Saturday, July 31, 2010

Returned to darkness?


Folks, I saw this book at a Barnes & Noble today, and I couldn't help to ask myself if Ms. Rice's recent deconversion means that darkness has reclaimed her. I regret her recantation and mourn her departure. But the Gospel is not to be tailored to one's preferred size.

It's also particulary sad that she never learned to love deeply and unconditionally all sorts of people, including homosexual persons, without necessarily applauding homosexual acts. Perhaps because nobody told her? Maybe because she didn't ask anyone who could've answered her with authority and charity?

I guess we'll have to await for the publication of her "recantation" book to find out. I'm sure than it today's Anti-Christian climate it will become a bestseller.

- Read also Anne Rice Renounces Christianity.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice Renounces Christianity

Folks, in a rather confused, angry, yet poignant declaration posted on her Facebook page two days ago on Wednesday, author Ann Rice renounced Christianity “but not Christ”:

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to... this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

In the past, I had reviewed a number of Ms. Anne Rice’s works, particularly her Christ the Lord works, as well as Memnoch the Devil, and Servant of the Bones. One such review earned a place of honor on her website. I found those works genial and congenial, and evidence of a gentle, inner evolution of thought, heart and soul. If Ms. Rice’s declarations hold, her evolution has come to an end.

Ms. Rice is a gentle person. My very few exchanges with her have shown me that and the very few times I expressed my disagreements on her Facebook site I did it respectfully, without attacking her person, but questioning her stances from the viewpoint of the Catholic faith she said she had embraced, and natural law. In the end I saw the futility of it and not liking to be embroiled in long, protracted arguments, I left her to the mercy of God, to whom I cling every day for my own sins and shortcomings.

Ms. Rice is not an ignorant. To say that she’s well read would be an understatement. She’s a genius, she’s an artist. But whether she likes it or not, Christ left us a moral code, that is not anti-human nor anti-life, but well to the contrary and this teaching is proclaimed by the Church He left behind, unapologetically, in season and out of season.

We should take this opportunity for introspection. Did Ms. Rice leave because of her convictions or because we drove her away? Without absolving her of the personal responsibility of her choices, we should ask ourselves that question. We should ask ourselves how many from among us failed to be Christ for her and carefully, gently, try to show her why a number of her deeply held convictions were contrary to the Gospel she said she embraced. Did we also show her the breadth and the depth of the mercy of God to her? I think that many of us didn’t. Those who didn’t also share a measure of responsibility for her apostasy. Think about that one too.

I mourn Ms. Rice’s exit and pray that she comes to her senses. If not, I wish her well, and I want to let her know that the door remains open for her again, awaiting her return. For that we should all pray.

- Read also Returned to darkness?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

UN Committee Attacks Motherhood, Demands New “Rights” for Women

Author: Terrence McKeegan, J.D. | Source: Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute

Folks, this according to C-FAM:

NEW YORK, July 29 (C-FAM)  A United Nations (UN) treaty committee notorious for its promotion of abortion and ideological positions not supported by UN treaties, concludes its session this week after launching attacks on motherhood and traditional gender roles, while calling for an ever-expanded array of new sexual and reproductive “rights.”  The session was especially notable for the statement by the Russian Federation, which reported that decreasing abortion rates were helping to decrease the overall maternal mortality rates in that country.

The committee, which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), is composed of 23 “independent” experts and is reviewing eight nations during their 46th session.

Before the CEDAW committee, the Russian Federation delegation highlighted a new two-year program of the Ministry of Health that focused on the prevention of abortion and the protection of life.   The delegation was pleased to report to the committee that for the first time in decades, the birth rate was now exceeding the abortion rate and that the “declining number of abortions was also decreasing women’s mortality rates after birth or abortiNevertheless, the committee expressed concern that the government was promoting motherhood and women being able to stay at home with their newborn children, instead of facilitating their quick return to the workforce.  The Cuban expert warned of the negative sexual stereotypes that could result if women were only seen as “good mothers, good wives, and caretakers, while men were seen as the economic providers.”

The Netherlands expert questioned Russia about whether current legislation covered discrimination against lesbian, bisexual or transsexual women. The Brazilian expert lamented that access to “transgender medical services” were not available in many regions of Russia, and called on the nation to ensure that “women’s sexual and reproductive rights were based on scientific evidence and not on religion.” 

In other country reviews, Fiji was taken to task for not making marriage and reproductive technologies available to same-sex couples.  The Thailand expert inquired of Fiji if the decriminalization of prostitution for adult sex workers could be proposed. Albania was asked, “What was the government doing to fight homophobia and violence against gays, lesbians, and transsexuals?”

As the Friday Fax reported last year, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the recent subject of unprecedented support from the Obama administration for special UN status, created a handbook for activists to promote the “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” ideologies through the CEDAW committee.

The CEDAW treaty does not mention abortion, nor do the words “gender,” “orientation,” “sexual,” or “reproductive” appear anywhere in the text.  The observations and recommendations made by treaty bodies are non-binding, as only States Parties to a treaty have the authority collectively to interpret a treaty.   Abortion activists have brought litigation throughout the world citing the interpretations of UN human rights treaty bodies, like the CEDAW Committee, in challenging national laws against abortion.

The CEDAW committee concludes its three-week session on Friday.

Commentary. Folks, what you need to take away from this is, when the sexual minorities agitpropers come demanding their special rights and considerations based on interpretations put forward by committees such as this CEDAW, fight back stating that these interpretations are not binding, and that they can’t be used to claim special rights and protections for their preferences. Radicals usually control these committees, finding in them power, recognition, and prestige. These will dissipate if we treat them as the extremist fans of the Culture of Death that they are.

Bravo for Russia, Fiji and all. They are doing good and will do more good if they ignore the CEDAW.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Indict WikiLeaks

Folks, I think that whoever compromised all those documents to the WikiLeaks site should be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law, and punished accordingly. I'm also convinced that the people behind the WikiLeaks site should be investigated, indicted, prosecuted, and punished according to U.S. law.

The publication of these documents may not change existing policy, but it endangers the lives of US and allied personnel in a war zone. This is going to cost lives, mark my words. The guilty parties are going to be responsible for many deaths. Don't tell me they can hide their negligence behind the First Amendment to avoid their responsibility.

This morning I saw the WikiLeaks president admitting to Meredith Vieira in the Today Show that these deaths would count as "collateral damage" in his quest to influence policy. He disgusted me.

Mr. Obama, Mr. Attorney General, earn your pay checks! DO SOMETHING.

Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage

Folks, this is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the Sixth Commandment ("Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery") and the offenses against the dignity of marriage:
Adultery

2380 Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations - even transient ones - they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire.170 The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely.171 The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry.172

2381 Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents' stable union.

Divorce

2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.173 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.174

Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death."175

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law.176

If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself.177
2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.178
Reflection. There's no room to maneuver here. The prohibition against adultery reaches all the way back to the Decalogue and probably before. Jesus himself extended explicitly the consequences of this sin. The prohibition is absolute, as the Catechism states, and there is no leeway for excuses, mitigations, exceptions. You do this freely and with full knowledge, and you're committing a mortal sin. You die without repenting of this sin and you will not enter the presence of God. The author of the Book of Proverbs describes with great precision the mindset and the consequences of adultery:
Proverbs 5

Warning Against Adultery


1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
listen well to my words of insight,
2 that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.

3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;

4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.

5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave. [a]

6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.

7 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
do not turn aside from what I say.

8 Keep to a path far from her,
do not go near the door of her house,

9 lest you give your best strength to others
and your years to one who is cruel,

10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
and your toil enrich another man's house.

11 At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.

12 You will say, "How I hated discipline!
How my heart spurned correction!

13 I would not obey my teachers
or listen to my instructors.

14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin
in the midst of the whole assembly."

