Monday, May 29, 2006

Tidbits from Hither and Thither

An irregular roundup of things that catch my eye around the 'Net and the Catholic Blogosphere.

Hi folks! This've been a long weekend ahead of my youngest son's 8th grade graduation and we've been pretty busy. Then, there's also the "afterglow" of last week's events. I haven't been too talkative, I know.

I want to share with you a couple of websites that have caught my eye:

Pentecostal minister visits with Vatican Exorcist

This one was sent to me by one of my spiritual advisors. It is dated late last year but it was only now, thanks to him, that I've seen it.

Bob Larson, of Bob Larson's Ministries, met with the Vatican's exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth (pictured right). In Rev. Larson's own words:

As he concluded, the Lord impressed me to ask something the Holy Spirit prompted at that moment: “Would you bless me and my wife and share your anointing with us?” Without hesitation he rubbed his finger in anointing salve and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. Then he made the sign of the cross on my chest and put one hand on my head and the other over my heart. The room was filled with a sacred silence as his deep, tender voice invoked the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit over me and my wife, Laura.

I felt the presence of God as Father Amorth imparted a portion of the calling on his life. Centuries of religious conflict and misunderstanding melted away in a moment. Something powerful took place in heavenly realms. Old walls came down as two proponents of spiritual warfare from the Catholic and Protestant traditions met on the common ground of the cross.
My one criticism of this interesting article is that it shouldn't have finished with a plea for money.

Who are the Hebrew Catholics?

Another very interesting site I stumbled upon was the belonging to the Association of Hebrew Catholics. The WHAT? Could one be Catholic and still retain an allegiance to the Jewish people? Can one be Jewish convert to Catholicism and still be welcomed in Israel under the Law of Return? How come a Samaritan is welcomed in Israel under the Law of Return but a Catholic Jew cannot? And, what's a Hebrew Catholic anyway? In their own words:
The Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC) is a voluntary association of Catholics of both Jewish and non-Jewish origins. It was launched in 1979 by Elias Friedman, OCD, a Hebrew Catholic friar and Andrew Sholl, a holocaust survivor. Fr. Elias was previously resident at Stella Maris Monastery on Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel. He now intercedes for us from Heaven, having passed over on June 11, 1999, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the mid '80s, Msgr. Eugene Kevane (also in Heaven) obtained the help of Ronda Chervin, David Moss and a few others in establishing an AHC presence in the U.S.

A short time later, The Miriam Press was established as the publishing arm of the AHC. In 1987, Fr. Elias' magnum opus, Jewish Identity, was published with an Imprimatur from the Archdiocese of New York. This book, a reading of the signs of the times, provides the historical and theological background to the AHC.

The AHC seeks to help preserve the corporate identity and heritage of the People Israel within the Church. By gathering the Jews who have entered the Church, we hope to help them rekindle and live out their collective vocation, giving corporate witness to Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and His Church. We hope, as well, to help the Church prepare for the day when the Lord will gather and unite all peoples to Himself, hastening the day when all Israel will proclaim "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord."

We believe that the divine plan of salvation has entered a new phase, and we stand in awe at the privilege granted us to play our part in this unfolding drama. We invite your participation and your collaboration in this exciting and hope-filled work of God.

As a lay apostolate, we are faithful to the Magisterium and we enlist the intercession and aid of our patrons: Miriam, under her title 'Our Lady of the Miracle,' and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein).
They have numerous theological studies on Jewish/Hebrew/Catholic relations on-line. The on-line book by Fr. Elias, entitled, Jewish Identity is a must read if you want to understand the subject matter. I urge you to visit this site and consider their worthwhile arguments.

Catholics in California won't stand for ban on kneeling.

In other news, my colleague and Master Catholic Blogger, Dom Bettinelli, reports on the Bishop of Orange, California, the Very Reverend Tod Brown and his objections against parishioners who kneel at Mass at the Agnus Dei and also when receiving Holy Communion. In Dom's words:
Isn't it amazing that with all the liturgical abuse, all the hanky panky going on in the Mass, all the bizarre homilies being preached, it is the desire of the faithful to give due reverence to the Lord in the Eucharist that elicits this ire from the bishop and pastor. In the end, I don't think this is about rubrics. It's about a bishop and a priest angry about having their authority questioned so publicly by these "backward" traditionalists.
There's video and witness testimony on an instance when Bishop Brown physically forced a parishioner to stand up to receive the Eucharist when kneeling to receive Holy Communion is allowed by law. The parishioner deserves our congratulations for having been obedient under dire circumnstances not of her making. I performed a search of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange's website using the keywords "kneel" and "kneeling" but obtained negative results. Of interest to me, I note that Bishop Brown is a member of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.

Personally, I, and every member of my family, receive the Eucharist standing, after having made a profound reverence. This is the norm in the U.S. but there are qualifications. In my humble opinion, the events at Orange California distract from what the Catholic Church is really about. Kneeling communicants are the least of the Church's worries. I most respectfully suggest to all involved they be left alone.
- This story is also been followed by the folks at The New Liturgical Movement and Roman Catholic Blog.

- Read a detailed open letter to Bishop Brown by concerned Catholics in his diocese substantiating their displeasure with various aspects of the Bishop's leadership.
Let us all pray for Bishop Brown, his diocese, and his flock. May the grace of the Holy Spirit illumine them all on every step; that they all take the right decisions, and that Catholic unity, built on Truth and Charity, prevail in that local Church.

Jesus Decoded

Finally, the Catholic Communications Campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have designed a great information portal, named Jesus Decoded. The site is "designed to provide information for anyone who wishes to inquire about Jesus Christ and Christian origins due to claims that appear in current popular media." I stumbled upon this treasure while researching my previous opinion piece on kneeling communicants. I urge you to visit and share Jesus Decoded.

* Edited on May 30, 2006, at 7:30 AM EDT.