Saturday, August 23, 2014

So far, the West has been "utterly unable to comprehend the threat of militant Islam..."

An interesting commentary on Hillaire Belloc's warning concerning Islam:

"It’s hard to engage in interfaith dialogue when your head has been cut off." 
Belloc’s prophecy was twofold. He identified the cause of Islam’s enduring success, and he warned, when such warnings seemed irrelevant, of its resurgence. The reason for its success, we have seen: simplicity and lack of reason. For its resurgence: lack of resistance. “We are divided in the face of a Mohammedan world, divided in every way,” Belloc wrote, in 1937, “ . . . and that division cannot be remedied because the cement which once held our civilization together, the Christian cement, has crumbled.” 
The Middle East, from Syria and Iraq to Lebanon and Egypt, is once again a land flowing with the blood of Christian martyrs. The Christ-haters are not only the scimitar-wielding psychopaths of the “caliphate.” They are those who willingly and deliberately fail to come to the aid of entire communities threatened with ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Perhaps if we lose, Belloc wrote, 80 years ago, “our Faith will rise.” The blood of the martyrs is the seed of holiness. It has always been so. - Father Benedict Kiely

Gay Marriage Is Legal in Minnesota: Which means, if you are in the wedding business, you can't discriminate.

And they said it would never last.

Before it was legal.

Remember how marriage equality activists pretty much insisted legalizing gay marriage would not affect anyone, yet in every state where it is legal, businesses who refuse to provide services have been sued for discrimination - even when their objections are based upon religious beliefs.  In Minnesota the marriage law exempts religious institutions - churches - from any obligation to perform same sex marriages, and to my knowledge that is the case in other states.

Until this week I wasn't aware of any lawsuits against business owners for refusing to provide services for a same sex wedding.  Today there is this story from the local newspaper:

Hunting club owners settle, agree to apologize and pay for gay couple's wedding.

Two St. Cloud men getting married this month will have their wedding ceremony and reception paid for by a Little Falls hunting club after it initially refused to be the site of their wedding. 
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced the settlement Friday, the first of its kind since the state legalized gay marriage in August 2013. The owners of LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation Inc. agreed to pay about $8,500 to cover the upcoming wedding of Cole Frey and Adam Block, as well as apologize to the two men and comply with the state’s nondiscrimination law in the future. 
Frey, 20, and Block, 18, said Friday that they met last October and became engaged in November. In February, Frey said, he contacted LeBlanc’s to inquire about having the wedding at its clubhouse after his stepmother suggested it. He said he didn’t immediately reveal that he was marrying a man, and was told their desired date was available.
A few weeks later, Frey said, he went to sign papers and leave a security deposit. “That’s when they found out it would be between two males,” Frey said. “They told us they don’t condone same-sex marriage, and they wouldn’t be marrying us on their property.” 
Frey said he quickly contacted the Department of Human Rights. Posing as a potential customer, an agency investigator called LeBlanc’s to inquire about renting it for a same-sex wedding and received a similar response. 
Human Rights Department Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said his agency contacted the club and started settlement talks. Paul Rogosheske, the attorney for LeBlanc’s, said it was a case of misunderstanding state law. 
“They made a mistake and we did everything in our power to correct it,” Rogosheske said. “This couple is going to have a great wedding and I can assure you LeBlanc’s is going to be open to everybody.” - StarTrib

My opinion.

The happy couple are only 18 and 20 years old, still in school, they have their whole life ahead of them - they are too young to get married.  Why would they even want to?  I'm against it.

That said, gay marriage is legal.  If you have a business and provide goods and services, the state says you can't discriminate.  Granted, there is good discrimination and bad discrimination - the state doesn't see it like that.  (Churches are different - so far.)

Personally, I don't see baking a cake, printing invitations, arranging flowers, or providing a facility as supporting or not supporting marriage.  If a Catholic baker, or a Catholic hunting club owner does wedding/party business with non-Catholic wedding parties, even divorced and remarried wedding parties, I don't see the problem with renting facilities for gay weddings.  I'm against gay marriage of course, but f one provides goods and services to this party - the law says you have to do so to that party.  What if the club hosted gay hunters in the past?

I'd get out of the wedding business if it is such a problem.

