The teaching of the Orthodox religion has now become mandatory in the high
schools of four provinces of what once was the atheist Soviet state. In July
Moscow’s Spiritual Academy approved “Basics of Orthodox Culture”, a course soon
to be taught in the provinces of Belgorod, Kaluga, Brjansk and Smolensk. By
2010, the Moscow Patriarchate should have trained some 10,000 religious
teachers. In 11 other provinces, religion will be taught but won’t be
These developments reflect the Russian Orthodox Church’s plan to have
religion taught across the country. By contrast, government officials are
planning a more general course on the “History of World Religions” so as to not
offend the country’s religious minorities.
Aleksij II, patriarch of Moscow
and All Russia, is convinced that “pupils should know the history of their
culture, and this is the goal of ‘Basics of Orthodox Culture’.” He also believes
that this is true for other religions as well.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
But Father Stephan Horn, a German theologian organizing the pope's meeting with 39 former students, said that reflected a misunderstanding of how the so-called "student circle" works and what the Catholic Church teaches about evolution.
"We've never drawn any conclusions in our student circle," he told Reuters by telephone from Rome. "This is an open exchange of ideas that does not aim for a conclusion.
"It has nothing to do with creationism," he added, referring to a fundamentalist Protestant view that God created the world in six days as described in the Book of Genesis. "Catholic theology does not endorse creationist views."
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
From USA Today:
Gasoline prices are falling fast and could keep dropping for months.
"The only place they have to go is down," says Fred Rozell, gasoline analyst at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). "We'll be closer to $2 than $3 come Thanksgiving."
Travel organization AAA foresees prices 10 cents a gallon lower by the end of next week. It reported a nationwide average of $2.84 Tuesday, the lowest since April 20.
Now here are a few questions:
Has the unrest in the Middle East ended?
Is Iraq no longer a threat?
Oil pipeline in Alaska fixed?
Threat of Hurricanes in the Gulf over?
People no longer driving?
Of course the answer to all is no...if anything the news in the Middle East gets worst by the day.
They truly are the "mighty Marlins" like the fish that nearly killed the old man in The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway--how about the convergence of "Ernesto" losing steam over Cuba (think Hemingway and The Old Man and the Sea) and the rise of the Marlins to just 1 1/5 games out of the wild card lead?
Two World Series crowns, while one team in this neck of the woods has gone over a 100 years and is still blaming some poor guy for going after a foul ball as the goat who caused thier team to lose to the Mighty Marlins--wake up folks!
From Catholic Online:
The new version, reflecting the bishops' recent response to the scandal of clergy sexual abuse of minors, says explicitly for the first time that no
seminary applicant is to be accepted if he has been involved in sexual abuse of
It also incorporates stricter norms, adopted by the bishops in 1999, on
evaluating an application for seminary admission from someone who previously
left or was dismissed from a seminary or a formation program for religious life.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
As forerunner of our Lord’s birth, preaching and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality. We justly commemorate the day of his birth with a joyful celebration, a day which he himself made festive for us through his suffering and which he adorned with the crimson splendour of his own blood. We do rightly revere his memory with joyful hearts, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom the testimony which he delivered on behalf of our Lord.
There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
Secret Vatican documents recently released say that wartime pontiff Pope Pius XII attempted a “long distance” exorcism of Hitler which failed to have any effect. “It’s very rare that praying and attempting to carry out an exorcism from distance works. Of course you can pray for someone from a distance but in this case it would not have any effect,” Father Amorth said.
The Vatican’s chief exorcist claims that one of the key requirements for an exorcism is to be present in front of the possessed person and that person also has to be consenting and willing. “Therefore trying to carry out an exorcism on someone who is not present, or consenting and willing would prove very difficult,” he said.
Monday, August 28, 2006
From The State:
The Rev. Francis Kline, the abbot of Mepkin Abbey and an influencial
spiritual force in the life of South Carolina, died Sunday after a three-year
battle with cancer. He was 57.
A Juilliard-trained organist, Father Francis was the longtime leader of the Trappist monastic community founded on the Cooper River at Moncks Corner in 1949. But the cerebral, soft-spoken monk was much more to those who claimed him as wise counselor and reverent friend.
“He was someone that just had a remarkable level of personal grace in the way he handled himself,” Gov. Mark Sanford said. “He was able to have this incredibly deep well of spirituality and the ability to look deeply at ideas of faith, and then this
ability to care what was happening in the world around him.”
From the Community of St. John:
Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, o.p., founder of the Community of Saint
John, died peacefully on Saturday morning August 26, 2006, at the priory of
Saint Jodard (France). He was being taken care of there since his stroke on July
20. He was going to be 94 years old on September 8.Until the funeral day, the
brothers and sisters keep vigil around him in the brother's chapel in Saint
Jodard. The vigil is opened to all who wish to participate.The funeral mass will
be celebrated on Saturday September 2 at 10:30 am at the Cathedral of Lyons. It
will be presided by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyons.In the
afternoon, Father Marie-Dominique will be buried in the cimetery of Rimont, in
the intimacy of the Family of Saint John (brothers, sisters and oblates).In
thanksgiving for all they have received through him, the memebrs of the Family
of Saint John entrust him to the prayer of all.
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Augustine. Ordinarily, yesterday, the 27th, we would have celebrated the feast of his mother, Saint Monica (she got
eclipsed by the Sunday this year). Both of these days are of very special
importance to me because my own thinking in life has been very much shaped by
Saint Augustine and his great writings. When I was a seminarian long ago I used
to spend an hour every afternoon reading Saint Augustine and other fathers of
the church. As some of you know, I wrote a book called Augustine: The Confessions & the City of God (Crossroad Spiritual Legacy Series) , which is a popular introduction to Saint Augustine for people who are not philosophers or theologians.