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.

16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?

17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.

20 Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?

21 For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD,
and he examines all his paths.

22 The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him;
the cords of his sin hold him fast.

23 He will die for lack of discipline,
led astray by his own great folly.
But who will care about these words? Only those who obey the Lord's law and treasure it in their hearts. As the Psalmist says:
They are happy whose life is blameless,
who follow God's law!
They are happy who do his will,
seeking him with all their hearts,
who never do anything evil
but walk in his ways.
Follow these words and you will be happy in this life and in the next. Amen! Alleluia!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Charles P. Pierce: A Catholic Anti-Catholic

Folks, there’s been some buzz lately about this piece by Charles P. Pierce of the Boston Globe, titled, What I believe. Other commentators have written their own critical pieces but I want to add my own. I want to zero in on a few of things Mr. Pierce says that capture the point he tries to make and the tone he assumes:

In the church of my youth, with the priests reciting incomprehensible Latin, their backs to the people, walled off by an altar rail and two millenniums’ worth of imperial design, the purple always came out at Advent and at Lent. It was the color of penance, we were told. And so it is, and penitence begins within, in one mind and one soul and in what the nuns used to call an informed conscience. That’s where my Catholicism is now. It is a penitential faith. That’s where you can look for it. It is possible, I have come to realize, that I’ve grown up to become an anti-Catholic Catholic.

As to the latter [the fundamentalist Christianity of the suburban mega-church and the Left Behind novels], I think I can say without equivocation that I simply don’t want what they call a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At the moment, I have a personal doctor, a personal trainer, and a personal fencing coach, none of whom I see as much as I should. One thing I always liked about being Catholic is that, while we could be insufferably vaunting about being the One True Church –which was the basis for Walter’s joke, after all – we by and large didn’t proselytize that way, and once you learned anything about church history, you could dispose of the One True part pretty easily. (The Episcopal Church doesn’t count? The Book of Common Prayer doesn’t count? Really?) I do not need a personal Lord and Savior. Not in that sense, anyway. I’m happy sharing him with the rest of what the fathers at the Second Vatican Council called the “people of God.”

Which brings me to the most fundamental rule of my Catholicism – nobody gets to tell me that I’m not a Catholic. Those of my fellow Catholics who remain loyal to the institutional structure of the Church don’t get to do so. People who talk glibly of “cafeteria Catholicism” don’t get to do so. People who seek to coin Catholic doctrine into political advantage – be they left or right – don’t get to do so. No priest gets to do so, and no bishop, either, and that especially means the bishop of Rome himself. No pope can tell me I’m not a Catholic.

Mr. Pierce is the founding father and supreme pontiff of a “church of one.” The “Church of Pierce” if you will, which he identifies with a Catholic Church that exists nowhere except in his own aesthetic appreciations. Mr. Stanley Fish, writing for the New York Times on a different, but the related subject of the relationship between religion and the liberal state (please read his piece, Is Religion Special?) gets what Mr. Pierce woefully sidesteps:

The entire point of religion — at least of the theistic kind, Christianity, Judaism, Islam — is to affirm a fidelity to an authority and to a set of imperatives that exceed, and sometimes clash with, what is required by the state. The denial of religion’s claim to be special is the denial of religion as an ultimate discourse, and is, in effect, the denial of religion as religion; it becomes just one more point of view.
This is exactly the pitfall Mr. Pierce falls into. Catholicism for him is no longer an ultimate discourse. He has made clear he has rejected every source of authority that fails to meet his own subjective standards. Mr. Pierce’s Catholicism is not the Church founded by Jesus Christ, does not the Gospel, nor cares about the Sacraments. Mr. Pierce's Catholicism is the simple set of the numerous ethical, moral, and social choices he has amalgamated through the power of his individual reason to be the conditional guides of his conscience.

The position of moral autonomy Mr. Pierce has carved out for himself can no longer be said to be “Catholic” unless one empties the word “Catholic” of all meaning. In the world where meanings can mutate by whim we may be able to say that Mr. Pierce is “Catholic,” as well as the Dalai Lama, Buda, Stalin, and Mao. Or a tree, a rock, a bee, would also be Catholic in this imaginary world. But not in the real world.

Mr. Pierce is not Catholic. He hasn’t been one since Richard McBrien became one of his scholarly inspirations, since he fell for the specter of Constantine’s church, so in vogue today thanks to a bunch of pseudohistorians. Mr. Pierce may be content, even “purple” and “penitential” in his Church of Self, and I guess that’s a good thing as far as that goes. But a Catholic he ain’t. And I get to tell him so.

Let us, then, all pray for his return.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Prayer for the US Navy

Folks, in view of the recent killing of a U.S. sailor in Afghanistan, and the possible capture of one other, I invite all of you to pray for our sailors in harm’s way and at sea.

O eternal Lord, God, you alone spread out the heavens and rule the raging sea. Take into your most gracious protection our country's Navy and all who serve therein. Preserve them from the dangers of the sea and from the violence of the enemy, that they may be a safeguard unto the United States of America, and a security for such as sail upon the seas in peaceful and lawful missions. In serving you, O Lord, may our Sailors serve their country; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vampire Logic

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,  President, Human Life International

With the issuing of the third movie in the Twilight series I have to speak out about our culture's twisted fascination with vampires. I don't hesitate to tell people that I am totally disgusted with the new fad sweeping over our youth culture these days. It is not just kids that are taken up with the wiles of the dark world either: many moms of teens are swooning for them too. I think that these seductive creatures are simply the spawn of the Harry Potter culture that has for over a decade now been indoctrinating kids to think that the occult world is normal and that all this evil messaging is harmless when dressed up as entertainment. That's vampire logic - and just what the devil wants us to think.

Gone are the days of Bella Lugosi's Dracula (1931) where good was good and evil was evil. A crucifix would drive Dracula away and then he had to go into his infernal coffin when the first streaks of dawn appeared. He was in every way presented as a creature of evil, dark of heart and dread to encounter. He drank human blood too, a feature that was supposed to strike terror in every person who valued his life's essence. The image of a blood-sucking creature who lives in slime and darkness and will pounce on you to drain out your very essence should terrorize every decent person. This is because vampires used to be images of demons. That's what demons are all about: the vanquishing of all human decency and life. They represent the spiritual vortexes of the demon world that drag down to the depths of hell all who fall prey to their wiles.

But, my, how vampires have come up in the world these days.

Nowadays vampires are divided into good and bad - no longer intrinsically evil. The good ones rescuevulnerable women instead of biting them and, allegedly, drink only animal blood (well, we haven't seen the last Twilight movie yet...). And crucifixes? Don't think you'll see any of those driving away bad guys in these movies. The heroes are the "good" vampires, not the Church or religious faith in Christ.

These super-star vampires also walk around in sunlight and, as a matter of fact, their skin just happens to glisten like diamonds when exposed to direct sunlight. Isn't that wonderful? The glam vamps are gentlemen, chaste and well-intentioned, yet they are always hovering around the edge of "falling" and in seductive situations which cause young people to think that they are capable, like their hero vampire, Edward Cullen, of going just so far and pulling back, out of self-control. That's teaching them to play with fire, not a real chastity message for kids.

The worst part of this fascination with vampires from a faith point of view, however, is its blasphemy of the Eucharist. "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you," said our Blessed Lord in Chapter 6 of John's Gospel. He is the One who offers His flesh and blood for the life of the world. The vampires eat (bite) the flesh and drink the blood of victims rather than give their own to redeem others. Their bites corrupt and transform their victims into vampires like themselves. They have no life in them. They are the "living dead" by their own estimate.

