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December 30, 2000


(Rom 11:13-15)  I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?


Made public today was an article written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which appeared in L'Osservatore Romano under the title "The legacy of Abraham, gift of Christmas."

"The history of the relationship between man and God begins with the faith of Abraham, father of the people of Israel, father of believers "and our father in faith." It is the duty of the chosen people, writes the cardinal, "to give their God, the one and true God, to other peoples, indeed in reality, we Christians are the heirs to their faith in the one God." Consequently, our gratitude must go out "to our Jewish brothers who, despite the difficulties of their history, have maintained to the present day their faith in this God, and who bear witness to it before other peoples."

"Perhaps because of the dramatic nature of this last tragedy (the Holocaust), a new vision of the relationship between the Church and Israel has arisen, a sincere desire to overcome all types of anti-Jewish feeling and to begin a constructive dialogue of mutual knowledge and reconciliation." In order for this dialogue to bear fruit, God must grant Christians "greater respect and love towards this people, the people of Israel," and at the same time He must grant that people "greater knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, their son and the gift they gave to us."

OF INTEREST: Sharansky plans massive demonstration for Jerusalem

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

53 (cont). If on the other hand, someone is living as a hermit in more deserted places together with two or three like-minded brethren, whatever sufferings may befall him let him draw near in faith to the only Lord who can heal 'every kind of sickness and disease' (Matt. 4:23). For besides the Lord he has the desert itself to provide sufficient consolation in his illness. In such a person faith is always actively at work, and in addition he has no scope to display the fine quality of his patience before others, because he is protected by the desert. For 'the Lord settles the solitaries in a dwelling' (Ps. 68:6. LXXX).

December 29, 2000

(Luke 18:7-8)  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"


More and more Austrians are losing faith in the Catholic church and defections are at an all-time high, according to figures published on Thursday.  Of the predominantly Catholic population of eight million, 43,632 people left the church last year, while 3,387 people entered it, according to the central statistics office OeSTAT.  That left a balance of 40,245 defections -- the highest since Austria began recording devotional fluctuations in 1959 -- and is four times that year's level.

RELATED: Young Irish Don't See Mass As Very Important


A team of scientists will hand Italy"s health minister a report on Thursday backing human embryo cloning, a form of research allowed in other countries but rejected by the Vatican. Following months of evaluation, a group of 25 appointed experts will hand Health Minister Umberto Veronesi a document backing therapeutic cloning of stem cells taken from human embryos, Rome"s la Repubblica newspaper reported on Thursday.

Therapeutic cloning has received the go-ahead in Britain, France, Germany and the United States and promises to have a huge impact on research into incurable degenerative disorders such as Parkinson"s disease, Alzheimer"s and spinal injuries.  But the research has drawn sharp criticism because it relies on stem cells -- the undifferentiated cells which develop into all the different tissues of the body -- and in effect allows scientists to create human beings and then .  If the research is approved in strongly Catholic Italy, it is likely to face widespread opposition.  Pope John Paul has already expressed his disapproval on several occasions.

RELATED: British sperm, egg donors may be named to children

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

53. There is nothing to prevent us from calling a doctor when we are ill. Providence has implanted remedies in nature, it has been possible for human experimentation to develop the art of medicine. All the same, we should not place our hope of healing in doctors, but in our true Saviour and Doctor, Jesus Christ. I say this to those who practise self-control in monastic communities or towns, for because of their environment they cannot at all times maintain the active working of faith through love. Furthermore, they should not succumb to the conceit and temptation of the devil, which have led some of them publicly to boast that they have had no need of doctors for many years.

December 28, 2000

(Ezek 13:10-11)  "'Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth.


Thursday"s planned summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh has been canceled, an Egyptian government source said.  "The meeting will now just be between Arafat and (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak and it will be in Cairo," he told Reuters.  He declined to give further details.  The meeting had been intended to discuss U.S.  peace proposals for resolving issues at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, such as Jerusalem, Jewish settlements and Palestinian refugees.

RELATED: Saudi, Egypt favour delaying Mideast deal-report


Followers of Islam, estimated to number more than 1 billion worldwide, yesterday began a 3-day holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Celebration of the Eid al-Fitr holiday got under way Tuesday night in Indonesia, as millions of Muslims paraded through the streets of cities and towns across the country, chanting the name of Allah and setting off fireworks.

Ramadan is Islam's holiest month, and falls on the ninth month of the Muslim year.  During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from sunrise to sunset. The fasting month begins with the sighting of the new moon.  The exact starting date -- which may vary from country to country -- is set by clerics.  This year Ramadan began on November 27 in most countries, with Eid al-Fitr to last from December 27 to December 30.

RELATED: Muslims mark Eid with prayers, calls to liberate Jerusalem

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

52. No one would maintain that it is strange or sinful to take baths, but to refrain from them out of self-control I regard as a sign of great restraint and determination. For then our body will not be debilitated by this self-indulgence in hot and steamy water; neither whall we be reminded of Adam's ignoble nakedness, and so have to cover ourselves with leaves as he did. All this is especially important for us, who have recently renounced the vileness of this fallen life, and ought to be acquiring the beauty of self-restraint through the purity of our body.

December 27, 2000

(Mat 19:21)  Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."


The Salesian sisterhood -- also known as the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians -- is said to have more than 15,000 members in 87 countries.  In North and South America, there are some 5,100 of them.  Their mission extends to schoolteaching, running youth centers, special programs for "at risk" youngsters and, per their literature, providing "social administrative structures to raise our voices in defense of women and girls."

For Sister Antoinette Cedrone, who's based in Haledon, New Jersey, teaching has always given her great joy.  "Even if I hadn't been a nun," she says, "I would have still been a teacher." But joining the Salesian Sisters' order not only gave her the chance to teach and mentor children -- it also gave her support, prayer and community. "Working with youth is our ministry," says Cedrone.  "We do that 24-hours-a-day.  We walk together with youth, and so that keeps us kind of busy and young, even if we are 60 or 70 years old."

