Keep your eyes open!...


August 31, 2006


EXCERPT: For 56 Years, Battling Evils of Hollywood With Prayer (NY Times online subscription required)

Sister Mary Pia, wearing a threadbare habit, spoke from behind the bars of her gated parlor about the boundless power of prayer.  Hollywood is the Babylon of the U.S.A.,” she said. “For people who need prayers, we have to be here.” Just two long blocks from her monastery, you are in the thick of the electric lights of Hollywood Boulevard: among the dopers, the runaways, the surgically augmented, the homeless, the sex salesmen.

Sister Mary Pia, as pale and innocent as an uncooked loaf, prays for all of them, while knowing virtually nothing about them. There is nothing ironic about this, she believes: “One doesn’t need to be of it to know of it.” Indeed, in her 56 years at the Monastery of the Angels, she has ventured out no more than a few dozen times to attend religious retreats or make preparations for dying loved ones. Rarely has she set a shoe onto the stained sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard.

Yet the signs of iniquity are everywhere. Police helicopters routinely hover over the cloister. There is the dull roar of the Hollywood Freeway. The head of the monastery’s statue of St. Martin de Porres has been stolen twice. Neighbors recently complained so loudly about the belfry’s morning chimes to prayer that the authorities forced the peals silent.

“I think we pricked their conscience,” she said of the neighbors. “Is 7 o’clock too early to get up?” Sister Mary Pia is one of 21 Dominican nuns cloistered in this walled complex of stucco and steel. 

They do no missionary work here, canvass no alleys, cook in no soup kitchen. Prayer is the occupation. 

OF RELATED INTEREST: Stalin, Hitler Were Possessed by Satan — Vatican Exorcist

VIA Sadie Jaramillo: I am including with this letter a translation of an ancient prayer of the Desert Fathers of the Church in the east of protection against the attacks of the evil one. The eastern monks as they returned to their cells, preparing to retire, would sprinkle their room with holy water and their cot, and would then make the Sign of the Cross upon themselves four times to the four corners of the earth saying this prayer invoking the protection of the Holy Cross of Jesus. I recommend this prayer and this practice to you. Have holy water in your room. And as you retire sprinkle the holy water to the four sides of the room invoking the protection of the Precious Blood of Jesus; and then make the sign of the Cross upon yourself, to the north, south, east and west, surrounding yourself by the power of the Sacred Cross and the Passion of Christ.

"Let God arise, let His foes be scattered. Let those who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is blown away so will they be blown away. Like wax that melts before the fire, so the wicked shall perish in the presence of God. And the demons shall vanish before the countenance of those who love God and sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross. Let the just rejoice proclaiming:

Rejoice O most precious and life giving Cross of Our Lord, for you cast out the demons by the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who was nailed upon you and Who descended to sheol and overcame the power of the devil, giving to us His most Precious Cross to overcome every adversary. O most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, assist me together with the Holy Virgin and Mother of God, the Theotokos, and all the saints now and forever. Amen.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

17. "Daniel said, 'If the body is strong, the soul weakens.  If the body weakens, the soul is strong.'  He also said, 'If the body is prosperous, the soul grows lean; if the body is lean, the soul grows prosperous'."

August 30, 2006

(Eph 5:25-27) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.


Reflection by Father Ted – August 28, 2006 

My Lord Jesus Christ, in the readings for the Masses of yesterday and of tomorrow You remind me of the importance of always speaking the truth whether convenient or inconvenient – especially with regards to the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage.

You have made us different. Yet we complement each other. And Your desire as is the desire of the Father is that most of us share life with each other in marriage.

And so You have told us, through scripture and through tradition, how we are to relate to each other in marriage.

The man has certain responsibilities within the marriage and so does the woman. Yet these responsibilities are different.

Through the writings of Saint Paul, You have brought to light some of these responsibilities. And through the writings of some of our modern Popes You have brought to light other responsibilities – which complement each other.

Through Saint Paul You have reminded us of one of the responsibilities of the husband – namely to be the head of the family [but not the boss]. And through Pope Pius XI and through Pope John Paul II You have reminded us of one of the responsibilities of the wife – namely to be the heart of the family.

These responsibilities differ. Yet both are necessary. Just as the body needs both a head and a heart to function well, so does the family.

In these different relationships You also remind us that each spouse is to serve the other. These marital functions are necessary and are viable only when they are exercised out of love.

You, Yourself, taught us how to serve in love throughout Your entire life. Yet You emphasized that expression of love to Your Apostles, in particular, on Holy Thursday night when You washed the feet of the Twelve.

You have also emphasized for the well-being of the family and of the individual members the importance of praying – together and individually.

You have taught me to teach spouses that one of the best ways to pray is for each to ask You and the Father, through the Holy Spirit, to help each to become the man/woman, the husband/wife, the father/mother that You want them to be. Each one needs Your help to fulfill their responsibilities and thus enable them all to become the saints and the witnesses of sanctity that You desire for them.

