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, March 12, 2011

Japanese earthquake and tsunami.


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Praying for the intercession of all the Japanese martyrs to come to the aid of their people in these calamitous times.
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For the living and the dead...
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Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive to my pleading.

If you O Lord should mark our guilt,
Lord who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness;
for this we revere you.... - Ps. 129
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Our Lady of Akita , pray for us.
All you holy martyrs of Japan, pray for us.
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Let God arise, let his foes be scattered.
Let those who hate him flee before him. - Ps. 67
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Save me O God,
for the waters have risen to my neck...
Let those who hope in you not be put to shame...
let not those who seek you be dismayed...
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
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Links:
Our Lady of Akita
Japanese Martyrs

Japanese earthquake and tsunami.



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Continued prayers for Japan.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prayers for those suffering the effects of the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan and elsewhere.


Prayer in time of earthquake.
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God our Father,You set the earth on its foundation.Keep us safe from the danger of earthquakes
and let us always feel the presence of your love. May we be secure in your protection and serve you with grateful hearts.We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
-Roman Missal, Prayer in Time of Earthquake

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LITANY OF SAINTS, including saints who survived and ministered after earthquakes.



Our Lady of Comfort Pray for us. (her title as regards protection from and recovery from earthquakes)

St. Michael Pray for us.

St. Joseph Pray for us.

Holy Angel of the Resurrection Pray for us.

St. John the Baptist Pray for us.

St. John the Evangelist Pray for us.

St. Paul Pray for us.

St. Patrick Pray for us.

St. Therese of Lisieux Pray for us.

St. Agatha Pray for us.

Saint Felix of Brescia Pray for us.

Saint Caesarius of Nazianzen (converted by an earthquake) Pray for us.

Saint Eustochia Calafato Pray for us.

Blessed Luigi Orione  (helper of earthquake victims, Tortona, Italy) Pray for us.

Saint Antoninus Pray for us.

Saint Mamertus Pray for us.

Saint Mariana de Paredes Pray for us.

Blessed Maria Schinina Pray for us.

St. Emydius Pray for us.

St. Rose Pray for us.

St. Toribio Pray for us.

Saint Francis Borgia Pray for us.

Saint Gregory Thaumaturgos Pray for us.

Name other Saints Pray for us.

All holy men and women Pray for us.

Lord, be merciful Lord, save your people.

By your calming of the storm Lord, save your people.

By your death and rising Lord, save your people.

By your gift of the Holy Spirit Lord, save your people.

Bless all those caring for the sick and homeless,

Lord, hear our prayer.

Bless all public servants rebuilding that which has been destroyed,

Lord, hear our prayer.

Christ, hear us
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer - Source

Sacred Heart of Jesus we place all of our trust in you!

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Go to confession!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Novena to St. Joseph



Begins March 10.
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Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.
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Pater, Ave, Gloria




Nun News... Two thefts.



The first theft.
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Two million dollars stolen from a Spanish Cistercian Monastery.  The nuns kept the cash in a cupboard in plastic bags.  One source says it was their 'life' savings, as it were, while another suggests it is the proceeds from the sale of paintings by their artist in residence, Sr. Isabel Guerra.  Her paintings are highly prized and well done - she is a master painter.  What is most sad about this story - outside the fact that the nuns stupidly stashed all of that cash in a monastery cupboard - is that this will most likely give thieves new ideas about raiding monasteries and rural parsonages - for cash and treasure.
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The second theft.
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A friend of Sr. Patricia, Sister Marie Thornton, former Vice President of Finance for Iona College in New Rochelle, pleaded guilty to embezzlement in Manhattan federal court Wednesday.  Sr. Marie T submitted false invoices and had the college pay her credit card balances to the tune of $850,000.00.  So much for that vow of poverty, huh?
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Top Photo:  Isabel Guerra.  I'm told she does not use a brush to paint, rather a palette knife.  More paintings here.
Middle Photo:  Sr. T.
Lower Photo:  Sr. Patricia (Sr. Oprah) - living high off the hog someplace in Michigan - currently scheduled to star in a Catholic television talk show.