SEE ALSO: Pope moved by multitude of pilgrims


Trinity Western University Professor Phillip Wiebe considers himself a Doubting Thomas.  Like the famous New Testament apostle, he refuses to believe Jesus Christ is divine unless he can prove it.  That's why Wiebe has spent the past 20 years studying everything to do with the mysterious Shroud of Turin, which many believe is the bona fide burial cloth of Jesus.  But the philosophy professor at the Christian university in Langley had an experience this year with the shroud that not only convinced him Jesus was actually resurrected, but that the Virgin birth of Jesus -- which Christians celebrate at Christmas -- was for real.

Wiebe describes himself as a skeptical Anglican.  That's why he was stunned by the feelings that overwhelmed him when, after decades of studying the shroud and other paranormal Christian phenomenon, he actually viewed the original four-metre cloth this year in Italy.  "I saw this thing, and I thought: Holy smokes!  The resurrection is real.  I was shocked at the confidence I felt.  It made me realize I had had doubts about the resurrection," Wiebe said Friday.  "And then I thought: If Jesus had such a strange ending to his life, maybe he had a remarkable beginning?  Suddenly the difficulty of accepting the Virgin birth was overcome for me."

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

51. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Teacher in this holy way of life, was offered vinegar to drink during His Passion by those executing the devil's orders, and thus He left us, its seems to me, a clear example for spiritual combat. Those struggling against sin should not, He says, indulge themselves in agreeable food and drink, but should patiently bear the bitterness of the warfare. Hyssop, too, must be added to the sponge of ignominy (cf. John 19:29), so that the pattern of our purification may conform perfectly to His example; for sharpness pertains to spiritual combat, just as purification does to being made perfect.

December 26, 2000


Pope John Paul II, in his Christmas message, warned of a "culture of death" threatening the world, and condemned violence in Indonesia and the Mideast. Some 50,000 tourists, pilgrims and Romans filled St.  Peter's Square on Monday as the 80-year-old pontiff expressed the wish that hope can still outshine the darkness of evil.

Jesus was born "to restore hope to every man and woman on the face of the Earth," said the ailing pope, who looked tired and whose words were at time so slurred they were difficult to understand.  "I am thinking with great concern of the Holy Land, where violence continues to stain with blood the difficult path to peace," he said, echoing his words during the midnight Mass.  More than 340 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed in some three months of violence in the Middle East. "And what are we to say about countries -- I am thinking particularly of Indonesia -- where our brothers and sisters in faith, even on this Christmas day, are undergoing a tragic time of trial and suffering?" the pope asked.

The pope said the world was confronted by "alarming signs of the culture of death which pose a serious threat for the future." Sin, he said, was reflected in many of the problems that continue to mar humanity, including violence against women and children, the marginalisation of the young and elderly, and "endless streams of exiles and refugees." The pope also spoke of the "shadows of death" that are "especially menacing at (life's) earliest beginning and its natural end" -- a reference to abortion and euthanasia, which the Vatican strongly opposes.  "However dense the darkness may appear," the pope said, "our hope for the triumph of the light which appeared on this holy night at Bethlehem is stronger still."


Pope reminds faithful of the meaning of Christmas
Pope makes Christmas appeal for Middle East peace
Two Killed in Jakarta Church Bombings
Little cheer in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve


VIA Brother Ronald Curley: I thought you would enjoy this wonderful Christmas Message

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

49. When our intellect is swimming in the waves of excessive drink, it not only regards with passion the images formed in it by the demons while we sleep, but also itself forms attractive appearances, treating its own fantasies as if they were women whom it ardently loved. For when the organs are heated by wine, the intellect cannot avoid forming in itself pleasurable pictures reflecting our passion. So we must keep due measure and escape the harm that comes from excess. For when the intellect is not affected by the pleasure that seduces it to the picturing of sin, it remains completely free from nd debility.

December 24, 2000


(Psa 19:1-2)  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.


Clear skies permitting, North Americans will receive a rare celestial gift on December 25.  A partial solar eclipse will be visible from nearly all regions of North America south of the Arctic Circle.  It won't happen again on Christmas Day for more than three centuries.  Sky watchers in different latitudes will see "bites" of various sizes removed from the sun as the moon passes in front of it, leaving a darkened shadow on the Earth.

Astronomers caution observers to never look directly at the sun, including during a solar eclipse.  "The eclipse itself if no more dangerous to view than the sun is on any other day," said NASA scientist Fred Espenak in a statement.  "The only difference is that human curiosity impels some people to stare directly at the sun during an eclipse and this can cause permanent damage to your eyesight." Espenak advises eclipse watchers to use specially designed solar filters on optical devices or even a simple pinhole camera, which allows users to view a projected image of the sun.

SPECIAL REPORT: 2000 Christmas Solar Eclipse
Christmas Day 2000 Solar Eclipse: What You Can See

SEE ALSO: The Christmas carol that briefly stopped World War I

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

48. When watered in due measure the earth yields a good, clean crop from the seed sown in it; but when it is soaked with torrential rain it bears nothing but thistles and thorns. Likewise, when we drink wine in due measure, the earth of the heart yields a clean crop from its natural seed and produces a fine harvest from what is sown in it by the Holy Spirit. But if it is soaked through excessive drinking, the thoughts it bears will be nothing but thistles and thorns.

December 23, 2000

(Mat 13:15-16)  For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.


Waiting in line (after line, after line....) in Universal in Orlando gave me time to think about what I wanted for Christmas this year. I have decided on eye surgery.  No, not the laser eye surgery you hear advertised on every other TV commercial. That might actually make things worse.  I am asking the Great Physician, the Lord Himself, to be my surgeon. I want eyes that REALLY see.

A prayerful review over any day of my life shows numerous times when I did not see what the Lord wanted me to see.  How could I hold the door open for the gentleman I didn't even see.  Oh, I saw him with my eyes but I missed his need.  Likely because my mind was elsewhere. Perhaps at work, or at home but not open to that moment in time. But that was the only moment I could really do anything about.

How could I see the Lord on the alter at Mass?  Sure my eyes were working.  I mean, I SAW the priest.  But I missed the Lord!  Why?  Because my mind was focusing my vision everywhere except where it needed to be.