Dearest Jesus, help all couples to love each other as You intend them to do. May Your grace fill them with the fire of Your love.

Thank You, Jesus, for revealing the greatness of marriage through Your holy leaders of Your holy Church.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

13. "Agatho said, 'If an angry man were to raise the dead, God would still be displeased with his anger'."

August 29, 2006

(Mat 5:10) Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Last month, CBN News brought you the story of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who was thrown in prison for converting from Islam to Christianity. He has since been released and has left Afghanistan.

But countless other ex-Muslims continue to face persecution--even here in the West.

The images have become all too familiar--Muslims marching in anger and threatening those they say have insulted Islam. The most recent trigger was cartoons of Mohammed, which sparked riots across the Muslim world. But perhaps nothing is more offensive to Muslims than apostasy, when a fellow believer abandons the faith.

“The consensus among Muslim scholars for a long time -- for 14 centuries -- was that those who leave the faith should be killed,” said terrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross.

Gartenstein-Ross has studied Islamic law extensively. He says those who convert out of Islam--especially Christians--lead a lonely and dangerous existence.

He said, “And even today, the view that apostates from Islam should not be killed -- that people should be free to convert to another religion -- is very much a minority view.” Within the Islamic world there are at least 14 states that make it illegal to convert out of Islam. In at least eight of those states, it is punishable by death.

RELATED: Death threats send Malaysian Muslim into hiding after she becomes a Christian for the man she loves

MORE: The Christian presence in the Islamic State

COMMENTARY: The Vatican's Quest for Reciprocity


Militants in the Gaza Strip freed two kidnapped journalists from the American Fox News Channel yesterday after forcing them at gunpoint to say on a videotape that they had converted to Islam.

News correspondent Steve Centanni, a 60-year-old American, and New Zealand-born cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, looked happy but tired after two weeks of captivity in the Palestinian coastal strip.

A previously unknown group called the Holy Jihad Brigades had made a sweeping demand for the United States to free Muslim prisoners in exchange for the release of the men.

Mr Centanni told the Fox Channel: "I am really fine, healthy, in good shape and so happy to be free." He said that he and Mr Wiig had been forced at gunpoint to say they were converting to Islam. 

The NY Sun reports that the Palestinian terrorist group, Holy Jihad Brigades, offered the kidnapped journalist three choices: conversion to Islam, paying the jizya (non-Muslim tax paid to their Muslim masters) or war [death]. The journalists chose the “conversion” option. This is said to be another example of the Islamic war against Western nations being religious in nature rather than political.

RELATED: British converts to Islam face 2 kinds of hurdles

COMMENTARY: Achilles' Heel

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

9. Daniel said, 'When Arsenius was dying, he gave us this instruction: Do not make any offering for me. If I have made any offering for myself during my life, I shall find it.'

August 25, 2006  



VIA Nadine: How To Stop Sinning! By the late Father Kilian McGowan,C.P.

Our quest for God in this life may be summed up into two basic movements of the human spirit: First-to live unto God, and secondly-to die unto sin. Our perfection as Christians consists in a wholehearted and practical love of God; and sin is the only real obstacle to this perfection.

The Catechism tells us that sin is a thought, desire, word, deed or omission against the law of God. This cold language unfortunately fails to dramatize the betrayal of God's love that is found in mortal sin. For mortal sin is far more than a transgression of God's law; it is a rejection of God Himself. It does much more than gravely damage the soul cast in God's likeness; it actually evicts the Adorable Trinity from its residence in the human heart. It is wholesale disaster for the follower of Christ.

I believe that every sincere Christian instinctively realizes this, even though he may not be able to spell out the theological effects of mortal sin. It's not surprising, therefore, that we priests are often asked this question: "Father, why is it that no matter how much I resolve not to commit serious sin, I keep falling back into the same old sin?' First, let's take a look at the very key world "resolve". What is a sincere resolution? It's not a half-hearted hope to do better. It's not a wishy-washy intention to do God's will. It's a firm determination!! Note those two words: FIRM and DETERMINATION. A firm determination is a demanding leader that is resolved to use every possible means to achieve victory. Here the victory is to be won by total warfare against that enemy we call "sin."

The first weapon is PRAYER. Not just morning and night prayers, or rosaries and novenas. But prayer with or without words-at ALL times and in ALL our needs. Our Lord warned us to pray without ceasing and to pray least we fall into temptation.

Under this leading may we include the thought of the Presence of God-one of the greatest bulwarks against temptation; and meditation on the life and suffering of our Blessed Lord. Many saints have said that it is impossible to meditate daily on the Passion of Jesus and still hold onto a habit of serious sin. One or the other must go!

A second means is the SACRAMENTS. Each sacrament produces a certain spiritual effect in your soul. The sacrament of Penance not only destroys sin in the soul of a well-disposed penitent; it actually and really weakens the tendencies that lead one into sin. Because it attacks the disease of sin at its source, we can quickly see how this spiritual therapy must be used to maintain or regain spiritual health.