How sad that this generation has been so taken in by those who represent the very antithesis of the core reality of our Faith - the Eucharist. Vampire logic is anti-Eucharistic logic, and it's very dangerous for our kids. In their obsessive fascination with such darkness, kids (and adults) turn their backs on the One who actually died for them.

To those who say, "Oh, Father, it's only harmless entertainment," I say simply: You've been warned.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blogging Break

Folks, I'll be pretty busy this weekend and posting will slow down a bit. Please, enjoy the contents currently online.

Jesus and Muhammad Compared

Folks, in this day and age when we are told repeatedly that all religions are the same, that they all lead to heave, and that all religious founders are equally saintly, we will do well learning the differences between them. In this case, Islam and Christianity are as different as were their respective founders, Jesus of Nazareth and Muhammad of Mecca. Each one left the profound imprint of their respective characters in their teachings and the communities they originated. Check it out:

 Facts Jesus Muhammad
Death Jesus died and rose from the dead Muhammad died and stayed dead.
Fighting Jesus never fought Muhammad fought many many times
Hearing from God When Jesus heard from God he went to the desert to be tempted and began his ministry with boldness, (Mark 1:14-15). When Muhammad heard from God (supposedly through an angel) he cowered, was uncertain, and wanted to commit suicide (Quran 74:1-5)
Identity Jesus claimed to be God (John 8:24; 8:58) as well as a man.
Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
Muhammad claimed to be a man.
Instructions Received From God the Father (John 5:19) Allegedly from an angel
Killing Jesus never killed anyone Muhammad killed many
Life Jesus had the power to take life, but never did. He restored it. Muhammad had the power to take it, but he never restored it.
No one ever died in Jesus' presence Many people died in Muhammad's presence -- he killed them.
Marriage Jesus never married Muhammad had over 20 wives and even married a nine year old girl.
Ministry Jesus received his calling from God directly (Matt. 3:17).

Jesus received his commission in the daylight

Muhammad allegedly received it from an angel (Gabriel)

Muhammad received his words in the darkness of a cave.

Ministry Length Jesus taught for 3 1/2 years Muhammad taught for more than 20 years
Miracles Jesus performed many miracles including healing people, calming a storm with a command, and raising people from the dead. Muhammad's only alleged miracle was the Quran.
Prophecy Jesus fulfilled biblical prophecy about being the Messiah Muhammad did not fulfill any biblical prophecy except the ones about false teachers (Matt. 24:24).
Sacrifice Jesus voluntarily laid his life down for others Muhammad saved his own life many times and had others killed.
Sin Jesus never sinned (1 Pet. 2:22) Muhammad was a sinner (Quran 40:55; 48:1-2)
Slaves Jesus owned no slaves Muhammad owned slaves.
Virgin Birth Jesus was virgin born Muhammad was not virgin born.
Voice of God Jesus received and heard the direct voice of God (Mark 1:10-11) Muhammad did not receive or hear the direct voice of God. It was an angel instead.
Women Jesus spoke well of women Muhammad said women were 1/2 as smart as men (Hadith 3:826; 2:541), that the majority in hell will be women (Had. 1:28,301; 2:161; 7:124), and that women could be mortgaged.

Islam is but a pale reflection of the religious faiths, Judaism and Christianity, that it supposedly came to supplant. Only Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one goes to the Father if is not through Him.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who and What You See Before You Die

Folks, this article by R.W. Dellinger was published recently in Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Here’s an excerpt:

David Kessler had to author three books on grief, the needs of the dying and death, meet Mother Teresa and work with acclaimed thanatologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross before he could develop the maturity and muster the courage to write "Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms - Who and What You See Before You Die."

"When you're starting out in your professional life, you want to make sure that you're doing credible work," says the vice president of patient support care services, which includes overseeing end-of-life care, pastoral care and social work, at Citrus Valley Health Partners. "If I would have said to anyone early on, 'You know, I've been noticing there's some visions going on here with our dying patients,' they would have thought I was crazy.

"After writing three books and being around people like Kübler-Ross and Mother Teresa, I hope that people will realize I'm just always reporting from what's happening at the end of life. I mean, if anything, I see myself as an end-of-life reporter because I know everybody's not going to be around the bedsides of the dying.

"I think there's a part of me that's become more courageous and more mature to say: 'You know what? Not only should I find the courage to share these stories, but it's actually a disservice by letting you believe your grandfather or grandmother, who was a very sane person, became crazy in his or her last moments of life,'" he points out. "I actually have a responsibility to say: 'Nope. This is a common phenomenon. I can't explain it. Don't have any interest in arguing about it. Accept it or don't.'"

The 51-year-old modern-day student of death, who runs the Citrus Valley Hospice program for the group of three hospitals in the San Gabriel Valley, conducted in-depth interviews with healthcare professionals, members of the clergy as well as individuals who had lost loved ones. They told him what it was like being at the deathbed of a patient, relative or close friend…

Please, continue reading here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Call of the Minaret

Author: Terry L. Frazier | Source: Catholic.com

Allahu Akbar - God is Most Great in ArabicJoseph Smith and Shirley MacLaine are not alone when they use the line, "What Jesus really taught was not today's Christianity, but...[fill in the blank: Mormonism, reincarnation, whatever]." No one has been able to parallel Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, in creating a new Jesus out of the historic Christian teaching.

While Islam always has been a fierce competitor in missionary fields, it recently has begun having success similar to Mormonism's and the New Age movement's here in the United States. This was pointedly brought home to me recently by meeting two ex-Catholics (one claiming to be an ex-CCD instructor) who had converted to that religion and who now go around giving seminars on how to proselytize Christians.

In Mecca around A.D. 610, Mohammed began claiming to have revelations which he said he received from the angel Gabriel (cf. Gal.1:8). All these individual revelations, some immediately written down by his followers and others simply committed to memory, were gathered together at Mohammed's death in 632. The collection of revelations as a whole is called the "Qur'an" (the recitation) and each individual revelation is called a "surah," there being 114 surahs of varying length in the Qur'an.

The Caliph 'Uthman, the third Caliph to rule the Islamic theocracy (A.D. 644-656), ordered the final canonization of the Qur'an to settle disputes over the content of the text. Thus was produced in 657, twenty-five years after Mohammed's death, the authoritative version of the Qur'an which we know today. All other copies were ordered destroyed, which is an interesting historical fact in light of the undying Islamic polemic about Jews and Christians being unable to establish the integrity of the biblical texts.

According to the Qur'an, all the prophets going back to Abraham preached a simple monotheism called Islam (submission). Jesus, called "Isa" in the Qur'an, is only a prophet and not God. He too preached Islam and even prophesied the coming of Mohammed as the final prophet. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus was not crucified and will not be resurrected until the Day of Resurrection at the end of time.

Of course, if Jesus taught Islam and never claimed to be God, Jesus' message must have become corrupted at the very beginning. Consequently the Muslim takes a similar view to that of the Mormon in regard to the Bible. He reveres the Bible as a divine revelation, albeit a corrupted one.

(It is the rare Muslim who asks himself why God would fail to preserve his previous revelations from corruption. This attitude is especially curious when it is considered that the Qur'an itself regards the Bible so highly that Muslims are instructed to listen and believe what it teaches (e.g. Surahs al-Baqarah 2:136, Yunus 10:94, and al-'Ankabut 29:46).)

