Saturday, October 31, 2009

Community of the Saints

Father Nicolas Schwizer

On November 1st, the Church celebrates one of the most cheerful and joyful feasts of the entire year: the Solemnity of All Saints.

The Bible gives us an impressive vision of this community of the Saints. Belonging to it are the canonized Saints: the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles, our holy patrons and all the Saints who have their own feast day throughout the year.

They are given to us as models and guides. We see God, we get a glimpse of Him and we know Him in his Saints. Through their lives, they manifest to us how Jesus Christ might have lived in the different times, in the different states of life and in different vocations. Jesus only lived one human life, a brief life of 33 years.

But in the lives of the Saints, He reveals to us the inexhaustible variety and richness of his imitation. From there can also be understood that some Saints attract us more than others, that each one of us has his/her favorite Saints. They are those Saints which correspond more to our own character, to our personal wishes.

But the Saints are not only our models in the imitation of Christ, they are also our intercessors before the throne of God. They are the mature children of God and, therefore, have power on his Father heart.

A vocation or a personal mission do not end with death, they continue from Heaven. The little St. Theresa expresses it in her simple way: “From Heaven, I will let a shower of roses fall upon the earth.”

The Solemnity wants to deepen our attachment, our love and our confidence in the Saints. We do not only celebrate the canonized Saints, but also the anonymous and unknown Saints who are in the House of the Father. It has to do with common, everyday Christians like us who arrived at the goal of their earthly life and entered – perhaps after a time of purification – into the community in Heaven.

We all have some dear ones among this great multitude of Saints who are not canonized: our parents, relatives, friends and deceased companions. And if we think about their happiness, then we do not cease to rejoice with them. Then comes the desire to meet them again, to be with them.

We are, therefore, fortunate if we already have dear ones in Heaven. They attract us and invite us to that Heavenly reunion where they do not want to be happy without us. In this way, Heaven begins to be a tangible reality for us. In this we be begin to love Heaven, to hope for Heaven, to know Heaven. Thus we place ourselves on the road which will lead us to the House of the Father.

Each Christian, each one of us is called to holiness. We can become saints and we should strive to be saints. The Saints were limited and weak as we are. We have the same helps, the same graces, the same sacraments as they.

The Gospel shows us the way which leads us toward that high goal. The Beatitudes are the conditions for entry into the Kingdom of God. They are a complete program of perfection and sanctity. The Saints have responded to this Christian ideal; they have lived daily these fundamental attitudes of the Kingdom. For that reason we look at the Saints and while looking at them we love them, and loving them, we imitate them.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we continue faithful to this way, the Solemnity of all Saints will someday be our own festivity. So, some day, we will all be in Heaven, gathered in Heaven – next to God, to Mary, to the Apostles, to all the Saints and next to our relatives and friends.

Questions for reflection

1. Do I usually pray to relatives who have preceded me into Heaven?

2. Do I feel called to sanctity?

3. Have I reflected on “the beatitudes”?

Dawkins scores devastating, unanswerable attack against the Catholic Church. No, wait…

Folks, my better known blogging colleague, Carl Olson, has deconstructed the latest attack against the Church by the eminently brilliant scientist, Richard Dawkins, and “comedian” Bill Maher in passing. Olson’s conclusion should be considered by Dawkins et al.:
Dawkins seems to have the same obsessive desire for attention and Catholic-bashing as does Maher and John Spong. Here is what I suggest they might consider doing for their next publicity stunt: they should stage a mock "same sex" marriage with Dawkins as the groom and Maher and Spong as the brides. Charles Schumer and Arlen Specter should "officiate"; Shumer can dress up like Charles Darwin and Specter can dress up like a former Republican senator. Elton John can sing "It Ain't Gonna Be Easy." The wedding should be held right outside the doors of a major mosque, preferably in Saudi Arabia or another Muslim country. The event can be televised live on MSNBC and the Science Channel.

Why not make it a foursome faux wedding and throw the redoubtable bigot and suspected hate criminal PZ Myers in the mix. Apparently he needs to take a break from his great contributions to modern science and from the boredom provoked by the constant adulation received from his sycophantic followers, since he has threatened to desecrate another supposedly consecrated host from his “stash of holy crackers”.

As to “hurting Jesus” by desecrating an alleged consecrated-host, PZ Myers and company can neither add nor subtract from any of the pains and humiliations that He suffered in His Passion. Their gross simplifications of Catholic belief reveal them as the base, hate-filled benighted souls that they are.

Anyway, a great post from Carl. Read it all here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

US Bishops challenge flaws in health care reform bill

Folks, I believe that the US Catholic Bishops have realized that the Obama Administration has taken Catholics for a ride despite reassurances and denials to the contrary - not me personally, but those Catholics who voted for him and assured the rest of us that health care reform would never weaken conscience protections or fund abortions. Thank you Catholics for Obama. We have been lied to by both the Obama Administration and the crassly negligent "Catholics" who elected them.

Here's what the USCCB is saying:
We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria. However, we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously. Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity. Much-needed reform of our health care system must be pursued in ways that serve the life and dignity of all, never in ways that undermine or violate these fundamental values. We will work tirelessly to remedy these central problems and help pass real reform that clearly protects the life, dignity and health of all.
Read it all here. Access more resources, including a parish bulletin flier, here.

Reforming the Catholic Campaign for Human Development

Source: Reform CCHD Now

Every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving , many Catholic parishes take up a second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

Recognize that organization? If you don’t, you should. Here’s why:

Until 2008, CCHD had been funding ACORN for several years, giving over $7 million to the corrupt organization. The same organization that is being investigated for voter fraud, embezzlement, and other wrongdoing was recently caught in undercover videos in recent months helping a pimp and prostitute set up a business and traffic underage girls for prostitution.

It doesn’t end there. CCHD has funded groups that openly oppose the Church’s teachings, including:


· Young Workers United – supports abortion rights, legalized prostitution and gay marriage.

· The Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco) – supports abortion rights and gay marriage, actively urging its members to vote against Prop 8 in California, which would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

· People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) – currently campaigning for the a version of healthcare reform, which has government-funding of abortion and does not protect the conscience rights of medical professionals who decline to perform or refer for abortions.
Learn more from the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry's exposition of CCHD-funded groups. For more information and for the CCHD's response to these charges, click here.

The CCHD has not directly funded abortion, or any explicitly anti-Catholic project to our knowledge. It has also funded groups which legitimately serve and represent the poor and marginalized.

But it is hard to believe repeated assurances that the CCHD always carefully vets its grantees given both its history and its continued funding of groups which openly oppose the Catholic Church's teachings on social justice, family and life issues. This must stop.

Do you want your money going to the CCHD on November 22nd?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Psalm 55:2-12 - The Psalm for Would Be Hermits

Folks, I've been told by very knowledgeable people that a vocation to the solitary life must be defined against very clear lines or may end in disaster. They tell me that there are two kinds of people who are called to live as hermits, those who love the world but leave it for its sake, and those who hate the world and flee from it out of hatred. If you belong to the first, you have a vocation to the solitary life but if you belong to the second, you just want to be left alone.