To explain how the Eucharist helps in this warfare against sin would take volumes. Suffice to say that it heals the scars of sin, infuses new spiritual energy into the campaign, and recalls the wandering inclinations of our heart and soul to God. It does all this in a very direct way-by bringing the Savior Himself into our hearts. Of all remedies, this obviously will ever be the greatest, because It gives you ALL that God has to offer.

Now, you may pray often-you may receive the sacraments frequently-even daily, but still that is not enough. You must also avoid the OCCASIONS OF SIN. This is the third means. Without this you have no firm determination to avoid sin. Occasions are, of course, those persons, places and things which you know from past experience have been the cause of your spiritual downfall. Don't kid yourself into believing that you can still love God and hang onto these occasions of sin!

We have seen briefly what sin does to us. To see what it did to God, take up your crucifix. That's the price our Lord was willing to pay to deliver you from the slavery of sin. What are you willing to do to avoid that slavery and to show a grateful love? We should start with a firm determination to avoid mortal sin. But before you do-if you haven't already-ask our Blessed Savior for the firmness and determination!

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

8. "A brother asked Poemen, 'What am I to do do, for I become weak just by sitting in my cell?'  He said, 'Despise no one, condemn no one, revile no one: and God will give you quietness, and you will sit at peace in your cell."

August 24, 2006  


Pope Benedict XVI will journey to a remote monastery in the Abruzzo region east of Rome on Friday to visit an icon said to show the face of Christ. 

Known by locals as Veronica's Veil, the cloth, measuring 9 1/2 in by 6 1/2 in, is said to have been used by St Veronica to wipe Jesus's brow on his walk to the cross. It later assumed Jesus's image, showing a man, eyes open, with a beard and a moustache.

The history of the icon is sketchy. Nothing is known of its whereabouts after Christ's crucifixion, but it is said to have been taken to Rome in 1297. Locals in the remote town of Manoppello in Abruzzo maintain the icon was brought to them 500 years ago by a wandering pilgrim.

It now resides in the town's monastery, where it is stretched between two panes of glass in a golden frame. The image clearly shows the face of a Christ-like figure. When held up against daylight, however, the image on the veil disappears.

In recent months, Veronica's Veil has been the subject of an influx of tourists from Rome, keen to see what they view as a 'holy relic'. The Vatican has stressed, however, that the Pope's visit does not mean he is officially endorsing the veil.

In 1999, scientists from Bari University in southern Italy reported that the image had not been painted or embossed on the veil in any way that could be explained. 

RELATED: Pope's visit lifts hope icon will be recognised



Through thee the divine likeness was securely preserved, O Mother Veronica; for thou didst carry the cross and followed Christ. By example and precept thou didst teach us to ignore the body because it is perishable, and to attend to the concerns of the undying soul. Therefore, doth thy soul rejoice with the angels.

St. Veronica is the name given to the woman with the issue of blood who was healed by touching the hem of Jesus' garment. (Matt. 9:20) When the Lord was carrying the Cross to Golgotha, she stepped out of the crowd to wipe the Lord's brow with her veil. For this act of kindness, the Lord's likeness was transferred to the cloth. In fact, the name "Veronica" means "True Image" - "Vera Icon". She carried this with her always. She and her husband, Zacchaios, became missionaries for Christ, carrying the Gospel of Christ as far as southern France. It is said that she showed the icon not made by hands to Emperor Tiberius in order to heal him from an incurable disease. She also had a statue made of Jesus Christ, before which she prayed. It remained until the time of Julian the Apostate, who had it reworked into a statue of Zeus. St. Veronica entered into rest in the Lord after a long and fruitful life.

(Mar 5:27-29) When she had heard of Jesus, came in the crowd behind him, and touched his garment. For she said: If I shall touch but his garment, I shall be whole. And forthwith the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the evil.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

6. "A brother said to Poemen, 'If I see my brother sin is it really right not to tell anyone about it?' He said, 'When we cover our brother's sin, God covers our sin.  When we tell people about our brother's guilt, God does the same with ours."

August 23, 2006  


Desperate to Escape: Christians Flee Lebanon
Archbishop tells church to stay in Lebanon: 'You'll make it'
Maronite cardinal concerned about Christian exodus

VIA John and Gloria (in Jerusalem): Thanks to God we are well, and although I cannot claim to speak for all Christians, my impression is that they are suffering most from the immediate and total decline of tourism. Many have been laid off work until pilgrims and tourists return. As Christians, we are indeed warned to expect 'wars and rumours of wars' (Mk 13,7-8). As an Israeli, though, this war has been a very sad, disappointing and frustrating episode, which has left us with a particular sense of foreboding for the future.