Please, continue reading here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Some Muslims to "Welcome" the Pope in England

Friends, this according to the The Islamic Standard:
“A change of venue gives Birmingham Muslims a chance to tell the Pope just what they think of him after his insults against the Prophet Muhammad… As well as this chance to challenge these evil words of this evil Pope, over 80,000 Catholics from all over the UK are also expected to attend the open air ceremony….We hope Muslims can be there to meet him as well and to also call people away from the shirk of worshipping the dead like the Catholics do, calling out to them for help and intercession…The Birmingham event however brings the pope and who worship him into direct contact with the the large Muslim population of Birmingham and offers them the perfect chance to learn about Islam and for the Muslims to forbid the Munkar of worshipping dead men and following the dictates of the sodomite child molesting Church of Rome…

We at the Islamic Standard hope the Muslims of Birmingham take this duel opportunity to give Da’wah to these 80,000 travelling disbelievers, whilst at the same time telling the Pope in no uncertain terms what Muslims think of his evil slanders against the last Prophet of God and his message.
Commentary. Uh, yeah. I'm surprised that Muslim "combat apologetics" is so weak. Reminds me of the equivalent efforts by the independent Baptists, "soul-winners," Catholic-Church-as-Whore-of-Babylon, "KJV-only" Fundamentalist Christians. I think they have a lot in common with each other. They are what William James would have called "sick souls".

Anyway, yes, Islamic Standard writers and admirers, I want to be your friend too...

Let us pray for the Holy Father and for his health and safety during his apostolic journey to post-Christian, often anti-Catholic England. May he confirm the faith of the brethren in that nation.

- Hat tip to Matthew Archbold and his blog entry, Is the Pope In Danger?

Monday, July 19, 2010

St. Ignatius Loyola: Rules for Spiritual Discernment

FOR PERCEIVING AND KNOWING IN SOME MANNER THE DIFFERENT MOVEMENTS WHICH ARE CAUSED IN THE SOUL THE GOOD, TO RECEIVE THEM, AND THE BAD TO REJECT THEM.

St. Ignatius of Loyola First Rule. The first Rule: In the persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is commonly used to propose to them apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses the opposite method, pricking them and biting their consciences through the process of reason.

Second Rule. The second: In the persons who are going on intensely cleansing their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, it is the method contrary to that in the first Rule, for then it is the way of the evil spirit to bite, sadden and put obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, that one may not go on; and it is proper to the good to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet, easing, and putting away all obstacles, that one may go on in well doing.

Third Rule. The third: Of Spiritual Consolation. I call it consolation when some interior movement in the soul is caused, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord; and when it can in consequence love no created thing on the face of the earth in itself, but in the Creator of them all. Likewise, when it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord, whether out of sorrow for one’s sins, or for the Passion of Christ our Lord, or because of other things directly connected with His service and praise. Finally, I call consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity, and all interior joy which calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one’s soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord.

Fourth Rule. The fourth: Of Spiritual Desolation. I call desolation all the contrary of the third rule, such as darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord. Because, as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts which come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts which come from desolation.

Fifth Rule. The fifth: In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation it is rather the good spirit who guides and counsels us, so in desolation it is the bad, with whose counsels we cannot take a course to decide rightly.

Sixth Rule. The sixth: Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting more on prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by giving ourselves more scope in some suitable way of doing penance.

Seventh Rule. The seventh: Let him who is in desolation consider how the Lord has left him in trial in his natural powers, in order to resist the different agitations and temptations of the enemy; since he can with the Divine help, which always remains to him, though he does not clearly perceive it: because the Lord has taken from him his great fervor, great love and intense grace, leaving him, however, grace enough for eternal salvation.

Eighth Rule. The eighth: Let him who is in desolation labor to be in patience, which is contrary to the vexations which come to him: and let him think that he will soon be consoled, employing against the desolation the devices, as is said in the sixth Rule.

Ninth Rule. The ninth: There are three principal reasons why we find ourselves desolate. The first is, because of our being tepid, lazy or negligent in our spiritual exercises; and so through our faults, spiritual consolation withdraws from us. The second, to try us and see how much we are and how much we let ourselves out in His service and praise without such great pay of consolation and great graces. The third, to give us true acquaintance and knowledge, that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to get or keep great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and that we may not build a nest in a thing not ours, raising our intellect into some pride or vainglory, attributing to us devotion or the other things of the spiritual consolation.

Tenth Rule. The tenth: Let him who is in consolation think how he will be in the desolation which will come after, taking new strength for then.

Eleventh Rule. The eleventh: Let him who is consoled see to humbling himself and lowering himself as much as he can, thinking how little he is able for in the time of desolation without such grace or consolation. On the contrary, let him who is in desolation think that he can do much with the grace sufficient to resist all his enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.

Twelfth Rule. The twelfth: The enemy acts like a woman, in being weak against vigor and strong of will. Because, as it is the way of the woman when she is quarrelling with some man to lose heart, taking flight when the man shows her much courage: and on the contrary, if the man, losing heart, begins to fly, the wrath, revenge, and ferocity of the woman is very great, and so without bounds; in the same manner, it is the way of the enemy to weaken and lose heart, his temptations taking flight, when the person who is exercising himself in spiritual things opposes a bold front against the temptations of the enemy, doing diametrically the opposite. And on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself commences to have fear and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so wild on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with so great malice.

Thirteenth Rule. The thirteenth: Likewise, he acts as a licentious lover in wanting to be secret and not revealed. For, as the licentious man who, speaking for an evil purpose, solicits a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wants his words and persuasions to be secret, and the contrary displeases him much, when the daughter reveals to her father or the wife to her husband his licentious words and depraved intention, because he easily gathers that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun: in the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wants and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to his good Confessor or to another spiritual person that knows his deceits and evil ends, it is very grievous to him, because he gathers, from his manifest deceits being discovered, that he will not be able to succeed with his wickedness begun.

Fourteenth Rule. The fourteenth: Likewise, he behaves as a chief bent on conquering and robbing what he desires: for, as a captain and chief of the army, pitching his camp, and looking at the forces or defenses of a stronghold, attacks it on the weakest side, in like manner the enemy of human nature, roaming about, looks in turn at all our virtues, theological, cardinal and moral; and where he finds us weakest and most in need for our eternal salvation, there he attacks us and aims at taking us.

News from the frontlines of spiritual combat

Folks, this is a fascinating story I read at the Pro-Life Corner Blog

Rockford, IL July 16, 2010 -  Before the Northern Illinois Women's Center opened on Friday morning to end the lives of children in the womb,four Catholic Priests firmly stationed themselves at all four corners around the abortion mill and began praying the powerful prayers of the Church found in Fr. Thomas Euteneuer's book Exorcism and the Church Militant.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.   Eph 6:12

Almost immediately upon the Priests' beginning their prayers in unison, the landlord of the abortion business came out of the building like a shot.

He wandered back and forth around the parking lot. Then he roamed the sidewalks, calling the Priests and pro-lifers names.

It certainly seemed that while the Priests were surrounding the abortion mill with prayer, the landlord, who is well-known for his dislike of the Christian religion and Catholic Priests, could not stand to be inside the building…

Please read it all here. Oh, and watch the following video:


Oh, and, I purchased Fr. Tom Euteneuer’s book, Exorcism and the Church Militant. I’m half-way through it. Let me tell you this: if you’re a layman, those prayers of exorcism are not for you to say. Lay people are only allowed to pray imprecatory, that is, petition prayers. The commanding tone of the prayers in the exorcism ritual are restricted to priests and bishops. So let’s know our place in this symphony and support these priests who are on the forefront of the war against evil.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Abba’s Little Girl: Mel Gibson, Piercing The Hand That Loves Him

Folks, I found this post on Abba’s Little Girl, the blog of my colleague Patty Bonds, that I must share with you in toto:

In an interview before the release of The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson said that he used his own hand for the scene when the soldier drives the nail through Jesus' hand. I wonder if he realizes he is still driving that nail? Oh God of all redemption, call the sinner back home.

Commentary. My thoughts exactly! We’re all familiar with the “tortured artist” phenomenon and for me, The Passion of the Christ was a sublime work of cinematic art. But the artist behind it is a tortured soul whose mistakes threaten to outshine his achievements and destroy his success.