And the baby.  Remember when the Lord was using the baby to smile at me?  A baby I had never seen before smiled at me.  But I didn't SEE it.  Oh, I saw the grin, the single tooth glimmering.  But I missed the Lord's presence in that child.

I need to see!!  I need spiritual eyes that are awake to the presence of the Lord around me. The signs of the times are everywhere, yet I see only a tiny fraction of what the Lord is trying to show me.  Lord, give me eyes that SEE!

Let me see that anger that is welling up in me before I lose my temper.  Let me see the temptation before I sin. Let me see the opportunity to help my brother before it passes away. Let me see You in all things at all times.

That's what I really want for Christmas.

(Rev 3:18)  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

47. Fasting, while of value in itself, is not something to boast of in front of God, for it is simply a tool for training those who desire self-restraint. The ascetic should not feel proud because he fasts; but with faith in God he should think only of reaching his goal. For no artist ever boasts that his accomplishment is simply due to his tools; but he waits for the work itself to give proof of his skill.

December 19, 2000



Texas Bull Cloned for Disease Resistance
Gene mutated in fruit flies doubles life span
UK scientists urge MPs to allow stem cell research
IBM supercomputer sold to genomic researchers


A new intelligence report on Monday predicted more sophisticated "terrorist" tactics and a growing threat of missile attack in the next 15 years.  "Between now and 2015 terrorist tactics will become increasingly sophisticated and designed to achieve mass casualties," said the unclassified report, "Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts."

"The most immediate threat is the weapons of mass destruction," said John Gannon chairman of the National Intelligence Council which compiled the report,  referring to chemical or biological weapons.  "There"s a growing threat from the small adversary or the non-state actor or the terrorist group in terms of weapons of mass destruction capability," he said.


The U.N.'s top crime prevention official said that more transnational crime groups would move away from narcotics in the next few years and move into the safer business of human trafficking.  Pino Arlacchi, a U.N.  under-secretary general, also told Reuters in an interview that if applied, a new U.N.  protocol against human trafficking would give law enforcers the tools and the teeth to stem a staggering growth.  "If we don"t start to react, if we don"t start to stop it, we will increasingly see criminal groups turning from narcotics to human beings because it is a very profitable business and the degree of risk of being caught is much lower," he said.

"The rate of growth of trafficking in human beings is staggering.  In the last few years it has exploded in terms of the number of people involved, and in terms of profits," Arlacchi said. The aims of trafficking in humans are economic enslavement, mainly for children, and prostitution, mainly for women. He said traffickers of humans realize annual profits of some $7 billion from the global market in prostitution alone.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

45. When heavy with over-eating, the body makes the intellect spiritless and sluggish; likewise, when weakened by excessive abstinence, the body makes the contemplative faculty of the soul dejected and disinclined to concentrate. We should therefore regulate our food according to the condition of the body, so that it is appropriately disciplined when in good health and adequately nourished when weak. The body of one pursing the spiritual way must not be enfeebled; he must have enough strength for his labours, so that the soul may be suitably purified through bodily exertion as well.

December 18, 2000

(Mat 24:14)  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.


"Church services'' has taken on a whole new meaning in the Philippines, where the Roman Catholic Church has become the country's leading Internet service provider.

The church has long been a political force in the Philippines.  Now, its voice is growing even stronger as it introduces Internet access across the country.  Even villages that don't yet have reliable telephone service are getting networked to the globe thanks to the church.  It is an experiment in how the latest in communications technology can transform the lives of the very poor.  And it gives the church one more means to spread its message.

"We call this 'E-vangelization'," said Monsignor Pedro C.  Quitorio III, the Internet guru for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).  "We believe there is a strong role for information technology in expanding the reach of the church.'' The church has constructed the country's most extensive Internet backbone, running the 1,000-mile length of this archipelago. Eventually, CBCPNet, as the church-run entity calls itself, intends to wire every diocese, parish house and parochial school in the country. In partnership with private companies, it is also setting up Internet cafes around the country to give the urban poor access.

"It used to take us weeks to prepare for a prayer rally,'' said Eman Lim, the chief technical officer for CBCPNet.  "We'd have to print handbills, leaflets and letters, and distribute them by mail.  The paper alone would fill a parking lot.  Now, when the cardinal issues an edict, it is distributed globally within minutes.''

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

44. It is in no way contrary to the principles of true knowledge to eat and drink from all that is set before you, giving thanks to God; for 'everything is very good' (cf. Gen. 1:31). But gladly to abstain from eating too pleasurably or too much shows greater discrimination and understanding. However, we shall not gladly detach ourselves from the pleasures of this life unless we have fully and consciously tasted the sweetness of God.

December 17, 2000

(Mark 2:16-17)  When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."


Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider met Pope John Paul on Saturday and left the Vatican clutching the Pontiff"s World Peace Day message, condemning racism and xenophobia.

Haider, a Roman Catholic, shook hands with the Pope and then knelt to kiss the papal ring.  Before the meeting ended, the Pope indicated to a Vatican official to hand out his World Peace Day message to Haider and other members of the delegation.  "The love for your country is a value to cultivate with all your soul, loving the whole human family together but without those signs...which emerge when the sense of belonging takes on tones of self-exultation and exclusion of diverse peoples and develops into nationalism, racism and xenophobia," the Pope says in the message.

(John 17:20-21)  "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.


The once-exiled spiritual leader of Ukraine"s five million Catholics, Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lyubachyvsky, died on Wednesday, six months before Pope John Paul is to make an unprecedented visit to the ex-Soviet country.

The 80-year-old pontiff"s planned visit to Ukraine from June 21-24 next year has so far met muted acceptance by the country"s two main Orthodox confessions, which between them account for 35 million worshippers.  A spokesman for one of the confessions, Father Boris of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate, said last week his church would not object to the Pope"s visit.  "I don"t know what the future holds, but we need to find paths of love...  Without doubt our Church will take part in this event," he told Reuters.

The Pope has cherished a wish to call for unity between Western and Eastern Christian Churches, which split during the Great Schism of 1054.

