February 25, 2011
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"11. If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it; for then our guardian angel is praying with us.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"10. Do not try to be verbose when you pray, lest your mind be distracted in searching for words. One word of the publican propitiated God, and one cry of faith saved the thief. Loquacity in prayer often distracts the mind and leads to phantasy, whereas brevity makes for concentration.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"9. Do not be over-sophisticated in the words you use when praying, because the simple and unadorned lisping of children has often won the heart of their Heavenly Father.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"8. If you have ever been under trial before an earthly judge, you will not need any other pattern for your attitude in prayer. But if you have never stood before a judge yourself and have not seen others being cross-questioned, then learn at least from the way the sick implore the surgeons when they are about to be operated on or cauterized.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"6. The work of prayer is one and the same for all, but there are many kinds of prayer and many different prayers. Some converse with God as with a friend and master, interceding with praise and petition, not for themselves but for others. Some strive for greater (spiritual) riches and glory and for confidence in prayer. Others ask for complete deliverance from their adversary. Some beg to receive some kind of rank; others for complete forgiveness of debts. Some ask to be released from prison; others for remission from offenses.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"5. Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"4. When you are going to stand before the Lord, let the garment of your soul be woven throughout with the thread of obliviousness to wrongs. Otherwise, prayer will bring you no benefit.
THE TRIB TIMES WILL RETURN NEXT WEEK, GOD WILLING (James 4:15).
(Isa 61:1) The
spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me: he
hath sent me to preach to the meek, to heal the contrite of heart, and
to preach a release to the captives, and deliverance to them that are
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FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA [email protected] : Saint Dismas Holy Name Society Prison Ministry
Dear Holy Name Members and Supporters,
Once again our St. Dismas Metanoia Prison Retreat Team preparing for an
out-of-state retreat at the Cross City, FL State Prison Correctional
Institution for men on February 18,19 & 20, 2011.
As many of you know, WE DEPEND ON YOUR SUPPORT
when we go into a prison speaking God's Word and giving the assurance
of His love to the prisoners. At this facility, we definitely need
you... A strong showing of PRAYERS [sacrifice and
prayer for the Weekend's success] gives the team the impetus to step
out in faith boldly, believing that God is giving life-changing grace
to the men. As they read your notes and letters the prisoners also
become aware that they are not alone and through your words - they are
ministered to in a moving way. If you've not sent anything before, please consider sending an “email” note/letter today.
Please sign the letter with your first
name only. It is very important for you to know that your prayers and
sacrifices will not be given to the inmates with your last name and
your email address.
Attachment: We call our Spiritual Expression - “Palanca.” It is a response of faith.
It is our response to God’s grace in our lives. Palanca is prayer and selfless acts of love. It is not necessarily a thing or a bag of things. It is first and foremost ---prayer. This is absolutely essential for the success of our 3-Day Weekend. If this prayer is truly offered for the participants and the team, God will surely hear and answer that prayer. Prayer and sacrifice are normal for Christians, and it is the “best gift” that we can give on any Metanoia retreat for all the participants.
We can pray each Friday through Sunday that the Holy Spirit will open and “lever (palanca)” the hearts and minds of all those making their three-day walk with our Lord Jesus.
There are countless ways to make palanca. We can offer both informal and formal prayer, acts of corporate worship, Eucharist, and Stations of the Cross to name just a few. We can offer a dedication of ourselves through the work of our hands. In Christian communities, Christ works to lever us in an especially effective way. Each one of us has something unique to give. Our palanca should move the inmates, closer to Jesus. As we approach Weekends through the year, we should rededicate ourselves in true worship of our Lord God, and permit His Holy Spirit to over flowingly fill us as we use this time to become more useful and loving instruments of His grace and peace.
In Jesus Holy Name – Bud Cope, Chair PS: Please add prayers for the men at the State Penitentiary in Santa Fe, NM. We will be there the week after Easter with the closing on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1st. (More on this later.)
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"3. If we wish to stand before our King and God and converse with Him, we must not rush into this without preparation, lest, seeing us from afar without weapons and clothing suitable for those who stand before the King, He should order His servants and slaves to seize us and banish us from His presence and tear up our petitions and throw them in our face.