Let us pray for Mel Gibson, for his healing, redemption, and restoration, as we pray for our own. May the Lord lift Mel from void his sins have sunk him into. May the Lord bless Him, give him an opportunity to repair the damage he has done, and enable him to live a reasonably happy life on this earth.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Discernment of Spirits

Source: Catholic Encyclopedia

Fork in the Road... All moral conduct may be summed up in the rule: avoid evil and do good. In the language of Christian asceticism, spirits, in the broad sense, is the term applied to certain complex influences, capable of impelling the will, the ones toward good, the others toward evil; we have the worldly spirit of error, the spirit of race, the spirit of Christianity, etc. However, in the restricted sense, spirits indicate the various spiritual agents which, by their suggestions and movements, may influence the moral value of our acts.

Here we shall speak only of this second kind. They are reduced to four, including, in a certain way, the human soul itself, because in consequence of the original Fall, its lower faculties are at variance with its superior powers. Concupiscence, that is to say, disturbances of the imagination and errors of sensibility, thwart or pervert the operations of the intellect and will, by deterring the one from the true and the other from the good(Genesis 8:21; James 1:14). In opposition to our vitiated nature, or so to speak, to the flesh which drags us into sin, the Spirit of God acts within us by grace, a supernatural help given to our intellect and will to lead us back to good and to the observance of the moral law (Romans 7:22-25). Besides these two spirits, the human and the Divine, in the actual order of Providence, two others must be observed. The Creator willed that there should be communication between angels and men, and as the angels are of two kinds, good and bad, the latter try to win us over to their rebellion and the former endeavour to make us their companions in obedience. Hence four spirits lay siege to our liberty: the angelic and the Divine seeking its good, and the human (in the sense heretofore mentioned) and the diabolical its misery. In ordinary language they may, for brevity sake, be called simply the good and the evil spirit.

"Discernment of spirits" is the term given to the judgment whereby to determine from what spirit the impulses of the soul emanate, and it is easy to understand the importance of this judgment both for self-direction and the direction of others. Now this judgment may be formed in two ways. In the first case the discernment is made by means of an intuitive light which infallibly discovers the quality of the movement; it is then a gift of God, a grace gratis data, vouchsafed mainly for the benefit of our neighbour (1 Corinthians 12:10). This charisma or gift was granted in the early Church and in the course of the lives of the saints as, for example, St. Philip Neri. Second, discernment of spirits may be obtained through study and reflection. It is then an acquired human knowledge, more or less perfect, but very useful in the direction of souls. It is procured, always, of course, with the assistance of grace, by the reading of the Holy Bible, of works on theology and asceticism, of autobiographies, and the correspondence of the most distinguished ascetics. The necessity of self-direction and of directing others, when one had charge of souls, produced documents, preserved in spiritual libraries, from the perusal of which one may see that the discernment of spirits is a science that has always flourished in the Church. In addition to the special treatises enumerated in the bibliography the following documents may be cited for the history of the subject:

  • the "Shepherd of Hermas" (1, II, Mand. VI, c. 2);
  • St. Anthony's discourse to the monks of Egypt, in his life by St. Anthanasius;
  • the "De perfectione spirituali" (ch. 30-33) by Marcus Diadochus;
  • the "Confessions" of St. Augustine;
  • St. Bernard's XXIII sermon, "De discretione spirituum";
  • Gerson's treatise, "De diversis diaboli tentationibus";
  • St. Theresa's autobiography and "Castle of the Soul";
  • St. Francis de Sales' letters of direction, etc.

An excellent lesson is that given by St. Ignatius Loyola in his "Spiritual Exercises". Here we find rules for the discernment of spirits and, being clearly and briefly formulated, these rules indicate a secure course, containing in embryo all that is included in the more extensive treatises of later date. For a complete explanation of them the best commentaries on the "Exercises" of St. Ignatius may be consulted. Of the rules transmitted to us by a saint inspired by Divine light and a learned psychologist taught by personal experience, it will suffice to recall the principal ones. Ignatius gives two kinds and we must call attention to the fact that in the second category, according to some opinions, he sometimes considers a more delicate discernment of spirits adapted to the extraordinary course of mysticism. Be that as it may, he begins by enunciating this clear principle, that both the good and the evil spirit act upon a soul according to the attitude it assumes toward them. If it pose as their friend, they flatter it; if to resist them, they torment it. But the evil spirit speaks only to the imagination and the senses, whereas the good spirit acts upon reason and conscience. The evil labours to excite concupiscence, the good to intensify love for God. Of course it may happen that a perfectly well-disposed soul suffers from the attacks of the devil deprived of the sustaining consolations of the good angel; but this is only a temporary trial the passing of which must be awaited in patience and humility. St. Ignatius also teaches us to distinguish the spirits by their mode of action and by the end they seek. Without any preceding cause, that is to say, suddenly, without previous knowledge or sentiment, God alone, by virtue of His sovereign dominion, can flood the soul with light and joy. But if there has been a preceding cause, either the good or the bad angel may be the author of the consolation; this remains to be judged from the consequences. As the good angel's object is the welfare of the soul and the bad angel's its defects or unhappiness, if, in the progress of our thoughts all is well and tends to good there is no occasion for uneasiness; on the contrary, if we perceive any deviation whatsoever towards evil or even a slight unpleasant agitation, there is reason to fear. Such, then, is the substance of these brief rules which are nevertheless so greatly admired by the masters of the spiritual life. Although requiring an authorized explanation, when well understood, they act as a preservative against many illusions.

Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery

Folks, a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2239:

Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Women "Ordination" Called "a Grave Crime" - Yey!

Folks, this according to the Associated Press:
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican on Thursday declared the attempted ordination of women a "grave crime" subject to the same set of procedures and punishments meted out for sex abuse.

That drew immediate criticism from women's ordination groups, who said making a moral equivalent between women priests and child rapists was offensive.

"The idea that women seeking to spread the message of God somehow defiles the Eucharist reveals an antiquated, backwards church that still views women as unclean and unholy," said Erin Saiz Hanna, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference, a U.S.-based organization that works to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said the question of ordaining women priests -- often raised as an antidote to the priest shortage and to bring about more gender equality in the church -- is not up for discussion.
Please, read it all here.

Commentary. I have to hand it to the folks at the Holy See. They do have a sense of humor. We all know that sex abuse by clergy is a dastardly crime, and can't be compared with simulating a sacrament, but choosing the same document to further chastise the priestesses and their enablers was a stroke of genius. Of course, the, bishopesses, priestesses, priestesses-wanna-bes, and their enablers are incensed. Which is sad, but understandable, as they see another door slammed on their faces and another rejection of their misguided aspirations. Nevertheless, we're still obliged to show them compassion - something that doesn't come easy to me, I admit - and to pray for their conversion, healing, and salvation, as we pray for our own.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fr. McBrien Derides Conference on Exorcism

Folks, dissenting Catholic theologian Fr. Richard McBrien, has written contemptuously about the upcoming conference on exorcism called under the auspices of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. This is an excerpt:
Many years ago, when the National Catholic Reporter was a young newspaper, it ran a feature in the left-hand column of Page 1 that highlighted embarrassingly dumb items that had recently appeared in parish bulletins and other ecclesiastical documents.

If that feature were still active, I would have an entry to submit.

In a letter dated May 18 of this year and addressed to "Eminences" and "Excellencies" of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, self-described as "Bishop Designate of Springfield in Illinois," announced that the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, of which Paprocki is chairman, is sponsoring a special Conference on the Liturgical and Pastoral Practice of Exorcism, to be held in Baltimore in early November, just before the bishops' semiannual meeting.

