Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One more Flipboard E-zine by yours truly: New #Christian Martyrs

Brethren: Peace be with you.

I want to share with you one more e-zine project by yours truly: New Christian Martyrs. The hand-picked documents I'll put in here will document what Pope Francis has called "the new ecumenism of blood", that is, the blood shed by trinitarian Christians worldwide in imitation of Christ and for His sake. I will also the more subtle yet blatant persecution that Christians are suffering in developed countries, particularly in the U.S.

The magazine is better appreciated when you subscribe to it via the Flipboard app for either your Apple or Android device. Also, you may access it via your web browser here.

Please, don't forget to browse or subscribe to my other seven e-mags:
• Faith and Reason - Discussions at the intersection of science, religion, and politics

• Clarity - Shining the Light of Christ in today's sexual darkness

• The Catholic-Orthodox Voice - Documenting steps toward healing the Great Schism

• Mary, Our Mother - Meaningful Mariology from East and West

• Christian Manhood - Be a Christians Man!

• Christian Simplicity - Living simply in Christ in prayer and detachment

• Spiritual Combat - Spiritual Warfare from a Catholic Perspective

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I am a Nazarene

I'm temporarily replacing my logo with the Arabic letter "N" for "Nazarene" (Christian), which #ISIS terrorists use to mark homes in Iraq for destruction. I stand with my brethren in Iraq, martyred while the world watches, and does nothing and while the Islamic streets remain quiet. Get your Arabic letter from below and proudly proclaim to the forces of Antichrist that we all are Nazarenes, followers of Jesus Christ and that no other revelation to man was, or is ever needed.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

@USCCB: Latest @BarackObama's Executive Order "unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed"

Brethren: Peace be with you.

I wanted to share with you this press release issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

"'Freedom of conscience'? What's that?"
WASHINGTON–The bishop-Chairmen of two USCCB Committees responded with great concern to President Obama’s July 21 executive order to prohibit federal government contractors from what the Administration deems “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination and to forbid “gender identity” discrimination in the employment of federal employees. The problems the bishops identify in the order relate both to the flaws in its core prohibitions, and to its lack of religious freedom protection.

Two USCCB Chairmen – Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth – together issued the following statement.
Today’s executive order is unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.

In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination. With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent. As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.

More specifically, the Church strongly opposes both unjust discrimination against those who experience a homosexual inclination and sexual conduct outside of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman. But the executive order, as it regards federal government contractors, ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term “sexual orientation.” As a result, even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.

The executive order prohibits “gender identity” discrimination, a prohibition that is previously unknown at the federal level, and that is predicated on the false idea that “gender” is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex. This is a problem not only of principle but of practice, as it will jeopardize the privacy and associational rights of both federal contractor employees and federal employees. For example, a biological male employee may be allowed to use the women’s restroom or locker room provided by the employer because the male employee identifies as a female.

In an attempt to avoid these needless conflicts, states that have passed “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” prohibitions have overwhelmingly included protections for religious employers. When the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by the President’s own party, passed the similar Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) last year, it included religious liberty protections as well. Indeed, all prior versions of ENDA had at least some religious liberty protections. But the executive order is an anomaly in this regard, containing no religious liberty protections. In this way, the order, which is fundamentally flawed in itself, also needlessly prefers conflict and exclusion over coexistence and cooperation.

Regarding federal contractors, the Executive Order will take effect after rules to be promulgated by the Department of Labor implementing the Executive Order become final. Regarding federal employment, the Executive Order is effective immediately.
Commentary. Brothers and sisters: President Obama's arrogance and abuse of power knows no limits. Personally, I am not against discrimination on the job for any reasons, for everyone deserves to eat and therefore, everyone deserves to work. Yet, this latest Presidential diktat is not only unnecessary in my view, but also another frontal attack against our First Amendment liberty, ostensibly under the guise of achieving a relative "good."

With all due respect, President +BarackObama, I must tell you, sir: I will not submit nor will I conform to the vacuous morality you are imposing upon us by means of government power. I promise you, I will resist every effort you and your administration levies against my freedom of conscience with every lawful means at my disposal as a citizens of the United States of America and that's no mean power on its own.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Putin, again...

Brethren, Peace be with you.

For professional and personal reasons I've always cultivated an interest and a studied curiosity about foreign events, their drivers, and their meanings. The recent shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines commercial carrier over eastern Ukraine inmediately caught my attention, but I haven't said anything about it until now for two reasons: first, I wanted to wait for more facts to surface and, second, I didn't want to write out of shock and anger.