What?



*Post content removed so as not to offend anyone.*
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I know!

Praying for death redux.


You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
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God doesn't always answer our prayers according to our expectations - just like we do not always know how to pray as we ought, hence the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us according to the will of God.
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The other day in a very low moment I wrote about praying for death.  What does that mean?  For me, this morning, in the present moment, it means exactly this:  "Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, [...]  You must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus." - Romans 6: 3-11
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"During this Lent I would like as St. Paul says, 'to be buried with Christ in God,' to be lost in this Trinity who will one day be our vision, and in this divine light penetrate into the depths of the Mystery.'" - Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, from Magnificat, meditation for Thursday March 10.

It's Lent. KNOCK IT OFF!


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I know!  No one ever believes me when I tell them about this commercial.
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(Father said, KNOCK IT OFF!)
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What?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Feast Day Devils...



I often forget that temptations happen for a reason, to try us, test us, and prove us.  Temptations are also a form of chastisement or penance, and they offer us a chance to grow in virtue - and when that fails - in humility and self-knowledge. 
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I always figure if I go too long without temptation - something is off.  The devil delights in complacency and self assurance... self satisfaction... self righteousness...  all of the self-isms I imagine myself to be free of.  He loves it when I watch 2-1/2 Men for instance - it's a nasty, dirty little sit-com, glorifying dysfunction, alcoholism, abuse and sexual immorality.  The sex talk alone can be a near occasion of sin.  But it is just a show, huh?  I digress.  I only mention it to point out that we just might be lolly-gagging around enough, drunk in our lukewarm satisfaction, peacefully free of any obvious temptations - because we're immersed in them.
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Then when we decide to do something for Lent, or keep a black fast, change our life-style, or celebrate a religious feast day after a long arduous novena - or even just head out for Mass or confession - sometimes the devil sends out his swat team after us:  these are Feast Day Devils.  They can be as annoying as little flies we swat away over and over, sometimes getting more and more annoyed - to the point of distraction and/or actual sin; or they can be some great big naked person we noticed outside, sunbathing in the yard on our way home from Confession, Mass and adoration.  (Many years ago that happened to me.  LOL!  If only I had just driven on instead of circling the block.  No, nothing happened - it all took place in the heart. Mtt. 5: 27-28)
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So anyway - when we try to do our best, we get tried.  As Scripture says, "When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials."   Thus today many people who had the best intentions to observe Lent like a saint will perhaps find themselves sorely tempted to eat meat, break a fast, get drunk, smoke a cigarette, tell off a co-worker, or do whatever - that is just natural, common, plain ordinary temptation - it's part of the experience.  It is an aspect of penance or ascesis.  Sometimes it's the feast day devils, sometimes it is just the world or the flesh - and of course it can be all three at once.  Penance isn't easy.
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If worse comes to worse and we fall, fail, trip, sin, what have you - we can repent.  God loves a humble and contrite heart more than our sacrifices.  He approves the lowly and afflicted man, not the haughty Pharisee who does every thing right and knows every thing.  Temptations help us to know what we are and teaches us to place our confidence in God.  Others may have their works and virtues and knowledge and prayers and everything that is holy - we have our confidence in God.
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Maybe just offer up your failures for Lent.
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Art:  Fernando Botero, Self-portrait First Communion Day  

Where are they now? Fr. Zlatko Sudac



He claims to be able to bilocate, so he may be hard to find.
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On Ash Wednesday many Catholics will be going to work with ashes on their foreheads.  While looking for a spectacular photo to illustrate this post, I came across the Croatian stigmatist  Fr. Zlatko Sudac.  Is he still around?  The last update I found was dated 2008.  He supposedly bears the stigmata as well as a cross wound in his forehead - hence my connecting him to Ash Wednesday and penitence.  Apparently he was something of a celebrity, as evidenced by his record album cover shown here.  I have no idea who the accompanying musicians are.  What?
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Links:
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More about Fr. Sudac here.
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Art source

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Here's a thought.