Those with a deep interest in Catholic issues will recognize immediately how pertinent and even urgent this conference will be, given the present state of the church and the world, what with the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the tragic oil spill and loss of 11 lives in the Gulf of Mexico...
If you wish, read the entire rant here.

Commentary. Irrelevant, liberal theologians in their sunset years say the silliest things! And the knee-jerk, sycophantic applause to his inanities seen in the comments to the article is truly depressing.

Fr. Tom Eutenuer has written an excellent book on the subject: _Exorcism and the Church Militant_ which discusses the issue in depth, including the sacramental exorcisms in baptism that Fr. McBrien seems to be so concerned about.

Folks: evil exists as a personal being. You may not like it, but it is a fact, the ravings of Fr. Brien and the empty applause he receives notwithstanding.

Truly, there's a lot of man-made evil in the world, in war, famine, pestilence, clergy-sexual abuse, for which a lot of spiritual warfare is needed. Academic theologians like Fr. McBrien, who have made their names by dissenting from the Church, are also enablers of the structures of evil and, if you ask me, are also long overdue to undergo their own exorcisms.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Mystery of Israel

Folks, a great article by Alice von Hildebrand, professor emerita of philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and the renowned author of many books, published yesterday in InsideCatholic.com, on The Mystery of Israel. I've excerpted two paragraphs, but you must read the whole piece. It's a beautiful essay.
It should be highlighted that a "converted" Jew who becomes a devout Catholic and a daily communicant, far from betraying his "blood," is precisely the one who renovates it, for blood constantly needs to be renewed. One of the fundamental beliefs of both the Catholic and the Orthodox Church is that Christ is fully present in the Holy Eucharist: His body, His blood, His soul, and His divinity. On the basis of this fundamental belief, it can be claimed that the faithful who daily feed themselves on this Sacred Food receive the blood of their Savior, Who was a Jew. This leads us to the conclusion that far from "betraying their Jewish blood," Catholics of Jewish descent are not only not betraying their blood, but are precisely those who renew it at this divine source. That was the blissful conviction of Father Raphael, a Jew who converted while taking my husband's courses at Fordham and became a Carthusian. It was also the experience of St. Edith Stein. When she, with her sister Rosa, was arrested by the Nazis and on her way to Auschwitz her last words were "let us go for our people." She was "happy" to offer her life for them, a people she had always loved, but whose love increased when she became a Catholic and deeply understood the words of Christ at the last supper: "there is no greater love than to give one's life for one's friend." She did give her life for them. St. Paul gives her a guarantee that her prayer will be heard, because one blessed day the olive branch will be re-united to the tree of life. This will take place at the time of the Second coming.

...

It is our claim that the Jews who gratefully accept that Christ, a Jew, is the Savior of the world and feed themselves daily on His Holy flesh and blood thrive spiritually on this holy food that now they share with the "gentiles." Indeed, as St. Paul writes, "there are no more Jews and Greeks" (Col 3:11). All of them are united in recognizing the Son of Mary, a daughter of Israel, as the Savior of the whole world. Holy communion is a "divine transfusion" that sheds light on the sublime words of Pope Pius XI: "spiritually, we are all Semites."
Please, read it all here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Video: Signs of Evil

Folks, if you think that abortionists aren’t evil, but misunderstood champions of a civil right, watch this video and think again.

US Bishops Reject DOMA Strike Down

Folks, this according the USCCB:
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, expressed grave concern regarding recent rulings by a federal judge in Massachusetts rejecting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Archbishop Kurtz offered his remarks after two rulings on July 8 that held that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Section 3 provides that for purposes of federal statutes, regulations, and rulings, “marriage” means the legal union of one man and one woman.

“Marriage – the union of one man and one woman – is a unique, irreplaceable institution. The very fabric of our society depends upon it. Nothing compares to the exclusive and permanent union of husband and wife. The state has a duty to employ the civil law to reinforce – and, indeed, to privilege uniquely – this vital institution of civil society. The reasons to support marriage by law are countless, not least to protect the unique place of husbands and wives, the indispensible role of fathers and mothers, and the rights of children, who are often the most vulnerable among us. And yet, a judge has decided that a marriage-reinforcing law like DOMA fails to serve even a single, minimally rational government interest. On behalf of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, I express grave concern over these dangerous and disappointing rulings which ignore even the most apparent purposes of marriage and thus offend true justice,” he said.

The court rulings were based on two separate lawsuits which had been filed in Massachusetts. One ruling states that section 3 of DOMA violates the equal protection principles of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause (see Gill v. Office of Personnel Management). The other ruling holds that section 3 of DOMA violates the Tenth Amendment and the Spending Clause (see Commonwealth of Mass. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

In the Gill ruling, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro commented that, “as irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest,” section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.

“To claim that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is somehow irrational, prejudiced, or even bigoted, is a great disservice not only to truth but to the good of our nation,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “Marriage exists prior to the state and is not open to redefinition by the state. The role of the state, instead, is to respect and reinforce marriage. Thursday’s decision, by contrast, uses the power of the state to attack the perennial definition of marriage, reducing it merely to the union of any two consenting adults. But only a man and a woman are capable of entering into the unique, life-giving bond of marriage, with all of its specific responsibilities. Protecting marriage as only the union of one man and one woman is not merely a legitimate, but a vital government interest.”

The USCCB Office of General Counsel noted that the two court rulings are mistaken, both on the basis of the unique meaning of marriage, and because nothing in the Constitution forbids Congress from defining “marriage” – as that term is used in federal statutes, regulations, and rulings—as the union of one man and one woman.
Commentary. It is troubling that a federal judge has dismissed the natural notion of marriage between one man and one woman, its defense in the public forum, and its protection by law, as an exercise in "irrational prejudice". If left to stand, the judgment will have wide repercursions across the nation. It also signals the beginning, at the national level, of limitations on the freedom of belief, expression, and assembly of religious believers as well as natural right philosophers in the United States. A judge is now dictating what we should believe about the institution of marriage, dismissing rational thought favoring the institution and by that dismissal, banning further discussion at the national level on the nature and aims of marriage, as long as this nature and aims exclude the notion of same-sex marriage. His ruling constitutes a gag order and violates the right of the people to advocate, defend, and then vote their consciences.

The ruling is undemocratic, and anti-American to the core.

One judge in Massachusetts cannot be allowed to redefine the natural institution of marriage, nor can he be permitted to override the will of the people as expressed by their legitimate representatives regarding on such a grave matter. I think that Judge Tauro overstepped his authority and competence in his ruling, venturing into legislative territory for which he has no right. I look forward for this decision to be overturned in appeal.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rules for Married Dialog – II

Father Nicolas Schwizer

For married dialog to be effective and creative, it must also be: warm, well-timed, persevering and renewed.

4. Warm. One must always insist that the dialog be warm because coolness is a danger which threatens all spouses. Once some consecutive misunderstandings have accumulated, the withheld irritation becomes a marked coolness in the couple’s relationship. It is not necessarily being hostile to one another; it is simply being indifferent to one another…..with a cold indifference. Evidently this is something which increases the lack of communication and closes all exits. The interior connection will never be achieved under such conditions.

5. Well-timed. Choosing what should be said and what should not be said is an art. The proverb teaches this: Not every truth is to be spoken. There are some truths which are best to be kept silent because by saying them, we would only achieve hurting someone and would be of no benefit to achieve better understanding. There are some things kept silent which should be respected…..secrets which are immune. Not everything can be said nor can everything be asked. In order to listen to one another, the couple must respect each other. One of the forms of respect consists in knowing what not to ask or not insisting when it is not favorable. Another form is not telling the spouse a truth which is very painful. Discretion, in the deepest sense of the word, is the key to married dialog, that is, in all cases, what can be communicated and what must be kept silent must be discerned.