RELATED: Kazakhstan Invites Pope to Visit in June

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

43. Those pursuing the spiritual way should train themselves to hate all uncontrolled desires until this hatred becomes habitual. With regard to self-control in eating, we must never feel loathing for any kind of food, for to do so is abominable and utterly demonic. It is emphatically not because any kind of food is bad in itself that we refrain from it. But by not eating too much or too richly we can to some extent keep in check the excitable parts of our body. In addition we can give to the poor what remains over, for this is the mark of sincere love.

December 16, 2000


A Broward man who spent 14 years on Death Row and came within days of dying in Florida's electric chair was cleared Thursday by DNA testing -- 11 months after he died of cancer in prison. The posthumous exoneration left prosecutors stunned and lawmakers grasping for answers.

"It's a nightmare,'' said Broward County Assistant State Attorney Carolyn McCann, sounding shaken. "I was sure of his guilt.'' Frank Lee Smith had been sent to Death Row for the 1985 murder of an 8-year-old Fort Lauderdale girl, who was raped and beaten in her bed. But tests done by the FBI, at the urging of defense attorneys and with the agreement of prosecutors, excluded Smith from the pool of people who could have raped Shandra Whitehead.  This week, the investigation was reopened.

Gov. Jeb Bush, in a statement through a spokeswoman, said he plans new reforms to allow for DNA testing in death penalty cases. "If the FBI data is accurate, this man should not have been on Death Row,'' said spokeswoman Katie Baur.


The U.S. president-elect"s record of 152 executions in five years as Texas governor could be an irritant in dealings with Europe, even if its governments, which all ban the death penalty, are unlikely to let distaste for American penal habits disrupt more vital diplomatic business.  Bush, branded a killer this year by a senior French minister, had a further taste of what he can expect within hours of his confirmation in office Thursday as the head of the continent"s intergovernmental human rights body, the Council of Europe, sent him a barbed message of congratulation.  "The death penalty is a grim shadow on the United States.  I call on George Bush to show the courage of a true leader and begin the debate on abolition -- following the lead of Europe," the Council"s secretary-general Walter Schwimmer said.

"This is becoming a clear area of dissent between the U.S.  and Europe.  We have to ask whether our community of shared values really exists," said Rudolf Bindig, a human rights expert for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder"s Social Democrats.  "Does the U.S.  really want to remain in the company of China, Iraq and Saudia Arabia?"

RELATED: United Methodist Against the Death Penalty (UMADP)

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

42 (cont.). What is the good of a man keeping the virginity of his body if he lets his soul commit adultery with the demon of disobedience? Or what is the good of a man controlling gluttony and his other bodily desires if he makes no effort to avoid vanity and self-esteem, and does not endure with patience even the slightest affliction? At the judgment what crown will he deserve, when a just reward is given only to those who have accomplished works of righteousness in a spirit of humility?

December 15, 2000

(Phil 4:6-7)  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


On his first morning as president-elect, Republican George W. Bush attendend his church for an hourlong prayer service.  Well-wishers cheered and applauded as the next president and future first lady Laura Bush made their way into Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas.  They sat in a front pew.  "He wants to start this on a message of prayer and healing," a Bush aide said following the five-week post-election brawl that ended with a concession speech by Democrat Al Gore.

RELATED: Religion weaves through the live of George W. Bush


Florida's motorists are snapping up the state's controversial "Choose life" license plates, buying 500 a week since its debut in August. Nearly 8,400 Florida drivers have plunked down an extra $22 for a "Choose life" plate since the tags went on sale 17 weeks ago.  The plate has been available only since Aug.  11, but sales figures from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31 showed it already had become the state's 13th best-selling specialty tag for this year.

The license plate's detractors say its popularity doesn't matter.  They claim "Choose life" is an anti-abortion slogan taken straight from the Bible, and the tag is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of church and state. "The real motive is the adoption of a religious slogan by the state of Florida," said Boca Raton lawyer Barry Silver, who is representing the National Organization for Women and other groups suing the state over the plate.

RELATED: Federal panel says excluding contraceptive coverage is illegal

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

42. Self-control is common to all the virtues, and therefore whoever practises self-control must do so in all things. If any part, however small, of a man's body is removed, the whole man is disfugured; likewise, he who disregards one single virtue destroys unwittingly the whole harmonious order of self-control. It is therefore necessary to cultivate not only the bodily virtues, but also those which have the power to purify our inner man.

December 14, 2000


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The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

41. Our one purpose must be to reach the point when we perceive the love of God fully and consciously in our heart- that is, 'with all your heart, and with all your soul... and with all your mind' (Luke 10:27). For the man who is energized by the grace of God to this point has already left this world, though still present in it.

December 13, 2000



Will you follow me in a prayer for our dear country in this great crisis? It could be global.

Lord Jesus, this is the year of mercy.  For though we do not deserve Your mercy, I beg through the Immaculate Heart of Mary - I beg that She may triumph over evil.  I beg, Lord, that You look upon us in our unworthiness and give this country peace again.  Give this country a renewal of devotion to You, to Your law, to Your commandments, Lord.  Let us be once more, Lord, a country under You, Lord.  May we once more say, "In God We Trust".  Lord, look upon us and in these days of crisis, extend Your hand and have mercy on us.  - Mother Angelica

RELATED: Click here to view a powerful new open letter from Miguel de Portugal.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

40. You should not doubt that the intellect, when it begins to be strongly energized by the divine light, becomes so completely translucent that it sees its own light vividly. This takes place when the power of the soul gains control over the passions. But when St. Paul says that 'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light' (2 Cor. 11:14), he definitely teaches us that everything which appears to the intellect, whether as light or as fire, if it has a shape, is the product of the evil artifice of the enemy. So we should not embark on the ascetic life in the hope of seeing visions clothed with form or shape; for if we do, Satan will find it easy to lead our soul astray.

December 12, 2000

(Rev 2:20-23)  Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.


British ministers have approved over-the-counter sales of a morning-after pill in a bid to cut western Europe"s highest teenage pregnancy rate, the Department of Health said on Sunday.  The government is going ahead with the move despite opposition from churches and anti-abortion campaigners.  The drug Levonelle, already available on prescription, should be in chemists early next year and anyone over 16 can buy it, a health department spokesman said.  "Our view is that in the pilot areas where this has already been tried, it helped to prevent hundreds of unwanted pregnancies," the spokesman said.  "And the government has a target of reducing teenage pregnancies by half over the next 10 years," he added.  Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in western Europe, with 95,000 conceptions last year, resulting in 58,000 live births.