When I try to analyze why this great man appeals so much to me, I realize it is because in many respects he thinks like a modern person. He is the holy psychologist. Without knowing what the word psychologist meant, I started to read him when I was fourteen years old and recognized that he was talking about things that I had experienced. His great line, “You have made us for yourself, Oh God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” is still today tremendously
meaningful to me in life.
Most laypeople are unaware of it, but the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI is very much rooted in Saint Augustine and his great disciple, Saint Bonaventure. If you want to understand Pope Benedict XVI, you need to be familiar with the ideas of Saint Augustine and particularly his conviction of the importance of religious experience in order for us to believe and grow in the Christian life. That’s putting it in a nutshell.
Another interesting thing for all of us Franciscans and our friends is that the first
friars and Saint Francis would have been familiar with Saint Augustine. In
western Christianity during the end of the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages, Saint
Augustine was the preeminent theologian. Such figures as Saint Thomas Aquinas,
who was so important in the second part of the Middle Ages, had not been born
yet. When Saint Francis went to church on Sunday, the preaching he heard was
based very much on Saint Augustine; so, the ideas of Saint Augustine are very
much reflected in the writings and life of Saint Francis.
You may find it very helpful to get to know this man. If you are not familiar with him, my little book introducing him might be very helpful to you. Along with Saint
Francis and Saint Clare, he has been a very important friend in my life.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR
Once Pope Benedict returns to Vatican City from a trip to his native Germany next month, he faces important decisions that will affect millions of Catholics: how to fill archbishop vacancies in Detroit and Baltimore, where archbishops traditionally become cardinals.
New Jersey's Catholics have good reason to follow his decisions: Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, the highest-ranked Catholic clergyman in the state since 2001, is rumored to be the favorite for Detroit's opening.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
From the Gainesville Sun:
Jan Zuccarell sees the image burned on the screen of the cell phone as a sign from God.
Her son, Ben Zuccarell, sees the image as a cash cow, and wants to sell the phone on eBay.
Whatever its significance, mother and child agree that the plastic bubble on the cell phone screen looks just like the Virgin Mary, and say they want to share it with the world.
"It'll give you goosebumps," said Ben Zuccarell, 45. "No. It'll give your goosebumps goosebumps."
Earlier this week Jan's great-granddaughter and Ben's grand-niece, Rachel Casiano, who's almost 2, somehow managed to place her mother's cell phone - along with her own sneakers - into the family's microwave and press "start."
Warning! Do not try this with your phone...
A Vatican official on Saturday criticized a new method of making stem cells that does not require the destruction of embryos, calling it a "manipulation" that did not address the church's ethical concerns.
Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, the Vatican's top official on bioethical questions, said in an interview with Vatican Radio that the method of making stem cells devised by scientists at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. in Alameda, Calif., remains an in-vitro form of reproduction, which the church opposes.
"That, from a point of view that is not only Catholic, but from a point of view of bioethic reasons, is a negative factor," said Sgreccia, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life.
Church teaching holds that in-vitro fertilization is morally wrong because it replaces the conjugal union between husband and wife and often results in the destruction of embryos. Artificial insemination for married couples is allowable if it "facilitates" the sex act but does not replace it. The church condemns all forms of experimentation on human embryos.
From Asia News Italy:
The pope presented Monica, a Christian from Tagaste (modern-day Tunisia), who, after the death of her husband, “dedicated herself, with courage, to the care of her three sons, including Augustine who initially caused her to suffer because of his somewhat rebellious temperament. As Augustine himself would say, his mother delivered him twice; the second time called for a long spiritual labour, made of prayer and tears but finally crowned with the joy of seeing him entirely in the service of Christ.” The comparison with current reality is clear: “How many difficulties there are today too in family ties, and how many mothers are anguished because their sons take wrong roads! Monica, a wise woman and firm in her faith, invites them not to get discouraged but to persevere in their mission as spouses and mothers, keeping their faith in God firm and holding onto prayer with perseverance.” While Benedict XVI described these situations, the silence and tacit participation of many women in the public expressed their agreement.
But the life of St Augustine, who became bishop of Hippo after a chaotic youth, is also of comfort. “All his existence was an impassioned search for truth,” said the pope. “At the end, not without prolonged interior torment, he discovered in Christ the ultimate and full meaning of his own life and of the entire history of mankind. In his adolescence, drawn to earthly beauty, ‘he threw himself’ into it – as he himself admits (cfr Confess.10:27-38) – in an egotistical and possessive manner, with behaviour that caused his pious mother no mean sorrow. But by following a tiring path, also thanks to her prayers, Augustine increasingly opened up to the fullness of truth and love, to the point of his onversion, which took place in Milan under the guidance of the bishop, St Ambrose. He thus would remain as a model of the journey towards God, supreme Truth and greatest Good. ‘Late have I loved you,’ he wrote in his renowned book of Confessions, “O Beauty, so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
And behold, you were within me and I was outside… You were with me, and I was not with you… You called, and cried out to me and broke open my deafness; you shone forth upon me and you scattered my blindness’ (ibid).May St Augustine obtain the gift of a sincere and profound encounter with Christ for all those youth who, thirsting for happiness, seek it by travelling down wrong roads and get lost in dead ends.”
“St Monica and St Augustine invite us to turn to Mary, seat of wisdom, with faith. To her, we entrust Christian parents who, like Monica, accompany by example and prayer their children’s journey. To the Virgin, Mother of God, we commend youth so that, like Augustine, they will lean ever more towards the fullness of Truth and Love that is Christ: He alone can quench the profound desires of the human heart.”