With the outbreak of war on July 12th, the whole of the northern region of Israel, including all of Galilee, became a war zone, with 100-250 rockets a day falling mainly on the populated areas. By the end of the 34 days of war 3,790 rockets had been counted. Between a half and two thirds of the population fled southwards, and the rest lived in bomb shelters. Life in Jerusalem carried on much as before, except for the frequent roar of warplanes overhead, and the sudden departure of all the tourists and pilgrims. Jewish and Arab refugees from the North filled up some of the vacancies left by the tourists. The more elderly and infirm filled up our clinics! From the very start of this war things have not gone well for Israelis. After only a few days, our cleaner at the clinic, a lady accustomed to wars, admitted to me that the IDF troops did not 'shine' as they used to. Elite troops were being seriously challenged in the battlefield, 2 Apache helicopters crashed into each other, another was brought down by 'friendly' fire. Too much emphasis was put on the aerial bombing campaign, which lead to outrageous civilian casualties and was rightly condemned. Armed Hezbullah guerillas kept returning to the places which the IDF had claimed they had cleared and controlled. The troops were painfully vulnerable to Hezbullah's state-of-the-art anti-tank weapons, which easily pierced the armour of the latest Merkava tanks from a distance of several kilometers. So Israeli casualties were higher than expected on the battlefield. The rockets could not be stopped, so casualties were also rising on the home front. One rocket fell into a group of IDF reservists relaxing on a Kibbutz near the border, killing 12 outright and wounding many more. The foreign media seemed to ignore Israeli suffering and report the war mainly from the 'other side'.

The Israeli government was also not up to the mark. The prime minister announced victory at a ludicrously early stage. Then for upwards of two weeks his government hesitated to send an adequate fighting force into the areas of Lebanon that were controlled by Hizbullah, south of the Litany River. The full ground force finally started moving only 48 hours before the ceasefire came into effect. This final push cost many more lives (including another helicopter and its crew), but of course it was too late to make any serious impact on Hizbullah. What should have been a swift and effective combined operation to take Hizbullah out of southern Lebanon turned out to be slow, hesitant, and only very partially effective. In 34 days and at the cost of 118 soldier's lives, it probably achieved only about a half of what it set out to achieve. At that point the government only too eagerly accepted the diplomatic solution known as UNSCR 1701.

It remains to be seen whether this resolution will actually help to remove Hizballah's militia from the scene. Signs are that it will not. Today, 5 days after the ceasefire, the Jerusalem Post's analyst (Barry Rubin) is announcing that "the whole basis of the ceasefire is on the verge of collapse", since "Hizbullah will not even accept the minimum actions needed to activate" it. In clear contradiction to the terms of the ceasefire, Hizbullah retains its arms and continues to move freely throughout southern Lebanon, taking up positions again near the Israeli border. Nasrallah has refused to discuss disarming his militia at this time, or removing them from the areas south of the Litany River. As expected, neither the Lebanese Army nor the UNIFIL troops appear willing to disarm them. The international troops have not yet arrived to stop more weapons arriving from Syria. And, of course, the 2 kidnapped Israeli troops have still not been released. Failure to implement UNSCR 1701 may actually turn out to be a far greater disaster for UN credibility, than the fact that the UN took so long to achieve a ceasefire.

So from here it appears that Nasrallah has every reason to celebrate. He has actually increased his standing in the Arab world and is already acting as the de facto ruler of Lebanon. We have seen that nothing in Lebanon can happen without his permission, including the deployment of the Lebanese Army. The ineffective implementation of the ceasefire will give him the opportunity to consolidate his leadership politically (as Hamas has done in the PA), regroup his militia (if Nasrallah becomes the country's formal leader through elections, they may eventually become the backbone of the Lebanese Army) and retain his remaining stock of 10,000+ missiles, which continue to threaten Israel from virtually every region of Lebanon. No doubt Hizbullah will soon receive even more powerful missiles from the Iranians. It will not be surprising therefore, if fighting starts up again in the near future.

With Lebanon well on the way to becoming a mini-Iran, it is clear that we are just at the beginning of a wider conflict conceived and inspired by the Iranians, with the purpose of destroying Israel from within (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc) and from without - from Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Iranian nuclear weapons will provide this Islamist alliance with a nuclear 'umbrella' within a few years, meaning that every minor conflict could rapidly turn into a nuclear confrontation resulting in the desired annihilation of Israel. Not surprisingly, then, the Israelis regard the Iranian's pursuit of nuclear weapons as an existential threat which needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later (within 2-3 years at the most), and the failure of diplomacy at every turn is making military force seem inevitable. Although the military aims would simply be to destroy the installations of the Iranian nuclear project, nobody doubts that the Iranian reaction would take it far beyond that. So a regional war bringing all the members of the Iranian alliance (Iran, Iraq, Syria, and now Lebanon) against Israel is the least we should expect. If, as seems likely, the US and other Western countries are involved in the attack against Iranian nuclear sites, there will also be global repercussions, such as economic instability caused by huge rises in oil prices, and Islamist insurrections throughout the Western world aimed at bringing down the West's economy and civilization.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

5. "Joseph asked Poemen, 'Tell me how to become a monk.' He said, 'If you want to find rest in this life and the next, say at every moment, "who am I" and judge no one."