This is also applied to the moment chosen for its expression. The truth cannot be said at just any moment. One must never speak when one is in a certain mood; for example, when one is overcome by anger, jealousy, deep sadness or an exceptional state of euphoria.

It should not be the emotions which encourage dialog but reason exclusively. The well-timed or opportune moment to say this or that truth or to ask for a specific explanation will be determined by the level of intelligence and not the passions. To choose the best time for dialog is to assure its success.

6. Persevering. We have to give our dialog regularity, a definite and secure time in order to avoid the increase of misunderstandings and the accumulation of problems.
Here we could mention something about the interruptions of dialog. It still happens frequently that after a fight or a misunderstanding, we suspend that dialog which should be permanent and we may even suspend it for an indefinite time. Later comes the question: who of the two will initiate the dialog anew?

A lot depends on the temperament: the choleric is overly proud to initiate it; the melancholic is overly depressed by what happened; the phlegmatic probably does not care too much; the most probable one would be the sanguine who cannot bear the situation for very long. Now, if they ask me, I usually say: it is evident that the more mature one should reinitiate the dialog.

7. Renewed. Constancy in dialog demands in compensation an effort of renewal because, in spite of everything, it is necessary to have something to say to one another in order to speak. On the contrary, monotony in our dialog will be the norm. If the wife only knows how to talk about fashion or domestic service and the husband only knows how to talk about business or politics, it is obvious that in the long run the conversation will be boring. The word is dependant on the thought. Therefore, it is urgent to cultivate it as a duty. The refinement would be in the sense op opening anew their spirit and vision with the aim of learning how to live better and to know how to respond to the questions which every intelligent being asks himself/herself. Very important then the topic of our literature, our artistic realizations, our religious culture…..

Questions for reflection

1. Am I one of those who wants to know everything about the other person?
2. Could I find three virtues in my spouse?
3. Do we dialog about spiritual topics?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blogging Break!

Folks, workload is catching up to me, so I need to take a break this weekend. Please, enjoy contents already online. Go ahead and explore the sidebars!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

St. Paul and the Mechanics of Letter Writing

Folks, I first stumbled upon this essay by Brother John Samaha, titled, St. Paul: The Apostle of Letter Writing on a homiletics journal and then hurried to find it on the web. I invite you to read it because in it Brother John discusses how the ancients wrote letters, and how involved, complicated, and time-consuming the process was. Here’s an excerpt describing the mechanics of letter writing:

The actual composition and writing of the letter posed some difficulty. Determining the content of the message, plus the length of the text, required considerable effort, writing space, and time. On average each papyrus sheet held about 140 words. To write three syllables required about one minute, and an hour's work produced about 72 words.

St. Paul 's earliest letter, the oldest text in the New Testament, is the First Letter to the Thessalonians. Scholars estimate that this required about 11 sheets of papyrus and 20 hours of writing. His letter to the Romans, his longest, needed 50 sheets and 100 hours to complete. His shortest letter con­tains 335 words to Philemon, but required three sheets and more than four hours. Letter writing was not an easy task. But it was a labor of love.

Because writing was a tedious task, only two or three hours in a working day could be devoted to a letter. It is estimated that the Letter to the Romans must have occupied Paul and his secre­tary at least 32 days at three hours a day, or a maximum of 49 days at two hours a day.

Writing a letter back then was a labor of love. Fascinating.

- Read St. Paul: The Apostle of Letter Writing by Brother John Samaha

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hibernia Pagana Denuo

Folks, this according to LifeSiteNews.Com:

Bill Forcing Compliance with Gay Ceremonies Passes Irish Lower House

By Hilary White

St. Patrick may have driven the snakes from Ireland but now they are back. DUBLIN, July 5, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On July 1st, Ireland’s Civil Partnership Bill completed its passage through the Dail (Lower House) without a vote.

Under the bill, civil registrars could face a fine of €2,000 (U.S. $2500) and up to six months in prison for conscientiously refusing to carry out a ceremony for a homosexual couple. Similar penalties are outlined for anyone refusing for reasons of conscience to rent meeting facilities for homosexual partnership ceremonies.

The bill would create a near-equivalent situation to marriage for same-sex partners in terms of property, social welfare, succession, maintenance, pensions and taxes.

In March, the Catholic bishops said in a statement that these provisions are a violation of the Irish constitution’s protections of religious freedom and the family based on marriage. It creates “a new and dangerous expansion of State power. Conscientious Catholics, Protestants, Muslims or Jews are effectively being told by the Irish State that they need not apply for a position as a Civil Registrar,” the bishops’ statement said.

But politicians and civil liberties groups both shunned the warning and said the Catholic Church has no business making any statements on public policy.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern told the Irish Times in a June 12 interview that religious beliefs “cloud” the judgment of politicians. Green party leader John Gormley said the Church should exclusively look after the “spiritual needs of its flock,” adding that he “thought we had left the era of Church interference behind.”

Mark Kelly, director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said, “The ICCL seriously doubts that the Irish Catholic bishops retain sufficient moral authority to pontificate on the Civil Partnership Bill.”

Homosexualist activists complained that the bill does not go far enough, saying it needs a clause allowing same-sex partners with custody of children to be legally recognized as “joint parents.”

Critics have said that the bill is contrary to the intention of the Irish constitution, which specifically protects marriage as the foundation of the family. Article 41 states, “The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the Family is founded.” The constitution also recognizes “the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

“The state, therefore, guarantees to protect the family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the nation and the state.”

The National Men’s Council of Ireland and the Family Rights and Responsibilities Institute of Ireland have said that their representations to politicians on the bill were ignored.

In a letter to President Mary McAleese, Roger Eldridge, chairman of the National Men’s Council of Ireland, said, “We believe this legislation will act contrary to the common good of the Irish people, will undermine the family founded on marriage, which is ‘indispensable to the welfare of the nation and the state,’ and is therefore repugnant to the constitution.”

The homosexualist lobby has made huge strides very quickly in Ireland, where ten years ago “gay rights” were a non-issue in politics. Despite lack of interest in the issue among the general public, since 2001 the Irish media began to give increasingly favorable attention to the movement. By the 2007 general election, all parties had included support for homosexual civil unions, with Sinn Féin and the Green Party supporting full civil “marriage.”

With more sympathetic media exposure, the homosexualist cause has also started receiving greater public support. In 2008 a poll showed that 84% of Irish people supported civil marriage or civil partnerships for homosexuals, with 58% supporting gay “marriage” in registry offices.

Commentary. St. Patrick may have driven the snakes from Ireland but now they are back in force. Needless to say, we – the Church – are to blame for much of it. The two generations that the Catholic Church lost in Ireland due to the egregious scandal of physical, sexual, and homosexual abuse perpetrated upon so many innocents by so many priests and religious is now in power and they want little to do with the Church.

This new sunset of anti-Catholic hostility and indifferentism has turned Ireland into a fertile land for the resurgence of Paganism and its attendant recognition of deviancy as a valid form of sexual expression and its practitioners as a protected class. That’s why Mark Kelly, director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, rejoices at the deficit of moral authority suffered by the Irish bishops.

But just because the Irish Church faces a crisis of moral authority doesn’t mean that the bishops are wrong about the legal, social, and moral ramifications of same-sex “marriage”. The thing is, the proponents know they have the upper hand as the larger populace wants to punish the Church's misdeeds through their total indifference. Besides, homosexualists can be shrill while the Church cannot. That’s why they’ll win this battle.