However, writing this post is also due to a few precipitating factors: Russian President Vladimir Putin's call for "a moment of silence" in honor of the victims of the downed airliner and his subsequent blaming of Ukraine for the downing, and then his photo op with Russian Orthodox leaders and praying in an Orthodox church. I find Putin's actions morally revolting.

Putin is resonsible for the war and subsequent loss of life and property in western Ukraine. He is the author and chief instigator of the conflict; he trains, supports , and equips the Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine along with their fictitious puppet state. As a consequence, Russian President Vladimir Putin holds primary responsibility in the chain of cause and effect leading to the downing of the Malaysian commercial carrier and the wanton loss of innocent lives the attack produced. Observing a "moment of silence" in honor of the victims reminds me too muchof mafia dons sending flowers to the funerals of their victims. Putin's gesture was empty, cynical, and hypocritical.

I am also sad, and shocked, though not surprised, that Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and his presbytery provided the backdrop for Putin's demonstration of personal innocence and sacramental worthiness in light of the crime he's partly responsible for. That the Russian Orthodox hierarchy's willing participation in this whitewashed is disappointing, it's not surprising. As one Catholic insider once observed, the Russian Orthodox Church "only knows how to be the chaplain to the tsar - whoever he is." This has become evident once again. The Russian Orthodox hierarchy are playing the same role the "court prophets" of ancient Israel once played: they tell the king what he likes to hear, not what he needs to hear.

I'll be glad if any reader can show me evidence to the contrary.

As a veteran of the Cold War I am well aware of the Russian penchant for dezinformatsia and maskirovka. These aspects of information operations and warfare have been in evidence throughout the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the inability of the general Russian populace to demand truth and transparency and their apparent, submissive  acceptance of Putin's propaganda offensive is also cause for concern. Suddenly, there are no Russian heirs to Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov, or Yevtushenko. There are no more prophets left on their land.

All this is cause for increased prayer and spiritual warfare. There's more here than meets the eye. We need to pray for Putin, the Russian Orthodox Church, and Russian peoples both in Russia and the Ukraine, for their continued conversion, that they may open their eyes, and for peace in both Russia and the Ukraine.
- Read also The Lethality of the Big Lie, by George Weigel.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Document: Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church

Brethren, Peace be with you!

From time to time I have discussed here  the role of the faithful of the whole Church in receiving, proclaiming, and in a certain sense, "sanctioning" the faith of the Church.

I receive with great joy the news that the Holy See has published a new document about this issue of the "sensus fidei" titled: Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church.

I believe this document will serve a twofold purpose: First, the document will help us frame our discussions with our Sister Churches in the Eastern Orthodox communion for whom "active reception" of conciliar decisions are definitive in the dogmatic progress of the Church and, second: make the job of internal dissenters in the Catholic Church more difficult, as they always appeal to the sensus fidei to justify their non-Catholic solutions to Catholic problems.

I urge to access and read Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church. Here's its Table of Contents for your reference:


a) Faith as response to the Word of God
b) The personal and ecclesial dimensions of faith
c) The capacity of believers to know and witness to the truth
2. The development of the idea, and its place in the history of the Church
a) Patristic period
b) Medieval period
c) Reformation and post-Reformation period
d) 19th century
e) 20th century

Chapter Two: The sensus fidei fidelis in the personal life of the believer

1. The sensus fidei as an instinct of faith
2. Manifestations of the sensus fidei in the personal life of believers

Chapter Three: The sensus fidei fidelium in the life of the Church

1. The sensus fidei and the development of Christian doctrine and practice
a) Retrospective and prospective aspects of the sensus fidei
b) The contribution of the laity to the sensus fidelium
2. The sensus fidei and the magisterium
a) The magisterium listens to the sensus fidelium
b) The magisterium nurtures, discerns and judges the sensus fidelium
c) Reception
3. The sensus fidei and theology
a) Theologians depend on the sensus fidelium
b) Theologians reflect on the sensus fidelium
4. Ecumenical aspects of the sensus fidei

Chapter Four: How to discern authentic manifestations of the sensus fidei

1. Dispositions needed for authentic participation in the sensus fidei
a) Participation in the life of the Church
b) Listening to the word of God
c) Openness to reason
d) Adherence to the magisterium
e) Holiness – humility, freedom and joy
f) Seeking the edification of the Church
2. Applications
a) The sensus fidei and popular religiosity
b) The sensus fidei and public opinion
c) Ways of consulting the faithful
Conclusion

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Call to Action: Oppose Attack on Conscience and Religious Freedom

Brethren: Peace be with you! I received this from the Virginia Catholic Conference and I want to share it with you.Please, contact your senators ASAP:

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores that the Administration's contraceptive mandate as applied to closely held for-profit corporations violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed by Congress in 1993.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has introduced the Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act (S. 2578) that would not only reverse Hobby Lobby, but go far beyond that decision.  The bill negates any right that employers, insurers or employees may have, under RFRA or any other federal law, to opt out of federally mandated coverage. The U.S. Senate may vote in the next few days on this anti-conscience bill

Please urge your Senators to oppose S. 2578. Click here to send messages to your Senators today!

