer and offered written letters of encouragement and support,” West said in a statement on his website.
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"Among other things, I have come to see a need for greater balance in my life. All who have been impacted by my lack of balance have been beautiful witnesses to me of God's tender patience and mercy,” West continued. “I cannot thank you enough.” - CNA

You are welcome Chris! 
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I almost feel as if he is speaking directly to me - don't you?  I've always been on his side you know. 
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What?!
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[Seriously, I'm sure he had a well earned, prayerful, reflective sabbatical, with wonderful coaching and grooming for his come back.  He will be just fine now.]

Called and Gifted Workshop


Music ministry - discernment interview.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Something in the water.


Breaking news!!!  Atrazine...
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Gender bender chemical atrazine widely contaminates U.S. public water supply.
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Even the EPA's "safe" level of 3 ppb, however, may be far too high; studies suggest that atrazine is biologically active in levels as low as 0.1 ppb, mimicking the action of hormones in the body. A recent meta-analysis of 125 studies by researchers from the University of South Florida found that the chemical causes developmental and reproductive defects in amphibians and fish. Another study, conducted by University of California-Berkeley researchers and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that small amounts of atrazine lowered testosterone levels and fertility in male frogs. Many of the frogs were chemically castrated or even turned into females. - Study

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That explains a lot, huh?  No more worries...
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Photo: 'Waterboys' Jean Paul Gaultier  2010 menswear collection.

Nuts.



I'm against it.

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary



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Happy feast day!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Daily readings.

O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger...

My 'lectio' is usually based upon the daily readings at Mass.  Sometimes it amazes me how 'living and active' the Word really is - since we read the same passages Year A, B, C after year,  and yet it is always new.  These past weeks we've been hearing Paul's letter from 1 Corinthians.  Almost daily it is as if the Holy Spirit is writing to me personally, or addressing issues in the contemporary Church. 
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This month I'd been disappointed because I never received my September Magnificat, the monthly which always includes wonderful meditations on the daily readings, so I had to rely on my old  Daily Roman Missal.  (I called Magnificat and they sent me a replacement, which I just received this morning.)  My Roman Missal can be rather disconcerting since the translations of the readings do not match what we use today.  It takes some getting used to, especially since most modern translations are generally so unsatisfactory anyway.  Why can't there be just one, accurate, un-PC liturgical text?*  But I digress.
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Today's reading concerning lawsuits in civil courts reminded me of the priest I wrote about the other day, the one suing his bishop and abbot.  One must remember the political situation wherein Paul wrote was quite different from our own.  Our judicial system is based upon Judeo-Christian principles, so Christians having recourse to the civil courts is not a bad thing - though it can be abused.  Canonical court cases can be abused as well.  Nevertheless, Paul asks, "Why not put up with injustice?  Why not let yourself be cheated?  Instead, you inflict injustice and cheat, and this to brothers." - 1 Cor 6
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I think that is often true - Christians do inflict injustice upon Christians, and even cheat one another.  Ironically one of my favorite bloggers, Br. Stephen of Sub Tuum printed an interesting passage from a novel he had been reading that fits in well with something I experienced recently and which influenced my meditation upon the Pauline text this morning:

"These are strange times. There are now two kinds of people.
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This has never happened before.
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One are decent, tenderhearted, unbelieving, philanthropic people. The other are some preachers who tell the truth about the Lord but are themselves often rascals if not thieves.
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What a generation! Believing thieves and decent unbelievers!
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The Great Depriver's finest hour!" - Fr. Smith, Walker Percy’s 1987 novel, The Thanatos Syndrome 

The Holy Spirit, through St. Paul in today's first reading seems to me to be convincing us of sin here - or as charismatics like to say, convicting:  "Instead, you inflict injustice and cheat, and this to brothers."  Well maybe not you, but I have been convicted. 

Whenever you sin, be careful not to despair but to run to the spiritual doctor to confess and seek a cure: the mercy of God. The Lord came into the world to save not the righteous, those who are healthy in soul, but the sinners, those who are ill. He will receive these with great love and mercy as He received the prodigal son, the prostitute, the thief, the publican, and millions of sinners who were saved by repentance and confession. I leave you this paternal counsel: never, never despair whenever you sin, but have confidence and hope in the immeasurable mercy of God. Repent and confess, and you will be saved. - Elder Philotheos Zervakos


* Br. Stephen also has an excellent post on the subject of scriptural translations - specifically the New American Bible - Isn't It Time To Retire the "New" American Bible?

What?


Not after Labor Day...  not ever...  please.
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Photo: Sartorialist: Summer suited, Milan.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The attraction of the saints...