That said, the two guys getting married lucked out.  They are getting almost $9,000 in settlement money, despite the fact they opted for a house reception after a military chapel ceremony, explaining:

 “We kind of came to the conclusion, anyway, that we didn’t want to have it there because we didn’t want to be associated with them in that way.” 
“It’s not my place if someone in their religion feels this is wrong,” Frey said. “But at the same time, it’s a feeling that people need to accept what’s going on and that this is becoming the norm.”
"We didn’t want to be associated with them in that way.”  Doh!  That's exactly why the owners of the club did not want to host your wedding.  Like I said, the boys are still in school - but I doubt they will get much smarter.

Justice is blind - and the State is deaf and dumb.

The Hunt Club 

"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3: 27-28

The last few days, things have changed - so much.  Many matters that once concerned me seem not to matter any longer.

Since James Foley's execution, issues have melted away ...

The arguments no longer matter.  

The only scandal now is the scandal of the cross.

It seems to me we are now all called to participate in it.

When the Christians came back from the cemeteries after bearing the bodies of the holy martyrs to their burial and assembled in the church for prayer, we used to see the evidence of their holiness. The whole Christian body was there, and no member of the flock showed fear. The catechumens learned a lesson in those assemblies when they heard the report of what the holy martyrs had said to their judges and of the steadfastness with which they confessed the faith up to the moment of their death. I know Christian men and women who saw strange things happen in such assemblies, and even real miracles. - Origen

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Queenship Of Our Lady

Our Lady, Help of Christians,
pray for us.

    "With a Heart that is truly a Mother’s does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord, exalted above all choirs of angels and saints, and standing at the right hand of her only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother’s heart, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused." - Pius IX

    "We have seen how Mary exercises her Queenship on earth. She exercises it in heaven also. The essential glory of the blessed depends on Jesus merits and hers. She contributes to their accidental glory—as well as to that of the angels—by the light she communicates to them, and by the joy they have in her presence and in the realization of what she does for souls. To both angels and saints she manifests Christ’s plan for the extension of His Kingdom. Her Queenship extends to purgatory also, for she prompts the faithful on earth to pray for the souls detained there and to have Masses said for them . . . Her Queenship extends to the demons too who are obliged to recognize her power, for she can make their temptation cease, can save souls from their snares, and can repulse their attacks . . . Thus her Queenship is truly universal."  - Garrigou-Lagrange

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Straight talk: Israel and the United States and the rest of the West are, in fact, fighting the same intolerant, sadistic and unrepentant foe.

Both the President and Secretary Kerry took pains to sever ISIS from the religion of Islam...

President Obama, in a formal statement on the murder of Foley, said that ISIS, "speaks for no religion. No faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday or what they do every single day. We will do everything we can to protect our people and the timeless values they stand for. We will be vigilant, and we will be relentless ... to see that justice is done." 
Secretary of State John Kerry followed the President with an equally harsh statement. "There is evil in this world, and we all have come face to face with it once again. Ugly, savage, inexplicable, nihilistic, and valueless evil. ISIL is the face of that evil, a threat to people who want to live in peace, and an ugly insult to the peaceful religion they violate every day with their barbarity." 
Both the President and Mr. Kerry took pains to sever ISIS from the religion of Islam. That is not an appropriate distinction for American political figures to make. Ours is a country that is secular in its governance and does not truck in "true religions" or parsing other people's religious beliefs. The organization speaks precisely in Islamic terms and holds itself out to be authentic Islam. Muslims themselves will either accept ISIS as part of their religious family or drum it out. - The Beheading of James Foley and Other Unintended Consequences

I couldn't agree more.  In fact, for Obama to speak out on the quality of religious belief, even the 'massacre of innocents' is the height of hypocrisy.  He is not a religious leader.  In the United States we massacre innocents every day in and through legalized abortion.  As the above author states: "Both the President and Mr. Kerry took pains to sever ISIS from the religion of Islam. That is not an appropriate distinction for American political figures to make."

On the other hand, the USCCB is calling for continued dialogue  with Muslim leaders.
The U.S. bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs said the Catholic church remains committed to dialogue with leaders of other religions and Muslims in particular. 
Reiterating that commitment is especially needed now, the committee said in a statement released late Tuesday, because tensions between Christians and Muslims have never been more acute and some Catholics and members of other denominations have rejected interfaith talks. 
"Sadly, in recent years, there has been a deliberate rejection of this call to engage in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters by some in the Catholic Church and in other ecclesial families," said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committee, whose chairman is Auxiliary Bishop Denis Madden of Baltimore. 
"We understand the confusion and deep emotions stirred by real and apparent acts of aggression and discrimination by certain Muslims against non-Muslims, often against Christians abroad," it said. "We, and increasingly our Muslim partners in dialogue, are concerned about these very real phenomena." - NCR

Let the bishops do that.