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Bishop An Shuxin was freed on Friday but remains under police surveillance in his diocese of Baoding, in the northern province of Hebei, the Cardinal Kung Foundation said in a statement.
An, 57, who was arrested in May 1996, has government permission to resume his religious work, the Stamford, Connecticut-based foundation which promotes the Roman Catholic Church in China, said.
Foundation president Joseph Kung welcomed the release as a 'good sign' but said six more bishops remain in Chinese prisons.
'All other underground bishops are under surveillance, or are under house arrest, or are hiding,' Kung said in the statement.
On a more trivial note, who even remembers that Katrina hit just north of Miami Beach, FL last year before it made its way toward Biloxi?
Max Mayfield, the National Hurricane Center director, said it was too early to say whether the storm would hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, which is still recovering from last year's Hurricane Katrina.
"It's too early to pinpoint one specific location but I think message is, especially to the folks that are in temporary housing, these 115,000 families mostly in the FEMA trailers, they need to watch this carefully," Mayfield told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We've got some time. We don't want people to get too excited about this, but they certainly need to be watching it."
Friday, August 25, 2006
Marlin Briscoe Hawks Homepage
To Shrine, from Catholic World News:
The Holy Father made the unannounced trip on Tuesday afternoon, leaving his summer residence with small police escort and making the 10-mile trip by car to Nemi, where the Santissimo Crocifisso (Most Holy Cross) shrine is located.
The Pope was accompanied by his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, and a few members of his staff, the I Media news agency reports. After praying before the Blessed Sacrament, they joined the Mercedarian priests who administer the shrine for Vespers.
Later the Pope visited the Mercedarian monastery. His stay in Nemi was about two hours.
“Catholicism: Now I Get It!” by Havertown native Claire Furia Smith, captures it all. From the maroon jumpers and knee socks of St. Louis school in Yeadon to religion class at Archbishop Carroll High School, this is the story of a girl’s journey from mythical Catholicism to the real thing.
“Everyone hears the same old myths,” Smith said. “That the Church is anti-science, and all these other simplistic mottos about our beliefs.”
A graduate of Yale with a master’s in journalism from Columbia, the 37-year-old Smith was raised Catholic but admits her practice of the faith was lacking.
“Even though I always went to church on Sundays, the rest of what I did was the bare minimum,” she said. “Prayer was something I did when someone got sick. I wasn’t fasting except what was required in Lent. It was the bare minimum. It was exactly what people make fun of Catholics for.”
It wasn’t until she reached young adulthood and was questioned about her beliefs by agnostic and non-denominational friends that she realized how little she understood Catholicism.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
No mention of St. Bartholomew occurs in ecclesiastical literature before Eusebius, who mentions that Pantaenus, the master of Origen, while evangelizing India, was told that the Apostle had preached there before him and had given to his converts the Gospel of St. Matthew written in Hebrew, which was still treasured by the Church. "India" was a name covering a very wide area, including even Arabia Felix. Other traditions represent St. Bartholomew as preaching in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Armenia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and on the shores of the Black Sea; one legend, it is interesting to note, identifies him with Nathaniel. The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia, is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. On account of this latter legend, he is often represented in art (e.g. in Michelangelo's Last Judgment) as flayed and holding in his hand his own skin.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
From the NJ Ledger:
Life imitating art is all very well. Unless, that is, it's a movie about
deadly snakes on the rampage.
Movie chain AMC Entertainment Inc. said pranksters at one of its
Phoenix theaters released two live diamondback rattlesnakes during a showing of
the film "Snakes on a Plane" last Friday. No one was injured.
From Asia News Italy:
But speaking then about the one of the symbols of the Apocalypse (the scroll no one could open that drove the apostle to tears, Apoc.5:4), he adds: “Probably this cry expressed the bewilderment of the Asian churches about the silence of God in the face of persecutions they were subject to then. It is a bewilderment that could well reflect our dismay in the face of serious difficulties, misunderstandings and hostilities that the Church still suffers today in several parts of the world. They are sufferings the Church certainly does not deserve, just as Jesus himself did not merit his torment.”
Speaking off the cuff, the pope continued: The “meaning of the history of mankind”, “the destiny of history” is in the hands of Jesus Christ, who the Apocalypse reveals as the “slaughtered Lamb, defenceless, wounded, dead, but upright, alive, participating in the divine power of the Father”. “Jesus, although he was killed by an act of violence, instead of collapsing to the ground, paradoxically remains firmly on his feet, because the resurrection has definitely won over death”.
The meaning of victory over persecution was affirmed by Benedict XVI when he explained the symbol of the “Woman who delivers a male Son, and the complementary one of the Dragon who has by now fallen from the heavens. Although active in the persecution of the Woman and her other children, he has now been overcome at the core and his ultimate defeat will be unmistakably manifested.” Here too, the pope talked off the cuff for a while, explaining that the Woman is Mary, but also the church “that gives birth with great suffering in every age, defenceless, weak. While she is persecuted by the Dragon, she is protected by the consolations of God. It is this woman who triumphs in the end, not the dragon.” The pope continued spontaneously: “The Woman who is persecuted appears at the end like a Bride, the new Jerusalem, where there are no more tears and everything is light, because her light is the Lamb.”
