Thursday, July 31, 2003

Are Some Recent American Soldier Fatalities in Iraq the Results of Suicide?

From Sunday Times:

"US forces in Iraq have suffered cases of probable suicide, a senior military official said today, amid slumping morale among troops faced with daily and deadly attacks.

The senior officer, who asked not to be named, said that among 53 US military non-combat deaths since May 1, when the war was declared effectively over, were 'probable' suicides as well as a large number of road accidents.

He did not say how many soldiers were suspected of committing suicide."
Vandals Destroy Statues Outside Catholic Church

Mike O'Mara is a college classmate of mine. This is an inner city parish in downtown Indianapolis. It is a poor Hispanic parish. I hope that the local parishes down there would consider pitching in the money to repair the church (in many ways symbolic of the sort of welcome US Catholics are giving to Hispanic immigrants).

From The Indianapolis Star:

"Two life-size statues were toppled at St. Mary Catholic Church, 317 N. New Jersey St., between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, causing about $5,000 in damage, according to police and the Rev. Michael O'Mara, church pastor.

The head of the St. Joseph statue, which stood at the top of the concrete steps leading to the church, was found in the street early Wednesday by a passer-by, who notified police.

A statue of Mary in front of the rectory also was knocked over.

'As much as I felt hurt for myself, I felt hurt for the people who did the damage,' O'Mara said. 'Perhaps they had anger over something or were drinking, but they acted in an inappropriate manner.'

The church was built in 1912, though the parish community dates to 1858.

O'Mara said the deductible on the church's insurance is $5,000, and he doesn't know where he will find the money to repair or replace the marble statues."
Recommended Book

I know Merton has been dead since December of 1968 but if it is possible to have a new book out in spite of death this is it. Due to an expressed desire that this book not be published that Merton left in his will (written about a year before he died unexpectedly) this manuscript that he subsequently did finish and express oral desire to see published has remained unpublished until now.

The book is an excellent presentation of the contemplative life and points out all that is wrong with many cute attempts to make liturgy or prayer something other than what it really is ---conversation with God at our most inner depths.

Hoax Perp May be Arrested Soon

From the Indianapolis Star:

"The woman who fooled an Indiana family with her claim to be their abducted daughter may be arrested in a few days, an Indiana State Police detective said this morning.

Donna L. Walker of Topeka, Kan., faces charges of identity deception, a felony, and a misdemeanor count of false reporting.

'We're hopeful to have her in custody in a few days,' Lt. Jeff Heck said today on NBC's 'Today' show.

Appearing with Heck was Mike Sherrill, still reeling from having his hopes dashed that his daughter would be returned after 17 years.

Sherrill, his former wife, Dorothy Sherrill, and other family members learned that they were victims of a hoax shortly before a press conference Wednesday when police revealed the scheme."

I have a problem with the way the Indiana State Police kept the family in suspense. This seems almost as criminal as what the woman did to them by raising their hopes.

I also think there is more to this story that will come out when the woman is arrrested. She would have been 19 at the time that the Sherrill's daughter disappeared. Might she have been involved in some way with the disappearance? Could there be an element of truth in all of this deception? A guilty conscience returning to the scene of the crime? I'm betting that there is a connection. We'll see.
Vatican Condemns Gay Marriage

Oops, here it is in English.

First the document lays out what exactly "marriage" is:

The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose.(3) No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.

3. The natural truth about marriage was confirmed by the Revelation contained in the biblical accounts of creation, an expression also of the original human wisdom, in which the voice of nature itself is heard. There are three fundamental elements of the Creator's plan for marriage, as narrated in the Book of Genesis.

In the first place, man, the image of God, was created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female. Sexuality is something that pertains to the physical-biological realm and has also been raised to a new level – the personal level – where nature and spirit are united.

Marriage is instituted by the Creator as a form of life in which a communion of persons is realized involving the use of the sexual faculty. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).

Third, God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator's plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.

Furthermore, the marital union of man and woman has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:32). This Christian meaning of marriage, far from diminishing the profoundly human value of the marital union between man and woman, confirms and strengthens it (cf. Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:6-9).

Then concludes:

There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.(4)

Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.

And then adds for good measure:

Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.(7) They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.(8) The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered”(9) and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”

The rest of the document lays out the case for why should we care and what we should do about the move in many countries (and states) to legalize the marriage of homesexual couples:

It might be asked how a law can be contrary to the common good if it does not impose any particular kind of behaviour, but simply gives legal recognition to a de facto reality which does not seem to cause injustice to anyone. In this area, one needs first to reflect on the difference between homosexual behaviour as a private phenomenon and the same behaviour as a relationship in society, foreseen and approved by the law, to the point where it becomes one of the institutions in the legal structure. This second phenomenon is not only more serious, but also assumes a more wide-reaching and profound influence, and would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good. Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society, for good or for ill. They “play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behaviour”.(14) Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation's perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.

To the politicians (Ted Kennedy and others):

If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.

It will be interesting if not predictable to see how Catholic politicians will respond to this teaching. Since most with some exceptions (Santorum, Dornan) don't listen to the church when it comes to what it teaches about life issues, it seems unlikely that they will listen to the church on this issue. So the ball is in our court--loyal Catholic voters--Who will you vote for to represent you?

The Man Who Brought the World Elvis, Cash, Conway and Jerry Lee is Dead

From the | Sam Phillips 1923-2003:

"Sam Phillips, who discovered Elvis Presley and helped usher in the rock 'n' roll revolution, died Wednesday. He was 80.

Phillips died of respiratory failure at St. Francis Hospital, his son Knox Phillips said. He said his father had been in declining health for a year.

Sam Phillips founded Sun Records in Memphis in 1952 and helped launch the career of Presley, then a young singer who had moved from Tupelo, Miss. He also worked with B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty and Charlie Rich"

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Sad News--Call to Parents of Missing Child was a Hoax

Indianapolis Star--Woman charged with Shannon hoax: "It was a cruel hoax, police said today, that renewed a Boone County family's hope that a daughter missing for 17 years was about to come home.