In the meantime ISIS believes they are  the Islamic State, the new Caliphate.  Islam doesn't have a central religious leader, and like Christianity, Islam is splintered.  People have to wake up.  Religious leaders have to get real.  ISIS is the new Islamic State - you can't dialogue with evil.

“I told ISIL you terminated Islam and civilization and humanity. Then in which logic can we address you?” Besharah Al-Rahi, Maronite Patriarch

Intolerable crimes: Muslims in Bangladesh break into convent and assault the nuns.

The new reign of terror ... spreading globally.
Asianews reported that during the assault, three PIME nuns suffered attempted rape and they were sent to their provincial house in Dhaka, the national capital where they are trying to overcome the shock and mental suffering.
“It’s very sad that the sisters cannot continue to work for the people, but our sisters are no longer safe,” lamented Rosaline Costa, a Catholic human rights activist.
“I have lodged strong complaints over the attack on these religious sisters,” she told Asianews. “If the Church is not safe nobody will go to the seminary or formation house to become priest or nun. It is a challenge for Church,” she added and called for stringent punishment to the attackers.
Local Christians live in fear since the attack. The attackers, all Muslims, were looking for land deeds and valuables. It is not the first time they have tried to steal them the land documents, local people said.
The attack began at 2 am on July 6. The attackers first tied the hands and legs of the mission’s two night watchmen and gagged them. They then broke down the door of the room where the assistant pastor Father Anselmo Marandy was sleeping. They raided the convent located in the mission campus. - Source

Prayer and sacrifice.

My sacrifice O God, is a contrite spirit.
A heart contrite and humbled, you will not spurn.

When prayer seems not enough, we need to add sacrifice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Centenary of the Death of Pope St. Pius X

One hundred years ago.

August 20, 1914, Pope Pius X died.

A fitting memorial here.

I find it strange there has been no real mention of this other than a few websites online.  There seems to be a great silence - especially in Rome.  Maybe I just haven't noticed?

Feast Day 21 August
St. Pius X pray for us.

I found this at Vatican News: Echoes of the pontificate of St. Pius X.

Ham radio

Did you know Muslims do not eat pork?  Neither do the Ethiopian Orthodox.


Remembering James Foley, the Journalist Beheaded in Iraq

"I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. 
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused." - Foley's account during his Libyan imprisonment.  Source

Everyone is reporting on this.

I have nothing to say except prayers.

And I am so sorry.

Link: Priest comforts family of slain journalist.

Remember when Pope Francis said this?

A church in Mosul.

"If we don't feel in need of God's mercy and don't think we are sinners, it's better not to go to Mass."

From my post Sunday:  We attend church on Sundays - assist at Mass - to worship God. We are obliged to do so, but it should be so much more than an obligation for us who believe. I think it is our responsibility as believers to lift up our hearts to make our worship authentic - in spirit and truth - even in the most desperate or compromised situations. We must try to avoid projecting a critical attitude, approaching the church with negative expectations, as well as disparaging the form of Mass. We need to pray for an increase of faith and devotion. As Pope Francis tried to explain:

"In reality, those who participate in the Mass don't do so because they think or want to believe they are superior to others, but precisely because they know they are in need" of God's mercy, he said.
"We go to Mass because we know we are sinners and want Jesus' forgiveness," the pope said. "When, at the beginning of Mass, we say, 'I confess,' it's not something pro forma. It's a real act of penance." - Source

To compare Mass to a cruise ship imbued with the spirit of anti-Christ strikes me as rather arrogant, even the angels who are present would not dare to revile Mass in such a way.

We need to repent.  We need to shape up.  We need to remind ourselves of all those who suffer persecution, and are denied access even to a Catholic church, how they would give anything to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion - even at a simple Word and Communion service.

After my Sunday Mass Chat post, a friend wrote offering to pick me up and take me along with the family to the FSSP Mass on Sunday mornings.  I did not intend my post to come off as a complaint or a denigration of the ordinary form of Mass I attend.  That wasn't at all the intention of my post.  As I said, my parish church is fine for me - I believe in the Eucharist - I know the Mass, even when it has been reduced to the essentials. I recognize Christ in the breaking of the bread - it is a wonderful grace I have been given. I am able to tune out a lot of stuff.  I prepare for Mass.  I pray before, and I spend as much time as possible afterwards in thanksgiving, in the presence of God.  I explained to my friend I had no need to go elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Radical Islam and forcible circumcision of Christian men

Barbarity and enslavement.