February 10, 2011
13:28) There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; when you shall see
Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets, in the kingdom of
God: and you yourselves thrust out.
BOOK REVIEW: Christians must believe in the reality of hell as well as heaven
TRACT: Hell Exists And We Might Go There
Tertullian, Apology, 48:12 (A.D. 197): "Therefore after this there is
neither death nor repeated resurrections, but we shall be the same that
we are now, and still unchanged--the servants of God, ever with God,
clothed upon with the proper substance of eternity; but the profane,
and all who are not true worshippers of God, in like manner shall be
consigned to the punishment of everlasting fire--that fire which, from
its very nature indeed, directly ministers to their incorruptibility."
Peter Kreeft on Hell: "The images for hell in Scripture are horrible, but they're only symbols. The thing symbolized is not less horrible than the symbols, but more. Spiritual fire is worse than material fire; spiritual death is worse than physical death. The pain of loss—the loss of God, who is the source of all joy—is infinitely more horrible than any torture could ever be. All who know God and his joy understand that. Saints do not need to be threatened with fire, only with loss. "All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it—or else that it was within your grasp and you have lost it forever" (C. S. Lewis)."
FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA BHLA2 : CONCERNING THE MANNER IN WHICH WE ARE TO PERSEVERE IN THE SPIRITUAL COMBAT UNTIL DEATH
ONE OF THE REQUISITES
in the spiritual combat is perseverance in the continual mortification
of our unruly passions; for never in this life are they utterly
subdued, but take root in the human heart like weeds in fertile soil.
This is a battle from which we cannot escape; ours is a foe we cannot
evade. The fight against passion will last a lifetime, and he who lays
down his arms will be slain.
Moreover, we must combat enemies who hate us with unquenchable fury, and are consecrated to our destruction. The more we would make friends of them, the more they would make derelicts of us.
But be not daunted by their strength or number, for in this war, he alone is conquered who voluntarily surrenders, and the entire power of our enemies is in the hands of that captain under whose banner we fight. And not only will He preserve us from treachery, but He will be our champion. He who is infinitely superior to all the foe will crown you with conquest provided that you, as a warrior, rely not on your own finite powers, but on His almighty power and infinite goodness.
If, however, He seems slow in coming to your aid and apparently leaves you in the withering fire of the enemy, be not discouraged; rather fight resolutely in the firm belief that He will convert all things which befall you to your eventual benefit, and even the unexpected crown of victory will be yours.
For your part, never desert your commanding officer, who, for your sake, did not shrink from death itself, and in dying on Calvary's hill, conquered the entire world. Fight courageously under His colors, and lay not down your arms while there is one foe left. For if a single vice is neglected it will be a beam in your eye, and a thorn in your side, constantly hindering you from triumph in your glorious and victorious cause.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"2. Let us rise and listen to what that holy queen of the virtues cries with a loud voice and says to us: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and ye shall find rest for your souls and healing for your wounds. For my yoke is easy (Matt 11:28-30) and is a sovereign remedy for great sins.
February 9, 2011
(Rom 1:16-18) For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first and to the Greek. For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice:
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FROM THE MAILBAG: Why the World Hates Christianity by Jim J. McCrea
The world hates Christianity and
persecutes it. It particularly hates Catholic Christianity and
exercises a vehement form of persecution towards it. The world
discussed here is the Biblical concept of that which seeks pleasure,
power, and material goods, and which is opposed to the spirit of Christ
which is that of charity, humility, and self-sacrifice.
Of all the things that a myriad of other organizations or religions do wrong (or allegedly do wrong), you mainly hear about those in the Catholic Church in the mainstream media. You don't often hear of scandal in Hinduism or Buddhism, or where they have unreasonable rules, but much respect is given to them by the mainstream media. It is mainly the Catholic Church that is presented as unreasonable - whether they report something done wrong in Her name, or simply present a half truth which puts something out of context.
For example, abuse happens in all denominations, but it has been almost exclusively reported as happening in the Catholic Church in recent times. This was done deliberately to give the general public the impression that abuse is a problem particular to Catholic priests. It is a strategy that has worked well, since so many have swallowed that lie (not lying in saying the abuse happened, but lying in giving the impression that it is mainly Catholic priests who are abusers by the emphasis given). The mainstream media does this to discredit the Catholic Church.