I think, however, that contempt for the world and its ways may be a valid entrance into the eremitic, solitary life. I believe that Psalm 55:2-12 provides the exact mental and spiritual framework into which the idea of living a life of solitary prayer and detachment may first take flight:
O God, listen to my prayer,
do not hide from my pleading,
attend to me and reply;
with my cares, I cannot rest.

I tremble at the shouts of the foe,
at the cries of the wicked;
for they bring down evil upon me.
They assail me with fury.

My heart is stricken within me,
death's terror is on me,
trembling and fear fall upon me
and horror overwhelms me.

O that I had wings like a dove
to fly away and be at rest.
So I would escape far away
and take refuge in the desert.

I would hasten to find a shelter
from the raging wind,
from the destructive storm, O Lord,
and from their plotting tongues.

For I can see nothing
but violence and strife in the city.
Night and day they patrol
high on the city walls.

It is full of wickedness and evil;
it is full of sin.
Its streets are never free
from tyranny and deceit.
Who from amongst us, desiring for a more perfect life of prayer and sacrifice away from "the violence and the strife in the city" have not felt this way at one time or another?

The Psalmist reassures us that it's "OK" to feel this way, that it is all right to pine for the one who is Good, and Beautiful; Perfect, True, and Love and to want to leave everything behind in the quest for Him. God will do the rest in the hermit's soul. He will purify it from all stain, sin, and selfishness, no matter what was the original reason from fleeing to the desert. We don't perfect our quest, He does.

The Lord greeted me this morning

Folks, as I headed out to work this morning, just after I opened my back door to head to my garage, the Lord greeted me with this:


He said: "Good Morning! How may I brighten your day?"

He brought tears to my eye. A good start for the day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Divine Mercy Promises

Folks, I want to finish this brief exploration of promises made by Our Lord in private revelations to holy men and women with these made to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Apostle of the Divine Mercy:

1. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death.

2. When they say this Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Savior.

3. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation.

4. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this Chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy.

5. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy.

6. Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.

The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart

We continue our exploration of promises made by the Lord and/or Our Lady to holy men and women with these made by Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque pertaining to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

2. I will give peace in their families.

3. I will console them in all their troubles.

4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.

5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9. I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced.

12. I promise thee in the excess of the mercy of My Heart, that its all-powerful Love will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of Nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Continue on to The Divine Mercy Promises.

The Fifteen Promises of the Virgin Mary to those who recite the Rosary

Folks, the subject of “promises” made by the Lord or Our Lady intrigued me enough that I want to share with you other such promises privately revealed to holy men and women. The promises attached to the Rosary were revealed, according to pious tradition, to St. Dominic and Bl. Alan. Here they are:

1) Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.

2) I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3) The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

4) It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of people from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

5) The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.

6) Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying themselves to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise them in His justice, they shall not perish by an unprovided death; if they be just, they shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.

7) Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.

8) Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the Saints in Paradise.

9) I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10) The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.

11) You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.

12) All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13) I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

14) All who recite the Rosary are my children, and brothers and sisters of my only Son, Jesus Christ.

15) Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

- Go on to The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart .

Monday, October 26, 2009

U.S. Orthodox Christian Laity to Discuss Unification

Folks, this according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
America's Orthodox Christians, divided for decades among about 10 churches based on Greek or Serb or other ancestry, soon may be moving toward the formation of a united American Orthodox church.

Many of them have dreamed of that for decades, especially as conversions to Orthodoxy have skyrocketed. But most church patriarchs have squelched such talk.

Now it appears that the patriarchs are not only supporting but demanding some sort of unity. To explore what this may mean for believers in the United States, the independent, pan-Orthodox group Orthodox Christian Laity will gather for three days, starting Thursday, at Antiochian Village in Ligonier.

In 1994 that retreat center hosted the first and only gathering of all Orthodox bishops in North America. Believing they had approval from church patriarchs overseas, those bishops called for a united church in which the faithful would not be treated as "scattered children" of ancestral homelands.

But the ecumenical patriarch in Constantinople -- the spiritual head of global Orthodoxy -- denounced it as a rebellion against the ancient church and replaced the Greek archbishop who had led it. The unity movement lay dormant for 15 years.

Then, in June, the 14 Old World patriarchs gathered in Chambesy, Switzerland, and declared that all Orthodox bishops outside of traditional Orthodox lands -- including North America -- will begin meeting to address their own issues in their own lands.

This week's lay conference will examine what it may take to achieve unity. There are significant questions about how ethnic traditions will continue to be honored and whether laity will have as much of a voice in a unified church as they have in some of the smaller ones.

The patriarchs "are asking the Orthodox Christians in the so-called lands beyond the ancient world to show that they can create a unified, multicultural church in their land. That's a very dramatic development," said George Matsoukas, executive director of Orthodox Christian Laity. The first meeting of American bishops is set for May.
Read more here.

Commentary. Folks, the fact that this conference is moving forward is an achievement in itself. It is, in fact, a big trial balloon that will allow the bishops to gauge their patriarch's commitment to the regularization of Orthodoxy "in mission lands." Orthodox unity in the United States will certainly do wonders for the Church's evangelical witness and also strengthen its voice in ecumenical discussions with the Catholic Church. This is a very significant development deserving of admiration, interest, and long-term observation. Let's see what the Orthodox bishops do next. It'll be fascinating.

The Promises of Jesus in the Book of Revelation

Bible Study

Folks, more and more many of my correspondents and friends share with me their frustrations with the state of the nation, the world, and the Church. We do live in an age trying to the souls of men; the quest for power is the order of the day, a crass form of Paganism disguised as “spirituality” runs rampant. In the Church, ordained clergymen and religious men and women who should know better are either too shy to confront the spirit of the age or, have completely capitulated to it. Too many from among the laity behave with willful indifference and dismal ignorance. Those of us who really care about the current state of affairs find many reasons for frustration and dejection.

In those times I feel frustrated and disappointed myself I seek to read the promises of Jesus recorded in a book of the Bible written specifically to lift the spirits of the readers and ignite in us the flame of hope when it seems that all is lost. I am speaking of the Book of Revelation and of the promises that Jesus made to each of the seven churches of Asia – a symbolic number meaning that the promises were meant for the entire Church.

As Catholics we hear about the 12 promises that Jesus gave to St. Marguerite Mary Alacoque or the six that He gave to St. Faustina Kowalska. But as beautiful, moving, and meaningful that those promises are, in the end they are private revelations that only bind the seers themselves or those whom voluntarily receive the message of the seers as their own and I say this as a devotee of the Sacred Heart who also prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet frequently.

However, when we read the promises that Jesus gave to the seven churches of Asia we are talking about normative Catholic teaching found in revealed Scripture meant to bound the consciences of all of us. These promises I’m telling you about are found in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, as follows:

  • To the church in Ephesus: To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

  • To the Church in Smyrna: He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

  • To the Church in Pergamum: To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

  • To the Church in Thyatira: To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations — He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery — just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star.

  • To the Church in Sardis: He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

  • To the Church in Philadelphia: Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

  • To the Church in Laodicea: To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

The constant “precondition” to each of the Lord’s promises is simply “to overcome.” Those who overcome will become heir to these promises.

