Tuesday, September 24, 2002

From the Boston Herald

Osama plotted bigger attacks: Report: U.S. Taliban revealed details to FBI

American Taliban John Walker Lindh has told FBI interrogators that Osama bin Laden had planned a three-phase attack on America and its allies and dispatched 50 al-Qaeda members on suicide missions the summer before the Sept. 11 attacks, it was reported yesterday.

The attacks on New York and Washington in which airliners were flown into buildings was only the first phase, The Sunday Times of London reported.

Lindh asserted that a senior al-Qaeda commander told him the second phase would be even worse and would make the U.S. ``forget about the first attack,'' and the third would ``finish America.''

Monday, September 23, 2002

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous postings are found in the archives to the right. This is the 72nd Step:

(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.

We should always strive to remain at peace with everyone. One wonders how different life would be if everyone were to embrace this counsel and practice it in their daily life. Would there ever be another war? Would anyone have reason to live in fear anymore?

But such is not the case and I cannot live with my focus on what others are or are not doing. I can only put this counsel into practice myself. Do I allow the sun to set without making peace with those who I'm either angry with or those who are angry with me.

I have worked with people who practice this counsel and it can be rather tiresome when they come up to you to make peace and you weren't even aware that you were at "war" with them. But in the long run it is much better to have these summits of peace than to have people around you stewing about some slight that you have committed against them.

And what of us?

Are we aware of the control that others have over us by their actions and words?

Really this is a counsel to make sure that any time God is Lord over you. When we make someone an enemy we are in danger of making them an idol that we worship and serve. They and the actions that they commit against us are not all-powerful and do not deserve the time and emotion that we often waste on them. Making peace with our adversaries means making peace with God first, asking God to empower us to forgive and acknowledging that God is the judge over all. We let go and let God be God in our lives.

The Shroud of Turin has been Restored

From Zenit News:

The figure of the crucified man imprinted on the Shroud of Turin can now be more clearly seen, following its restoration by experts.

At the official presentation of the restored shroud Saturday, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, explained that the purpose of the work was to guarantee the conservation of the cloth. The work involved the removal of patches sewn on the shroud 470 years ago.

The cardinal, who is the relic's pontifical custodian, said that the restoration was carried out with the permission of the Holy See (which owns the shroud), and in keeping with the advice of technical experts.

The restoration of the shroud, in which according to tradition the body of Christ was wrapped after the crucifixion, was carried out last June and July in the sacristy of the Turin cathedral. Work was done by a team headed by Swiss expert Mechtild Flury-Lemberg, former director of the Abegg Museum in Berne.

Thirty triangular patches, sewn by nuns of Chambery, France, in 1534, after a fire damaged the relic in 1532, were removed from the shroud.

Also removed was the "Holland cloth" sewn on the reverse of the shroud 450 years ago to preserve it. The work also enabled the removal of dust and debris that had accumulated on the cloth over the centuries. All the material removed has been catalogued and placed in safekeeping.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Good News

Saint's Dried Blood Liquefies in 'Miracle'

If it liquefies that's good. Happened yesterday. It's Januarius' blood, feast day was yesterday.
The solution to the Florida ballot problems

Chortler -- Fisher-Price Wins Florida Ballot Design Contract

The Florida Elections Commission has awarded Fisher-Price a contract to develop a less confusing balloting system for the state in the run-up to November's midterm elections.


Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Who should be baptized?

Over on the HMS blog my wife and Greg Popcak have gotten into a debate over how tough it should be to be allowed to be a member of the Church. It all stems from a thesis that the popularity of a group is enhanced by how hard it is to be a member. Making membership too easy leads to a drop in membership.

Nice theory and it would explain the popularity of some cults, but they come and go. It hardly explains the Christian faith at any era of its existence. One of the faults of thinking about the early church as fitting this model is the thinking that everyone was a martyr. Of course this isn't the case although the lapsi who survived the persecutions built nice churches in their honor.

One of the hot topics is should a child be baptized if the parents do not seem fit Catholics. The problem with this question up front is that it is all about what everyone else should be doing and very little about what I should be doing and reflects very little of a Christian attitude. Are Christians supposed to be watchdogs? Didn't Jesus command us not to judge but to love? Didn't he condemn those who would try to keep the "little ones" from entering the kingdom of God?

Re: Canon Law....

"The law exist to bring people to Christ" as the former president of the Canon Law Society of America has said, and any interpretation that turns people away from Christ is faulty. The poorest translator is the person who can translate it from Latin to English (which unfortunately is the only value some exhibit). It is clear that there are Catholics whose one goal is to turn people away, to make it hard to come to Christ. "Suffer the children to come to me" Jesus scolded his disciples when they tried to keep them from bothering the Lord.