“For this reason,” continued Benedict XVI, “the Apocalypse of John, although it is pervaded by continual references to suffering and tribulations – the obscure face of reality – is just as much permeated by frequent hymns of praise that sort of represent the luminous face of history... We are faced here with a typical Christian paradox, according to which suffering is never perceived as the last word, but is rather seen as a point of passage towards happiness, and even it [suffering] is already mysteriously soaked with joy that springs from hope.”
The pope ended his reflection by explaining the last words with which “the Seer of Patmos” concludes his book, the invocation, “Come Lord Jesus”, “pulsing with anxious expectation”. Here too, the pope added a reflection on impulse, saying that this waiting had three dimensions: that of the “definitive victory of the Lord who comes and transforms the world”; the “Eucharistic, of now, in which He anticipates his final coming”; the eschatological, in which the Church says: You have already come, it is a joy for us, but come fully.” And nearly as if to express the impatience of this wait, Benedict XVI ended with a prayer: “Come Lord Jesus, come and transform the world, and may your Peace triumph. Amen.”
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The Jesuit priest-astronomer who vocally opposed the Catholic understanding
of God-directed creation, has been removed from his post as head of the Vatican
Fr. George Coyne has been head of the Vatican observatory for 25 years
is an expert in astrophysics with an interest in the interstellar medium, stars
with extended atmospheres and Seyfert galaxies. He also appointed himself as an
expert in evolutionary biology and theology last summer in an article for the
UK’s liberal Catholic magazine, The Tablet.
Fr. Coyne was writing against Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, a principal
author of the Catholic catechism, who said that an “unplanned process of random
variation and natural selection,” both important parts of evolutionary thinking,
are incompatible with Catholic belief in God’s ordering and guiding of
Coyne, retiring after 25 years of service for the Vatican observatory,
said, “The classical question as to whether the human being came about by
chance, and so has no need of God, or by necessity, and so through the action of
a designer God, is no longer valid.”
Monday, August 21, 2006
From The Blotter:
While no extra safeguards are in place, U.S. law enforcement are not ignoring the possible significance of tomorrow's date, August 22, a date that marks an important historic event on the Islamic calendar.
Internet websites have been full of speculation that it could be a target date for terrorists in commemoration of the return of the 12th imam, a supposed day of reckoning for Shiites.
August 22 was rumored by intelligence experts to be a possible date that the London plotters would blow-up passenger planes headed towards the United States, though it is not known if the suspects were Shiite extremists.
First the relic...while there are relics of questionable status this one is worth reading about it bears a remarkable similarity to the Shroud of Turin in its features and may have been the other "cloth" mentioned in the Gospel when it tells us that the Beloved Disciple saw the cloths lying there and believed. The Veronica reference is something that arose later and of course means "true image."
Here is a story on the relic:
Scientific research carried out recently shows that the image on the Holy Shroud of Turin and the image which appears on the veil in Manoppello are of identical size and superimposable, the only difference being that on the relic of Manoppello the mouth and eyes are open.
Second the Pope and the Archbishop: two great theologians will meet to reverence this relic. Archbishop Bruno Forte is a great read if you haven't read him yet. Very quotable, here is one I read just the other day. Ubi amore, ibi oculus...where there is love the eye sees. Kind of goes along with the relic and the meeting.
Benedict XVI will visit the shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, which houses what is said to be Veronica's veil.
The Vatican press office confirmed Saturday that the Holy Father's pilgrimage will take place Sept. 1, and will last two hours. The Pope will adore the Eucharist in silence, venerate the relic and deliver an address.
Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto will welcome the Pope.
According to the shrine, the Holy Face is a veil of 17 by 24 centimeters (6.8 by 9.6 inches), on which an image is imprinted that to date has no scientific explanation. Studies carried out on the veil confirm that the image is not made from paint.
Iconographer B. Pascalis Shlömer has demonstrated that the image of the Holy Shroud of Turin coincides perfectly with the Holy Face of Manoppello, according to the shrine.
Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, professor of iconography and Christian art history at the Gregorian University in Rome, said that this image served as model for subsequent representations of the Holy Face, including portraits in the fourth-century Roman catacombs.
Some consider it to be Veronica's veil, imprinted as Jesus made his way to Calvary.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Two items of interest, his brand new CD is really, really good. It includes such memoralbe numbers as B16 Bomber, The Great One, and Ain't No Party Like a Catholic Party. You can purchase it here.
Also has a great t-shirt for sale: No Average Catholic with Revelation 3:16 on the sleave, you can buy that here.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Catherine Garcia enters the mosque barefoot and finds a spot on the floor. She kneels and leans forward. Palms, nose and forehead touch the ground. Her lips move, almost imperceptibly, whispering words in Arabic.
Three years ago, she would have been in a Roman Catholic church, murmuring prayers with her rosary beads. Today, she invokes Allah while reciting portions of the Quran.
Garcia, 33, is among an estimated 70,000 Hispanics nationwide embracing Islam, blending with apparent ease two cultures seemingly at odds.
They are renouncing salsa dancing, roasted pork and Christmas. But they are making their tamales with halal meat, reading the Quran in Spanish and sharing their faith at Hispanic cultural events.
"I am a Latino woman," said Garcia, who was born in Colombia and now lives in east Orange County. "I prefer to read the Quran in Spanish, and I praise God in Spanish. It's the language that I feel."
Friday, August 18, 2006
From the Wall Street Journal:
Some evangelicals charge that the Pill has contributed to the moral breakdown of society; perhaps, but evangelicals' embrace of the contraception culture has not helped. It may have made Christianity sexier to potential adherents but diminished a public understanding of marriage in the process. For evangelicals, this may be a bitter pill to swallow.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
As usual it would seem that this would be more evident in the news stories, rather than half way down and mentioned as an afterthought.