“Overcoming” is an action that is heavily emphasized in the Gospel according to St. John, as in:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

The Greek says ἐγὼ νενίκηκα which could be rendered variously as I have conquered overcome, overpowered, prevail, gained victory depending on various contexts, all derived from the Greek root-word νίκη (niké), familiar to us in various abbreviations such as the omnipresent Greek “IC XC NI KA,” and in the Latin phrase “Iesus Christus Vincit” both instances translated as “Jesus Christ Conquers.” We knew already the fact that Jesus Conquers but now we know where in Scripture we can find it.

I think that the promises found in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 described above should be read against John 16:33. The promise to overcome the world is a theme of the Johannine Jesus.

Now, what this means to you and me is that Jesus has overcome the world and when we do, we will become heirs to these promises. In fact, what Jesus is saying is that we will share in his royal, messianic authority when we overcome the world. In fact, we are sharing of those promises in the very instant we are overcoming the world! Those are pretty robust promises if you ask me.

Whatever is happening now in the country, in the world, and specially, in the Church, has already been overcome by Christ Jesus Our Lord. All that is left for us to do is to overcome in Him, to participate by grace in what He has already accomplished on the Cross.

Don’t be saddened, don’t be crestfallen. We have overcome the world!

So take heart! Jesus has overcome the world, and in Him we will overcome too and become heirs to His promises. We will share in his royal dignity. Consider His words to the churches and also these words from St. Paul with which I now close:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:3-7)

Amen! Alleluia!

- Go on to The Fifteen Promises of the Virgin Mary to those who recite the Rosary .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anglican Reactions to Holy See Initiative

Folks, Catholic World News is featuring a series of reports recording the Anglican reactions to the recent decision from the Holy See creating an orderly process to readmit Anglo-Catholics into communion with the Catholic Church. These are the reports and brief descriptions:

  • Anglican reactions, I: how many? - As Anglicans weigh the prospects of union with Rome, observers try to estimate how many people who will answer the Pope's invitation. Traditionalist Anglican priests will meet in London this weekend.

  • Anglican reactions, II: celibacy still an issue - Although the Pope's forthcoming apostolic constitution will allow married Anglican priests to enter the ranks of the Catholic clergy, some Anglicans are worried that in the future, married men might

  • Anglican reactions, III: African resistance Kenya's Archbishop Eliud Wabukala became the first of Africa's Anglican leaders to give definitive response to the Pope's invitation, rejecting the idea of union with Rome. Like many of Africa's

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

These are the readings for today’s Mass. Please, go to Mass!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why is this woman still a nun?

Folks, according to LifeSiteNews:
HINSDALE, Illinois, October 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Dominican nun has been seen frequenting an abortion facility in Illinois recently - but not, as one might expect, to pray for an end to abortion or to counsel women seeking abortions, but to volunteer as a clinic escort.

Local pro-life activists say that they recognized the escort at the ACU Health Center as Sr. Donna Quinn, a nun outspokenly in favor of legalized abortion, after seeing her photo in a Chicago Tribune article.

"I've called her sister several times, and she never responded," local pro-lifer John Bray told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). "But it's her."

Amy Keane, a pro-life witness for 11 years, says Quinn has acted as escort for "six years, at least." Keane described one incident in which Quinn began shouting at the pro-lifers as they spoke to a woman about to enter the abortion facility.

"[Quinn] was so angry, and burst out very loudly so everyone could hear: 'Look at these men, telling these women what to do with their bodies!'" said Keane. "She was so angry, that it really took all of us aback." Keane says that the group was peaceful, and that the men present were not among those engaging the woman.

"For those of us who are Catholic, to have a member of a religious order so blatantly - it is so disheartening. It really is," said Keane. "She's participating actively in abortion. That is what is so disturbing for us."

Sr. Donna Quinn, OP, is renowned in the Chicago area as an advocate for legalized abortion and other liberal issues.

In 1974 she co-founded the organization Chicago Catholic Women, which lobbied the USCCB on a feminist platform before it dissolved in 2000. She is now a coordinator of the radically liberal National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), which stands in opposition against the Catholic Church's position on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and the male priesthood.

While LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) was unable to reach Sr. Quinn for comment, NCAN's Sr. Beth Rindler confirmed to LSN that Quinn is still a member of their group, which favors unrestricted legalized abortion and disagrees with the teaching that abortion is intrinsically evil. "We respect women, and believe that they make moral decision, and so we respect their decisions," Rindler explained.
Read it all here.

Commentary. Do we understand now why the Holy See ordered the still ongoing visitation of women religious communities? This "sister" provides us with a vivid reason why this visitation is necessary. Her actions are scandalous, as well as the lack of a will to discipline her.

How come this woman continues to be "in good standing" with her order and with the Church? Who's minding the store here?

-Hat tip to A Catholic View.

Farewell to the Rapture

Folks, great article by N.T. Wright published 8 years ago on the proper exegesis of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:
16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Here's an excerpt:
The American obsession with the second coming of Jesus — especially with distorted interpretations of it — continues unabated. Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre[1]. Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal “rapture” in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been “left behind.” This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith.

This dramatic end-time scenario is based (wrongly, as we shall see) on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

What on earth (or in heaven) did Paul mean?

It is Paul who should be credited with creating this scenario. Jesus himself, as I have argued in various books, never predicted such an event[2]. The gospel passages about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Mark 13:26, 14:62, for example) are about Jesus’ vindication, his “coming” to heaven from earth. The parables about a returning king or master (for example, Luke 19:11-27) were originally about God returning to Jerusalem, not about Jesus returning to earth. This, Jesus seemed to believe, was an event within space-time history, not one that would end it forever.

The Ascension of Jesus and the Second Coming are nevertheless vital Christian doctrines[3], and I don’t deny that I believe some future event will result in the personal presence of Jesus within God’s new creation. This is taught throughout the New Testament outside the Gospels. But this event won’t in any way resemble the Left Behind account. Understanding what will happen requires a far more sophisticated cosmology than the one in which “heaven” is somewhere up there in our universe, rather than in a different dimension, a different space-time, altogether.

The New Testament, building on ancient biblical prophecy, envisages that the creator God will remake heaven and earth entirely, affirming the goodness of the old Creation but overcoming its mortality and corruptibility (e.g., Romans 8:18-27; Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17, 66:22). When that happens, Jesus will appear within the resulting new world (e.g., Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2).

Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless. This is all that Paul intends to say in Thessalonians, but here he borrows imagery—from biblical and political sources—to enhance his message. Little did he know how his rich metaphors would be misunderstood two millennia later.
Please, continue reading here.

Ephesians 4:29-32

Folks, this was the reading for today's Morning Prayer which I found specially meaningful:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32, NIV)
It was fortunate I read these verses before I wrote anything today. I was about to be very unkind toward a couple of notables. I will forgive them and pray for them instead. And I will forgive myself.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Manual for proper celebration of the Mass officially presented to the Pope

Folks, this according to CNA:
Pope Benedict and Cardinal Cañizares - CNA PhotoVatican City, Oct 21, 2009 / 01:38 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Antonio Canizares, Prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, today officially presented Pope Benedict XVI with the “Compendium eucharisticum,” aimed at helping priests to properly celebrate Mass.