A Kansas woman is charged with identity deception and false reporting, police said at a press conference this afternoon. Donna Walker, 35, Topeka, is not in custody and police asked for help in locating her.

Walker used the telephone and e-mails to make the family of Shannon Sherrill think that she may have been the missing girl, police said

Shannon was 6 when she disappeared Oct. 5, 1986 outside her mother's trailer home in Thorntown.

Without warning, Dorothy Sherrill received a call Saturday from a woman saying she may be her daughter, said Indiana State Police spokesman First Sgt. David Bursten. The girl would be 22 years old.

Bursten said the investigation determined it was Walker actually making the contacts, but they don't know why she did it."
Archbishop Ends Homily with the "Real Prayer" of Saint Francis

From / A New Archbishop for Boston:

"On Calvary there were but few people, because it takes courage to stand by the Cross. Today we of the Church of Boston stand before the Cross. We are not alone. From the Cross Jesus gave us his mother: “Behold your Mother”. We Catholics all have a tender love for Our Lady. With her help we will be faithful disciples and will shall be sure: That those who sow in tears, shall reap rejoicing.

(In the words of Saint Francis we pray) We adore Thee Oh Christ and we bless Thee Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou Hast redeemed the World.

(In the words of Saint Francis we pray) We adore Thee Oh Christ and we bless Thee Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou Hast redeemed the World. "
Segregation Makes a Return : New York to Open Gay High School

One has to wonder why this is being allowed in the post civil rights era. Although on the surface this is being argued as a "good" thing for the protection of these students in reality it will open them up to possible worst persecution than they would have ever received in an integrated environment. Unlike the issue of race where color makes it evident to the racist of what race you are, in the world of sexuality things are not so black and white until you start sending your homosexual child to a homosexual school.

Hard to figure how this can be allowed or worst paid for by the tax payers in New York (in one of the worst school districts in the country).
A New Way to Pray Through the Gospel of Mark

It seems to be a current craze in spiritual circles, using the questions of Jesus in the gospels as way to meditation upon them. For example, Jesus asks his disciples "who do you say that I am?" Instead of just thinking about how they respond to the question, you imagine the question is being asked directly to you. What is your answer?

The only book that I know of so far to popularize this devotion is the one written by Monsignor Richard Antall, a priest from the Diocese of Cleveland who ministers in Latin America. He has written "Jesus Has a Question for You." I've linked to it below.

A Work in Progress

I'm working on an online bookstore in conjunction with Amazon where you can easily buy books either written by Amy or I--or recommended by us. So far we have a selection of our books at:

St. Joseph Catholic Online Books
Miracle for Anne Catherine Emerich Cause Happened in 1880!

Proof that the Church moves slowly on these matters.

From Zenit News Agency:

"The Church's recent recognition of a miracle has opened the doors to beatification for Anna Katharina Emmerick, a stigmatist and mystic whose written experience of Christ's life affects Christians today.

The miracle, attributed to this Augustinian religious, occurred in Germany in 1880; it was officially recognized by the Holy See on July 7, 2003. Although disabled, she developed a fruitful apostolate by writing about her personal experiences of the life of Christ.

On September 8, 1774, Anna Katharina Emmerick was born in a poor farm of the village of Flamske, in Coesfeld, the diocese of Munster, Westphalia, in Northeastern Germany, and was baptized the same day of her birth.

Beginning at 4 years of age, she had frequent visions of the history of salvation. After many difficulties caused by the family's poverty and opposition to her choice of a religious life, she entered the convent at Agnetenberg, in Dulmen, at 28.

After the civil authorities suppressed the convent, she moved to a private home. From 1813 onwards, sickness kept her immobile.

'She bore the stigmata of the Lord's Passion and received extraordinary charisms that she used to console numerous visitors. From her bed, she carried out an important and fruitful apostolate,' Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said when reading the decree of recognition of a miracle before John Paul II.

Beginning that year, she was nourished strictly by Holy Communion, and endured exhaustive investigations by the diocese, Bonaparte's police, and the authorities.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Looking to make a jump on your Christmas Shopping?

Pre-order Amy's latest book! A great gift idea for children of all ages. Order now and you'll have it in plenty of time for the holidays.

Recommended Book of the Day

First, this is a book I worked on with Pat Madrid but let me give you the review of another publisher who has worked with Pat on books for his publishing house but still thinks this is the best one that Pat has done!

From Sophia Press' Publisher John Barger:

As is a fine Swiss Army knife to an avid outdoorsman, this book is essential to both the career apologist and the weekend evangelist. With a mere flick of the thumb, these pages fall open to a well crafted and highly researched response to any snare that a Bible thumping Protestant might lay in your spiritual path. Madrid's deft, eloquent explanations,-coupled with his meticulous Scriptural citations, -make this book the all-purpose survival tool for those of us who oft times feel that we're hacking our way through a tangle of "Biblical" challenges to our faith.

Problem with the Papacy? Flip open age 30. Need to refute an attack on Mary? Page 65. Got somebody questioning the existence of purgatory? Page 84. Etc., etc., etc.

I've worked with Madrid on a couple of his books, yet this small gem remains my favorite.

On page 14, Madrid recommends that the reader "take the notes and verses listed here and highlight them in your Bible." I did. The Bible I use when debating Protestants bears notes and citations I gleaned from Patrick Madrid's Where is That in the Bible. Your Bible should,too.

Today is the Feast of St. Martha

From the Office of Readings, this quote from St. Augustine:

No one of you should say: “Blessed are they who have deserved to receive Christ into their homes!” Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. He did not in fact take this privilege from you. As he says: Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you did to me.
Cardinal Reveals Hope Died a Catholic


"Entertainer Bob Hope died a Catholic, according to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles.

'One of my greatest joys is knowing that Bob Hope died as a Catholic,' Cardinal Mahony said in a July 28 statement.

'Over the years I would invite him to join the church, but he would respond in his typical humor, 'My wife, Dolores, does enough praying to take care of both of us.' But eventually her prayers prevailed and he was baptized into the Catholic Church and was strengthened these past years through the regular reception of holy Communion.'