For Islamic State militant butchers, it's open season on Christians.  IS is forcing circumcision on Christian men and women.  The captive women are also sold into sex slavery.  Men who are permitted to live are forcibly circumcised.  (Forced circumcision is normal in East Africa.)
(AINA) — The Tunisia Daily is reporting that the Islamic State (ISIS) forcefully circumcised Assyrian men in Mosul, without anesthesia. The report does not specify the number of men that were affected but does state that it was an organized mass circumcision. ISIS has ordered the circumcision of all Christian children and adults who remain in Mosul.
Very few Assyrian Christians stayed in Mosul after ISIS gave them a deadline to convert, pay jizya, leave or die (AINA 2014-07-20).
The report also states that ISIS sold 700 Yazidi women for $150 each in a public slave auction in Mosul. - Link

Islam enslaves men and women.  Women and children have no rights whatsoever.  It is medieval cruelty.

We think that these tragic events do not affect us. Archbishop Nona does not agree. “Our sufferings are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.” - James V. Schall, S.J.

Warning: Circumcision photo after the jump.

Ferguson violence affecting High Schoolers in St. Louis County, MO

Real story here.

This little girl (shown here with her mother) can't go to school because her clothes were all ripped up during the riots.


The Antonio Socci version of the revelations of Fatima

Shrine at Valinhos.  Fourth apparition.
Our Lady appeared there August 19, 1917.

So-called "New" Fatima revelations.

Apparently the Carmel of Coimbra has released a biography of Sr. Lucia and included therein excerpts from the seer's diary, which include details of mystical experiences/visions subsequent to the first apparitions at Fatima, and possibly more details from the famous apparition at Pontevedra wherein Our Lady requested the First Saturday devotion of reparation to her Immaculate Heart.  It is difficult to know the details of the newly revealed private revelations contained in the Coimbra text, since as of this writing, the only accounts in English have been translated by Google translate - which is always unreliable and incomplete as concerns sentence structure, grammar, correct terms, and so on.  Once again - the badly translated text can be interpreted according to the bias of the reader - or the journalist.

The very first consideration one must keep in mind is that the Carmel of Coimbra will never contradict what the Holy See has already established regarding the third secret.  Likewise - as one is reminded in the current texts alleged to have been published, the Blessed Virgin told Sr. Lucia to write down what she sees, but the interpretation - it's significance - is not hers to interpret.  In Life, Sr. Lucia said as much when asked about the third secret - she explicitly stated it was not for her to interpret, which is why she submitted it to the Holy See.

Fatima is not over by any means.  St. John Paul II declared the message is as relevant in our time as it was in 1917.  Pope Benedict XVI also intimated as much.  In the texts connected with the CDF's interpretation of the third secret, he said something to the effect, "though it seems these things have been fulfilled..." likewise, while at Fatima, the Holy Father said it was a mistake to believe the 'mission' of Fatima was complete.

What we add to these sayings, how we personally interpret the texts and visions is mere speculation - often based or reinforced by dubious revelations or sayings attributed to the Pope himself - as was done with what St. John Paul II was alleged to have said at Fulda regarding the third secret.

We sensationalize the messages and apparitions in and through private interpretation and speculation.  To overlay private revelations and prophecy onto Scripture is often misleading and can be a source of greater confusion.  Though the imagery may appear to fit and events seem to coincide, we cannot of ourselves determine the meaning.  That is always the responsibility of the Holy See.

As any good Carmelite, and like her holy mother in religion, St. Teresa of Jesus, Sr. Lucia was and is 'a daughter of the Church' - she submitted her writings to the discernment of the Holy See.  The Holy See has faithfully documented the message, as well as interpreted Sr. Lucia's account here: The Message of Fatima.

We live in dangerous times and it strikes me things are getting worse.  Sr. Lucia recognized this as well.  The requests of Our Lady at Fatima still hold.  The consecration was made, as the Holy See affirms.  It was late, as Our Lord told Lucia it would be.  We suffer the consequences now.  We still can respond to Our Lady's requests.  We can still perform the work of the First Saturday devotion, we can still repent, convert, and pray.  The First Saturday devotion directs us to the Church, to the sacraments - especially the sacrament of penance and the Eucharist.  The entire message of Fatima is established upon the Eucharist - the source and summit of Catholic faith.  In preparation for Our Lady's visitation, the children were introduced by the Angel to Eucharistic devotion, adoration and reparation.  Sr. Lucia herself often commented that the rosary is in fact a Eucharistic/Trinitarian prayer.  Fatima calls us to penance and sacrifice - Our Lady has been called catechist - which also means she is the model of the so-called new evangelization.