The compendium, which was officially published on October 19, is a collection of study materials, prayers and meditations related to the celebration of the Eucharist. According to Cardinal Canizares, it is “a response to the desire of the Holy Father and the request made by the bishops during the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist.”

According to the daily edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the document “puts together texts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayers, theological explanations of the Roman Missal’s Eucharistic prayers and everything that may be useful for the correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament on the altar.”

L’Osservatore Romano also explained that the Pope’s desire is that the compendium will help both priests and laity in “believing, celebrating and increasingly living out the Eucharistic Mystery.” The Holy Father also hopes that it will stimulate “every faithful person to make of their own lives a spiritual worship,” the paper added.

The compendium has been published in Italian by the Vatican’s publishing house and will soon be available in other languages, including English.
Commentary. A welcome development, although many will say a somewhat belated one. Let us pray that bishops and religious superiors from around the world assimilate this document and promptly make it an indispensable part of the education of new priests. Since the old, never abolished truths of reverence and respect for the liturgy will be stated anew, I also hope and pray that the liturgical hanky-panky that still persists in many quarters may come to a quick end after the assimilation of this work.

Wisdom 2:12-20

Book of Wisdom or Wisdom of Solomon or simply Wisdom is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach). (Wikipedia) It is definitely one of my favorite books of the Old Testament, particularly because of Wisdom 2:12-20, referring to thoughts of unspecified evil men:

"Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God's son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected." (RSV)

Sounds familiar? You find these echoed in the Gospel of Matthew (27:43) and suffuses various letters of St. Paul.

It’s too bad that the Protestants shed this book from the Bible and for all the wrong reasons. It is a beautiful, godly book and as you can see, contains accurate prophecy.

There are other favorite verses of mine in Wisdom which I will share with you on future posts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Anglican Prelature: A Down Under Perspective

Folks, I want to share with you another perspective on the recent announcement by the Holy See about the impending creation of a new Anglican Prelature to welcome disaffected members of the Anglican / Episcopalian communion into the Catholic Church.

This perspective was written by my better-known Kiwi blogging colleague, the Anglo-Catholic priest Fr. Bosco Peters of New Zealand and creator of the Liturgy website. Fr. Bosco's entry is entitled The End of Anglican Communion? These are the core statements:
As Mark Twain would say, “The reports of the end of the Anglican Communion are greatly exaggerated.” Andrew Brown, a regular person lining up for the funeral of the Communion, highlights his own weak grasp on the issues by declaring that only homosexuals can be celibate! Clearly heterosexuals, it would appear according to him, are either too weak or too immoral to be able to control their urges (not to mention that Andrew Brown is unable to distinguish doctrine from discipline). Scott Richert may have a slightly better grasp on the consequences for Anglicanism. Whilst no one would want to impugn curate’s-egg motives to the Archbishop of Canterbury, one cannot help wondering if there is just the flicker of a smile under that beard. In one Roman gesture he may be rid of, at one estimate, up to 2,000 of his CofE priests who have been holding out against his strong conviction for women in all three orders. Rowan Williams is well-known for ordaining openly practising homosexuals. Traditionalist Anglicans around the globe have struggled with women and with gays in a committed relationship being ordained. Commentators are repeatedly highlighting that this is an invitation from Rome to misogynists and homophobes.

In North America some Anglicans formed a new denomination The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). This brings together two extremes of the Anglican spectrum – Rome-facing and Geneva-facing. This marriage of convenience, like the 1977 followers of the Affirmation of St. Louis, cannot last, as, at its heart it is united around being against one thing. Rome’s declaration cannot but affect it. If the Rome-facing ACNA (married) bishops can stomach losing their purple, pectoral crosses, honorary doctoral gowns, and complex titles, they may yet lead their groups home to Rome. This will impact the attempt of some Anglicans to produce a “covenant”. Nigerian “Anglicans” have already formally removed the Archbishop of Canterbury from their constitution. Sydney Anglicans, leaders in GAFON/FOCA/Mainstream, are now not only struggling with theology, church history, and liturgical practice, but have recently realised they haven’t been that good at investments either (their $265 million assets are now worth $105 million). This Geneva-facing, congregationalist end of the Anglican spectrum does not need a Communion in the way that others see it. Rome’s announcement may help towards trimming off the extremes leaving an Anglican Communion that is certainly leaner but hopefully spending far less energy on peripherals and with a stronger focus on the end of the Communion, in the sense of the purpose of the church.
Comments. Very briefly, so if understand Fr. Bosco's statement correctly and permit me to add my own comparison, Canterbury's willing cooperation in this maneuver is akin to Fidel Castro's emptying his jails during the Mariel Boatlift back in the 1980's: troublesome people now become someone else's problem while "the good ones" remain inside communion serving God rightly. Won't my Kiwi brethren say "yeah, right" to that too?

I don't think the creation of the prelature signifies the end of the Anglican Communion, I'm only saying that I don't think that what remains after two thirds of the Anglicans depart will be necessarily better than what they had before their theological technocrats started diluting the Gospel and the Catholic consensus into postmodern theological constructs. I don't believe that this "bottom of the barrel" ecclessiology will yield the "best of the best of remnants" in what will remain of the canonical Anglican Communion.

But time will tell.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Anglican Prelature: What it all means

Analysis

Folks, by now most of you are aware of the new Anglican Personal Prelature that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI intends to erect to give a juridical home to Anglicans and Episcopalians wishing to reestablish communion with the Roman See by means of a new Apostolic Constitution to that effect. I want to share with you a brief reflection of its meaning.

The establishment of this new structure signifies the end of ecumenical dialogue aiming at reuniting Canterbury and the World Anglican Communion with Rome – with the unlikely exception that Canterbury herself were to seek reunion with the Holy See as a particular church.

There are now going to be two kinds of Anglicans: those in communion with Rome and those that are not. Those that are not will remain splintered between those that are loyal to Canterbury’s guidance and those that are not.

The new Prelature will solve nothing within the World Anglican Communion. However, with the return of significant numbers of dioceses, parishes, and faithful to Roman Communion and the incardination of Anglo-Catholics and other Episcopalians into other Anglican jurisdictions and away from their national structures will result in more radically liberal Anglo-Episcopalian jurisdictions throughout the West. These national Anglican Churches – like the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Church of Canada – will continue their drive to embrace worldly values and as a consequence continue to decrease in membership and clout.

The end of the traditional ecumenical conversation between Rome and Canterbury does not mean an end to all contacts. Both churches will continue cooperation in matters of common concern, but as two separate ecclesial bodies not seeking the healing of the schism, at least for the near future.

Also in my opinion, this pivotal development may accelerate the disestablishment of the Church of England as the principal state church in the United Kingdom. The newly emancipated, yet probably diminished church will then be able to act independently without state oversight, but under this hypothetical rearrangement, the Church also stands to lose most of its financial support from the British state except in matters pertaining to the Crown. This newly reconstituted Church of England may in time reengage Rome in matters of reunion, but not in the near future.

That’s my two pence analysis of the situation. What do you think?

Pontiff to permit Anglican communities to join Catholic Church

Source: Catholic Culture.org

Pope Benedict is promulgating an apostolic constitution that will permit Anglican communities whose members wish to be received into the Catholic Church to do so as communities.