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I was alerted to this last night but could find nothing on the EWTN site. Mother Angelica came into studios from her new Monastery yesterday which I understand is a great distance and came on live for a few minutes and says there has never been a crisis like this before and to pray for America and all nations. EWTN now has audio of Mother Angelica's plea. It is about 2 minutes long and can be found at:

Mother sounds like she is carrying a heavy burden. I urge all to go and try to download and listen to this tape . And pray, pray, pray!!

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

39. As an illustration of what I mean, take the case of the servant whose master, returning at night after a long absence abroad, calls to him from outside his house. The servant categorically refuses to open the door to him, for he is afraid of being deceived by some similarity of voice, and so of betraying to someone else the goods his master has entrusted to him. Not only is his master in no way angry with him when day comes; but on the contrary he even praises him highly, because in his concern not to lose any of his master's goods he even suspected the sound of his master's voice to be a trick.

December 11, 2000

(Psa 118:8)  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.


VIA Ronald Barnabas Anthony, CSAP, M.S., M.Min, M.A.
Email: [email protected]

Grace and peace -- I believe in the power of prayer, because I know that God answers prayer.

Holy Scripture also speaks of times of great trials and tribulations upon the Christians of all generations, but, especially of the last days.  We are not strangers to trials and tribulations.

The enemy knows his time is short and he throws out as much confusion as possible toward the whole world.  Please, please, please read and memorize Revelation Chapter 12 at all costs!  Read it, and pray it, again and again and again!

The United States was once a leader, the moral leader, of the free world. Now, we appear to be the antithesis of stability with a growing judicial interference with government by, of and for the lawyers.  We are a nation who worship the creation more than the Creator, blessed forever and ever. We are being asked to legitimatize abortionist murder and every other evil under the sun.  Satan is very tricky and has done well in fooling many of us.  Thus, God has shortened the time lest the very elect be deceived.

The Blessed Hope of the Christian is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

I sense we are at a point where we cannot correct this litigious assault by one party and one party alone to our democracy, our republic, and we are witnessing a terrible precedent these days -- where every election will be adjudicated through law suits and lawyers and judges,.  thus, effectively decimating the validity of or votes as free people -- US citizens.

Thus, we must more and more LOOK to God alone and not place our confidence in men as Psalm 118:8 teaches us.

WE ARE WITH the Woman in the wilderness!  Let us all FIND that PLACE PREPARED BY GOD FOR HER!

(Rev 12:6-8)  The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

38 (cont.). And if ever God in His goodness were to send us some vision and we were to refuse it, our beloved Lord Jesus would not be angry with us, for He would know we were acting in this way because of the tricks of the demons. Although the distinction between types of dreams established above is precise, it sometimes happens that when the soul has been sullied by an unperceived beguilement- something from which no one, it seems to me, is exempt- it loses its sense of accurate discrimination and mistakes bad dreams for good.

December 10, 2000

(Luke 2:14)  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."


Pope John Paul II brought a basket with 250 pink roses to the foot of a column to the Virgin Mary on Friday, keeping an annual appointment that for Rome signals the start of the Christmas season. Placing flowers at the base of the 143-year-old column on the Dec. 8 feast day marking the Virgin Mary's immaculate conception is an old Rome tradition.  John XXIII joined the tradition in 1958.

"This year as every, I happily unite in this traditional floral homage," said John Paul, in a purple cape and gold embroidered stole.  At one point he paid tribute to Rome as "cradle of history and civilization." "Don't let the fruits of this Jubilee year be lost!" he prayed, kneeling to bless his basket of 250 roses, draped in a ribbon of the yellow and white Vatican colors.


A chunk of a 3rd century Roman wall declared a world heritage site by UNESCO just last week collapsed Thursday after weeks of driving rain.

The slate wall encircles the old quarter of Lugo, Galicia, in Spain's misty, green northwest corner. It has a circumference of 1.4 miles and is about 17 feet thick. There's a gravelly promenade on top for people to stroll on. The wall, dotted with towers, served as a defense of the old Roman town.

The piece that crumbled was roughly 10 feet high by 13 feet wide. It fell from the outer surface of the wall in an area that had been restored in the 19th century. No one was injured in the collapse.

(Mat 7:26-27)  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

38. We have now explained the distinction between good and bad dreams, as we ourselves heard it from those with experience. In our quest for purity, however, the safest rule is never to trust to anything that appears to us in our dreams. For dreams are generally nothing more than images reflecting our wandering thoughts, or else they are a mockery of demons.

December 9, 2000

(Eph 6:13) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.


This summer, a professor plans to take a step closer to becoming a cyborg -- part human, part computer -- by implanting a silicon chip that communicates with his brain.  Kevin Warwick heads the Cybernetics Department at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and views himself as a futurist.  As robots become free thinkers, the only way humans can compete is to use computers to enhance the human brain, Warwick said.  Surgeons will connect the chip to his nervous system through nerve fibers in his left arm, and the chip will exchange signals between his brain and a computer.  "We simply don't know what my brain will do," Warwick said.  What he hopes is that it will respond the same way robots that are programmed to use sonar instead of sight react when detecting objects.  The experiment will determine whether the computer can send those same sonar abilities to a human brain.


The Scottish scientists who created Dolly, the world"s first cloned mammal, announced a deal on Wednesday with U.S. biotech company Viragen Inc. to breed chicken that produce life-saving drugs in their eggs.

"The essence of this project is to create chickens which produce eggs containing new drugs to treat many serious diseases, including cancer," Dr Helen Sang, of Edinburgh"s Roslin Institute said in a statement.  Roslin scientists are already developing cows, sheep, goats and rabbits to provide proteins for drugs in their milk but birds provide a cheaper, faster and virtually unlimited production process through laying eggs.