Sen. Murray's bill states that an employer has no right to opt out of a federal mandate for any specific benefit, for any employees or their "covered dependents."  In the future this could include RU-486 or elective surgical abortions.  Employees themselves, and women and men buying individual coverage, also have no right to object. The Act overrides RFRA and "any other provision of Federal law" that gets in the way.  Crippling penalties could be imposed on sponsors and issuers of insurance who provide generous coverage, but object in conscience to a specific "item or service."

The HHS mandate requires health plans to cover all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, female sterilization, and "counseling and education" promoting these to women and minor girls.  It allows only a very narrow religious exemption, chiefly for "houses of worship."  Nonprofit religious groups serving the vulnerable, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, receive only an "accommodation" requiring them to authorize their insurer or third-party administrator to provide the objectionable items.  In its Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court allowed an opt-out for family businesses with religious objections (the objection in this case being to drugs or devices that can be abortifacient); other cases are pending.  But S. 2578 would nullify laws to protect anyone's conscience, once the federal government decides to mandate coverage of any item.  Even the "exemption" and "accommodation" on contraception could be modified only in ways that serve the bill's purpose of maximizing mandated coverage.

*Update 7/17/2014 - This noxious bill was defeated yesterday, but not through a vote, but due to a GOP filibuster. This is a soft defeat. The sponsors will keep trying to pass this bill until they succeed. We must remain vigilant.

"Race" is a skin-deep thing - my Ancestry DNA results

Brethren, Peace be with you.

Not long ago I had myself tested by Ancestry.com's DNA project to find out my ancestral lines. you can see the result in the picture to the right - click on it to enlarge it. Keep this in mind: externally I am a light-skinned Puerto Rican of unremarkable, vaguely Mediterranean looks.

The first thing that surprised me on this profile is the 25% of my DNA that came from Native ancestry, probably the Taíno-Arawak people who once inhabited the Greater Antilles. We've always been told that we all have Taíno blood running in our veins but and as a child one accepts the anecdote. Yet, as an adult looking at an actual number, a high number, it's quite revealing. If the Taíno had survived as a distinct people with a living culture, I would be able to join the tribe legally!

The 23% African DNA doesn't come as a surprise, looking at my darker-skinned family on my father's side - from whom I also suspect the Taíno heritage comes from - but it is instructive to see that 6% of the DNA came from Senegal and that this ancestor might have been of the Mandinka people. I have an ancestor who came to the Americas in chains as a chattel slave. Whether he himself, or a descendant, came to Puerto Rico, remains an open question. If the link to the Mandinka pans out, I am a far relation of Kunta Kinte and Alex Haley.

The rest of my DNA heritage is European, mostly Iberian as we could expect. What surprised me was the 8% DNA heritage from Italy and Greece, nations for which I've always held a natural affinity, particularly Italy. A 4% Scandinavian heritage is a sign of the Norsemen's generosity as they contributed their DNA to the rest of Europe as they sacked and pillaged it. The 3% Irish segment represents an early Irish migration to Spain, probably, since I can't find any ancestor who migrated from Ireland to Puerto Rico during the 19th century migration wave. This percentage also allows me to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as an Irishman, and not merely as a guest of the Irish...

Finally, there's the European Jewish 1% which is too small a percentage to give it weight. That I may have an Ashkenazim Jewish ancestor sounds counter-intuitive since it is more likely that if I were to have Jewish ancestors - and I suspect I do - they would be Sephardi ("Spanish"), not Ashkenazim. I can't tell at the moment because the Ancestry DNA test does not distinguish between Sephardi and all other Iberians. Either way, I would welcome the knowledge that I may be a descendant of Abraham according to the flesh, as well as by faith.

A Spanish ancestor, perhaps Jewish; a Norseman named Olaf, maybe; a Mandinka man or woman; a Taíno native: they all survive in me and now, in my children and grandchildren. To which nationality I should swear fealty? To none, but to the Kingdom of Heaven and to its King eternal.

Hail to my ancestors! I salute you, I bear your suffering and hopes! I pray for all of you, for your eternal rest in the presence of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Thank you for the gift of my existence, for bringing me here.