“In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” according to a note published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.”

"The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application," the note continues. "It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and the primate of the Anglican Communion have issued a joint statement in response to the announcement.

CWN will offer additional coverage and analysis of this story later today.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tidbits from Hither and Thither

Gender is changeable, atheists are split, and another diocese goes into bankcruptcy.

Vivificat's very irregular news and commentary roundup


Folks, just three news reports I think are deserving of brief comments.
  • UN Report Says 'Gender Is Not Static, It Is Changeable'. A counter-terrorism report that has been presented to the United Nations General Assembly would bend the U.N.’s definition of gender. While the main focus of the document is gender-based issues that arise from counter-terrorism efforts, the report’s definition of gender that has generated opposition. “While many of the measures discussed in the report relate to the human rights of women,” UN Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin wrote in his report summary, “gender is not synonymous with women, and, instead, encompasses the social constructions that underlie how women’s and men’s roles, functions and responsibilities, including in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, are understood.” Scheinin further wrote that, “gender is not static; it is changeable over time and across contexts. Commentary. Why are the critics so surprised? This is 1990's postmodern deconstructionism as its finest! Look, once one gets rid of the concept of "human nature," we are left with no objective hook to hang our hearts except for the ever-changing re-construction of human attributes into clever, but false structures based on the whims and fashions on the moment. Following Scheinin's reasoning to its logical conclusion, then we can't say there is such thing as "gay rights" because there is no such thing as "gay nature," just manifold cultural and social constructs that are in a state of perpetual change. Apparently, gays can revert to straight and straight to gays in Mr. Scheinin's view, almost at whim, if it weren't for the intervening socio-cultural frameworks. The only "right" left to be defended will be the right of "self-definition," even if such a "self-definition" were to change overnight. I can't say I'm surprised, this is what happens when metaphysics is thrown out the window.
  • Bankruptcy move delays abuse case. A Catholic diocese based in the state of Delaware has filed for US bankruptcy protection on the eve of a civil trial involving high-profile sex abuse. The move automatically delays the case, the seventh of its kind in the US since a scandal in Boston seven years ago. The bishop of the diocese said the move offered the best chance for victims of sexual abuse to be treated fairly. But an attorney for the victims said the action was a desperate attempt to hide the truth from the public. The case, due to be heard on Monday, would have been the first to go to trial under a state law creating a two-year window allowing claims to be brought even if the statute of limitations had expired. Commentary. A very sad situation, but I think that this whole thing now transcends the concern for the welfare of the victims. Lawyers see the Church as a cash cow and are willing to destroy the separation of church and state in order to get it; anti-Christian groups see the Church vulnerable to lawsuit-blackmail and intimidation, their objective is to silence the Church and expel conscious Catholics from the public arena. What is worse, this wound has been self-inflicted. Foolish, shortsighted bishops opened the door for this. Hush-hush decisions made in the past have proven to be the worst ever taken by the diocesan bishops in this subject. They opened the door for great evils to enter the Church in an attempt to destroy her for the last time. Outlook: lawsuits will continue throughout the foreseeable future. The war of attrition against the Church is far from over.

  • A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists. Last month, atheists marked Blasphemy Day at gatherings around the world, and celebrated the freedom to denigrate and insult religion. Some offered to trade pornography for Bibles. Others de-baptized people with hair dryers. And in Washington, D.C., an art exhibit opened that shows, among other paintings, one entitled Divine Wine, where Jesus, on the cross, has blood flowing from his wound into a wine bottle. Another, "Jesus Paints His Nails", shows an effeminate Jesus after the crucifixion, applying polish to the nails that attach his hands to the cross. "I wouldn't want this on my wall," says Stuart Jordan, an atheist who advises the evidence-based group Center for Inquiry on policy issues. The Center for Inquiry hosted the art show. Jordan says the exhibit created a firestorm from offended believers, and he can understand why. But, he says, the controversy over this exhibit goes way beyond Blasphemy Day. It's about the future of the atheist movement — and whether to adopt the "new atheist" approach — a more aggressive, often belittling posture toward religious believers. "It's really a national debate among people with a secular orientation about how far do we want to go in promoting a secular society through emphasizing the 'new atheism,' " Jordan says. "And some are very much for it, and some are opposed to it on the grounds that they feel this is largely a religious country, and if it's pushed the wrong way, this is going to insult many of the religious people who should be shown respect even if we don't agree with them on all issues." Commentary. The "bright, new atheists" are demagogues who poison the public debate wherever they go. Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers et al. are, like Jordan wryly concedes "atheist fundamentalists" who in my view deserve little, if none public attention for their shenanigans and their vile discourse. It doesn't take a "bright" one to conclude that their hatred will fizzle without achieving nothing of value and worthy of remembrance. I recommend ignoring and sidelining Dawkings, Hitchens, and Myers, as well as all their trolls and sycophants and only talk to those who show a modicum of civility and respect to one's human dignity.
  • And that's it for these tidbits. Thank you for tuning in.

    The Byzantine Altar

    Folks, the following article was published in October of 2005 at the New Liturgical Movement blog and republished last Saturday as part of a revisit of the same subject. Abbot Joseph of Holy Transfiguration Monastery authored the piece that now I excerpt here, again, originally posted at the New Liturgical Movement blog.

    I’d like to share a few things about the Altar in a Byzantine church, since many may not be familiar with its setup. It is much more complex than a simple table but, as you have come to expect from the East, richly symbolic as well. There are variations in usages, but there are a number of standard elements. The picture here is of the Altar in our monastery church, so I’ll work with that.

    First of all, to be technically correct, in the Byzantine tradition, what is called the “Altar” is what would be called the “Sanctuary” in the West, and what is called the Altar in the West is called the Holy Table in our tradition. That does do a bit of violence to the plain meaning of the term “Altar” in English, which denotes a thing and not a place or area. So for the sake of convenience I will use “Altar” and “Holy Table” interchangeably to mean that upon which the Holy Sacrifice is offered.

    The Holy Table itself is traditionally cubic in structure, modeled on the heavenly Jerusalem: “its length and breadth and height are equal” (Rev. 21:16). In some churches (especially larger ones) this may be rather impractical, but for our little church a 3 x 3 x 3 foot Altar is just right. Also from the Book of Revelation comes the seven-branched candelabrum, reminiscent of the seven golden lampstands in the midst of which the Son of Man appeared (Rev. 1:12-13). Before that, God had commanded that in the original Tent of Meeting there should be a golden lampstand. “And you shall make seven lamps for it…” (Exodus 25:37).

    Behind the Altar is, of course, a large crucifix, the significance of which is self-evident. On either side of it, however, is something not self-evident. Oftentimes we’ve been asked by people of the Latin tradition: “but why do you have two monstrances on the Altar?” The fact is we have none. Those are ceremonial fans called ripidia or hexapteryga (Greek for “six-winged”). On them are little icons of the six-winged Seraphim. They recall both the cherubic images placed around the original Ark of the Covenant (see Exodus 25) and the constant presence of the Seraphim at the throne of God in Heaven.

    Please, continue reading here.