RELATED:  Celera says ready to publish genome paper

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

37 (cont.). Demonic fantasies, however, are just the opposite: they do not keep the same shape or maintain a constant form for long. For what the demons do not possess as their chosen mode of life, but merely assume because of their inherent deceitfulness, is not able to satisfy them for very long. They shout and menace, often transforming themselves into soldiers and sometimes deafening the soul with their cries. But the intellect, when pure, recognizes them for what they are and awakes the body from its dreams. Sometimes it even feels joy at having been able to see through their tricks; indeed it often challenges them during the dream itself and thus provokes them to great anger. There are, however, times when even good dreams do not bring joy to the soul but produce in it a sweet sadness and tears unaccompanied by grief. But this happens only to those who are far advanced in humility.

December 8, 2000

(1 John 4:11-12)  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.


The 74-year-old American nun was reading a science fiction novel in the kitchen of her house on Martyr"s Street when the missiles fell. This is what Anne Montgomery"s life has come to as she puts herself in the firing line between the Israeli Jewish settlement of Gilo and the Palestinian West Bank town of Beit Jala, where she has rented a home to try to be a deterrent to violence. Montgomery, from Brooklyn, New York, moved to Beit Jala as part of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a grass-roots group from Canada and the United States that says it aims to provide a "violence-deterring presence" in conflicts. "All I could do was pray.  I prayed there would be some conversion of hearts," she said.  "Because I think until that happens, the situation will not get better."


VIA Terry Modica:  Share a bit of Christmas with the homeless in the Holy Land

I would like to ask a small but important favor of you as a Christmas gift this year.  Would you send a Christmas card to a homeless family? Attached to this letter is a list of names of Christian families who have been rendered homeless by the Israeli shelling and bombing and destruction of their homes in areas surrounding Bethlehem.  They, like Joseph and Mary 2000 years ago, have no place to go.  The agency I currently work for, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (known here as the Pontifical Mission for Palestine), along with other charitable and humanitarian organizations, is doing its best to provide for them in this emergency.

But one of the worst sufferings of these people, Christians NOT involved in the fighting, has been the sense of abandonment, of isolation from their fellow Christians around the world.  The Israelis have effectively and cruelly caged the Palestinians into isolated areas, cut off even from one another.  Travel even to the next town is not permitted for most of them.

So would you please add at least one of these families to your Christmas card list, and just jot a note to the effect that you are conscious of their suffering and that you are praying for a just peace in the Holy Land?  It will mean a great deal to them just to realize that fellow Christians on the other side of the world know and care about their suffering.

Beit Sahour is the village next to the Shepherds' Field, just outside Bethlehem to the east.  Beit Jala is west from Bethlehem across the main north-south road that goes to Hebron.

(1) Please address the card to the family you desire,
c/o Pontifical Mission
P.O.  Box 19642
91196 Jerusalem
Via Israel

(2) Please do NOT include any money, nor your return address.  The intention of this request is to bring the support of prayer, not to put you on a mailing list for repeated requests or demands for money.

(3) If you do wish to contribute something, it can be sent to:
Catholic Near East Welfare Association (or CNEWA)
1011 First Avenue New York, NY 10022-4195
CNEWA is a tax-deductible charity recognized by the IRS in the USA.
Please mark your check: "Palestinian Relief." Our local office in Jerusalem is not equipped to acknowledge direct donations.

May God bless and keep you and your families safe from all harm,

Father Charles H.  Miller,
SM Director of Pilgrimages
Catholic Near East Welfare Association Jerusalem

Christian families whose homes were destroyed by Israeli bombardment, Oct-Nov 2000:

Butrus Al-Atrash Family - Beit Sahour
Elias Nicola Al-Araj Family - Beit Jala
Elias Nicola Mattar Family - Beit Jala
Fahed Jaber Habibeh Family - Beit Jala
Farid Ayyoub Family - Beit Jala
George Nazzal Family - Beit Jala Henri
Makhlouf Family - Beit Jala
Ibrahim Elias Abu Farha Family - Beit Sahour
Ibrahim Elias Anton Mansour Family - Beit Sahour
Imad Ghawali Family - Beit Jala
Issa Qeisieh Family - Beit Jala
Issa Saba Family - Beit Jala
Jadallah Nazzal Family - Beit Jala
Jeries Mattar Family - Beit Jala
Johnny Hijazine Family - Beit Sahour
Kamel Nazzal Family - Beit Jala
Khader Ayyad Thoueb Family - Beit Sahour
Lucy Mattar - Beit Jala
Maher Atrash Family - Beit Sahour
Mirvat Ghneim Family - Beit Jala
Mousa Saba Family - Beit Jala
Nabil Saba Family - Beit Jala
Nasri Jacob Jaraiseh Family - Beit Sahour
Nicola Elias Mattar Family - Beit Jala
Ra'ed Elias Mattar Family - Beit Jala
Ramzi Qeisieh Family - Beit Jala
Saleem Habibeh Family - Beit Jala
Samer Nazzal Family - Beit Jala
Susah Saleh - Beit Jala

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

37. The dreams which appear to the soul through God's love are unerring criteria of its health. Such dreams do not change from one shape to another; they do not shock our inward sense, resound with laughter or suddenly become threating. But with great gentleness they approach the soul and fill it with spiritual gladness. As a result, even after the body has woken up, the soul longs to recapture the joy given to it by the dream.

December 7, 2000

(Mat 5:43-48)  "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even s do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Texas broke its own U.S.  record for executions in a year when it put to death on Tuesday a convicted killer who confessed to raping and murdering a 7-year-old girl. The lethal injection of Garry Miller, 33, gave Texas 38 executions this year, the most by any state since U.S. authorities began keeping death penalty records in 1930. The state has now executed 237 people, the most in the nation, since resuming capital punishment in 1982, six years after the U.S.  Supreme Court lifted a national death penalty ban.  Of those, 150 have been killed since Texas Gov.  George W.  Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, took office in January 1995.

Miller was sentenced to die for the Nov.  11, 1988 murder of April Wilson, his girlfriend"s 7-year-old cousin, near the west Texas town of Merkel.  He raped the girl, then strangled and beat her to death and left her body in a field where it was found by quail hunters.  Miller, a bartender and laborer with no prior criminal record, pleaded insanity, but a jury convicted him of capital murder and gave him the death penalty.