From Yahoo News:
No evidence against Karr has been made public beyond his own admission. U.S. and Thai officials did not directly answer a question at the news conference Thursday about whether there was DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.
Karr's ex-wife, Lara Karr, told KGO-TV in California that she was with her former husband in Alabama at the time of JonBenet's killing and she does not believe her former husband was involved in the homicide.
She said her ex-husband spent a lot of time studying the cases of Ramsey and Polly Klaas, who was abducted from her Petaluma, Calif., home and slain in 1993.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Now, some priests and lay people think that Mass is never complete without dance. The difficulty is this: we come to Mass primarily to adore God -- what we call the vertical dimension. We do not come to Mass to entertain one another. That's not the purpose of Mass. The parish hall is for that.
So all those that want to entertain us -- after Mass, let us go to the parish hall and then you can dance. And then we clap. But when we come to Mass we don't come to clap. We don't come to watch people, to admire people. We want to adore God, to thank Him, to ask Him pardon for our sins, and to ask Him for what we need.
Don't misunderstand me, because when I said this at one place somebody said to me: "you are an African bishop. You Africans are always dancing. Why do you say we don't dance?"
A moment -- we Africans are not always dancing!
Moreover, there is a difference between those who come in procession at Offertory; they bring their gifts, with joy. There is a movement of the body right and left. They bring their gifts to God. That is good, really. And some of the choir, they sing. They have a little bit of movement. Nobody is going to condemn that. And when you are going out again, a little movement, it's all right.
But when you introduce wholesale, say, a ballerina, then I want to ask you what is it all about. What exactly are you arranging? When the people finish dancing in the Mass and then when the dance group finishes and people clap -- don't you see what it means? It means we have enjoyed it. We come for enjoyment. Repeat. So, there is something wrong. Whenever the people clap -- there is something wrong -- immediately. When they clap -- a dance is done and they clap.
It is possible that there could be a dance that is so exquisite that it raises people's minds to God, and they are praying and adoring God and when the dance is finished they are still wrapped up in prayer. But is that the type of dance you have seen? You see. It is not easy.
Most dances that are staged during Mass should have been done in the parish hall. And some of them are not even suitable for the parish hall.
I saw in one place -- I will not tell you where -- where they staged a dance during Mass, and that dance was offensive. It broke the rules of moral theology and modesty. Those who arranged it -- they should have had their heads washed with a bucket of holy water!
Why make the people of God suffer so much? Haven't we enough problems already? Only Sunday, one hour, they come to adore God. And you bring a dance! Are you so poor you have nothing else to bring us? Shame on you! That's how I feel about it.
Somebody can say, "but the pope visited this county and the people danced". A moment: Did the pope arrange it? Poor Holy Father -- he comes, the people arranged. He does not know what they arranged. And somebody introduces something funny -- is the pope responsible for that? Does that mean it is now approved? Did they put in on the table of the Congregation for Divine Worship? We would throw it out! If people want to dance, they know where to go.
From Asia News Italy:
“Today,” he explained, “there are those who live as if they were never to die or as if all should end with death. Some act as if humankind was master of its own destiny, as if God did not exist, going so far as to deny Him any place in our world. The great advances in science and technology, which have much improved humanity’s conditions, leave unanswered the innermost questions of the human soul. Only by opening up to the mystery of God, which is Love, can our heart’s thirst for truth and happiness be quenched. Only a point of view based on eternity can give historical events, especially the mystery of human frailty, suffering and death, real value”.
“By contemplating Mary in her celestial glory,” the Pontiff said in conclusion, “we understand that the earth is not our final homeland, that if we live constantly focused on that which is eternal, we can share one day that same glory. For this reason, despite our many daily challenges, we must not lose our serenity and peace. The luminous sign of the Assumption of our Lady in the heavens glows brighter than the sad shadows cast by sorrow and violence. We are certain that from high above Mary follows our steps with sweet trepidation. She brightens our life in its dark and stormy hours and reassures us with her maternal hand. Conscious of this, we continue confident along our path shaped by our Christian commitment wherever Providence takes us”.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
From Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Angelus:
“Mary encourages us not to lose faith in the face of the difficulties and
inevitable problems of daily life,” continued Benedict XVI. “She assures us of
her help and reminds us that the essential thing is to seek and to think ‘of
things that are above, not of things that are on earth’ (cfr Col 3:2).
Taken up with daily worries, we run the risk of maintaining that it is here, in
this world where we are only passing through, that the ultimate scope of human
existence lies. However Paradise is the true goal of our earthly pilgrimage. How
different our days would be if they were animated by this perspective! This is
how it was for the saints. Their existence testifies how, when one lives with
one’s heart constantly turned towards heaven, earthly realities are experienced
according to their proper value because they are illuminated by the eternal
truth of divine love.”
Monday, August 14, 2006
But the cross on Pensacola Beach by Fort Pickens Road symbolizes the birth of the United States' first European settlement.
Emerging from the white sand dunes, the universal Christian symbol commemorates Spanish Conquistador Don Tristan de Luna's first Mass when he landed on Santa Rosa Island on Aug. 15, 1559.
On the same day 447 years later, religious and community leaders plan to surround the symbol at a 6 p.m. ceremony. They encourage the public to sink their toes into this event as well.
"We're rededicating the sign that identifies the cross," said Joe Barron, member of the Knights of Columbus, De Luna Assembly, the group responsible for erecting the memorial in 1954. "We'll be there with a color guard."
While the cross survived Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the sign that identified it did not. The Roman Catholic fraternal organization has remade the sign.