Monday, July 28, 2003

Evidently, Bob Hope was Catholic?

From Gallantry: The Electronic Newsletter for Knights:

"On January 4, 1998, Cardinal Roger Mahony presided over an Investiture ceremony in Los Angeles for the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great where over 60 Los Angeles citizens were granted papal Knighthood as Knights and Dames of the Order. Among those honored were actor/comedian Bob Hope and his wife Dolores, Fox Network owner Rupert Murdoch, actor Ricardo Montalban, and Disney executive Roy Disney, brother of Walt Disney.

The honorees were cited for their contributions to the Catholic Church, the Christian faith and their service and charity work. Murdoch and Disney are not Roman Catholics, but their wives are, and they were honored by the Order as well. News reports that Bob Hope is 'not Catholic' ignore the fact that (a) his mother was a Roman Catholic and had her son Baptized in the Roman Catholic Church (as reported in A&E's Biography of Bob Hope) and (b) Bob Hope married his wife Delores in a Roman Catholic Church in the days when Rome required that both parties in a Roman Catholic marriage be Roman Catholic."
Churches of the Stars?

A web site devoted to star gazing at church, this one a Catholic one where the late Bob Hope attended with his wife.

St. Charles Catholic Church
At 100 Bob Hope is Dead

His wife, a devout Catholic and big fan of Father Benedict Groeschel. I wonder if Bob Hope every converted? Anyone know?

From : Bob Hope Dies at Age 100
Looking for Something to Strectch Your Christian Thinking?

I've become a huge fan of the late Orthodox Theologian Alexander Schmemann. His works continue to amaze me and enliven my faith. I found a web site devoted to him for all those out there who would like to know more about him:

Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann Web Site

Let me also recommend three books written by him. Remember he is was an Orthodox priest, so there will some things that are different for Catholics--but this is solid stuff:

The Eucharist Sacrament of the Kingdom:...

A great book on the Mass and everything pertaining to it.

If you only buy one, buy this one! It'll give you a whole new outlook on what it means to be a follower of Christ!

Celebration of Faith: I Believe. . ....

A shorter work that goes through the Creed among other beliefs.

Here is a sample of his writing from the web site above:

Just as the Church of the Old Covenant, the old Israel, existed as a passage to the New Covenant, was instituted in order to prepare the ways of the Lord, the Church as institution exists in order to reveal — in "this world" — the "world to come," the Kingdom of God, fulfilled and manifested in Christ. She is the passage of the "old" into the "new" — yet what is being redeemed, renewed and transfigured through her is not the "Church," but the old life itself, the old Adam and the whole of creation. And she is this "passage" precisely because as institution she is "bone of the bones and flesh of the flesh" of this world, because she stands for the whole creation, truly represents it, assumes all of its life and offers it — in Christ — to God. She is indeed instituted for the world and not as a separate "religious" institution existing for the specifically religious needs of men. She represents — "makes present" — the whole of mankind, because mankind and creation were called from the very beginning to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the receptacle of Divine life. The Church is thus the restoration by God and the acceptance by man of the original and eternal destiny of creation itself. She is the presence of the Divine Act, which restores and the obedience of men who accept this act. Yet it is only when she performs and fulfills this "passage," when, in other terms, she transcends herself as "institution" and "society" and becomes indeed the new life of the new creation, that she is the Body of Christ. As institution the Church is in this world the sacrament of the Body of Christ, of the Kingdom of God and the world to come.

We recover thus the eschatological dimension of the Church. The body of Christ is not and can never be of this world. "This world" condemned Christ, the bearer of new life, to death and by doing this it has condemned itself to death. The new life, which shone forth from the grave, is the life of the "new eon," of the age, which in terms of this world is still "to come." The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, by inaugurating a new eon, announced the end of this world, for as no one can partake of the "new life" without dying in the baptismal death, no one can have Christ as his life unless he has died and is constantly dying to this world: "for ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). But then nothing which is of this world — no institution, no society, no church — can be identified with the new eon, the new being. The most perfect Christian community — be it completely separated from the evils of the world — as a community is still of this world, living its life, depending on it. It is only by passing into the new eon, by an anticipation — in faith, hope and love — ofthe world to come, that a community can partake of the Body of Christ, and indeed manifest itself as the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ can never be "part" of this world, for Christ has ascended into heaven and his Kingdom is Heaven...

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Pay Attention Today at Mass to the First Reading and the Gospel

First the First Reading from

Bible Gateway : 2KGS 4:42-44;:

"A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. 'Give it to the people to eat,' Elisha said.

'How can I set this before a hundred men?' his servant asked.

But Elisha answered, 'Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: 'They will eat and have some left over.' ' Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD . "

Then the Gospel from John 6:1-15:

Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little”. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down”. Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost”. So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!”

Notice the response of the crowd to Jesus' miracle? "This indeed is the prophet who is come into the world!" They immediately see that Jesus is like Elisha the Prophet (what we heard in the first reading) but at the end of this section of John's Gospel, Jesus will show that he is greater than Elisha for he will give Himself as Bread (of course many will and do find this too much to believe and leave him).

Monitor the sermon you hear today and see if the preacher brings out the obvious connection.
Mystery of How the Pyramids were Built, Solved?

From the Canadians, of course, News - Ottawa - network:

"'Modern man's concept of how ancient man moved rock is balderdash,' he said, standing outside his Onondaga Crescent house in Nepean, surrounded by logs, rocks and rope. 'I've reduced moving rocks to the pyramid to a mom-and-pop operation.'

In order to move large rocks intelligently, he said, you have to use the weight of the rock. Friction must be eliminated and momentum, once it starts, has to be maintained.

Mr. Raina believes that the rectangular rocks were moved from the quarry to the site of the pyramid by fastening wooden planks to the four sides of the slabs (almost like the bottom of a rocking chair) and then pulling it along with a rope so it rolls.

He uses the wooden casing filled with concrete on his driveway to demonstrate."