August 22, 2006  


Iran said Tuesday it was ready for "serious negotiations'' on its nuclear program, but a semi-official news agency said the government was unwilling to abandon nuclear enrichment - the key U.S. demand.

Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani delivered a written response to ambassadors of Britain, China, Russia, France, Germany and Switzerland to a package of incentives aimed at persuading Iran to roll back on its nuclear program.

Larijani refused to disclose whether the response included an offer to suspend uranium enrichment, and no details of Iran's response were released. The state-run television quoted Larijani as telling the diplomats Iran ``is prepared as of Aug. 23 to enter serious negotiations'' with the countries that proposed the incentives package.

But the semi-official Fars news agency reported that Iran rejected calls to suspend "nuclear activities'' - or uranium enrichment - and "instead has offered a new formula to resolve the issues through dialogue.'' Iran delivered its response to the incentives offer nine days before a U.N. Security Council deadline for Iran to halt enrichment or face possible economic and political sanctions.


Iran refuses UN inspectors access to its underground nuclear site
Ayatollah vows no nuclear deal
Opinion: Iran perfects foot-dragging art

VIA Nadine: Queenship of Mary 

Dear God, the Feast Day of Mary Our Queen was instituted by Pope Pius XII to consecrate the whole human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I ask our Holy Queen to renew this consecration. Protect each person in this world as the precious child of God that we are. Fight for us against the wickedness and temptations of the devil, convict us of our need for repentance, and lead us to reconciliation through Jesus. O Lord, bring all of humanity under the authority of Mary's queenship. Jesus have mercy on us and on the whole world, and help us to fully use the tools of conversion. Mary our Queen, pray for us. Amen.


CATHOLIC CULTURE: The Queenship of Mary
Mary in Our Life: "Chapter VII: The Queenship of Mary"

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

4. Antony also said, 'God does not let inner conflicts be stirred up in this generation, because he knows that they are too weak to bear it.'

August 17, 2006  

BLOG EXCERPT: Why Things Are Crazy by Father Jonathan Morris

Things are crazy.

Things are crazy because hatred is not a building — it can't be bombed. Things are crazy because religious fanaticism is not a person — it doesn't die. Fathers pass on both to their sons, mothers to their daughters, and another generation is born. What will the next generation of Muslims look like? What will they think and believe? What will motivate them? This, more than any military or political strategy, will determine what New York — and middle America, too — will look and feel like in 20 years.

The ultimate answer is not a policy change. It is not dove or hawk-like foreign policy, or even a change in the White House. Let me show you why:

Nobody likes to say his name. It is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he is the leader of Iran. Last month he told the Western world it would have to wait — until August 22 — before Iran would respond to the international proposal for a cessation of their nuclear efforts. A typical game of diplomatic stalling? Not at all.

August 22 is the end of the Iranian month of Mordad, and this year corresponds with the Islamic date of Rajab 28, the day Saladin conquered and entered Jerusalem.

President Ahmadinejad is the most dangerous man on earth because his personal fantasies are reinforced with bad theology. He believes Allah has given him the task to prepare the way for the return of the 12th imam, the "hidden prophet," who disappeared in the year 874 AD, and who will return when the world is prepared to usher in an era of global Islamic justice. The right time for his return, according to the tradition, will be marked by international strife, conflict, and bloodshed. Ahmadinejad has stated publicly and in no uncertain terms, that he and his followers can move forward this apocalyptic timetable.

I don't think anything will happen on August 22, but I do think if President Ahmadinejad had his way, it would. He has suggested the best solution to the conflict in the Middle East is to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, and he has put his money where his mouth is by providing weapons and moral support to the Hezbollah militia.

As we move forward as a country in these troubling times, our war must be first and foremost against the ideas that shape the hearts of the Muslim masses. We await, with hope, the day a group of strong Muslim leaders will stand up for what is right, and reject the lies of pseudo religion. To do this, they must risk their lives, and some of them will die. That, however, would be real martyrdom, something worthwhile dying for.

What will you do today and then on August 22? I hope you do what I will do — live my day as if it were my first and last. I hope to go about my business, not as usual, but in a better way. I will thank God for every living moment, appreciate and cultivate the relationships I have, and prepare my soul to someday meet my maker.


Iranian president claims Hezbollah victory as 'God's promise'
Waiting for the rapture in Iran
Life, death and the lure of war
The frightening truth of why Iran wants a bomb

OPENING LINE OF PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD'S NEW BLOG: "In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate Oh Almighty God, please, we beg you to send us our Guardian- who You have promised us- soon and appoint us as His close companions."

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

3. A brother said to Antony, 'Pray for me.'  He answered, 'Neither I nor God will have mercy on you unless you do something about it yourself and ask God's help.'"