In the message of Fatima we have the perfect prescription for peace and the salvation of souls - it remains the remedy for the errors and delusion which have shrouded the truth in our day.  It is a path of sanctification.  There is no need to add scare tactics or invent novel interpretations to what has already been revealed - the call of Fatima is one of hope - even in the midst of the darkness of martyrdom.  Rumors and falsehoods circulating about Fatima is what has caused it to be ignored and even mocked by otherwise good Catholics.  It's important to subject ourselves to the authority of the Holy See when it comes to the correct interpretation of Fatima.

Of course, this is my 'private' opinion - so don't pay any attention to me either.  That said - be careful what you read online - and avoid sensationalizing the message. And do pay attention to what the Holy See has said.

Holy See: The Fatima Message
Emmett O'Reagan: A New Text
Pat Archbold: A New Fatima Revelation? 

Pray the rosary every day.
Make a sacrifice of everything you do.
The good will be martyred.
Pray, pray, pray.

Keep praying very much for those suffering in Iraq - every day: "The disaster is overwhelming, and we are unable to comprehend it all."

Deacon Kandra posts this letter from Mother Olga of the Daughters of Mary:

Dear Reverend Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters in Religious Communities,
Peace and blessing to you. I pray this message finds you all well in this summer season.
Inspired by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ announcement of observing Sunday, August 17, as a Day of Prayer for peace in Iraq, I take this initiative to write to all of you asking for your continued prayers for the Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. In a special way, I want to ask you to keep all the bishops, priests, and religious communities in Iraq in your daily prayers and remember them in your daily Masses.
The grave situation in which our Christian communities in Iraq are suffering, and the desperate cry of their bishops and priests, led me to write to all of you. The Secretary General of the United Nations in his letter of July 20, 2014, and the follow up letter issued by the President of the Security Council on July 21, 2014, both condemned in categorical and unequivocal terms the atrocities committed against the Christians of Iraq by the militant, fundamentalist and terrorist Islamic group known as ISIS (now IS).
On August 11, Pope Francis tweeted: “The news coming from Iraq pains me. Lord, teach us to live in solidarity with all those who suffer […] I ask the international community to protect all those suffering violence in Iraq […] Those driven from their homes in Iraq depend on us. I ask all to pray, and for those who are able, to give material assistance.” Also on August 13, the Patriarch of the Chaldeans in Iraq, Patriarch Louis Sako, wrote in his appeal, “If the situation does not change, the whole world should take the responsibility of a slow genocide of a genuine and entire component of the Iraqi Society and of losing its heritage and age-old culture. ISIS tries to erase all traces.”
The plight of the ancient Christian communities in Iraq, particularly the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, the Syriac Catholics and Orthodox, and the Armenian communities has caused the displacement of over 100,000 people, elderly, pregnant women, and children among them. They all left their homes and lost everything. Many of them had to walk on foot for days from village to village and from city to city, seeking safety for their lives. On August 15, Pope Francis tweeted, “My heart bleeds especially when I think of the children in Iraq. May Mary, Our Mother, protect them.”
Christianity has been present in Mosul, formerly known as Nineveh, since the preaching of Saint Thomas, one of the Lord’s Apostles in the first century. Today, not one Christian is present and many ancient churches and monasteries have been destroyed. As Patriarch Sako wrote on August 10 in his appeal letter, “The churches are destroyed and desecrated; five bishops are out of their bishoprics, the priests and nuns left their missions and institutions leaving everything behind, the families have fled with their children abandoning everything else! The level of disaster is extreme.” A report from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on August 17, 2014, stated that the Islamic State desecrated about 45 churches in Mosul and converted some of these church buildings into mosques and operation centers for ISIS military.
As priests and religious, you can imagine the pain of the bishops, priests, and religious communities who have been forced to leave their dioceses, parishes, convents, and monasteries. As men and women consecrated to serve those in need, they find themselves today at a loss of how to provide basic necessities for about 130,000 Christian refugees scattered in four cities in northern Iraq. The Patriarch of the Chaldean Church described their experience as walking daily in the Stations of the Cross.
The most challenging task, after the basic necessities of providing water, food, and shelter to thousands of displaced families, is to find a way to provide spiritual consolation and renewed hope when the young and old are in despair. Pope Francis’ personal envoy in Iraq, Cardinal Ferdinando Filoni, reported to the Vatican Radio, after visiting the displaced people during his current tour of northern Iraq, that one of the
elderly men asked him: “What sin have we committed to be slaughtered in this way?” It is a true tragedy that about 300 women, between the ages of 15 and 35, have been kidnapped, raped, and are now being sold in a public market in Mosul.
As a religious sister in Iraq, I had the privilege of knowing all the religious communities who have been recently displaced. I served in Mosul and visited all the monasteries and shrines that have now been taken by ISIS and destroyed. On August 17TH, a report from the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena in Iraq, stated: “As for us, as a community, Sisters are scattered everywhere. We left nineteen places of ours, which include convents, schools and orphanages. Moreover, we have learned that our convent and the orphanage we own in Bartila have been taken by the ISIS. Also, our convents in Mosul and in Tal Kaif were taken (including a school and kindergarten).”
The disaster is overwhelming, and we are unable to comprehend it all. Given the vastness of such human tragedy, the gravity of the loss of many lives, homes, religious culture and history, as well as the delay of response from the international community towards what has happened, leave many religious communities, priests, and bishops wondering if the Christian presence in Iraq will be saved or erased.
As a daughter of Nineveh, sister in Christ to all the bishops, priests, and religious in Iraq, I write to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ here in the United States of America, asking for your continued prayers with your parishes and religious communities. Our brothers and sisters in Iraq need our help and daily prayers to persevere as they await a new dawn of hope and peace.
Please be assured of my continued prayers for each one of you, your parishes and communities, and your ministries and the people whom you serve.
Yours in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
Mother Olga
mother Olga of the Sacred Heart (Yaqob)
mother servant of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Holy Father offers to go to Iraq