In his final statement as he lay strapped to a gurney in the Texas death chamber, Miller apologized to the girl"s mother, Marjorie Howlett, who witnessed the execution.  "Maggie, I am sorry.  I always wanted to tell you, but I just didn"t know how.  I have been praying for y"all.  I hope that y"all find the peace that y"all have been wanting," he said.  "Lord, be merciful with those who are actively involved with the taking of my life.  Forgive them as I am forgiving them," he said.  "All right warden, I am ready to go home." Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Larry Todd said Miller was friendly with guards and prison officials as the execution approached and wanted nothing to stop it. "He told the warden he was ready to get on with it," Todd said.  "He said he"s been on death row 12 years and that"s long enough." For his last meal, Miller requested two grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, two boiled eggs and two cinnamon rolls.

RELATED: 17 Americans executed for crimes committed as juveniles since 1973

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

36. Let no one who hears us speak of the perceptive faculty of the intellect imagine that by this we mean that the glory of God appears to man visibly. We do indeed affirm that the soul, when pure, perceives God's grace, tasting it in some ineffable manner; but no invisible reality appears to it in a visible form, since now 'we walk by faith, not by sight', as St Paul says (2 Cor. 5: 7). If light or some fiery form should be seen by one pursing the spiritual way, he should not on any account accept such a vision: it is an obvious deceit of the enemy. Many indeed have had this experience and, in their ignorance, have turned aside from the way of truth. We ourselves know, however, that so long as we dwell in this corruptible body, 'we are absent from the Lord' (2 Cor. 5:6)- that is to say, we know that we cannot see visibly either God Himself or any of His celestial wonders.

December 6, 2000

(1 Cor 6:9-11)  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


The nation's largest public school system has severed ties with the Boy Scouts of America because the organization discriminates against gays and lesbians.  New York City Schools Chancellor Harold Levy announced that city schools and educators can no longer sponsor troops or recruit Scouts during school hours on school property.  Scouts will also be barred from all facilities except those mandated by federal law.  Levy announced the schools will not renew an $800,000 contract the Scouts have to provide services to its 2 million students.  Levy said the schools will allow the scouts to finish out the contract to provide facilities for summer and winter programs.  That contract ends April 30, 2002.  "The policy of the Boy Scouts of American with respect to s is contrary to the policy of the Board of Education," Levy said in a written statement.


The Vatican stepped into the controversy over the Charter of Fundamental Rights to be adopted at the European Union summit in Nice next week, saying that it was a 'godless' document.  It emphasised that among other concerns the charter would cause 'moral and social harm' by sanctioning unions and making it easier for couples to adopt children.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Pope’s right- hand man as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the charter upheld family values in theory, but in promoting the rights of s it had “departed from the beaten track followed by the moral history of humanity”.  He said: “We find ourselves faced with the destruction of the image which man has always had of himself.” He added it was regrettable that “God and our responsibility before God” had not been “anchored in the European constitution”.  Il Giornale said the message echoed the Pope’s call to legislators to remember their “duty to God” during celebrations last month marking the proclamation of Sir Thomas More as the patron saint of politicians.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

35. Just as a rough sea naturally subsides when oil is poured on it, so the soul readily grows calm when anointed with the grace of the Holy Spirit. For it submits joyfully to the dispassionate and ineffable grace which overshadows it, in accordance with the Psalmist's words: 'My soul, be obedient to God' (Ps. 62:5. LXX). As a result, no matter how greatly it is provoked by the demons, the soul remains free from anger and is filled with the greatest joy. No man can enter or remain in such a state unless he sweetens his soul continually with the fear of God; for the fear of the Lord Jesus confers a measure of purity on those pursuing the spiritual way. 'The fear of the Lord is pure, and endures forever' (Ps. 19:9 LXX).

December 5, 2000

"Everyone - from priests to catechists, from parents to children, from the consecrated to the married - has the responsibility of reiterating to the world the ever pertinent announcement of Christ, Who died and rose again for our sake.  This announcement must ring out with profound ardor, through an evangelization that is open to all, that is new in its methods and proposals."- Pope John Paul II, 12-2-00


Pope John Paul on Monday urged rich countries steeped in "unbridled consumerism and ostentatious wealth" to redouble efforts to cancel or relieve the crushing debt of developing countries.  Both the pope and Vatican officials attending a seminar on Third World debt said reduction of crippling debt could only be part of a wider aim to reduce and eventually eliminate poverty.  "We cannot permit fatigue or inertia to weaken our commitment when the lives of the poorest are at stake," the pope said in an address to those taking part in the seminar.

The pope has often urged rich countries to see 2000, which the Roman Catholic Church has declared a holy year, as a perfect opportunity to show international charity by relieving debt.  Such gestures, the pope said, would help to underscore "that we are only stewards of the riches of creation, which in God"s design are a common good to be shared by everyone." The 80-year-old pope, who has visited nearly all of the world"s poorest, debt-ridden countries, said an increasingly globalized world required a corresponding dose of solidarity.  "Debt relief is part of a broader effort to achieve changed relationships between peoples and to establish a true sense of solidarity and sharing among all the , among all people," he said.

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(Psa 122:6)  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love you be secure.

Iraq's Aziz Says Russia Moving Back to Old Policy
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The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

34. The natural love of the soul is one thing, and the love which comes to it from the Holy Spirit is another. The activity of the first depends on the assent of our will to our desire. For this reason it is easily taken over and ed by evil spirits when we do not keep firmly to our chosen course. But the love which comes from the Holy Spirit so inflames the soul that all its parts cleave ineffably and with utter simplicity to the delight of its love and longing for the divine. The intellect then becomes pregnant through the energy of the Holy Spirit and overflows with a spring of love and joy.

December 4, 2000

(Mark 10:29-30)  "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.


Tapping the new generation raised on the Internet, the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines has unveiled a Web site aimed at helping it recruit men for the priesthood. Combined with calls from the pulpit, periodic banquets with bishops and sports events, organizers say is a 21st century way to cultivate the church's next generation of clergy.