August 16, 2006  


Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the “victory of peace” in the Middle East, as his special envoy led the faithful in prayers in Lebanon, where a UN-brokered ceasefire appeared to be holding.

The pontiff also lamented that humanity was anxious about a world torn by violence, and denounced the worsening of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and the daily bloodshed in Iraq.

Benedict addressed pilgrims in the courtyard of his summer residence in the hill town of Castel Gandolfo on a Catholic feast day honouring Mary.

In the early morning, the Pope celebrated Mass in a small church in the town south-east of Rome. During his off-the-cuff homily, the pope invoked Mary, asking her to “help the victory of peace today.” Benedict also prayed “for the people of the Middle East, still torn by war, so that they fulfil the will of God who has plans of peace.”

VIA VATICAN RADIO: Papal Envoy to Lebanon Cardinal Roger Etchegaray presided over mass at the Marian shrine of Harissa. In his homily the former head of the Vatican’s council for justice and peace, urged forgiveness and reconciliation between the religions and cultures that populate the Middle East. The cardinal spoke of the need to eradictae the source of evil that led to the spilling of so much blood. Pointing out that over 30 percent of the war’s victims were under 12 years of age, he said that violence reduces men to beasts, adding that the true path to peace must be spiritual before it can be political. Lebanese Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch, was present at today’s mass. He says the Pope’s attention for the people of Lebanon has been of great support through troubled times.



As the ceasefire takes effect in Lebanon and Israel, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) announces plans for an emergency response and rehabilitation program of at least $10 million for the present Middle East crisis including impacted areas in Gaza, northern Israel and Lebanon. Increased resources will enable CRS and its local partners Caritas Lebanon and Caritas Jerusalem to provide crucial life-saving supplies for both immediate emergency needs and post-ceasefire recovery efforts.

Since the crisis in Lebanon began nearly one month ago, more than 900,000 people have been displaced—nearly 25% of the total population. To date, CRS and Caritas Lebanon have aided more than 85,000 displaced people throughout Lebanon and expect to ultimately assist upwards of 100,000 evacuees.

"We are continuing to provide much-needed emergency assistance, while also undertaking long-term recovery and reconstruction," says Mark Schnellbaecher, CRS Regional Director for the Middle East, who is based in Beirut. "Our goal is not just to help people return to what is left of their homes, but to rebuild lives and communities."

MORE: Gaza crisis worsening, Catholic relief organization says


The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

1. Antony said, 'Some wear out their bodies by fasting; but because they have no discretion this only puts them further away from God.'"

August 15, 2006  

LINK: Holy Days of Obligation, Or Holy Days of Opportunity by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: The Feast of the Assumption


“But even though, according to nature, your most holy and happy soul is separated from your most blessed and stainless body and the body as usual is delivered to the tomb, it will not remain in the power of death and is not subject to decay. For just as her virginity remained inviolate while giving birth, when she departed her body was preserved from destruction and only taken to a better and more divine tabernacle, which is not subject to any death . . . Hence I will call her holy passing not death, but falling asleep or departure, or better still, arrival. . . .

"Your stainless and wholly immaculate body has not been left on earth; the Queen, the Mistress, the Mother of God who has truly given birth to God has been translated to the royal palaces of heaven. .

"Angels and archangels have borne you upwards, the impure spirits of the air have trembled at your ascension. The air is purified, the ether sanctified by your passing through them. . . the powers meet you with sacred hymns and much solemnity, saying something like this: Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, elect like the sun? [cf. Cant 6:9] How you have blossomed forth, how sweet you have become! You are the flower of the field, a lily among the thorns [Cant 2.1] . . . Not like Elijah have you entered heaven, not like Paul have you been rapt to the third heaven; no, you have penetrated even to the royal throne of your Son himself . . . a blessing for the world, a sanctification of the universe, refreshment for those who are tired, comfort for the sorrowing, healing for the sick, a port for those in danger, pardon for sinners, soothing balm for the oppressed, quick help for all who pray to you. . .

“Good Mistress, graciously look down on us; direct and guide our destinies wheresoever you will. Pacify the storm of our wicked passions, guide us into the quiet port of the divine will and grant us the blessedness to come.”



The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Non-Judgement

10.  A hermit said, 'Do not judge an adulterer if you are chaste or you will break the law of God just as much as he does.  For he who said 'Do not commit adultery' also said 'Do not judge."