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Theo’s Shared Items

    Folks, you probably noticed that I’ve added a new utility to the right sidebar, and that’s my “shared items.” These are simply a list of articles from blogs and other information sources I’ve subscribed too using Google Reader, which I’d handpicked and shared with you for your own reading pleasure.

    You may access, subscribe to, and even share my shared items via the link provided in the sidebar, or by clicking here.

    If you are a G-Mail user you’ll even get more options to integrate it the Shared Items into your general Google Reader experience. I hope you like the added functionality.

    Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

    These are today’s readings provided for your meditation and spiritual growth:

    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    When Anti-Zionism Turns Into Anti-Semitism

    Suggested Guidelines for Individual Catholics on How to Appreciate and When Necessary, Admonish the State of Israel

    Folks, the following post is a translation of Part VII of a series which I wrote against the shenanigans of an Argentina-based blog, self-styled Santa Iglesia Militante, for its blatant display, storage, and enthusiastic endorsement of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a known anti-Semitic forgery that was, and continues to be, fodder for the persecution of Jewish people across the world. In this essay, I analyze certain anti-Semitic currents flowing not far below the surface of anti-Zionism and prescribe, based on the teachings of the Church, the right attitudes to have toward the State of Israel and in the end, applicable to any secular state in the world’s consortium of nations. I have abridged this translation so as to leave out things pertaining only to the aforementioned blog that are not interesting to my English-speaking readers. You may access the entire series in Spanish here and this article in particular here.

    The Inherent Contradictions of Anti-Zionism

    I start with a statement that many will find counterintuitive and is this: since Zionism is a non-religious political movement belonging to the sphere of politics according to its own founders, to oppose Zionism a priori does not make one a Judaeophobe and anti-Semite of necessity. Said in other words, in theory, it is possible to be an anti-Zionist without hating Jews as a people or as a believers of their particular religion and at the same time, there is no obstacle in principle impeding an otherwise tolerant state to oppose Zionism and to protect the civil liberties of the Jewish people in their midst.

    Even from a religious viewpoint it is possible to be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic: in principle, one can be a fervent humanitarian and also oppose the existence of the State of Israel on religious grounds. In fact, there are some ultraorthodox Jews who define themselves as anti-Zionist, like the renowned rabbi Joel Teitelbaum whose followers are still amongst us. It is theoretically possible, I think, that a Catholic, like a Jew, may arrive at a number of anti-Zionist conclusions as an exercise of his or her prudential judgment without falling into a moral vice. It’s possible in theory but in contemporary practice, I find it nearly impossible to make a distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

    When I look at contemporary anti-Zionist collectives, I see they include an impressive number of Christian leaders of various confessions, of Muslims, as well as left-leaning opportunists like Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. For them, the Palestinians are an oppressed people, victims of imperialism and colonialism and an useful foil with which to fustigate the West for whatever improprieties, real or imagined, they deem fit. They are joined from the right of the political spectrum by the same coterie of bigots who continue to consider the Jews as subhuman beings according to the traditional prejudices. All of these groups oppose in various ways any attempt by Jews to associate themselves and form their own collectives, including their own state.

    The funny thing is that all anti-Zionists seem to forget that the goals of Zionism were accomplished back in 1948: Jews have a country in the land they came from. The UN recognized that fact on that year. Zionism reached its principal goal over 60 years ago.

    But if we understand “Zionism” to be the continuing idea that the Jewish state ought to remain right where it is in the Holy Land, then anti-Zionism must be understood as the opposite thought: the desire of either annihilating the State of Israel as a political entity with a Jewish identity, or of expelling the Jews from the land, or both ends simultaneously. To be an anti-Zionist today involves a contradiction seldom explored by clearly intelligent people regardless of political opinion, since anti-Zionism is really an advocacy aimed at destroying an entire people – again – to satisfy the unmet aspirations of another people, the Palestinian one. To the anti-Zionist, a Jew may exist individually but not as a nation, as a country, or as united people at a specific place anywhere, much less in the Holy Land.

    This is why I think that nowadays, in order to be a consistent anti-Zionist, one would have to necessarily maintain a hidden anti-Semitic and Judaeophobic agenda, since by embracing anti-Zionism one must seek the dissolution of the Jewish state. Within the framework of anti-Zionism, “justice” means the destruction of the State of Israel without the right to appeal to any other outcome except the one dictated by the anti-Zionists. In this context, “justice” becomes a semantic trap, for those who wield it as well as for those who will be victimized by it. In the end, anti-Zionists will not be satisfied with anything else but capitulation, followed by the dismemberment, dissolution, and the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel.

    I think there is ample evidence to sustain the above statement. For example, the media coverage of the recent incursion by the Israeli army into Gaza seldom mentioned the reason that triggered the military action: the persistent rocket attacks directed by the Hamas terrorist organization aimed at killing or panicking the Israeli civilian population. Although the media gave wide coverage to the civilian losses in Gaza, very few if any spoke that Hamas hid their weapons, munitions, and operatives within civilian buildings and even emergency vehicles in order to protect themselves, in effect, using the Palestinian civilian population as human shields. The repercussions of these clear violations by Hamas of international humanitarian law continue to be unexplored by the media as well as by responsible international organizations.

    I find this attitude narrowly one-sided and indicative of an anti-Jewish bias and a clear desire to shine a negative light over the actions of the State of Israel without venturing similar moral judgments against the actions of Palestinian terrorists who are in their majority Muslim fundamentalists. The media, as well as large segments of the public opinion in Europe and the Americas have too willingly accepted an anti-Zionist and therefore, an anti-Semitic narrative of the events in Gaza subservient to anti-Semitic interests.

    The Correct Attitudes Toward the State of Israel

    We need to proceed from the Church’s Social Doctrine in order to formulate a coherent Catholic attitude toward the State of Israel and toward Zionism. I believe these non-contiguous paragraphs provide the relevant guidance:

    433. The centrality of the human person and the natural inclination of persons and peoples to establish relationships among themselves are the fundamental elements for building a true international community, the ordering of which must aim at guaranteeing the effective universal common good. Despite the widespread aspiration to build an authentic international community, the unity of the human family is not yet becoming a reality. This is due to obstacles originating in materialistic and nationalistic ideologies that contradict the values of the person integrally considered in all his various dimensions, material and spiritual, individual and community. In particular, any theory or form whatsoever of racism and racial discrimination is morally unacceptable.

    The coexistence among nations is based on the same values that should guide relations among human beings: truth, justice, active solidarity and freedom. The Church's teaching, with regard to the constitutive principles of the international community, requires that relations among peoples and political communities be justly regulated according to the principles of reason, equity, law and negotiation, excluding recourse to violence and war, as well as to forms of discrimination, intimidation and deceit.

    438. To resolve the tensions that arise among different political communities and can compromise the stability of nations and international security, it is indispensable to make use of common rules in a commitment to negotiation and to reject definitively the idea that justice can be sought through recourse to war.“If war can end without winners or losers in a suicide of humanity, then we must repudiate the logic which leads to it: the idea that the effort to destroy the enemy, confrontation and war itself are factors of progress and historical advancement”.