The reason why the mainstream media, along with liberal elites in general, wish to discredit the Catholic Church is that only the Catholic Church hits the bull's eye of truth. To accept this requires a deep humility where pride and concupiscence must be mortified. Every other religion gives more or less leeway to man's natural fallen nature. No other religion makes demands on the deepest center of man as Catholicism does. That is why other religions are much more tolerated by the movers and shakers in society. The mainstream media even has much more tolerance for harsh legalistic Islam, than the benign authority of the Catholic Church. This is because (as least unconsciously) there is a sympathy with Islam, in that many elements of Islam (as it is largely practiced) are expressions of unmortified human passion.
It is true that most other religions encourage virtue and have commandments against vice, but there are some concessions to fallen human nature within all religions except Catholicism. For example, Protestantism, may do the right thing in exhorting one to live by the ten commandments and accept Christ as one's Lord and savior. However, Protestantism in its essence concedes to man's proud independent nature. It does this in not recognizing Christ's legitimate authority on earth in human form, in the Pope and in the bishops united to the Pope (the Magisterium).
Hinduism, would be tolerated for a similar reason. In Hinduism, the transcendent moral law does not exist in the same way that it does in Christianity. For in Christianity, we submit to a God who is "totally other" and who is completely independent of the ego. In Hinduism, on the other hand, we attain to a pleasant harmony with "what is" through "enlightenment" and discover that God is our deepest self. This may give generous room to subtle pride and sensuality, leading the believer to think that these are the motions of the divine within. If a person is his own standard, then it is possible to justify anything. If we are "one with the cosmos," then the cosmos may be the ego inflated to infinity. That would appeal to modern secular man, and the world would love rather than hate such a concept. That would appeal to fallen man's desire to be God.
Of course, Evangelical Protestantism is despised by the elites, right behind Catholicism. This is because the world and Christianity have two diametrically opposed goals for human life. For the worldling, the aim of life is to conform all things to one's pleasure and to the padding of one's ego. For the Christian, the goal is to conform oneself to Christ. This Christian way may require that one accept all sorts of things that are unpleasant to the self. For the worldling, the goal of life is to inflate the self, and all other things and people are a means to that (the worldling does do good to others, but this is merely good policy. One does good to others to be at peace with others and to have others do good to oneself in return). For the Christian, on the other hand, the goal is of life is to conform oneself to the "other" - to find salvation in a Savior who is other, who is Christ, rather than being one's own savior and pulling oneself up by one's own bootstraps as the worldling does.
One of the highest phases of this process of being conformed to Christ, as it appears in the writings of the saints and the true Catholic sages, is in the acceptance of humiliations. This is the hardest thing for human nature to bear, and it is that which the worldling strives to avoid at all costs. However, the humiliations that God sends us in His providence get to the deepest root of our pride and effect a radical purification of our soul. This radical purification is necessary because only when one has become absolutely pure, can one enter heaven (see Rev 21:27). Because of this, purification is the work of a life-time. It is the highest wisdom to "turn the other cheek" and accept humiliations (see Matt 5:38-42), for that is the shortest route to perfection and to heaven (fight only when some principle or positive value is a stake, never when it is just your ego at stake. Be glad to have an opportunity to have the ego killed). Such purification is even the route to true happiness and peace in this life, for it is precisely the impurity of sin that makes people unhappy and destroys peace. It is the cross, and it is particularly the cross of humiliation that the world despises. Many Catholics experience that their worldly acquaintances find the idea of mortification and self-denial baffling and irrational. To the fervent Catholic, such a thing is a means to make the old man of sin die and Christ rise within them. To the worldling, on the other hand, mortification and self-denial contradict the "evident" purpose of life which is to make all things conform to one's own pleasure.
Most worldlings are not consciously aware of the metaphysical roots of their antipathy to Christianity and to Catholic Christianity in particular. It is the values of Christianity that are registered mainly on the subconscious level of the worldling that provoke such a negative reaction. Often this reaction can be seen in human interactions in day to day life. Much communication takes place on the subconscious level. We often "click" with some people and not with others - and usually we don't know why. At every moment we are broadcasting our perspective of reality and personal values with dozens or even hundreds of elements of communication per minute. And we communicate with others in our social environment with dozens or hundreds of elements per minute - and most of this takes place below the threshold of our conscious understanding. There is a whole series of expressions, body language elements, comments, tones of voice by which information is exchanged between people. Most of this is transferred from the subconscious of one person to the subconscious of another.