After the sexual assault of a female journalist in Cairo a few weeks ago, and then the revelation of a priest arrested for sodomizing a 'client', the following thought emerged which helped me make sense of such crimes:
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"Rape is a desperate act by powerless men to humiliate and subjugate... sodomy is like it."

Can you trust Thomas Merton?



The model of modern gyrovague monasticism...
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I appreciate some of Merton's earlier writings, although I find his later writings only interesting - to some extent.  I've never been attracted to his work for spiritual reading however.  No doubt he has influenced many people and I think he is very much a hero and model for the peace and justice activists who have controlled much of the Catholic Church in the U.S. since the Council.  Likewise his greatest influence may have been that his writings and monastic explorations opened the doors of many a cloister to the New Age, Orientalism, and the ever popular Centering Prayer movement.  Others may disagree.
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I found a rather good rundown on Merton's writings in the post, Can I Trust Thomas Merton, at Catholic Spiritual Direction blog.  I like what the author has to say in response to the question:
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My advice? Well, it’s not like the Church is hurting for solid and perfectly trustworthy writings on the spiritual life. I personally don’t know why anyone would want to carefully sift through this kind of literature when it is clear that Merton had serious issues. It seems a bit like sifting through the refuse at the back of a good restaurant. You are likely to find much that is of nutritional value, but why not just go take your seat at the table for the best and purest meals available? I would encourage you to stick with the spiritual doctors of the Church. - Can I trust Thomas Merton?

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I couldn't agree more - one cannot have confidence that the Holy Spirit was guiding him in his later works.  Personally, I would never go to his writings for spiritual reading or direction.  

Praying for death.



The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
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If tomorrow wasn't Ash Wednesday, the first reading for Mass would most likely be from Wednesday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time, Tobit's prayer for death.  I am always consoled by all of the Old Testament prophets' conduct in dejection, as well as their prayers for death in the face of failure or disappointment - even insult.  It isn't just a Jewish thing to want to stick your head in the oven and pour out your lament to God.  God knows "of what we are made, he remembers we are dust." - Ps. 102: 14.  Sometimes I pray with the prophet:
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"Yes, your judgements are many and true
in dealing with me as my sins deserve.
For I have not kept your commandments,
nor have I trodden the paths of truth before you.
So now deal with me as you please,
and command my life breath to be taken from me,
that I may go from the face of the earth
into dust..." - Tobit 3
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"Unless the seed falls to the ground and dies..."  That is an awesome saying.

Thinking out loud: What if all the sane people were aborted?




I was just reading a piece claiming that 2.4 of the world's population has some form of Bipolar disorder:  "2.4 percent of the world's population may have some form of the disease, which is marked by bizarre shifts in mood, energy and activity that can affect relationships and job performance."
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So if you are sometimes tempted to think everyone else is nuts, you may be right.
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Or as Roseanne said about Charlie - "He makes me look sane."

Filipino Bishops tell homosexuals, "Come out, come out, wherever you are!"



I don't dare editorialize this one...
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I know there may be some cultural differences, but... 
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Well, like I said, I'm not going to editorialize this one - yet.  But let me tell you this - I have very little confidence in Catholic bishops lately, much less their national conferences - no matter what country they are from.
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MANILA, March 1, 2011— Roman Catholic Church officials called on homosexual individuals to “come out in the open” saying it would take a load off their minds.

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At least two Catholic bishops expressed their desire on Tuesday for homosexuals to go public over their sexuality because there is nothing to be ashamed of.
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According to him, he also has no problem with men dressed as women.