"I've had a seven-year-old girl pull 535 pounds herself," he said.
New Dominican Habit?

Strange how they felt the need to be attired in something other than "lay" clothes for their trial. Even stranger is that they chose to dress like Iranian Moslem women, now if those Iranian women would follow the nuns lead and try to destroy their potential nuclear arsenal, we'd all have something to cheer about. Who knows, perhaps thats what the good sisters are hoping to inspire.

From Yahoo! News - Top Stories Photos - AP

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Nuns Receive Prison Sentence

I'm all for non-violent protest and I'm all for peace and against war. But I agree with this sentence, mainly because these good sisters were not non-violent in their protest and because the time they serve will give them a chance to live in community for awhile.

From MSNBC-Nuns sentenced for antiwar protest:

"As for vandalizing the silo, Hudson said: “When someone holds a gun to your head or someone else’s head, do you not have a right and a duty to enter that arena and stop that crime?”

Many of those outside court waved antiwar banners, including one that read: “No Blood for Oil.”

The Roman Catholic nuns are longtime antiwar activists. Platte and Gilbert lived in a Baltimore activist community founded by the late peace activist Philip Berrigan. Hudson lived in a similar community in Poulsbo, Wash.

After their arrest, the women chose to stay in jail, refusing the government’s offer to release them on their own recognizance."
Wow! Quoted in a Homily

Thanks to Father Schaefer!

From A Collection of Father Schaefer's homilies:

" I was reading the current issue of Our Sunday Visitor. Michael Dubruiel wrote a column on the first reading in today's Mass. God seems to be speaking to us in this story of Jonah.

God told the prophet Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and tell them that God is greatly offended with their wickedness and immoral life. God told Jonah that in 40 days God will destroy their city if they don't repent.

Jonah didn't really want to warn the people "
Below are Links to Online Bookstores Carrying Our New Rosary Book
Shop the Catholic Company for Catholic gifts, books, bibles, rosaries, artwork and church supplies.
All Catholic Books

Friday, July 25, 2003

Today is the Feast of St. James

From Universalis: Today:

"He was the brother of St John and, like him, a fisherman. He was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration and one of those who slept through most of the Agony in the Garden. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred, being beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I to please the Jewish opponents of Christianity. He was buried in Jerusalem, and nothing more is known about him until the ninth century.

At this time we learn of a tradition that the relics of St James were brought to Spain some time after his martyrdom, (perhaps early, perhaps as late as 830), and his shrine at Compostela in Galicia grew in importance until it became the greatest pilgrimage centre in western Europe. In every country there are churches of St James and known, well-trodden pilgrim routes. In Paris, the Tour St Jacques marks the start of the route and the Rue St Jacques points straight towards Compostela. In England, pilgrim routes lead from all parts of the country to the major ports that were used on the pilgrimage. This network of routes is a vital witness to the fact that the Middle Ages were not the static stay-at-home time that we often think them to be: everyone must have known someone, or known someone who knew someone, who had made the pilgrimage. The scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem of pilgrims generally.

In 1987 the pilgrimage routes to Compostela have been designated by the Council of Europe as historical cultural routes of international importance; and the Confraternity of St James is working to restore and upgrade the refuges on a route which is still in active pilgrim use today."
A Journalist Reports What He Saw

in viewing the bodies of Saddam's sons. From Reuters Sees Touched Up Bodies of Saddam Sons:

"Uday still wore his beard. A hole in the top of his skull was left untouched. U.S. officials said they had no evidence to support suggestions that he had shot himself to avoid capture.

A faint smell of disinfectant hung in the air.

Journalists were shown a metal orthopedic plate that officials said they had removed from Uday's left leg and were told that its serial number matched that of a disc that was inserted in his limb after a failed 1996 assassination attempt.

U.S. officials have declined to reveal how they have had access to the former ruling family's medical records.

They said both men had died from multiple gunshot wounds and blast injuries in the northern city of Mosul. Two other people also died. Those bodies were not shown. U.S. officials say one of them was probably Qusay's teenage son, Mustapha.

DNA tests were also being carried out but because previous samples of Uday and Qusay's DNA were not available, U.S. officials said this test would not conclusively identify the bodies. Washington says it has Saddam's DNA.

The officials said the bodies would be refrigerated to slow decomposition but their fate thereafter remains unknown. Muslim tradition demands that they be buried as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led administration said no one had so far come forward to claim the bodies of the fugitives for burial. He said: 'If any of their family members want to come forward, we'd be delighted to speak to them.' "

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Forger of So-Called James Ossurary Arrested

From - Dealer accused of forging 'James Ossuary':

"Police have arrested an Israeli antiquities dealer suspected of creating two forgeries that shook the religious and archeological world, including a burial box purported to be that of Jesus's brother James.

Oded Golan also is suspected in connection with a shoebox-sized tablet inscribed with forged instructions for caring for the Jewish Temple.

Golan appeared in a Jerusalem court today, one day after police arrested him at his home in Tel Aviv on suspicion of forging and dealing in fake antiquities.

In court, police unveiled forgery equipment they said was found in Golan's home, including stencils, stones and partially completed forgeries. The dealer was being detained by police.

Golan last year told a French collector about the two disputed artifacts, which raised questions from the start. After exhaustive studies, the Israel Antiquities Authority declared last month that they were forgeries.

The burial box, or ossuary, bore the inscription, 'James, the brother of Jesus,' leading to speculation that it referred to the brother of Jesus of Nazareth."
A New Bishop Sheen Site

A visitor to my Fulton Sheen site wrote to tell me that he has a site up that includes audio:

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Prayers Requested from a Reader of this Blog

My sister, Mary, had her toe removed a year ago due to diabetes. It has never healed. The doctor is going to do another surgery in two weeks to try and help. A bone is laying the wrong way. If it doesn't work she will have to have her foot removed. I am asking for prayers that the surgery is successful and that she is healed from diabetes. If it isn't God's will then I ask God to give her the strength to accept her cross. Maybe God will cure her before the surgery. Miracles do happen.



Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Mel Gibson's Upcoming "Passion" Movie

As most no doubt already know, Mel Gibson's "The Passion" an account of the death of Jesus is based on the "Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ" by a woman who will be beatified this Fall by Pope John Paul II. The book is online and I offer both the link and an excerpt below:


"This scene was rendered the more frightful to me by the sight of demons, who were invisible to others, and I saw large bodies of evil spirits under the forms of toads, serpents, sharp-clawed dragons, and venomous insects, urging these wicked men to still greater cruelty, and perfectly darkening the air. They crept into the mouths and into the hearts of the assistants, sat upon their shoulders, filled their minds with wicked images, and incited them to revile and insult our Lord with still greater brutality. Weeping angels, however, stood around Jesus, and the sight of their tears consoled me not a little, and they were accompanied by little angels of glory, whose heads alone I saw. There were likewise angels of pity and angels of consolation among them; the latter frequently approached the Blessed Virgin and the rest of the pious persons who were assembled there, and whispered words of comfort which enabled them to bear up with firmness.

The executioners soon pulled off our Lord’s cloak, the belt to which the ropes were fastened, and his own belt, when they found it was impossible to drag the woollen garment which his Mother had woven for him over his head, on account of the crown of thorns; they tore off this most painful crown, thus reopening every wound, and seizing the garment, tore it mercilessly over his bleeding and wounded head. Our dear Lord and Saviour then stood before his cruel enemies, stripped of all save the short scapular which was on his shoulders, and the linen which girded his loins. His scapular was of wool; the wool had stuck to the wounds, and indescribable was the agony of pain he suffered when they pulled it roughly off. He shook like the aspen as he stood before them, for he was so weakened from suffering and loss of blood that he could not support himself for more than a few moments; he was covered with open wounds, and his shoulders and back were torn to the bone by the dreadful scourging he had endured. He was about to fall when the executioners, fearing that he might die, and thus deprive them of the barbarous pleasure of crucifying him, led him to a large stone and placed him roughly down upon it, but no sooner was he seated than they aggravated his sufferings by putting the crown of thorns again upon his head. They then offered him some vinegar and gall, from which, however, he turned away in silence. The executioners did not allow him to rest long, but bade him rise and place himself on the cross that they might nail him to it. Then seizing his right arm they dragged it to the hole prepared for the nail, and having tied it tightly down with a cord, one of them knelt upon his sacred chest, a second held his hand flat,and a third taking a long thick nail, pressed it on the open palm of that adorable hand, which had ever been open to bestow blessings and favours on the ungrateful Jews, and with a great iron hammer drove it through the flesh, and far into the wood of the cross. Our Lord uttered one deep but suppressed groan, and his blood gushed forth andsprinkled the arms of the archers. I counted the blows of the hammer, but my extreme grief made me forget their number. The nails were very large, the heads about the size of a crown piece, and the thickness that of a man’s thumb, while the points came through at the back of the cross. The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted. They again knelt upon him, tied down his arms, and drove the second nail into his left hand; his blood flowed afresh, and his feeble groans were once more heard between the blows of the hammer, but nothing could move the hard-hearted executioners to the slightest pity. The arms of Jesus, thus unnaturally stretched out, no longer covered the arms of the cross, which were sloped; there was a wide space between them and his armpits. Each additional torture and insult inflicted on our Lord caused a fresh pang in the heart of his Blessed Mother; she became white as a corpse, but as the Pharisees endeavoured to increase her pain by insulting words and gestures, the disciples led her to a group of pious women who were standing a little farther off."

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Back Home Again in Indiana

We returned around 9:30 last night from a busy week on the road, where we visited relatives, the grave of Martin Luther King Jr., the CNN center, Centenial park, the Bronson Speedway, the Holy Greek Orthodox Monastery of Panagia Vlahernon, the Shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe, City Lights at Universal, Old Town, Disney's Wide World of Sports, Tropicana Field, Treasure Island, and a few other sites that I'm sure I'm forgetting about. We ate at Sonny's Real Pit Barbeque, Carrabas, Sweet Tomatoes, Bahama Breeze, Sloppy Joes, and the various hotels we stayed in. I spoke with a campus minister at UF, a noted female Catholic evangelist, a professor of Theology at St. Leo's University, several Catholic publishers, a Jewish convert to Christianity, a woman claiming to receive messages from Our Lady (Jesus too but she seems less impressed with him), Tammy Faye Baker, and Kathy Lee Gifford. We sat in a lot of traffic. I had forgotten how bad it is to drive from point A to point B in Florida with tons of tourists on the road and other challenged drivers.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

A "Collapsed Catholic"???

From the Catholic League a note of a new designation for Catholics who have left the faith in the rear view mirror:

“In a wide-ranging piece Bill Keller wrote for the New York Times on May 4, 2002, he said, ‘I am what a friend calls a ‘collapsed Catholic’—well beyond lapsed….’ He did not say who his friend was but let me guess. Anna Quindlen? Maureen Dowd? In any event, in this same column Keller offered the following insights:

· “Karol Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] has shaped a hierarchy that is intolerant of dissent, unaccountable to its members, secretive in the extreme and willfully clueless about how people live.” Sounds like the newsroom commenting on Keller’s predecessor, Howell Raines.

· “Like the Communist Party circa Leonid Brezhnev, the Vatican exists first and foremost to preserve its power.” Now consider how Susan E. Tifft, co-author of a book on the Times, commented on the way the Sulzberger family (who own the paper) reacted to the Jayson Blair mess: “Even when it’s difficult, the family will do whatever they have to protect this jewel, their newspaper.”

· “He [the pope] has trained bishops that the path of advancement is obsequious obedience to himself.” Which is perhaps preferable to obsequious obedience to affirmative action.

· “This is, after all, the church that gave us the Crusades and the Inquisition.” This is, after all, the same newspaper that lied about the Communist slaughter of the Ukrainians in the 1930s, ran a grand total of 9 editorials criticizing the Nazis in 1941, 1942 and 1943, and labeled Fidel Castro “an agrarian reformer.”

