Saturday, March 07, 2015

Friday, March 06, 2015

This is interesting ... Martyred by Turks

The Martyrdom of St. Irene the Virgin Martyr of Lesbos.

"St Irene was the twelve-year-old daughter of the village mayor, Basil. 
The cruel Hagarenes cut off one of her arms and threw it down in front of her parents. 
Then the pure virgin was placed in a large earthen cask 
and a fire was lit under it, suffocating her within. 
These torments took place before the eyes of her parents, 
who were also put to death. source

How St. Irene's grave and the earthen cask in which died were found.

St. Irene, the Newly Appeared Martyr of Lesvos (ca. 1451 – 9 April 1463) is an Eastern Orthodox saint martyred by Turkish soldiers with her companions Sts.Raphael and Nicholas on Bright Tuesday (April 9) of 1463, a decade after the Fall of Constantinople.
In 1959, workers found the holy relics of St. Raphael of Lesbos as they cleared rubble to build a chapel, and shortly thereafter St. Raphael, along with Sts. Nicholas and Irene, started appearing to many Lesbos residents and told them the stories of their lives. After St. Irene revealed to the residents of Lesbos the place of her grave, her holy relics were discovered on March 12, 1961 in the clay cask in which she was martyred. - Source

My thoughts.

The Turks massacred these Christians over 500 years ago - in much the same way ISIS is slaying Christians today.  How curious.  

What I find intriguing is that the relics of these saints were only discovered in 1959, and the stories of their martyrdom miraculously revealed.  (St Irene's relics discovered in March, 1961.)  The saints appeared separately to different people, asking to be remembered and venerated, and honored by a chapel.  Save for the greater glory of God, why did they suddenly seek to be remembered?  God only knows.

Yet could it be that their witness would soon become important for us today - when the threat of Islamic terrorism once again threatens the Church in the East, Middle East and Africa?  Just thinking out loud here...

Although I still have to wonder how some can claim Islamic terrorists are not Muslim, when the history of Islam is filled with violent persecution, enslavement, and the extermination of Christians? 

+ + +

"There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist...
"From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration." - St. John of Damascus (8th c.)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Cardinal Dolan dispels the myths surrounding ISIS: “These are not pure, these are not real Muslims." *

Cardinal Dolan** said he believed ISIS was conducting a 
“systematic, well-choreographed, very well-focused attempt 
to eradicate the ancient Christian population in the Mideast.” 
The Islamic State extremists
 “do not represent genuine Islamic thought,” 
but are “a particularly perverted form of Islam.”
Full story here.

That's good to know.

I just didn't realize it before.

I wonder if the same thing goes for non-Catholics?  Could it be that some Christians are not pure, real Christians?  I bet Seventh Day Adventists aren't.  OMG!  And those Westboro Baptists!  (Just kidding.)

I totally get what the Cardinal is saying however.  It's like saying Nazis weren't really Germans - despite the fact they claimed racial purity and superiority and were really good looking.

I'm not sure Catholics are obliged to believe this stuff.

I may be wrong.

Maybe when the Muslim world unites under one, world-wide Caliphate of peace ...

No Germans were involved in this rally.

*Bonus:  Other dimensions of unreality...

-Some Catholics claim the Pope is not the real Pope - are they Catholic?

-Some Catholics are saying the newly proclaimed Doctor of the Church, St. Gregory of Narek is not really Catholic - are they right or wrong?

-Some Catholics insist politicians such as Pelosi, Kerry, Cuomo and other pro-abortion legislators are CINO, in other words, they are not pure, real Catholics - is that possible?

So many questions have been raised by a particularly perverted form of ________ (fill in the blank).

**Ed. note:  Cardinal Dolan is from the "Show-Me-State" of Missouri.  What?

What difference does it make?

Song for this post here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A closer look at the proposed 29-story tower they want to build next to Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis

Proposed 29-story tower.

View of OL Lourdes.

Save Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Minneapolis.

I wrote about this a few days ago here.  The story I'm linking to today broke on February 11 of this year - ironically the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.  My blog post was a little late...

How far have plans proceeded?  I'm not sure as of this writing.  One news source gave the impression the concern regarding Our Lady of Lourdes church was more or less limited to potential "shadowing and blocked sight-lines in the neighborhood".  The original StarTrib article did say that, but it also quoted parish spokesman Dale Herron concern:  “We have a strong desire not to see this go forward in its present form. We’re not against development on the site, but we simply do not think this fits the needs of the neighborhood.” 

The original article apparently missed the more pressing concern, the real problem, as it were.  Perhaps the architectural renderings shown above may help to identify the 'danger'.  I'm not sure the concern about the 'view' is all that major.  The real problem seems to be the threat to the structural stability of the landmark church edifice, which has already required stabilizers due to past construction projects.  A large, 29-story tower, including underground parking facilities, requires a great deal of excavation and foundation work.  Which means a whole lot of shaking going on... like an earthquake maybe?

There is a Facebook site to save the nightclub on the corner - for that, go here.  Save Nye's save Our Lady of Lourdes?  Anyway, I'm not aware of any save ol of lourdes site but there is a parish Facebook site here.  Parish website here.

In the meantime - pray.

Contact Minneapolis City Councilman for Ward 3 here:

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

Go here to see complete plans, including aerial view of the footprint for the proposed tower - you will understand the concerns.  Or click:

Church tower in background.

Born that way ... redux.

Mr. Peabody here...

Or "Socially constructed"?

These discussions never seem to get old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's all for today Sherman.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Mass martyrdoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“their God is my God“

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


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

Prayer to OL of Ransom

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


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

I did not know that.

Imitation Game

When the UK decriminalized homosexuality...

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 02, 2015

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


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

I'd never make the cut.  

Anyway, it's much easier to be Catholic.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Where things are at right now.

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

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

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

Go to Our Lady of Lourdes website to learn more.

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

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

St. Bernadette, pray for us!

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

They no longer have a 'worship space'.

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

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

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

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

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