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“It’s okay. We don’t know their motive but they dress as a boy or as a girl and that is all that he does, I don’t see problem with that,” Cruz said. - Bishops Urge Homosexuals:  Be not afraid!
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What do you want to bet Archbishop Cruz is a big fan of Glee?
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Oh!  Oh!  Spanking is against Catholic teaching now.  Who knew? “I do not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church as we interpret them in 2011 condone corporal punishment..."  Archbishop Aymond

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***Disclaimer:  No.  I am not apologizing for this one.
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Big H/T to Pewsitter

Monday, March 07, 2011

Breaking News! Fr. Z is having "Monday Supper"


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Instead of the regular Sunday Supper thing.  Father is hosting Monday Supper - with his literary club!  What if he finds out what the hostess in this video did?  Holy....
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***Disclaimer:  No harm to priests or Catholics was intended by this post.  The intention of this post was to send hits to Fr. Z and encourage people to vote for him rather than that loving-hands-at-home-tacky-craft blog.  Furthermore, the characters featured in the video, Book Club Pizza Party are fictitious and bear no resemblance to female Catholic authors and/or readers of Catholic Romance novels.  

"Gangster Government": Seriously, I'm beginning to like this lady...



Michele Bachmann
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The House Tea Party Caucus founder, Michele Bachmann said, "I don't take back my statement on gangster government," a phrase she used at a tea party gathering in April. "I think that there have been actions that have been taken by this government that I think are corrupt," she said during her appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." - Source
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"Gangsta!"  After all, Obama is from Chicago.

And Now - A Song For Cathy!


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While it is true praise might be deceitful - it is very important to encourage one another

Mass chat - a day late: Vain praise...



This post may be deleted.
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The Byzantine rite priest I mention a few days ago - accompanied by a video of him in a holding cell, drunk - is now in rehab.  His attorney says he feels terrible and is so ashamed of his conduct.  I know how that feels.  I took the video down because it seemed to me I was repeating the sin of Ham in a way, by showing it - and laughing about it.  Nevertheless - I still think it's funny.  I loved the part where he demands the cuffs be taken off because he is getting a rash.  He is so funny.  The priest reminds me of a friend who used to get so drunk he didn't know what he was doing or saying.  Once he woke up in - well never mind.  Coming from a family of drunks who did really nutty things - I laugh at the behavior - even when it hurts.  So that should take care of anyone who thinks I'm such a good guy.  (OMIGOSH!  Don't ever mention Charlie Sheen though!) 
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John of the Cross quotes Isaiah saying, "He who praises you deceives you."  It seems to me that is always true - for me at least.  Ask all the people who once told me how spiritual my blog is only to find out otherwise, and then dropped me like a hot potato.  Vain praise has caused me so much harm in the past, it is not funny.  (Well maybe a little bit... like when I told off - never mind.)  Though the one who flatters or praises may be sincere, I am still the one deceived.  No matter how much I would rebuff these things, there is always some level of unconscious satisfaction or sense of approbation which often leads to a certain presumption, or at least complacency.
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Maybe that's what happened to the Byzantine priest?  He was praised all around, by everyone it seems.  And now this.  A tough lesson in humility, no doubt - but God loves humility so much he allows dumb things to happen.  He wants us to be what we are.  May he alone be praised.
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Early on in my conversion I received many signal graces.  A prioress of a contemplative community once made the mistake of telling me these signified some sort of arrival or introduction into contemplation.  I did my best to ignore or mortify any temptation to think I was special, but as St. John points out, the beginner cannot help but secretly esteem such praise.  It did me great harm.  I became convinced some priests just didn't understand me, and since it was a time when contemplative prayer was held in little esteem, and traditional piety and devotions were more or less discredited, perhaps I was actually acting prudently  to some extent - but at the same time there lingered a secret intuition I knew better than others.  This particular nun not only overestimated my spiritual state, she also sowed seeds of suspicion regarding other priests and confessors outside her orbit.  The nun eventually left her monastery to pursue her own way of life.
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I esteemed that nun too much.  Just as I esteemed many other nuns and priests.  We need to be discreet in our estimation of others.  Remember the stigmatic Fr. Gino - originally of the Oblates of the Blessed Virgin from San Vittorino, Italy?  He was later found out to be a fraud.  We encounter a similar situation in Fr. Maciel.  These men were praised by the faithful and clergy, and attracted many followers.
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I've pointed all of this stuff out before, so I'm just rambling here and repeating myself.  But I fear people who offer praise.
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I have a friend who used to tell me how spiritual I was.  I always assumed he was teasing me or at least testing me.  Even when I'd tell him not to say such things he seemed to try to convince me otherwise - so at times I thought he was being truthful.  Although his flattery seemed disingenuous, and despite my annoyance at feeling mocked by it, I sometimes took a secret satisfaction in it, and even became his confidant - which also did me great harm.  He's a very good priest, but I needed to avoid him because of that.  I'm the weak one and though I can't believe he was intentionally deceiving me, I couldn't continue to deceive him.
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Somewhere in the Gospel - I think it is John, Jesus tells the Pharisees, "How can you believe when you accept praise from one another?"  It is good to remember what St. John of the Cross says about this stuff, "Never take a man for your example no matter how holy he may be, for the devil will show you his faults."  I continually have to remind myself of that, because I continually make the same mistakes.  I think of the local priests I esteemed so much, who have since been disgraced.  I'm not talking about judgement here, or being suspicious or looking for errors in everyone - but we have to understand that we are all human beings and that we are extremely weak and fallible.
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When the rich young man approached Jesus he called him good and Jesus gently rebuked him saying, "Why do you call me good?  Only God is good."
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Our culture feeds on vain praise and awards and status and winning and tiger blood.  It is all an illusion and a deception.  We set ourselves up for our own fall. 
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PS:  I just did.