    Not only does the Charter of the United Nations ban recourse to force, but it rejects even the threat to use force. This provision arose from the tragic experience of the Second World War. During that conflict the Magisterium did not fail to identify certain indispensable factors for building a renewed international order: the freedom and territorial integrity of each nation, defence of the rights of minorities, an equitable sharing of the earth's resources, the rejection of war and an effective plan of disarmament, fidelity to agreements undertaken and an end to religious persecution.

    439. In order to consolidate the primacy of law, the principle of mutual confidence is of the utmost importance. In this perspective, normative instruments for the peaceful resolution of controversies must be reformulated so as to strengthen their scope and binding force. Processes of negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration that are provided for in international law must be supported with the creation of “a totally effective juridical authority in a peaceful world”. Progress in this direction will allow the international community to be seen no longer as a simple aggregation of States in various moments of their existence, but as a structure in which conflicts can be peacefully resolved. “As in the internal life of individual States ... a system of private vendetta and reprisal has given way to the rule of law, so too a similar step forward is now urgently needed in the international community”. In short, “international law must ensure that the law of the more powerful does not prevail”.

    To conclude: I think that from the above we may derive the following individual norms that we ought to keep present when engaging, and if necessary, admonishing the State of Israel for its actions in the world arena:

    · First, we Catholics are not allowed to entertain the anti-Zionist attitude that would free us to wish for or call for the destruction of the State of Israel or to undermine its Jewish identity. In fact, to embrace anti-Zionism defined in this way stray us from the Church’s Social Teaching. Is not legitimate for Catholics to hold this opinion and remain still in God’s good graces and in the communion of the Church.

    · The Holy See, the temporal organ of the Catholic Church and its diplomatic corps, the longest in existence in Europe, have set the primary example we ought to follow by extending diplomatic recognition to the State of Israel. “Diplomatic recognition” means that the Holy See, as a sovereign body politic, recognizes the State of Israel as a nation with a legitimate government operating within recognized borders. The Holy See did so following the aforementioned Social Teaching principles, which ultimately derived from the teaching of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. This political action means that the Holy See recognizes the right to exist of the State of Israel within just borders and in peace and harmony with its neighbors. Since the Holy See recognizes the fundamental right of the State of Israel to exist based upon the Church’s Social Teaching, so must we.

    · The State of Israel has a right to exist right where it is, as well as the right to take those necessary and proportional measures needed to protect the life of Israeli citizens. The right of self-defense of the State of Israel is inviolable and inalienable.

    · On the other hand, we must recognize that the State of Israel is a secular state. It is not the modern incarnation of the biblical Israel. The theological vision of “Israel” that the Catholic Church holds is larger through time and space than the concrete Jewish population currently concentrated in the Holy Land within the borders of the modern State of Israel since 1948. Therefore, there is no religious obligation of any kind compelling us to render unconditional support to every political or military action by the State of Israel. The formal equivalence between the biblical Israel and the State of Israel may be popular among certain Protestant circles in the USA, but this is a vision that we Catholics do not share with them.

    · We must also recognize that the modern State of Israel is not exempt from acting in conformity with accepted international norms, and within the principles of collective and individual morality imposed upon it by positive international and natural law. The State of Israel shares in the same responsibilities and obligations of other independent countries in the international community. Therefore, we should not understand any legitimate criticism of the State of Israel and its actions in the international arena as an exercise in anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism, or anti-Zionism.

    In short, one thing is to criticize justly the State of Israel but wishing for, defending, and laboring for its destruction are impermissible, immoral acts, impossible to condone by normative Catholic Social Teaching.

    I want to conclude this brief study by inviting all of you who see yourselves as “anti-Zionists” to examine your hearts and then, having exorcised from them all malice and ill-will, to seek truly constructive solutions aimed at achieving peace in the Middle East, inside and outside of Israel, for Jews as well as for Palestinians. Let us all pray that the Holy Land may become really “holy” and not merely in name only.

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    David Bohnett takes the gloves off

    Openly states his readiness to confront, marginalize, ridicule, and subvert the Catholic Church.

    Folks, according to the Catholic News Agency:
    Delivering an acceptance speech for a GLSEN award, a wealthy homosexual activist has attacked Catholic leaders, saying they are among his movement’s “greatest adversaries.” He called on his allies to combat “head-on” religious organizations opposed to homosexual causes and to take “active measures” against them. At its Oct. 9 Respect Awards event in Los Angeles, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) honored David Bohnett, the cable network HBO and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes with its Lifetime Achievement Award. They were awarded for what GLSEN called “their commitment to all America's students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.”

    Bohnett then used his acceptance speech to attack religious groups opposed to homosexual political concerns.

    “We must treat the causes of intolerance and bullying as well as the symptoms of them,” he remarked. “And as we see most often, it is the evangelical and fundamentalist groups that teach homosexuality is a sin, who stand in the way of fairness and equality.

    “It’s time to combat head-on the religious organizations that are funding the opposition to marriage equality and safe school legislation.”

    He also said it was important to support religious leaders and institutions that embrace “full equality” for homosexuals and their families.

    “Let us make it known, however, that we will challenge those religious leaders and institutions that shamefully and cowardly use the imprimatur of their church and the name of god [sic] and Jesus to promote hatred and bigotry toward lesbians and gay men,” Bohnett declared. “Among our greatest adversaries who actively work against us are the leaders of the Catholic, Mormon, and evangelical churches who seek to deny equal protection for us and for our children.”

    “The bible [sic] is all too often used as a weapon against us, quoted and mis-quoted by those who seek to deny us freedom and equality,” he continued, arguing that children taught that the Bible condemns homosexuality may become “school bullies” and later become the adults who vote “to deny marriage equality.”

    “It’s time we raise our children to be independent thinkers and deeply suspicious of bible beating organized religion. We’d be much better off if parents were honest with their children about the hypocrisy of some churches with regard to homosexuality.”

    Bohnett then outlined tactics to counter “faith based discrimination,” saying it is an obligation to take “active measures” to create a world “free of bigotry and intolerance.” He advised an “aggressive response” to critics that “confronts lies with facts” and also a “pre-emptive campaign” that anticipates the arguments of homosexual activists’ opponents and undermines their credibility.

    He said activists should speak with friends, family and co-workers about “religious intolerance as one of the main impediments to progress in the march toward full equality for lesbians and gay men and their families.”
    Commentary. Well, at least he gets brownie points for his clarity and honesty. No underhandness here, just a nice, crisp, declaration of all-out war against the Catholic Church and other pro-family religious groups, as well as an open willingness to $ubvert us by generou$ly $upporting $ympathetic voices within the churches and profamily groups and undermine us from within.

    Let me share with you the official teaching of the Catholic Church regarding homosexual activity, according to the Catechism:
    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
    I hereby serve kind notice to Mr. Bohnett that I hold wholeheartedly to what the Church clearly teaches, that I will neither be bullied nor intimidated out of my Catholic faith, and that I have no intention to be ejected from the public arena and from bringing my faith to bear on public policy.

    You are in my prayers, Mr. Bohnett, not because I am "holier than thou," but because we are both under a severe Mercy. I invite all of you to pray for the Mr. Bohnett's healing, repentance, and conversion, as well as to contain and reverse the evil he intends to inflict upon us and upon our society.

    Dialog or Marital Fight?