Faces of holiness.
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While I worked in retail, one of the qualifications I looked for in sales associates was friendliness, intelligence and good looks.  Upper management sometimes thought I was kidding - but I was convinced that the attractiveness and friendliness of the person attending the customers was very important.  I worked for a religious goods company and therefore I was convinced good looking, pleasant, friendly guys, who also knew the faith and their merchandise was vitally important to grow the business and attract priests from around the State.  I often said, "men are attracted to men".  And it is not a gay thing at all.  I experienced it myself growing up.  As a young man I could get in to to see just about any priest or bishop (or prioress too) I wanted, and I was frequently invited to dinner or a show - which I usually declined BTW. 
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I'm only saying this by way of introduction to my post here.  Attractive people attract people - now that I'm old and ugly, I'm invisible.  But I digress.  Nevertheless, attractive saints attract devotees and clients - clients are persons who attach themselves to a particular saint, regularly asking for favors, following their example, and so on.  The saint in turn leads them to a more devout life and aids them in becoming holy.  Sometimes divine providence attracts us to a particular saint by natural means - just as we are attracted to friends on earth.  For instance, St. Gemma and Bl. Pier Giorgio are two very attractive saints.
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Saints for outsiders.
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You will notice in my sidebar I usually have posted a couple young, attractive saints.  These guys not only appeal to young and old lay people alike, but guys - and some of these guys may be same-sex attracted for reasons deeper than friendship.  In fact, a friend of mine, Jamie Becker, a fellow artist, formerly a marketing VP at Marshall Field's/Macy's, was interested enough in the saints in my sidebar to inquire and read about them.  My friend is Jewish.
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Jamie chose Pier Girorgio to paint, although he included Jacques Fesch and Alberto Marvelli in the composition (shown above), along with images of men and boys either murdered for being gay, or imprisoned, ostracized, and executed for being so.  I asked him what he wanted to say by the painting.  He just told me he did not understand why the Church canonizes some single men, or declares some to be martyrs, yet refuses to honor gay men like those hanged to death in Muslim countries, or victims of gay bashing elsewhere.  More deeply, he may have been wondering about a lot more... like, 'how can a young man remain sinless?' - Psalm 119: 11
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The attraction of Catholicism.
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Now any knowledgeable Catholic might react to such a misunderstanding and jump to their feet to explain in no uncertain terms that these saints, Pier Giorgio, Alberto, Jacques, and others are not gay, while proceeding to instruct my friend exactly why a saint is made a saint, or a martyr is a martyr.  Nevertheless, Jamie was very sincere in asking the question and I sensed a very deep respect on his part, the very question revealed a great deal about his sensitivity to the subject.  He once told me he would like to pray but he didn't know how.  Another time he said he didn't believe in God.  On his way to Paris recently, I told him if the plane crashes to "tell God you are sorry for all your sins and ask him to take you to heaven" - he responded, "but I don't have any sins".   I laughed and told him - "just say it anyway".  So you see, there is something quite sincere and loving in this man, and he is made for God's love.  He promised to visit Rue de Bac and light a candle for me while he is living in Paris.
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Anyway - aside from the politics and controversies which surround Catholic teaching, and often embroil our relationships with one another, many of the individuals involved are not necessarily out to get us.  As Jamie's painting demonstrates - sometimes they are just trying to figure us out, while sorting through an awful lot of stuff themselves.  Sometimes non-religious people just want to know why we believe and live according to Church teaching when it is often so inconvenient to do so... frequently remaining the outsider, stranger and pilgrim - even amongst Catholics.
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Truth is...
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Of course I respectfully tried to explain, though the murder of homosexual men is unjust, they cannot be considered martyrs, or canonized by the Church.  Saints are made saints because of their heroic virtue and because they example the Christian life and teaching.  Martyrs are martyrs because they suffered for the faith, their death is their witness to Christ and the Gospel.  The Martyrs of Uganda are saints because they refused to submit to homosexual sin.  Though St. Sebastian has been adopted by gay people as a patron (his physique plays a big part here), he was martyred out of hatred for the faith.  Martyrs of chastity were killed because they resisted sexual sin, and so on.  Of course, he already knew that. 
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The truth is hard to accept sometimes, and it is only obtained by long labor and study and prayer... to paraphrase Dostoevsky.  But 'love is the teacher... and we must love not occasionally, for a moment, but forever.' 
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Art:  Blessed Pier Girorgio Frassati - Jamie Becker, 2010
Acrylic and collage on canvas.  Approx. 36"x30"

Sue the cappa magnas off 'em...

Fr. Gruber and Abbot Nowicki

Bishop Brandt

Priest sues Bishop and Archabbot for libel.
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A priest at St. Vincent College filed a libel suit Friday in Westmoreland County against officials of the Greensburg Catholic Diocese and St. Vincent College, alleging they falsely accused him of being a pedophile even though he was exonerated by state police.

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The Rev. Mark Gruber, who is a tenured professor, sued Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the diocese; Benedictine Archabbot Douglas Nowicki of St. Vincent Archabbey; former college president H. James Towey; Dr. John Smetanka, dean of academic affairs; and Dr. Gary Quinlivan, dean of the business school.
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In his lawsuit, Gruber alleges that Towey and Nowicki triggered a criminal investigation of him after pornographic images were discovered on a computer that Gruber used, which was in a common room where he taught anthropology. 
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Brandt and Nowicki suspended Gruber from celebrating Mass or administering the sacraments as well as teaching, despite a state police finding that Gruber had not committed any crime. - Full story.
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As the pendulum swings:  Over-reaction.