“Thus are Catholics acquainted with Bill Keller. It is worth remembering that during the Jayson Blair scandal, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said it was wrong to ‘demonize’ the top brass at the Times. We look to Keller to do likewise to the Catholic Church, ‘collapsed Catholic’ or no.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Continued Observations

Met and shook hands with Kathy Lee Gifford who told me, "Nice to meet you brother."

Saw Kirk Cameron who looks about twenty, although I'm sure that he is close to forty. Mel Gibson is rumoured to be in the building promoting his forthcoming movie Passion.

Talked with visionary Rita Ring, more on that at a future date.

Varia-Report from the Road

Visited the Orthodox monastery, very much a work in process. Two monks in rural Florida. Very hospitable, offered us a Greek treat and water upon our arrival. Showed us to the bookstore where they had a wide array of books in Greek and English. One monk offered when we told him we were Catholic and not Orthodox, "You're people too." He then proceeded to give me what he perceived to be the difference between the Orthodox and Catholics--namely that they, the Orthodox, were more Orthodox. Later when the other monk arrived on the scene he was more reserved and stood off to the side, leading Amy to term that as "good monk, bad monk" of course, since the one that was very talkative may in fact have been the "bad monk" since monk aren't supposed to be talking non-stop.

Unfortunately, we did not get any pictures of Amy looking very middle Eastern--wrapped in cloth from head covering to toes. The talkative monk helped dress the women--which seemed to me to defeat the purpose of them dressing.

The monks rise at 12 midnight and pray the Jesus prayer along with whatever else their elder has prescribed for them to do. They also pray together at 5 a.m and again in the evening. Interesting stop along the road.

Now in Orlando, it is the daily grind of the CBA convention. The mega Christian trade show. Free books, Tammy Faye (Baker) Resner, John Hagee and the Hal Lindsey are encountered at every turn. On past visits I've found myself questioning the sincerity of faith present here. This time I find myself amused by some of the participants. I have seen Hal Lindsey in a wheel chair traveling the floor, then encountered him listening to Reggae while sipping a tropical drink awaiting the vacancy of the a table at a local hot spot.

It is all very interesting. Lindsey famous for his "The Late Great Planet Earth" one of the first in a line of books that predicted the end of the world, seems to be enjoying himself right up to the bitter end. I don't blame him, but I wonder if the Epicurean philosophy of "Eat, Drink and be Merry for tomorrow we die" is the same as "Watch, for the Son of Man comes when you least expect it," and the parable of the master returning while the servants are having a great time figuring he ain't coming anytime soon.

The high here yesterday was in the 80's, how's that for all you non-Florida people imagining this is the hottest place on the planet (the feel-like temp, something uniquely Floridian was 101 though).

Monday, July 14, 2003

Hopefully a Visit Here Today

An Orthodox monastery in rural North Florida:

By the toils and labor of our spiritual father, Elder Ephraim, and with the blessing of our Bishop Alexios of Atlanta (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), the monastery has been operating since March of 1999. Before our arrival and founding of the monastery here in Florida, we were living our monastic life in the Monastery of St. Anthony the Great in Phoenix, Arizona and before then in the monastery of Philotheou on the Holy Mount Athos , Greece.

Since our arrival in Florida, our life has been an intense sacrifice and struggle without pause. Firstly, we fought against much opposition to acquire zoning approval from the county authorities. After a much publicized ordeal and a seven hour defense before the county commissioners, by the grace of God and under the shelter of our Panagia's protection, permission was granted for the monastery to remain and to plan for future building projects. We fought for and permission was granted to begin a cemetery where our reposed Orthodox may be buried and commemorated in accordance with our most sacred Orthodox tradition.

Realizing the natural beauty of the property, we then commenced cleaning up the sorely neglected property; cutting down dead trees, removing old, rotted fences and clearing the overgrown brush. This project we have been working on for over a year and the property has finally acquired a well-kept park-like appearance. In the meantime we have remodeled a garage, which we are now using as a guest/coffee room. These are the exterior projects that we have been working on over the last two years.

Most importantly, however, we have been fulfilling our duties as monasteries; i.e. the daily liturgies and vesper services, memorial services, and especially the Sacraments of Holy Confession and Holy Unction. In a time when our Orthodox Christian Faith is besieged by much modernism and heresy, we are standing strong in the face of adversary and are presenting to you the faithful the pure and uncompromised truth of our Holy Orthodox Faith, the Faith and Tradition of the Apostles.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Revisiting the Past

Spent last night at the Bronson Speedway on my way to Orlando for the Christian Booksellers Association trade show. A lot has changed since in the over twenty-five years since I once worked as a flagman at this track, but in many ways little has changed. It still takes forever for them to get through a simple 50 lap race.

Let me dispell a persistent rumour about Florida. It isn't any hotter here than it is everywhere else at this time of the year. In fact, last night it was in the low 80's and very comfortable--this in mid-July.

ASA driver Mike Cope is now the owner and operator of the Bronson Speedway.

Besides being a flagman at the track in 1976-1977, I also helped build the front wall, grandstands and even dug pole holes for some of the surrounding fences. All are still standing! Amazing!

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Mission Idea (for Advent)-Come Let Us Go and See This Thing the Lord has Made Known to us!

I'm possibly giving a mission in December, in Chicago. So thinking already of a way of putting it together.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Book Idea-The Commands of Jesus

I regularly drive Amy nuts with the latest book idea that I have, but I really am going to write this one. In fact I heard one Christian author talking about writing a chapter a day--very doable if you set your mind to it. The idea came to me while passing a large Christian Church this morning which named itself after "The Way" (the first name of Christians) although they do not call themselves "the Way" but another term that is a little more hip and means the same thing. Which in many ways is the crux of the problem that spurred the idea.

If we take Christ seriously, shouldn't we take His commands too?

What are some of the commands of Jesus? 1)Not to judge (hey, I know I'm doing that right now and I repent), 2) Forgive, 3)Follow Jesus, 4) Take up your cross, 5)Take this all of you and eat, 6) Take this all of you and drink, 7) Do this in memory of me, 8) It must not be that way with you, 9) Put away the sword, 10) Love one another as I have loved you.