Bishop John H. Ricard of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee will lead the rededication at the cross on Fort Pickens Road.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Episcopalians from across the country gathered in Hayneville on Saturday to honor the memory of a seminary student who gave his life to protect a young black girl during the height of the civil rights movement.
His name was Jonathan Daniels and the fateful step he took that hot August day 46 years ago is memorialized every year in this Lowndes County town.
Named a martyr within the Episcopal Church, Daniels has become the focal point of a movement that claimed several lives in 1965 and eventually led to passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Daniels grew up in the small city where I was born. Amy and I visited Hayneville some years ago specifically to see where this had happened--the place looked frozen in history. Read Outside Agitator for the story.
The pope did not fall short of giving some advice about how to utilize vacation time, an opportunity for “cultural meetings, for prolonged moments of prayer and contemplation in contact with nature or in monasteries or religious structures. Having more free time means one can dedicate oneself with greater ease to dialogue with God, to meditation of the Sacred Scripture and to reading some useful formative book. Who undergoes this experience of repose of the spirit knows how useful it is not to reduce the holidays merely to fun and enjoyment.”
Holidays are also a time to “spend more time with relatives, to rediscover family and friends” and to “nourish ourselves with the Eucharist”. The pope said: “The faithful participation in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration helps us... to feel an active part of the ecclesial community, even when one is away from one’s parish. Wherever we find ourselves, we always need to nourish ourselves with the Eucharist. We are reminded of this by the gospel pages this Sunday, which present Jesus as the Bread of Life. He himself, according to the evangelist John, proclaims that he is the ‘living bread from heaven’ (cfr Jn 6:31), the bread that nourishes our faith and feeds communion among all Christians.”
Saturday, August 12, 2006
From Ventura County Star:
Twenty-five years ago, Mother Mary Angelica had a vision for Eternal Word Television Network, a channel offering nothing but Roman Catholic programming. She had little more than faith, $200 and a garage to use as a studio.
Now EWTN Global Catholic Network is available in 127 countries and more than 118 million households, and is capping a celebration of its founding in 1981. With viewers from Illinois to India, the satellite channel has grown to include radio and the Internet, and bills itself as the largest religious media network in the world.
The former Communist, whose mother was a devout Catholic, outlines a philosophy of Indian spirituality, communion with nature and “the harmony of opposites” that he said helped him in his fight against cancer. He deplores the impact of Western materialism on Asia and describes how his growing pacifism made him a bitter opponent of war, and especially of the Bush Administration’s War on Terror.
This week Avvenire, Italy’s leading Catholic daily, accused Terzani of “leading people astray”. He had “completely lost sight of the incarnate and historical dimension of religious experience”. Alessandro Gnocchi, a Catholic author and television presenter, accused Terzani in the conservative newspaper Libero of peddling “a confused mixture of Oriental philosophy, Marxism and Christianity” that muddled “St Francis with Zen Buddhism”.
Vatican sources said that this was anathema to Pope Benedict XVI, who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warned of the dangers of trying to reconcile Oriental and New Age spirituality with Catholicism.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Noted Middle Eastern scholar Bernard Lewis warns that Iran is preparing for
an apocalyptic "end of time” – and that it could come as soon as August 22.
The July 28 edition of NewsMax’s Insider Report pointed to the connection between that date, when Iran leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would respond to Western demands regarding Iran’s nuclear program, and a possible attack on Israel.
Now Lewis, professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton,
writes about that scenario. He notes in the Wall Street Journal that this year, August 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the night when Muhammad flew first to "the farthest mosque” – usually identified with Jerusalem – and then to heaven and back.
On a more hopeful note:
August 22nd is also the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, the internationally loved speaker and writer, presented a lecture on "Benedict XVI and Biblical Exegesis." Fr. Groeschel decried modern biblical exegesis that does not deal with Scripture on a theological plane. He cited the source of improper biblical exegesis as rationalism, which uses mathematical methods in philosophy, holding that only that which can be observed by the human senses and deduced by human reason is true.
"This way of thinking entered the schools of biblical scholars, resulting in a widespread skepticism, creating a desire to get rid of the mythological. But Catholics did not fall prey to this very easily. The dogmas of the Catholic faith from tradition held that the Word of God, the Scriptures, are unerring substantially and they are given to us, no matter their origins, to guide us on our way to salvation. Many Protestant churches did not have that anchor, so skepticism came in," he said.
"Scripture study grew further and further away from hermeneutics, which is the study of Scripture to make it an effective preaching and teaching tool," Groeschel continued. "Contemporary Scripture studies are about as scientific as examining the entrails of a dead chicken by the full moon in order to predict the weather the next day. It's not scientific!
"This way of thinking is dead!" Fr. Groeschel exclaimed. "Theories of a historical Jesus and a Christ of faith are not being taught in schools anymore. It is mentioned only in the pulpit these days, because people are not 'keeping up on things.' If you hear it from the pulpit you should approach the preacher and ask him if he believes in alchemy as well," Groeschel said.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Laurence’s day of triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him. For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the 0ffice of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. St Laurence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.
And we too, brethren, if we truly love him, let us imitate him. After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating his example; for Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps. In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ’s passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps. The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings. The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones. It is not the case, I mean to say, that after they crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.
The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes – yes, it truly includes – includes not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins, and the ivy of married people, and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgement of the truth.
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
“It is not by chance that I wanted to start my first encyclical letter with
the words of this Apostle: ‘God is love’ (Deus caritas est); those who abide in
love abide in God, and God abides in them’ (1 Jn 4:16). It is very difficult to
find such writings in other religions. And so such expressions bring us face to
face with a fact that is truly unique to Christianity.”