From Catholic News Agency: 
Speaking to journalists aboard the Aug. 18 plane flight back to Italy from South Korea, the Pope noted the Holy See's diplomatic efforts to end the violence in Iraq, especially against Iraqi minorities.
In response to the question on Iraq posed by CNA and EWTN News Rome bureau chief Alan Holdren, Pope Francis said that a papal visit to Iraq was “one of the possibilities.”
“And in this moment, I am ready.” He added: “and right now it isn't the most, the best thing to do but I am disposed to this.” - CNA

This reminds me of Mother Teresa in war-torn Lebanon around this same time in 1982, when she arrived there amid fighting to bring St. John Paul II's message of peace.  Once there, and against all advice, she helped to evacuate retarded and handicapped children from a hospital.

Going out to the peripheries.  It is what saints do.

Thoughts on blogging.

It has all been a big mistake.


Ferguson, Missouri.

Mother, mother
everybody thinks we're wrong...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mass Chat: Did anyone mention today is a day of prayer for persecuted Christians in Iraq? Hello? Anyone?

I thought the Bishops designated today as a day of prayer?

Do Bishops just say stuff now?  But no one has to pay any attention?  Maybe that Bear guy is right - Michael Voris has become irrelevant?

Is there any unity in the Church?

At my parish - not a word about Iraq - just a brief intention for Christians in the Middle East and Africa.  Nothing else - not even in the bulletin.  How is that for Christian unity?

The deacon had the homily.  He's normally pretty good.  Not a word on Iraq though.

Instead he extrapolated upon the Gospel.  His take on it could be summed up in this:  Jesus and his disciple didn't want to be bothered with an outsider but then when the woman's faith proved stronger than their 'revulsion' a light bulb went off in Jesus' brain and he suddenly realized his mission expanded and he was to heal Gentiles too - as if he didn't know that before.  Because Scripture said 'he grew in wisdom, age, and grace - and knowledge' - this was another lesson to be learned by Jesus.  Not us and the disciples.  I disagree.  Christ knew before the Cannanite woman even approached him. I didn't let it distract me though.

The deacon then used the pope's words about going out to the marginalized and inviting them - the deacon's words: "to Mass."  We can't expect people to search us out - we have to bring them in - to Mass.

What is there to attract?

I looked around the church.  The tabernacle is in a scrunched box on a shelf in the corner, nearly out of sight.  There is a tacky portable altar - a stripped high altar, no sacred images except for a couple of really ugly statues on side sterile, modern, altars.  The church is modern and sterile - not that it couldn't be beautiful if embellished - but it is not.  The music is what it is in every ordinary church.  No one I know would want to come to Mass with me there.  In fact a friend came with me once for Christmas and said he thought it was too Protestant and wouldn't go back.