August 3, 2006


Christmas in July
The true story of a miracle because a Mom believed
By Margaret Marie Marsala
He was five years old, and cute as any kid could ever be.  His name was Chris--Christian, to be exact.  And his short life had been filled love and laughter.  But, it had also had great challenges.  Christian had seizures.  Every kind of seizure there was, from Grand mal to petite mall, focals, drops... every kind.  He was a normal little boy, except for the seizures.
It was the last weekend in July on Eastern Long Island, and it was hot.  No air conditioning, and Christian was on the couch in the hot living-room.  His mom was trying to make him laugh, though the seizures this day were relentless.  And the meds Chris was on weren't working too well. 
As they watched Saturday morning cartoons together, Mom drank her coffee.  She paused as she sipped from her cup, and silently said a prayer: "Please, Lord Jesus, help me to know how to help my little boy through this.  If we can't stop the seizures, please Jesus, help me to make it easier for him to endure them."
Right then, a commercial came on for a local hardware store.  It was a Christmas in July Commercial, and Christian's eyes grew wide, and a bit of a smile crossed his sweet little face as the man with the Santa's cap spoke about a sale of wood.  Mom watched Chris curiously, taking another sip of her coffee.
An hour later the cartoons ended, but something unusual happened... a Christmas movie came on:  Miracle on 34th Street.  Mom sat watching, as did Christian, both a bit in awe.  There was something intriguing about the movie coming on right then.  A Christmas movie.
Christmas in July.  Mom was silent for a time, thinking.  She gazed at Chris, and thought, That's an interesting idea. Chris loved Christmas. They both did.  Why not, she thought.  We could celebrate the birth of Jesus in the middle of this heat... 
Suddenly, a knock came at the front door.  Mom's brother, Chris' uncle, stood there, holding a large air-conditioning window unit.  "Hey," he said, smiling, "I was wondering if you could use this?"  He paused, then added, "We just got central air, and don't need this unit any more."
Mom smiled gratefully, and nodded, as he brought the unit into the living room, placing it in the window near the TV and turned it on.  She hugged her brother, and after he left, she hung a quilt over the doorway to hall so that the A /C unit could work.  The room slowly cooled, and Mom sat once again across from Christian.  Santa in the movie spoke about believing, as Mom sipped a fresh cup of coffee, nodding in agreement.  Believing.  It really was powerful.
Then it hit her... Christmas in July.  Mom glanced at Christian, glued to the TV, as Santa spoke in Dutch to the little girl on his lap. 
"Why not?" she thought.
Mom rose, making a quick phone call to a friend across the street.  Her friend came over to sit with Chris for a little bit.  Mom checked her purse to see how much money she had.  $9.76.  Not much. 
She left, going to a store called Odd Lot, and purchased a bag of cowboys and Indians for $.75 cents, and bought a matching fort and tee-pee set up for $.99 cents.  She also bought an unpainted wooden train set for $1.70, and some orange paint--Christian's favorite color--for $.60 cents.  And she bought a large teddy bear for $1.50.  Then she went to the grocery store and bought a whole roaster chicken for $3.10, two large potatoes, and a five pound bag of flour.
She returned home, and after her friend left, she dug out more Christmas videos from the hall closet.  And she found the small two-foot Christmas tree they usually used for a decoration.  She put the tree on the table by the A/C in the window near the TV set, and as they watched another Christmas movie on the VCR, she decorated the little tree with small ornaments.  Then she made a batch of sugar cookie dough as Chris watched the next movie.  Soon the house was filled with the sweet aroma of Christmas cookies, as Holiday carols rang out.
Christian was delighted, his eyes full of joy.  Mom was beside herself to see him so happy.  "Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you."
That evening, after she tucked Christian into his bed, she painted the wooden train a bright orange, and as it dried, she wrapped the rest of the presents with Christmas wrapping paper left over from the last season, and placed them under the tiny tree. 
The next morning was Sunday... Their Christmas in July.  Chris clapped his hands at the sight of the orange train set, and other presents under the little tree. 
Christmas carols playing, Mom watched as Chris enjoyed his few presents.  A few hours later, the house was filled with the lovely aroma of a chicken roasting, and the movie, "Home Alone," played on the TV.
It was a while before Mom realized something.  Something very strange...
Christian hadn't had a seizure since he awakened.  Not a one.  She didn't think anything of it at first.  After all, he had gone before without seizures this long.  Only this time it was different.  
There were no seizures that day.  Or the next.  Or the next day after that. 
And he never has since that blessed weekend.  Sixteen years later, Christian is 21, in college, and starting his own publishing company.  And to this day, his mom and he celebrate that miracle weekend--the last weekend in July every year.  Little Christmas.  As he moves on, and marries and has his own family, his mother knows that this tradition will probably fade away.  But it will never fade away in her heart.  Ever.
{{{{{Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you.}}}}}
The power is in believing. 
Copyright 2006 [email protected]

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Non-Judgement

8. A brother asked Poemen, 'What am I to do, for I become weak just by sitting in my cell?' He said, 'Despise no one, condemn no one, revile no one: and God will give you quietness, and you will sit at peace in your cell.'  

August 3, 2006 

(John 17:20-22) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one.

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VIA Jim McCrea: When You Miss One Holy Communion 

It is well for you to consider what you lose every time that you pass up Holy Communion.