    Father Nicolas Schwizer

    How is our dialog – the decisive moment of conjugal communion – doing? The lack of dialog is the worst illness in marriage. It is an illness which eats away at the marriage from within; therefore, from time to time, we should examine our system for dialog: when do we dialog? Why do we not dialog?

    Here we can recall that there is a difference between man and woman: Women have a need and an ability to dialog which is far greater than that of men. In addition, women permanently revolve around people while men are generally more interested in things. For that reason, it is more difficult for the man to give of himself, to surrender himself, to dialog. On the other hand, the woman is easily wrapped up in her own affective richness. She can become touchy and rancorous (spiteful).

    The pinnacle of dialog is conjugal union. Dialog which cannot be expressed in words should reach to the highest. It is perhaps the human experience most similar to communion and the experience which can most help to prolong or prepare well for Eucharistic communion. From that point comes the importance of fulfilling that action with the spirit in which Christ gives Himself to us: with the generosity, the respect, the openness to life, with the awareness that it is something holy.

    Communion is communion of faithfulness. It is necessary to examine how our faithfulness is doing. Christ does not give himself to us only once. He is always, daily, offering us the same communion and He does not tire in spite of our sins. We, how are we doing with that faithfulness, do we always have the table set?

    All of this helps to prolong and to prepare communion with Christ at the table. An authentic conjugal communion is one of the best ways to the Eucharist.

    What is central, what is essential in our marital covenant? It is the gift of the heart, the gift of intimacy from each one. The spouses should open their hearts and give their intimacy to each other mutually…..their depth. It is easy to give things, but it is difficult to give, to share what is within; therefore, conjugal dialog is not easy.

    I do not know how many marriages are able to really have good and profound dialogs which do not end up in an argument and a fight.

    Some difficulties. There is the woman sitting, sighing with the made-up problems of the soap opera. On the contrary, she does not have time to listen to the real problems of her husband, and vice versa.

    It is difficult to find the time and, especially, to find it at the moment in which the other needs me. It is only possible if I am disposed to renounce certain things, to leave certain things when I see that the other is seeking my support and my comprehension.

    Man who is generally less personal and less communicative by nature, prefers his work above all else. When he arrives home in the evening, he wants total tranquility and considers himself to be in a state of complete relaxation. Therefore, he has the tendency to place on a second level all household problems. He considers that the exercising of his profession has provided him with his corresponding percent of household concerns and responsibilities. Silence is his refuge.

    Another psychological factor: the fear of giving in. At the conclusion of an effective exchange, there often exists a certain number of truths which must be recognized necessarily…..certain facts which cannot be avoided…..certain concessions which must be made. Nevertheless, the pride of both spouses will often suggest to them that it is better to flee the dialog because it could lead to these unfavorable concessions. To communicate with the other is to give him/her a certain dominion over us. Because of the fear of being subtly dominated, an attitude of non-openness to protect oneself is preferred.

    Questions for reflection

    1. What are the obstacles for better dialog?
    2. Am I one of those who flees dialog?
    3. Do we dialog or do we fight?

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Vatican-SSPX doctrinal talks to begin soon

    I harbor no illusions.

    Folks, this according to Catholic Culture.org:
    Doctrinal talks between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) will begin on October 26, the Vatican has announced. The talks, aimed at ending the split between the SSPX and the Holy See, will be confidential, the Vatican press office noted.

    In an indication that the traditionalist group will take a hard line regarding the authority of Vatican II teachings, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior of the SSPX, said: "The solution to the crisis is a return to the past."
    Commentary. No, Bishop Fellay. The solution to the crisis is for the SSPX to return to the Church. The Church doesn't have to return to the SSPX, but the SSPX has to return to the Church. Dictating preconditions to the Successor of Peter is presumptuous and quite revelatory of your pride and the pride of the SSPX.

    I don't trust the SSPX, and I never had. I remain skeptical of their motives and of their good faith. They will have to prove themselves seriously to us in order to convince us of their good faith and intention to return fully to the Church. I will pray for this to happen but, if precedent serves as any guide, to pray for the SSPX to open their eyes and return to Roman obedience has proven to be a wasted effort, as the SSPX continuously resists the grace granted to them by our prayers. But we should still continue to pray for them as the Teacher requires us to do, so that we all may be one, someday.

    Today we remember St. Teresa de Jesús of Avila

    Today's is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila. She's another of my saints. Here's today second reading from the Office of Readings:
    St. Teresa de AvilaIf Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.

    Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.

    What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.

    Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.
    Source: Universalis.com

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    "Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women a year"

    Folks, gotta love that headline which appeared in numerous papers nationwide and which was reproduced - no pun intended - by the UN Dispatch news site.

    It should read, "Unsafe abortions kills over 140,000 people a year," counting too, the minimum amount of killed babies. But that would only attract attention to the underlying social justice problem and deviate attention from what feminist ideologues want you to focus on instead.

    It remains me of another favorite feminist slogan: "If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament." It is a sacrament, sweetheart, it's the sacred mark of all those who think that child sacrifice in the name of womanhood is a good thing - like concocting self-serving news headlines.

    As to making "'contraction'[sic] available to couples who want it" as the article states, well, something tells me that there will be some opposition to that...

    Pace, pace I two fall victim of my own typos. ;-)

    Pennsylvania Catholic Conference Statement on Health Care Reform

    Issued today following a discussion held on October 6, 2009.

    Our Catholic moral tradition teaches that every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death, has an innate dignity that entitles him or her to certain rights and protections. Included among these is the right to life and to have access to health care, which is essential to preserving human life and promoting human dignity. As the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania, we must frankly express our concerns that the health care reform proposals currently under review by the U.S. Congress do not yet guarantee these fundamental rights.

    True health care reform must maintain longstanding public policies which restrict funding for abortion and respect the consciences of health care providers. The cost structures of the resulting plan must not impose excessive financial burdens on low and moderate-income individuals and families. Measures must be in place to safeguard the health of all of society, including the poor, the elderly, and immigrants. Legal immigrants and their family members must be allowed timely access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage and an adequate safety net must be maintained for those who remain uncovered.

    The Catholic community of Pennsylvania can be a strong and reliable partner in advancing health care reform; but as faith leaders, we cannot and will not support or urge the Catholic faithful to support reform that violates the Church’s long held principles on life and dignity. We will work tirelessly to improve the legislation to reflect these essential priorities.

    Health care is not just another issue for the Church or for a healthy society. It is a fundamental issue. Health care is a critical component of the Catholic Church’s ministry. Every year, Pennsylvania’s Catholic hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies provide quality health care to millions. The Church itself is a major purchaser of health insurance for thousands of employees in our many agencies and institutions. In some cases, the Church is self-insured. The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania brings both strong convictions and everyday experience to the issue of health care reform.

    This debate presents our country with a unique opportunity to improve the health care system for all, especially those who lack affordable coverage and decent care. We believe that health care reform legislation can be drafted to truly protect human life and dignity.

    Catholics have been leading proponents of health care reform for many years in America. If a final health care reform bill does not have respect for life at all stages of development, respect for consciences, affordability and inclusion of all of society, the Bishops will be forced to oppose it. Therefore, we pray that critical shortcomings in the current proposals will be remedied.

    Send a message to your Senator or Representative.