Starting out not from “an abstract treatment, but from a real
experience of love, with direct and concrete reference, that may even be
verified, to real people”, John highlights the components of Christian love that
the pope summed up in three points. The pontiff said: “The first regards the
very Source of love that the Apostle places in God, reaching the point where he
affirms that ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8,16). John is the only writer of the New
Testament who gives us definitions of God. He says, for example, that ‘God is
Spirit’ (Jn 4:24) or that ‘God is light’ (1 Jn 1:5). Here he proclaims with
striking intuition that ‘God is love’. Take note: this is not a simple
affirmation that ‘God loves’, still less is it that ‘love is God’! In other
words: John does not limit himself to describing divine conduct, he goes right
to its roots. Further, he does not intend to attribute a divine quality to a
generic, perhaps impersonal love; he does not rise from love to God, but he
turns directly to God to define his nature with the infinite dimension of love.
By this, John wants to say that the essential constituent of God is love and
hence all the activities of God are born from love and are stamped with love:
everything God does, he does for love and with love.”
The second point,
continued the pope, is that God, in his love, “did not limit himself to verbal
statements, but he truly committed himself and he ‘paid’ himself. As John in
fact writes, ‘God so loved the world (that is, all of us) that he gave his only
Son’ (Jn 3:16). Now, the love of God for mankind is concretized and manifested
in the love of Jesus himself. Once again, it is John who writes: Jesus, ‘having
loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end’ (Jn 13:1). In virtue
of this sacrificial and total love, we are all radically saved from sin, as the
Apostle writes once again: ‘My little children... if anyone does sin, we have an
advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the atoning
sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole
world’ (1 Jn 2:1-2; cfr 1 Jn 1:7). This is how far the love of Jesus went for
us: until the shedding of his own blood for our salvation! The Christian,
pausing in contemplation before this “excess” of love, cannot but ask himself
what a dutiful response would be.”
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
From Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Vandenberg, 64, said Monday that she was "startled" by the letter and
surprised that Dolan had "spent so much time and energy" on it when "other
important things" might demand his attention.
In his letter to the parish, Dolan said he was "disappointed because
Ms. Vandenberg and I had begun a fruitful dialogue on the matter last fall. At
that time, . . . I had advised her that any attempted ordination would affect
her relationship with the church.
"I believed her sincerity when she assured me that she was unaware of
such a consequence, and did not want that to happen."
Vandenberg said Dolan requested the September 2005 meeting, and in a
letter the month before it, he told her that "in the interim, you should not be
exercising any liturgical or pastoral ministry in the Catholic church lest
confusion or scandal arise among the people."
Monday, August 7, 2006
Great ticket system. If you have a will-call ticket, you can go to any ticket venue at the site and when the venue is 2 1/5 miles around this is a life saver. There they take your info and print out your ticket in a few seconds--excellent service.
Good parking. I consistently am able to park within a 1/4 mile of one of the entrances and pay $10, compare that to parking about 3/4 of a mile from Daytona and paying $40.
Easy in and Easy out. Again I encountered no traffic coming in or leaving--but then I am not a sheep and do not park or drive where everyone else does. But again in contrast to Daytona (where the shortcuts I used to know, now are apparently known by everyone) it took close to two hours to even begin to move.
Civilized Crowd. This is Indiana and apart from the three idiots--two women who did rebel yells as loud as they could toward each other throughout the race, and the fat 30+ year old guy who didn't know anything about NASCAR but kept yelling all the lines from Talladega Nights that he learned-- for the most part you're dealing with a classier crowd than you are at Michigan or Daytona (I've had a similar experience at Atlanta--classier crowd--but it could be that it was 35 degrees on the day of the race).
Great Soundsystem. Indy is about the only track I've ever been to where you can actually hear the announcer during the race.
Lousy Concession Stands. Usual crap food, long lines and stragegically place about an 1/8 of mile between stands. If want a grilled chicken sandwich, you are out of luck. I did get an excellent cob of sweet corn though in the infield (with no line). This actually is something that most NASCAR tracks have in common, I'm trying hard to think of any track I've been to that had anything like what you can find at most baseball stadiums now.
Lousy Racing. The thing about Indy is once the race starts the show is over. I used to think that the Indy 500 was boring because no one passed--but if NASCAR only raced at tracks like Indy and not at Daytona, Talladega and Bristol it would soon have very few fans. Watching one lap of racing followed by 90 laps of follow the leader is not all that exciting to watch in 90 degree, sun in your face with the rebel yell screaming broads behind you. Here's my take--bank the turns like Daytona--then you can build stands all the way around the track because then you'll actually have a competitive race.
Are these the relics of a prospective saint, or just the bones of another
sinner? Time — along with some forensic investigation, a little DNA analysis and some luck — may tell.
A half-century after the skull was unearthed at the site of a former Spanish mission near Darien, and 20 years after the Diocese of Savannah proposed beatification for the "Georgia martyrs," science and religion have found a common bond in their curiosity about the weathered remains.
"Without any living relatives, there is little chance of being very definitive about the identity," says Stojanowski. "But there are some tests that can narrow the possibilities."
That prospect has persuaded Harkins, historian at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and the official "vice postulator" for the Cause of the Georgia Martyrs, to spend a little of the faithful's money on a scientific long shot.
"The case for beatification of the Georgia martyrs is a historical one, and it will be accepted or rejected by the Vatican on the basis of the historical record," Harkins says.