I've had friends who would go with me to the Basilica, the Cathedral, and St. Agnes - but no one is interested in the small modern parish.  I go to Mass alone at my local parish, but by the grace of God I am able to pray and remain recollected - it seems many people may not be able to do so.

When I was coming back to the Church, I was fortunate to have beautiful churches and liturgy around me.  I was attracted to Jesus in the Eucharist - the Blessed Sacrament - and the churches I went to had the tabernacles front and center - I knew where Christ was.

It must be our faith - a living faith - which attracts souls.

My parish church is fine for me - but I believe in the Eucharist - I know the Mass, even when it is reduced to the essentials.  I recognize Christ in the breaking of the bread - it is a wonderful grace I have been given.  I am able to tune out a lot of stuff.  Nevertheless, I just do not see my parish attracting 'outsiders' seeking God.  Parents with children they want to send to Catholic school, yes.  But if I was just returning to the Church my parish would not attract me - or anyone I know.

Kevin O'Brien, a blogger I like, has a post on a Minnesota church he and his troupe stopped at for Sunday Mass.  Evidently the country church may be as homey as my parish church.  Kevin kind of rants about it.  He makes a valid point of course - but I think we need to speak with great respect about the holy mysteries - Holy Mass - no matter how it is celebrated.  As I said - it is the Eucharist - the source and summit of our faith.  As Catholics we may have to cultivate that respect and reverence in ourselves - nourished by authentic prayer and faithful attention to the Word of God.  We have to ask for that grace - we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare our souls.  I have found devotion to Our Lady, keeping her company before Mass, is a very good way to do this.

It is God who first loved us and draws us.

We attend church on Sundays - assist at Mass - to worship God.  We are obliged to do so, but it should be so much more than an obligation for us who believe.  I think it is our responsibility as believers to lift up our hearts to make our worship authentic - in spirit and truth - even in the most desperate or compromised situations.  We must try to avoid projecting a critical attitude, approaching the church with negative expectations, as well as disparaging the form of Mass.  We need to pray for an increase of faith and devotion.

We must try and recall how thrilled those who may not have access to any sanctuary or church, much less the sacraments, how thrilled and edified they would be to attend Mass in my parish or the one Kevin attended.  Think of the Christians deprived of Mass in Iraq.

That said, the truth is, people need mystery, solemnity, beauty - holiness.  They need a divine attraction, a divine focus - the priest at the altar, ad orientem before the tabernacle - centered in the sanctuary - the Holy of Holies.  Accompanied by awesome prayer, reverent chant and Catholic hymns - and scriptural, theologically correct homilies.

Remember - this is just Mass chat.


Pope on a train...

Ed. Note: This photo has not been edited.  What?

Pope Francis traveled by high speed train in Korea.

He rejected the helicopter and took public transportation.*  Though in first class, he mingled with those in economy class.  The pope misses being close to ordinary people, so he breaks down barriers of protocol and joins the ordinary folk.  I love that so much.  I also like what he said to the Jesuits to whom he made a surprise visit.
Later in the day, after speaking to young Asians at the Shrine of Solmoe, he surprised again by making a stop at Sogang University on his way back to the nunciature. The institution was founded by the Jesuits in Seoul in 1960.
Present at the encounter was Father Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica who told Vatican Radio, there was "an incredible simplicity: a sense of home, of family, of normality.”
The relaxed and informal meeting was like a big celebration, Father Spadaro said, and the Jesuit Pope talked about the need for priests to bring consolation to people, rather than castigate them for their sins.
God’s people are seeking and needing to be consoled, Pope Francis stressed, and noted that the Church has many wounds, some of them caused by priests and practicing Catholics.
Often, he said, “our clerical attitudes have done much damage to the Church.”
But, he added, “there are no wounds that cannot be consoled by the love of God and priests are called to tend to these wounds, with the certainty that God will always bring forgiveness and hope."
The Holy Father reflected: “Priests are not state altar boys, but they are pastors” and he urged those present “to act like pastors with people who come to Confession. Be merciful, he exhorted them, and always remember that God never tires of forgiving us.” - Zenit

"Always remember that God never tires of forgiving us.”  

I'm crying.

*Though the change of plan was said to be due to the presence of fog, a spokesman for the visit’s organizing committee, Hur Young-yup, didn't rule out another motivation: that by taking the train, the Holy Father had the opportunity to meet locals.