Islam's 'holy' war on Christians...




Could all of this be the beginning of World War III?
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Is all the unrest we are witnessing in Islamic countries the beginning of WWIII?  After all, it isn't just happening in one little country.  Perhaps I come off rather alarmist, but it is very disturbing considering how Christians are inevitably attacked after every Middle Eastern regime falls.  It actually began in Iraq after Saddam.  This onslaught against Christians reminds me of the Nazi harrassment of Jews before the WWII.  Yet so many contemporary religious and political leaders in the West appear to be in some sort of denial, constantly trying to persuade us that Islam is a religion of peace.  They claim it is only Islamic extremists and terrorists causing all of the problems.  Oddly enough - that is exactly what Gadhafi has been telling his people, hoping to explain away the rebellion happening in Lybia. 
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What follows are a few recent news stories otherwise ignored by mainstream media: 
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Ethiopia: Muslims shouting "Allahu akbar" burn five churches...
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International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that in the past two days, thousands of Muslims have razed five churches and the homes of two evangelists in Asendabo, Ethiopia. Christian leaders are asking for protection after the Muslim attackers continued burning churches even after the federal police were sent to the town.

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The Muslims started the attacks yesterday after falsely accusing the Christians of desecrating the Qur’an. More than ten thousand Muslims shouted “Allah Akbar” (Allah is great) as they burned down five evangelical churches. The government sent the federal police force to protect the Christians after the Muslims burned down the first three churches. The Muslims overwhelmed the police force and burned down two more churches today. - Source
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Muslims attack Coptic community, a priest and three deacons missing.
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Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A priest and three deacons are missing following an attack last night by about 4,000 Muslims in the town of Soul (30 kilometres south of Cairo) against the local Coptic community. The mob attacked Christian homes and set fire to the Saints Mina and George Coptic Church, ostensibly because of a relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.