1. You miss a personal visit with Jesus, Author of all spiritual energy and of all holiness;
2. You lose a special increase of sanctifying grace, which makes your soul more pleasing to God;
3. You lose a quota of sacramental grace which entitles you to special help in times of temptation and in the discharge of your daily duties;
4. You lose a precious opportunity of having all of your venial sins wiped away;
5. You miss the special preserving influence which each Holy Communion confers against the fires of passion;
6. You miss the opportunity of having remitted a part, or all, of the temporal punishments due to your sins;
7. You lose the spiritual joy, the sweetness and particular comfort that come from a fervent Holy Communion;
8. You lose a part of the glory that your body might enjoy at its resurrection on the Last Day;
9. You lose the greater degree of glory you would possess in Heaven for all eternity;
10. You may lose: a) complete victory over some fault or passion; b) some particular grace long prayed for; c) the conversion or salvation of some soul; d) deliverance of a relative or friend from Purgatory; e) many graces for others, both the living and the dead.

Will a few extra minutes of sleep repay you for all these losses?

What riches hundreds of thousands of Catholics deprive themselves daily by neglecting Mass. It in itself is the best preparation for Holy Communion. At the hour of death our greatest consolation will be the Masses we have heard and the Holy Communions received.

With Ecclesiastical Approval Chicago, December 6, 1940

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Non-Judgement 

6. A brother said to Poemen, 'If I see my brother sin is it really right not to tell anyone about it?'  He said, 'When we cover our brother's sin, God covers our sin.  When we tell people about our brother's guilt, God does the same with ours.'

August 2, 2006 

(Lam 3:31-33) For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men.

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OF INTEREST: Tisha B'Av on the Gregorian calendar: sunset August 2, 2006 - nightfall August 3, 2006

Tisha B'Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally have occurred on the ninth of Av.

Tisha B'Av means "the ninth (day) of Av." It usually occurs during August.

Tisha B'Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 BC; the second by the Romans in 70 AD).

Although this holiday is primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of the Temple, it is appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people, many of which occurred on this day (link to list), most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Tisha B'Av is the culmination of a three week period of increasing mourning, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed. During this three week period, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine (except on the Shabbat) and from wearing new clothing.

The restrictions on Tisha B'Av are similar to those on Yom Kippur: to refrain from eating and drinking (even water); washing, bathing, shaving or wearing cosmetics; wearing leather shoes; engaging in sexual relations; and studying Torah. Work in the ordinary sense of the word [rather than the Shabbat sense] is also restricted. People who are ill need not fast on this day. Many of the traditional mourning practices are observed: people refrain from smiles, laughter and idle conversation, and sit on low stools.

In synagogue, the book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited. The ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in black.

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The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Non-Judgement 

5. Joseph asked Poemen, 'Tell me how to become a monk.'  He said, 'If you want to find rest in this life and the next, say at every moment, "Who am I" and judge no one.'

August 1, 2006 

(Mat 9:37-38) Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

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Reflection by Father Ted, July 31st: 

Thank You, Jesus, for giving to us today this wonderful feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. You called him home to be with You, and the Father and Your Holy Spirit on this day 450 years ago.

He had served You and Your Church well.

You taught him the priorities of life when You allowed him to be wounded and he needed many, many months to recover from his wounds and from the surgery on his leg.

You provided for his true needs when he suffered boredom during his lengthy recuperation. You did that by depriving him of secular reading and offering to him only spiritual reading from the lives of the saints and other spiritual works.

You taught him through these books to realize the joy of being one of Your companions.

You always wanted him to be a close friend of Yours. Yet is was not until his injury and his time of recovery that he came to realize the benefits, the blessing of being one of Your intimate friends.

When he learned the truth of the joy of Your friendship, he desired to share that joy with others.

Your love of him and his love of You radiated in his very presence.

He reflected in his very being You – just as You reflect the very being of the Father.

When others saw him – because of Your Holy Spirit dwelling within him, they saw You.

And when they saw You, dearest Jesus, they saw the Father; and they began to experience the tremendous love of the Father who is love.

My Jesus, You filled Ignatius with Your love. He accepted that awesome gift.

Because of You he brought others to You so that You could share Your love with them.

You taught him; You taught him Your way of life; You taught him how to radiate You and how to radiate Your love to others.

Jesus, as You taught Ignatius of Loyola to become a saint, now teach me.

Teach me Your way of life.

Teach me to radiate You and to radiate Your love to others.

I want to love You Jesus; I want to love You as Saint Ignatius loved You – with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, with all my mind.

Jesus, help me to help others to be like You – to experience the fullness of the love of the Father.

May I begin to love others as You love them, as You taught Saint Ignatius to love.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Non-Judgement 

4. In Scetis a brother was once found guilty. They assembled the brothers, and sent a message to Moses telling him to come.  But he would not come.  Then the presbyter sent again saying, 'Come, for the gathering of monks is waiting for you.'  Moses got up and went. He took with him an old basket, which he filled with sand and carried on his back. They went to meet him and said, 'What does this mean, abba?' He said, 'My sins run out behind me and I do not see them and I have come here today to judge another.'  They listened to him and said no more to the brother who had sinned but forgave him.'
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