The Ethiopians Celebrate the Assumption

They are having a festival in the park across the street as I write - almost everyone is in white.  It is very crowded.  Apparently they celebrate the Assumption for many days.  As they 'celebrate' in the park, there is chanting and a sort of dance performed by men.  The priest is dressed in black - cape - clerical hat.

The Dormition and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

1. The sleeping of Mary (Asterio Mariam).
2. Assumption (Filseta), which is celebrated for 6 days, counted each as a separate feast.
3. The day when after her death she was revealed to all appeared to all for the first time.
4. Second time appearance to others.
5. Third time appearance.
6. Fourth time appearance.
7. Fifth time appearance.

The Ethiopians are making me very traditional I think.

Contemplating martyrdom: The Trappist Martyrs of Atlas

The seven monks of Atlas, in Algeria, 
anticipated martyrdom by their monastic profession. 

The Trappist Martyrs of Atlas

Once again I have been thinking much about the Trappist martyrs of Atlas, the monks who were beheaded by terrorists in Algeria in the 1990's.  I expect these martyrs can act as special patrons to the Church in these days of bloody persecution, yet they also can be models and examples to individuals on how one ought to conduct oneself in the dark night of terrorism.

From the journals of Father Christian and Luc:
“We welcomed that Child who was born for us, absolutely helpless, and already so threatened. Afterwards we found salvation in undertaking our daily tasks: the kitchen, garden, the prayers, the bells. Day after day. We had to resist the violence. And day after day, I think each of us discovered that to which Jesus Christ beckons us. It’s to be born. Our identities as men go from one birth to another. And from birth to birth, we’ll each end up bringing to the world the child of God that we are. The Incarnation, for us, is to allow the filial reality of Jesus to embody itself in our humanity. The mystery of Incarnation remains what we are going to live.” - Fr. Christian

“I was recently reading this “pensée” of Pascal’s: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction.” Here there is confusion and violence. We are in a “risky” situation but we persist in our faith and our confidence in God. It is through poverty, failure and death that we advance towards him. Heavy and devastating downpours have not curbed the violence that is infiltrating itself everywhere. Two opponents are present, one wants to hold on to power, the other seize it. They are fighting with their backs against the wall. I don’t know when or how it will all end. In the meantime, I perform my duty… Caring for the poor and the sick, awaiting for the day or the time to close my eyes. My dear friend, pray for me, may my exit from this world be done in the peace and joy of Jesus.” - Fr. Jean-Luc
A martyr's testament of charity.

Testament of Dom Christian de Chergé (opened on Pentecost Sunday, May 26,1996)

Facing a GOODBYE.... If it should happen one day - and it could be today - that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was GIVEN to God and to this country.

I ask them to accept the fact that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I would ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering? I ask them to associate this death with so many other equally violent ones which are forgotten through indifference or anonymity. My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value.

In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood. I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which might blindly strike me down. I should like, when the time comes, to have a moment of spiritual clarity which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow human beings, and at the same time forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down.

I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this. I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if the people I love were indiscriminately accused of my murder. It would be too high a price to pay for what will perhaps be called, the "grace of martyrdom" to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he might be, especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam.

I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians indiscriminately. I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism fosters. It is too easy to soothe one's conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists. For me, Algeria and Islam are something different: it is a body and a soul. I have proclaimed this often enough, I think, in the light of what I have received from it. I so often find there that true strand of the Gospel which I learned at my mother's knee, my very first Church, precisely in Algeria, and already inspired with respect for Muslim believers.

Obviously, my death will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naïve or idealistic: "Let him tell us now what he thinks of his ideals!" But these persons should know that finally my most avid curiosity will be set free. This is what I shall be able to do, God willing: immerse my gaze in that of the Father to contemplate with him His children of Islam just as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and restore the likeness, playing with the differences. For this life lost, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God, who seems to have willed it entirely for the sake of that JOY in everything and in spite of everything.

In this THANK YOU, which is said for everything in my life from now on, I certainly include you, friends of yesterday and today, and you, my friends of this place, along with my mother and father, my sisters and brothers and their families - You are the hundredfold granted as was promised! And also you, my last-minute friend, who will not have known what you were doing: Yes, I want this THANK YOU and this GOODBYE to be a "GOD-BLESS" for you, too, because in God's face I see yours. May we meet again as happy thieves in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both. AMEN !

Algiers, 1st December 1993 Tibhirine, 1st January 1994 Christian +

For the story of the martyrs, go here.

I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians indiscriminately. 
I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism fosters. 
It is too easy to soothe one's conscience by identifying this religious way 
with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists. - Dom Christian