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Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. Father Yosha, the priest of the small parish, and three deacons have been reported missing with different accounts of their fate. Some believe they died in the fire that devastated the church building. Others say they are still held by Muslims in one of the parish buildings.
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When the Muslim mob attacked the church, they exploded five or six gas cylinders inside the church, desecrated the cross and pulled down the domes. - Asia News
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Pakistan Christians bury murdered leader Shahbaz Bhatti..
Mr Bhatti, a Christian, was shot dead on Wednesday by the Taliban after he urged reform to blasphemy laws.
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The law has been in the spotlight since a Christian, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to hang in Punjab last November. She denies insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
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The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says Mr Bhatti has become a martyr for the local Christian community because of his outspoken stance on the blasphemy laws. - BBC News


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Perhaps a little off topic - but...
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Real, bloody persecution has been sweeping Asia and Africa, and yet the USCCB is so preoccupied with Global Warming the Bishops' Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is recommending fasting from styrofoam cups, plastic bags, paper towels, and incandescent light bulbs for a 'green' Lent.  Do people really get paid for making up that stuff?  - CNS 
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Hello?  Is anybody there? 

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Handed over into the hands of sinful men.



"The Mystery of the Betrayer."

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Every time I receive Holy Communion in the hand, or I'm called upon to repose the Blessed Sacrament after adoration, I think of this prophecy of Jesus, "The Son of man will be handed over into the hands of sinful men."  I shudder when I recall being allowed to bring Holy Communion to my mother during her last few months on earth.  The pastor of a local church permitted me to take a consecrated host each day after Communion, placing it in a pix which fit into my watch pocket.  The Blessed Sacrament was with me sometimes all day long, until I had the chance to visit my mother in the hospice after work.  That happened in 1982. 
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The following is taken from the Pope's new book: 
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'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'
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John notes how Jesus goes on to quote Scripture, saying "'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'"
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"This is Jesus' classic way of speaking," the Pontiff reflected. "He alludes to his destiny using words from Scripture, thereby locating it directly within God's logic, within the logic of salvation history. [...]

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"Jesus must experience the incomprehension and the infidelity even of those within his innermost circle of friends and, in this way, 'fulfill the Scripture.' He is revealed as the true subject of the Psalms, the 'David' from whom they come and through whom they acquire meaning."
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"Jesus took upon himself the betrayal of all ages, the pain caused by betrayal in every era, and he endured the anguish of history to the bitter end."
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Benedict XVI observed how the evangelist gives a "new depth to the psalm verse."

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"[I]nstead of the expression given in the Greek Bible for 'eating,' he chooses the verb trogein, the word used by Jesus in the great 'bread of life' discourse for 'eating' his flesh and blood, that is, receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist," the Holy Father explained. "So the psalm verse casts a prophetic shadow over the Church of the evangelist's own day, in which the Eucharist was celebrated, and indeed over the Church of all times: Judas' betrayal was not the last breach of fidelity that Jesus would suffer. [...]
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"The breach of friendship extends into the sacramental community of the Church, where people continue to take 'his bread' and to betray him."
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Citing Blaise Pascal, the Pope added that "Jesus' agony, his struggle against death, continues until the end of the world. [...] We could also put it the other way around: at this hour, Jesus took upon himself the betrayal of all ages, the pain caused by betrayal in every era, and he endured the anguish of history to the bitter end." - Pope's New Book, Zenit
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Icon:  Extreme Humility

A sober reminder.

Camp Synagogue, 1941


Narrative:  Four men wrapped in prayer shawls stand praying near a desolate shack. The make- shift synagogue at Saint Cyprien concentration camp, was located in the French Pyrenees where Nussbaum was held as a prisoner. To the right, a man stands alone. The lone man may be Nussbaum himself, who was ambivalent about his Jewish identity, like many young men of his time. Arrested for being Jewish, Nussbaum moved back hesitantly to his Jewish heritage. A gray gloomy sky fills the background, and a black cloud blocks the sun for the Morning Prayer, while ravens hover overhead. In the foreground are scattered a shoe, an empty tin can, a bone, and some barbed wire, all of which are symbols of the harsh conditions at the camp. The painting was executed in Brussels, after a drawing done in St. Cyprien, shortly following Nussbaum's successful escape from the camp. - Yad Vashem