Sunday, August 6, 2006
“On the transfigured face of Jesus shone a ray of the divine light that He guarded within. This very light radiates on the face of Christ on the day of the Resurrection. Thus, the Transfiguration is like an anticipation of the Paschal mystery... The... Resurrection overcame once and for all the power of the shadow of evil. With the risen Christ, truth and love triumph over deceit and sin. In Him, the light of God now illuminates the life of men and the path of history permanently. ‘I am the light of the world,’ He says in the Gospel. ‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ (Jn 8:12).”
Saturday, August 5, 2006
On the face of it the movie is mildly funny with long stretches in between laughs. The plot is very similar to Anchorman where the hot shot dumb guy is replaced with someone who is marginalized but more talented and the former star ends up in the gutter until he has a miraculous comeback. Much of the humor is based on Ricky Bobby's stupidity and no doubt based on Hollywood's stereotype of the Southern U.S. But the character of Ricky Bobby is inconsistent and perhaps the longest stick in the movie centers on him saying grace to "baby Jesus" with a great discourse that as I said in the headline borders on blasphemy.
Now first of all southern Baptist don't pray to the baby Jesus, in fact Catholics are the only organized group that has this devotion. Mother Angelica's Monastery in Alabama is dedicated to the baby Jesus (and I wondered if that wasn't the source of this bit) and is not too far from Talladega where some parts of the movie were filmed on location.
I'm sick of something sacred to those who believe, like I do, that Jesus is the Son of God, being used as a vehicle of ridicule. You won't see Hollywood ridicule Arabs and their faith in Allah or see Mohammad being mocked. Why? Because radical Moslem fundamentalist would blow up the theaters and the studios.
Christians have been taught to turn the other cheek, by Jesus. That has to make the movie makers happy. But Christian's who believe that Jesus is their savior shouldn't waste a dime on Talladega Nights.
A Catholic theologian was found dead in unclear circumstances at the Catholic University of Central Africa last Saturday.
Father Patrick Adeso was professor at the university and a consultant of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People. He was also the national chaplain of the Charismatic Renewal Movement in Cameroon.
His body was found in his room at the campus of the university in the eastern suburbs of the Cameroonian capital, according to media reports. MISNA reported that the door of his office was locked from inside and there was no sign that there had been violence.
The 55-year-old priest of Kumo Diocese was buried on Tuesday.
Friday, August 4, 2006
A priest of the Syracuse Diocese says Catholic Relief Services has dismissed him from its volunteer program in Africa because he is gay.
"They said I was an openly gay priest with a high profile. They said a controversial figure would not be in their best interests," said the Rev. Fred Daley, 58.
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Costello said he was disappointed by the decision.
Thursday, August 3, 2006
“We were able to locate the mother of this child, who is an 18-year-old female. We located her. She, in fact, reiterated that she did come to this clinic to have an abortion, and she gave birth to the baby while waiting for the doctor to arrive. The doctor was not here,” Lt. Ralph Garcia of the Hialeah Police Department told NBC6 News.
According to the anonymous caller who reported the incident, after the woman gave birth to her child in the waiting room, "Employees cut the umbilical cord, put the baby in a bag and walked away with it," Garcia said.
This year’s Ratzinger-Schülerkreis seminar will focus on "Schöpfung und
Evolution", creation and evolution. The private meeting is set for Saturday,
September 2, and Sunday, September 3, at the Pontifical Villa in the pope's
summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. The Ratzinger-Schülerkreis, that is the
‘Ratzinger Students’ Circle’, brings together once a year the old theology
professor, now pope Benedict XVI, and his former students to discuss a new topic
The first such meeting was held when Joseph Ratzinger was still a professor
in Regensburg. Once he became archbishop of Munich, his students asked him to
continue and he accepted.
When he moved to Rome to take up the post of prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith the annual event continued. Typically, meetings
were held at a monastery over a weekend. When the 2004 meeting ended,
participants left already knowing the following year’s subject: the concept of
God in Islam.
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
During the weekly audience, from Asia News Italy:
With “a heart full of sorrow” and the “chilling images of mangled bodies of so many people, especially children,” before his eyes, Benedict XVI appealed once again for prayers “for the dear, martyred region of the Middle East”, for more effective commitment from the international community for an “immediate cessation of all hostilities” and for “conditions for a definitive political solution to the crisis”.
Recalling in particular the massacre in Qana in Lebanon, the pope said: “I wish to repeat that nothing can justify the spilling of innocent blood, no matter from which part it comes!”
Benedict XVI emphasized that only a “definitive political solution to the crisis” will be capable of “delivering a more serene and safe future for generations to come”.
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
From the Office of Readings:
All holiness and perfection of soul lies in our love for Jesus Christ our
God, who is our Redeemer and our supreme good. It is part of the love of God to
acquire and to nurture all the virtues which make a man perfect.Has not God in
fact won for himself a claim on all our love?
From all eternity he has loved us. And it is in this vein that he speaks to
us: “O man, consider carefully that I first loved you. You had not yet appeared
in the light of day, nor did the world yet exist, but already I loved you. From
all eternity I have loved you”.
(Found) Here are the names:
Eileen McCafferty DiFranco
Joan Clark Houk
Bridget Mary Meehan (Sister for Christian Community) (author)
Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg
Cheryl Bristol (who identifies herself as a lesbian by birth, Catholic by choice)
Mary Ellen Robertson (author of two books)
Where do they work?
Can anyone find this info, it seems absent from every news story I've read. Time for them to come out of the closet.
Tropical Storm Chris, the third named storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane
season, developed early Tuesday near the Leeward Islands, forecasters said.
had sustained winds near 40 miles per hour, just above the threshold for a
tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.