There are more but even these ten give us much to ponder, don't they?

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Mimicry Will Get You Everywhere

Another reason to imitate Christ, because in the end that is really what matters. If your a waitress, here is some beneficial news.

From Nature magazine:

Waitresses who copy their customers' behaviour get substantially bigger tips than those who don't, Dutch psychologists have discovered1.

"Mimicry creates bonds between people - it induces a sense of 'we-ness'," says Rick van Baaren of the University of Nijmegen. "You know that what you're doing is ok, and you become more generous."

Van Baaren's team studied staff in an American-style restaurant in southern Holland. In half of the tests, they primed a waitress to repeat customers' orders back to them. In the other half, she said something else positive, such as "Coming right up!"

When copycatting, the waitresses' average tip almost doubled, to nearly 3 guilders (US$1.20). Service charge is included in Dutch restaurant bills, tips are a small additional gift.

The experiment is the first to show that mimicry has concrete benefits, van Baaren claims, although many understand its benefits implicitly. " A good salesperson knows from experience that people like to hear and see themselves," he says. Business training manuals often advise mirroring the customer.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

A Jewish Woman and the Pope

Dr. Lena Allen Shore's books Building Bridges: Pope John Paul II and the Horizon of Life is now available.

I worked on this book with Dr. Allen Shore for a number of years but in the end we did not publish it, but I highly recommend it. Dr. Shore has had a personal relationship with the Pope (they both grew up in Poland at roughly the same time), for the past twenty years and regularly communicates with him.

She is a fascinating woman who lives now in Philadelphia. She and her parents survived the Shoah by pretending to be Catholic. Now the Pope regularly advises her to "be herself." A reference I think to the many years, the formative years of her life where to be herself would have meant certian death in a concentration camp.

Two fascinating people brought together in the twilight of their lives to "build a bridge."
Catholic Reform

It is interesting everytime a new group arises claiming to be the new reform movement that is going to change the church. Almost all of the modern examples of this like "Call to Action" or "Voice of the Faithful" all emphasize an idealogy where the real reason for being Catholic is way down on the list of what they feel is important. For the most part all of these groups end up being a reason to meet once a year in some large metropolitan area to showcase their speakers who rail against the way the church is versus the way it should be--they are all what I would call "church" people and they tend to screech like the "church" lady that Dana Carvey used to portray on Saturday Night Live.

Contrast this with the groups that have worked reform in the history of the Church, let me take St. Francis for an example. Did Francis' begin by taking on a political slogan? No, he began by praying before a crucifix. He began with a look into the Gospels and a re-encounter with Christ. Christ was his focus and through the eyes of Christ he saw the church that Christ founded falling into ruin and felt the command to rebuild it--begining with the crumbling church that he was praying in. Here is true reform--not focused on the structures of the Church but rather on Christ and following Him. In this view of reform the Church is seen transfigured, her humanity veiled, the battle won.

A St. Francis could meet a horrible priest and fall to his knees kissing his hands and lauding the loftiness of the vocation that the man was so poorly living. More than one such priest was brought to his knees by such an encounter. Francis stands as the true model of reform and it has absolutely nothing to do with what the pastor, bishop or pope is doing but everything to do with how am I following Christ. Of course the Church is indispensible from this discipleship because Christ founded the Church and gave it the power to teach in His name.

The problems that we face in North America as Catholics is like that of the Church of Ephesus to whom Christ said in the Book of Revelation, "You have lost the love that you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first."

What would the reforms of Vatican II be like if we could recapture our first love?
Tomb of Zachariah Found

With an interesting twist...

From the Star-News Online:

The discovery was a stroke of luck: the light of the setting sun hit an ancient tomb at just the right angle and revealed hints of a worn inscription, unnoticed for centuries, commemorating the father of John the Baptist.

"This is the tomb of Zachariah, martyr, very pious priest, father of John," the inscription of 47 Greek letters reads.

Was John the Baptist's father a martyr? Evidently the early church linked the Zachariah mentioned in the writings of Josephus (or indeed they knew of the actual case) with that of John's father:

The Gospel of Luke describes him as an elderly man from the priestly caste of Abijah who, while burning incense in the Temple one day, was told by an angel that his wife Elizabeth, also advanced in years, would bear a son, who was later to become John the Baptist.

Jewish historian Josephus writes that a priest named Zachariah was slain by Zealots in the Temple and thrown into the Kidron Valley below - which would explain the "martyr" reference in the Greek text.

The inscription suggests that local Christians believed Zachariah was buried at the site of the tomb. But because hundreds of years had passed from his death to the inscription, and with no other corroboration, Zias and other scholars say they'll never know for sure.
Sad News--Separated Conjoined Twins Die

From The Globe and Mail:

Neurosurgeons separated 29-year-old Iranian twins born joined at the head after two days of delicate surgery, but both sisters died Tuesday shortly after their parting.

The hospital announced Ladan Bijani's death, then, a few hours later, a nurse involved in the surgery said Ladan's sister, Lelah, had died.

Monday, July 7, 2003

Myth of ADHD?

Interesting piece on Attention Defecit Disorder, that begins like this:

In 1851, a Louisiana physician and American Medical Association member, Samuel A. Cartwright, published a paper in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal in which he described a new medical disorder he had recently identified. He called it drapetomania, from drapeto, meaning to flee, and mania, an obsession. He used this term to refer to a condition that he felt was prevalent in runaway slaves. Dr. Cartwright felt that with “proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented.”1

If Dr. Cartwright would submit his paper today, even to the most unrespectable medical journal, it would merely raise a laugh, or Dr. Cartwright himself would be considered disordered. But in 1851, slavery was still acceptable and therefore his invented disorder was not frowned upon.

A great opening!