Let us then pray again for Ireland, and through the intercession of St. Patrick, may the Lord drive again the snakes from the blessed Emerald Isle and that the sunset of Paganism gives way to a new dawn of Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Jesus Depictions in Modern Jewish Art

Folks, you’ve got to peruse this article in the online edition of The Tablet Magazine – not to be confused with The Tablet Catholic Weekly Newspaper, two very different animals – entitled, Cross Pollination: How the figure of Jesus came to be employed in modern Jewish art. This is how it starts:

The 12-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple Max Liebermann (1847–1935), Der zwölfjährige Jesus im Tempel, 1879

He thought it would be Good for the Jews. That’s what led Max Liebermann, assimilated German Jew and well-respected realist painter, to plot out a radical new take on a well-known passage from the Gospel of Saint Luke.

The scene, in which Joseph and Mary lose track of Jesus, only to find their precocious preadolescent debating with the elders in the Temple, had been depicted over the course of Western art history by everyone from Giotto to Fra Angelico to Rembrandt. Some, like the Italian Lodovico Mazzolino, signaled the Jewish setting through the interiors, showing a relief of Moses and Hebrew writing. Others, like Dürer, indulged in anti-Semitic caricature, treating each elder’s nose as a tour de force of grotesque.

Liebermann, though, went for naturalism. He based the architecture in his 1879 painting The 12-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple on sketches he had made in synagogues in Amsterdam and Venice. He clothed the elders—a mix of Orthodox and assimilated German Jews—in contemporary Jewish garb. And the youthful Jesus was also, clearly, a Jewish boy—and a ragged urchin with bare feet, to boot.

At a time when the idea of the Jewish Jesus was just taking hold in intellectual circles, Liebermann’s image of the savior as a ragamuffin came as a shock. When the painting debuted in Munich’s Second Annual International Art Exhibition of 1879, the Catholic clergy complained. The prince regent himself demanded it be moved to a less prominent location. Months later, the charges of blasphemy, tinged with anti-Semitism, were still going strong, surfacing in a debate in Parliament.

Liebermann responded by repainting Jesus in an Italianate style suitable for German tastes, with Gentile features, golden tresses, and immaculate historical robes. That is the image we see today in the painting, which was eventually acquired by the Hamburger Kunsthalle—twice. The museum explains why in “The Jesus Scandal,” an inventive exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the artist’s death that recounts the genesis, reception, repainting, and subsequent peregrinations of Liebermann’s artwork. It includes preparatory sketches, works on the theme by such other artists as Rembrandt and Menzel, and documentation of the scandal at the Munich exhibition…

Please, continue reading here.

It includes a line up of photo and painted art depicting Jesus by various Jewish modern artists and photographers. One of the most impressive to me was this photo-rendition of a very Semitic-looking “Jesus” that has somehow escaped the notice of Western Christian artistic tradition – for judging by their iconography, the Byzantine tradition never lost sight of Jesus’ ethnic origins. Anyway, I think this is a good “bridge article” between Judaism and Christianity.

On a related subject, the current exhibit at Ben Uri Gallery: The London Jewish Museum of Art, titled Cross Purposes: Shock and Contemplation in Images of the Crucifixion, is raising some eyebrows, according to a recent story in the Jewish Chronicle (London), according to Menachem Wecker of the Huffington Post. Ben Uri is the first UK Museum and the first Jewish Museum internationally to trace the evolving representation of the Crucifixion from strictly Christian and religious iconography to a generic expression of anguish, designed specifically to elicit shock and contemplation, according the Museum’s website. I’ve read a similar idea in the novel My Name Is Asher Lev and its follow up, The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, which I still have to review here.

Anyway. All this is food for thought.

Solid teaching in Ezekiel 18

Folks, my study of Scripture recently took me to the book of the prophet Ezekiel, Chapter 18. Its reading was exactly what I needed. Here it is, in plain informal English, according to The Message biblical translation:

Judged According to the Way You Live

Icon of the Prophet Ezekiel 1-2 God's Message to me: "What do you people mean by going around the country repeating the saying,
    The parents ate green apples,
   The children got the stomachache?

3-4 "As sure as I'm the living God, you're not going to repeat this saying in Israel any longer. Every soul—man, woman, child—belongs to me, parent and child alike. You die for your own sin, not another's.

5-9 "Imagine a person who lives well, treating others fairly, keeping good relationships—
         doesn't eat at the pagan shrines,
         doesn't worship the idols so popular in Israel,
         doesn't seduce a neighbor's spouse,
         doesn't indulge in casual sex,
         doesn't bully anyone,
         doesn't pile up bad debts,
         doesn't steal,
         doesn't refuse food to the hungry,
         doesn't refuse clothing to the ill-clad,
         doesn't exploit the poor,
         doesn't live by impulse and greed,
         doesn't treat one person better than another,
   But lives by my statutes and faithfully
         honors and obeys my laws.
   This person who lives upright and well
         shall live a full and true life.
      Decree of God, the Master.

10-13 "But if this person has a child who turns violent and murders and goes off and does any of these things, even though the parent has done none of them—
         eats at the pagan shrines,
         seduces his neighbor's spouse,
         bullies the weak,
         steals,
         piles up bad debts,
         admires idols,
         commits outrageous obscenities,
         exploits the poor
"—do you think this person, the child, will live? Not a chance! Because he's done all these vile things, he'll die. And his death will be his own fault.

14-17 "Now look: Suppose that this child has a child who sees all the sins done by his parent. The child sees them, but doesn't follow in the parent's footsteps—
         doesn't eat at the pagan shrines,
         doesn't worship the popular idols of Israel,
         doesn't seduce his neighbor's spouse,
         doesn't bully anyone,
         doesn't refuse to loan money,
         doesn't steal,
         doesn't refuse food to the hungry,
         doesn't refuse to give clothes to the ill-clad,
         doesn't live by impulse and greed,
         doesn't exploit the poor.
   He does what I say;
         he performs my laws and lives by my statutes.

17-18 "This person will not die for the sins of the parent; he will live truly and well. But the parent will die for what the parent did, for the sins of—
         oppressing the weak,
         robbing brothers and sisters,
         doing what is dead wrong in the community.

19-20 "Do you need to ask, 'So why does the child not share the guilt of the parent?'

    "Isn't it plain? It's because the child did what is fair and right. Since the child was careful to do what is lawful and right, the child will live truly and well. The soul that sins is the soul that dies. The child does not share the guilt of the parent, nor the parent the guilt of the child. If you live upright and well, you get the credit; if you live a wicked life, you're guilty as charged.

21-23 "But a wicked person who turns his back on that life of sin and keeps all my statutes, living a just and righteous life, he'll live, really live. He won't die. I won't keep a list of all the things he did wrong. He will live. Do you think I take any pleasure in the death of wicked men and women? Isn't it my pleasure that they turn around, no longer living wrong but living right—really living?

24 "The same thing goes for a good person who turns his back on an upright life and starts sinning, plunging into the same vile obscenities that the wicked person practices. Will this person live? I don't keep a list of all the things this person did right, like money in the bank he can draw on. Because of his defection, because he accumulates sin, he'll die.

25-28 "Do I hear you saying, 'That's not fair! God's not fair!'?

    "Listen, Israel. I'm not fair? You're the ones who aren't fair! If a good person turns away from his good life and takes up sinning, he'll die for it. He'll die for his own sin. Likewise, if a bad person turns away from his bad life and starts living a good life, a fair life, he will save his life. Because he faces up to all the wrongs he's committed and puts them behind him, he will live, really live. He won't die.

29 "And yet Israel keeps on whining, 'That's not fair! God's not fair.'

    "I'm not fair, Israel? You're the ones who aren't fair.

30-32 "The upshot is this, Israel: I'll judge each of you according to the way you live. So turn around! Turn your backs on your rebellious living so that sin won't drag you down. Clean house. No more rebellions, please. Get a new heart! Get a new spirit! Why would you choose to die, Israel? I take no pleasure in anyone's death. Decree of God, the Master.

    "Make a clean break! Live!"

Exactly what the doctor ordered!