"We really have a window of opportunity right now,'' said the Rev. John Acrea, the diocese's director of vocations.  "I talk with youth ministers and directors and they say there's really an openness to God's call these days.'' Web surfers can find vocational information suited for students and for people already in the work force. There are contacts and prayers, and links to testimonials from men who pursued a religious calling.

The recruiting drives are aimed at offsetting a growing shortage of priests. A two-year study released by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in June found a 20 percent decline in the number of priests since 1985, while the nation's Catholic population increased by 7.6 million during the same period.


The Holy Father's general prayer intention for December is: "That the celebration of the Jubilee may become the source of a new commitment in men and women of good will to protect and promote human life."

His missionary intention is: "That children may be respected in their dignity, and that all child abuse may stop."

RELATED: Pope celebrates mass in honour of world's disabled

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

33 (cont). For when he sees the intellect unreservedly proud of its own experience of spiritual perception, he entices the soul by means of certain plausible illusions of grace, so that it is seduced by that dank and debilitating sweetness and fails to notice its with the deciever. From all this we can distinguish between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. It is impossible, however, for someone consciously to taste the divine goodness or consciously to realize when he is experiencing the bitterness of demons, unless he first knows with assurance that grace dwells in the depths of his intellect, while the wicked spirits cluster round only the outside of the heart. This is just what the demons do not want us to know, for fear that our intellect, once definitely aware of it, will arm itself against them with the remembrance of God.

December 3, 2000

(Luke 4:18-19)  "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."


Britain announced Saturday that it would forgive more than $1.4 billion in debt from 41 of the world's poorest countries - provided they can ensure the money goes toward health care, education and alleviating poverty.

Treasury chief Gordon Brown said the move would help create a "virtuous circle of debt relief, poverty reduction and sustainable economic development.'' Brown's office said 12 nations, including Cameroon, Honduras and Senegal, would have their debt payments written off immediately.  Another eight were likely to meet the government's criteria by the end of the year, he said.

A further 21 countries that are involved in violent conflict or have failed to meet the criteria will have their payments held in trust and returned to them once they qualify.

"It is one of the tragedies of this jubilee year that so many countries in Africa are involved in wars, and of course, you have no guarantee that debt relief will not go to the weapons of war rather than poverty reduction,'' Brown told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Last year, the world's richest countries agreed to cancel $100 billion in debt from 41 heavily indebted poor countries.  But Jubilee 2000, a movement pushing for debt relief for impoverished nations, estimates that $300 billion owed by 52 countries must be scrapped to end the debt crisis.

Decisive Action Needed on Debt Relief, Pope Says
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The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

33. Sometimes the soul is kindled into love for God and, free from all nd image, moves untroubled by doubt towards Him; and it draws, as it were, the body with it into the depths of that ineffable love. This may occur when the person is awake or else beginning to fall asleep under the influence of God's grace, in the way I have explained. At the same time, the soul is aware of nothing except what it is moving towards. When we experience things in this manner, we can be sure that it is the energy of the Holy Spirit within us. For when the soul is completely permeated with that ineffable sweetness, at that moment it can think of nothing else, since it rejoices with uninterrupted joy. But if at that moment the intellect conceives any doubt or unclean thought, and if this continues in spite of the fact that the intellect calls on the holy name- not now simply out of love for God, but in order to repel the evil one- then it should realize that the sweetness it experiences is an illusion of grace, coming from the deceiver with a counterfeit joy. Through this joy, amorphous and disordered, the devil tries to lead the soul into an adulterous union with himself.

December 2, 2000


Plans to clone embryos in a bid to create new cures for genetic diseases have been condemned as "immoral" by one of Britain's leading Catholics. Cardinal Thomas Winning, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, warned that approving the research would "pave the way" for designer babies.

The move, backed by leading British scientists from the Royal Society, was fundamentally wrong and would make Britain a "pariah" state, he said. He told the BBC: "The end is good. Finding new treatment for disease but the means are immoral because these tiny cloned, human beings are killed before they develop.  This scenario will become reality in a matter of months unless we waken up."

The Cardinal insisted the Church was not backward-looking, but said the proposals were a step too far and alternatives were available. "I wish science was more advanced too, so it hurts me when people paint the church as being somehow anti-progress," he said. "In fact I look upon any medical or scientific progress as if God were opening up the secrets of creation for our benefit.  The truth is, research is not a problem for us.  How it is done is the problem."

RELATED: Japan passes law banning cloning of humans

MORE:  Cloning: A Diabolical Counterfeit of Eternal Life

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

32. The experience of true grace comes to us when the body is awake or else on the point of falling asleep, while in fervent remembrance of God we are welded to His love. But the illusion of grace comes to us, as I have said, when we fall into a light sleep while our remembrance of God is half-hearted. True grace, since its source is God, gladdens us consciously and impels us towards love with great rapture of soul. The illusion of grace, on the other hand, tends to shake the soul with the winds of deceit; for when the intellect is strong in the remembrance of God, the devil tries to rob it of its experience of spiritual perception by taking advantage of the body's need for sleep. If the intellect at that time is remembering the Lord Jesus attentively, it easily destroys the enemy's seductive sweetness and advances joyfully to do battle with him, armed not only with grace but also with a second weapon, the confidence gained from its own experience.

December 1, 2000

(Rev 6:5-6)  When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"


Iraqi oil exports ground to a halt on Friday after Baghdad insisted that buyers of its crude pay a surcharge outside the terms of the United Nations oil-for-food program.

Gulf rival Saudi Arabia, OPEC"s biggest producer, has said it would step in to fill any significant export gap. U.S.  Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Washington could tap government inventories if necessary and the International Energy Agency in Paris says that in an emergency it could order the release of stocks from industrialized nations.

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MORE: Eyedoctor's Site: Hoofbeats of the Black Horseman

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

31. When our intellect begins to perceive the grace of the Holy Spirit, then Satan, too, importunes the soul with a sense of deceptive sweetness in the quiet times of the night, when we fall into a light kind of sleep. If the intellect at that time cleaves fervently to the remembrance of the glorious and holy name of the Lord Jesus and uses it as a weapon against Satan's deception, he gives up this trick and for the future will attack the soul directly and personally. As a result the intellect clearly discerns the deception of the evil one and advances even further in the art of discrimination.

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