I know people who were baptized as infants never went to church but still identify themselves as Catholic and come back years later because they have been marked with an indelible sign when they weren't even conscious of it (or were they?). It isn't magic--it is real. Like the Lord's healing touch to the woman with the hemorrhage, the sacrament's have an effect.

Grandparents bringing infants to be baptized is not a bad thing, but a good thing. It is largely reported that in Russia during the reign of Communism that it was the grandparents that kept the faith alive. If grandparents are going to take an active role in the faith formation of children why not allow them to? In traditional society grandparents have often played this role and to make light of it is to have a very narrow view of "family."

Ultimately the question isn't who should be baptized but what am I doing with the gift of my baptism? Sitting in judgment of others like the Pharisee who prayed up front "Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men" or the Publican "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." Anyone who thinks they are the first is deluded. We all are sinners.


State is home to diverse faiths

Indiana ranks 7th with more than 100 denominations, census of religious life finds.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous steps are found in the archives. This is step 71:

71) To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.

"Father, forgive for they know not what they do," are the words that come to mind when we reflect on this counsel to "pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ." Jesus not only preached this counsel of Benedict's but He also left us an example of how to do it. Yet it is pretty tough to do when we start putting faces to the word enemy.

We could start by those who personally affront us and pray for them. Do we believe that they really didn't know what they were doing when they hurt us? I'll be that if you share the incident with an objective person they would offer you some insight into the ignorance that probably was at work on the other end. Perhaps our enemies are insane, misled or plain stupid and this is the evil that we live with in the world that things are not quite what they could be or should be at any given time.

Even those who are moved by greed and dispense with poisons that injure and kill thousands daily (many of whom are quite respected in our communities) should be prayed for because could anyone really know what they are doing--and still do it if it had such horrible results. One can easily look at the insanity of a Hitler or Stalin but what of those who market items that kill (feel free to fill in the blanks with all known cancer and disease causing products that one can still buy at the local convenience store).

We are to pray for these people--those who hurt us and threaten us personally and the same for those who we fear in a more global way. In doing so we also are made aware of our own ignorance and how we too are responsible for the pain and hurt we cause others.

In praying for our enemies we change them into our brothers and sisters. We recognize their frailty. We bring them back down to earth where we are. We destroy our idols (albeit idols that we fear). In the process God almighty is restored to His rightful place in our lives as the Supreme Being who should be our one concern.

My Choice for the Next Pope is dead

But will be canonized someday in the future.

Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan Dies

Monday, September 16, 2002

Some Thoughts

Catholic Writer's Conference in Steubenville

I would judge that the Catholic Writer's Conference in Steubenville was a great success. It was great to meet people that I had only "read" and to touch base with others who I 've known for awhile. My talk was well attended (by close to 90 people) and a lot of writers presented me with some great ideas.

Hopefully this will become a yearly event.

Sopranos' first episode.

Best line of the night about 9/11 that was said by Bobby to Tony. It went something like this, "you know Quasi Mode predicted all of this."

Tony says, "huh--no you mean Nostradamus."

"Oh yeah, Notre Dame-us"

"No Nostradamus."

"Do you ever think about the similarities between the hunchback of Notre Dame and the halfback and quarterback for Notre Dame."

Tony says, "no."

The writers of the Sopranos have captured the way people talk in this country in a way that no other program before has been able to do.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The Cross still at Ground Zero

Create a memorial tile in honor of 9/11

Yahoo! Living Tribute

From theOffice of Readings:

The heavens will proclaim your wonders, O Lord,

the assembly of your holy ones will proclaim your faithfulness.

For who in the sky can be compared to the Lord?

Who could resemble the Lord among all the sons of God?

God is to be feared in the council of his holy ones,

great and terrible above all who surround him.

Thursday, September 5, 2002

The Frontline episode the other night was entitledfaith and doubt at ground zero | PBS

It was interesting. I found the Orthodox rabbi interesting but he was way to hip to be an "orthodox" rabbi and his ideas were way out there. Father George Ruttler and Monsignor Albacete were the Catholic spokesmen. Strange that they wouldn't have interviewed Benedict Groeschel who has the absolute bestseller that deals with this issue--The Cross at Ground Zero.

One issue that was avoided was any sense that this act of violence was part of a war that is being fought which I found a rather interesting omission.

Tuesday, September 3, 2002