Ontario and Merton

Amy has blogged about our recent trip to Canada over the weekend. My own experience focused upon the diversity but at the same time the unity. Where here we still seem to be segregated into our subgroups--there it seemed a rather remarkable merging of peoples, as I commented to Amy once during the weekend that this truly seemed to be the "melting pot" that we in the United States often pride ourselves in being.

As I sat listening to music (some of which wasn't all that impressive but truly unique) and watching people, I had an experience similar to that of a trip we made to the zoo when a peacock strutting around shaking with color tried to entice the female into some embrace of unity. The colors and cultures seem to shake about me and invite me to become one with them--this seemed to reach an apex at an early morning Mass when the words from the Eucharistic Prayer seemed to leap out at me "Fill us with his Spirit through our sharing in this meal. May he take away all that divides us. May his Spirit keep us always in communion... Father, make your church throughout the world a sign of unity and instrument of your peace."

It was sort of a Merton experience similar to one he had while waiting at the corner of Fourth and Walnut in Louisville and later wrote:

"In Louisville, on the comer of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I was theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. I have the immense joy of being human, a member of the race in which God himself became incarnate. The sorrows and stupidities of the human condition can no longer overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. If only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun."

Anyway, we have much to learn about Communion and all of the attempts to build community have only thwarted what God wills.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

New Evidence Suggests:

Forget Everything You Learned in that Scripture Class on Matthew you Took in High School, College, Grad School or Wherever

Matthew written early, by an eyewitness (the Apostle) and the virgin birth really did mean "virgin" not maiden.

From a story in the Kansas City Star:

In an essay written for the book Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times, Israel J. Yuval of Jerusalem's Hebrew University reported a find in the Talmud that appears to show Matthew could have been written earlier than some scholars contend.

Yuval wrote that a leading rabbinical scholar of the time was "considered to have authored a sophisticated parody of the Gospel according to Matthew."

The parody, written by a rabbi known as Gamaliel, is believed by some well-respected liberal Christian scholars to have been written about A.D. 73 or earlier.

The fact the parody exists and the date when it was believed to be written "would undercut badly (biblical critics') claims of a late date of A.D. 85-90 or later," said Bob Newman, professor of New Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.

"That is very significant and very important," said Tim Skinner, associate professor of Bible and theology at Luther Rise Seminary in Georgia, because that validates the legitimacy of Matthew's confirms the truthfulness of the biblical account in Matthew and confirms the truth of what Jesus did."

Blomberg said a close study of the parody's wording indicates it was based on an existing text. If that text was Matthew, the Gospel existed much earlier than some scholars believe.

Similarly the earlier the Gospel was written, the more likely eyewitnesses to Jesus' life would still be alive.

"(Which) would mean that Matthew's Gospel would be seen by other eyewitnesses who could check and authenticate it," Blomberg said.

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Co-Adujutor of Orlando Speaks

From the Lakeland Ledger (a paper that once was delivered daily at my doorstep):

In his remarks, Wenski said he learned of the appointment last week from the papal nuncio, or representative, while at a conference in Texas.

"My own feelings about the task ahead of me are relieved by having as a mentor Bishop Dorsey," he said. "I remember the words of Jesus to Peter, `Put out into the deep,' and I trust in Jesus, who in spite of my unworthiness has chosen me for this task."

Wenski said his primary mission would be "to save souls for Christ."

"We will not be saved by a formula or some new program. We and the promise he gives -- `I am with you always,' " he said, quoting Jesus. "This is a great grace but a daunting challenge. It is a contradiction for us to settle for a life of mediocrity."

Wenski is a native of West Palm Beach. He was ordained a priest in 1976 and has served his entire career in the Archdiocese of Miami. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach and a master's degree in sociology from Fordham University in New York.

Please note several things about Bishop Wenski: First, his point of reference is Jesus and the Scriptures, Secondly, he knew about his apointment for over a week (contrast that with the story below).

New Bishop of Palm Beach's Tale

From the Palm Beach Post:

In contrast to O'Malley's beard, brown friar's robe and sandals, Barbarito stood before his new staff in traditional clerical black and admitted he'd known about his new posting only "since about 5 after 9 yesterday morning." He said he'd barely had time to look at the plane ticket and find his seat for the trip south.

He was visiting his 83-year-old widowed mother, Anna Marie, in Brooklyn on Monday when he heard a radio report that O'Malley was being sent to Boston. He said he laughed because he'd heard two weeks ago that Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh was the choice, and besides, he knew O'Malley had been in Palm Beach only a short time.

"About a half-hour after that," he said, "I received a phone call from the apostolic nuncio telling me that I was coming to Palm Beach... I had a spaghetti dinner set with (his mother) for last night, and I had to tell her that I couldn't make it -- but I would get back to her for that dinner."

This is really unusual. Makes me wonder if there was another plan that was changed at the last minute?

Will the Mainline Media Report This?

Pro-Abortion Group Finds Majority of Women are Pro-Life

From the Washington Times:

The balance between pro-choice women and women who say abortion should be outlawed or severely restricted is shifting toward the pro-life side, bumping that group into the majority in the debate over reproductive rights, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-one percent of women surveyed by the Center for the Advancement of Women said the government should prohibit abortion or limit it to extreme cases, such as rape, incest, or life-threatening complications.

The findings, with a 3 percent margin of error for the 1,000 women surveyed, tips the scale from the last sampling in 2001, when 45 percent of women sided against making abortion readily available or imposing only mild restrictions. Only 30 percent support making it generally available, down from 34 percent in 2001, the survey found.

The New York-based center that sponsored the survey is a nonpartisan advocacy group for pro-choice women's rights. The center's president, Faye Wattleton, headed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for 14 years.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Footnote to Today's Top Story

Also the Pope "appointed Thomas Wenski bishop coadjutor of Orlando, the Vatican said," from

This is the real shocker of the day. Why does Orlando need a coadjutor? Is Bishop Dorsey sick?

Wenski is a good man, a man's man really. He is the son of immigrant Polish parents who grew up in Lake Worth, Florida. Very devout and aggresive. He has been the voice of the Haitian people in South Florida for over 2 1/2 decades. He'll be missed by them down there.