What we are mainly aware of on the conscious level is whether we are comfortable or uncomfortable with the person we are interacting with. It is these elements of communication that determine whether we are of the same party as the other person. Often a Christian will click with a Christian, a worldling will click with a worldling, but a Christian will not click with a worldling, precisely because of their affiliation. When we are with some people the words flow with great ease and pleasure, and we feel validated. With others, we feel that there is a wall and we experience a loss of energy and self-esteem.
Why is this? What is it precisely that makes some people click together and others not? There are obvious differences between people that may account for this. For example, highly educated and intelligent people will often click with people like themselves, and low-brow people will often get along together. But a low-brow and a high-brow person may have little in common. We often see people congregate according to the social class to which they belong. Conceptual thinkers (who discuss ideas) communicate well with conceptual thinkers, concrete thinkers (who discuss things and events) communicate well with concrete thinkers, but a conceptual thinker may not communicate well with a concrete thinker. Each grouping has its own subconsciously communicated language in the form of expressions, body language, comments, tones of voice etc. A person from one grouping may have little in common with a person of another grouping simply because this language is different. It would be like someone who mainly speaks English trying to communicate with someone who mainly speaks French.
However, there is a more fundamental divide between people. There is a more fundamental reason why some groupings of people click and others do not. It is their basic ethical stance towards reality. Whether people get along or not may largely depend on whether they have a Christian or an worldly stance towards life. Although people sometimes talk about whether they are Christian or anti-Christian, that is mostly communicated on the subconscious level as discussed.
What is it that is being communicated that makes the difference between the two groupings of people? What does each type of person broadcast and accept or reject on mainly the subconscious level? Even when the Christian is not talking about Christ and Christianity in particular, they communicate on topics of the good and the true. They communicate the *objectively important* or what is important in itself, and communicate their reverence towards things other and higher than themselves. Even when Christ is not being discussed explicitly, He is being communicated implicitly because Christ is the supreme good and true to which all goodness and truth point. Christ is the "other" and the "higher" to whom the true Christian is reverent, and this reverence is reflected in the Christian's attitude to being in general. They do this both in explicit topics of conversation and on the subconscious level.
The worldling on the other hand communicates elements pertaining to the satisfaction of *self.* In other words, their communications pertain to the *subjectively satisfying.* In subtle ways (for the explicit support of selfishness, even for most worldlings, is shameful), the person of the world communicates his love of the fulfillment of pride and concupiscence. While the Christian looks up to things in reverence, the worldling tends to look down on things in haughtiness. While Christian conversation tends to lift things up, worldly conversation tends to tear things down.
Even a marked difference in humor can be seen between the two groups. The worldling engages in mocking "humor" which deflates things - and often traditional values. It is another way of making themselves "God." The Christian engages in the true humor of the incongruous, or their laughter may be an overflow of joy (there is no true joy with the worldling). The true humor of the incongruous is a reflection of the divine because it is a manifestation of a *suprageometric* order which transcends that order normally proper to this world. The joy of honest laughter is a foretaste of heaven.
As a result of this, the true Christian and the die-hard worldling may have little in common. Often when someone converts to Christianity, he finds that he can no longer relate to his former friends and he loses them. This is a strong temptation to go back because he is often made to feel that something is wrong with him. For a while, he may be in a no-man's land (as a test) until he feels comfortable with his new state. Then providence allows him to fit in to a whole new set of people and situations that are far superior to what he had before.
As mentioned near the beginning of this article, the mainstream media persecutes Christianity, and particularly Catholic Christianity. This is because those in positions of authority in the mainstream media who determine editorial policy, are mainly of the world (statistics show that those who work in positions of authority in the mainstream media have a far lower level of Church attendance than the general population). Christians are also persecuted by worldlings on a personal level. Even when the Christian does not explicitly discuss Christ and Christianity, they are constantly broadcasting the values of Christ in their expressions, body language, comments, tones of voice, without even realizing it. The worldling picks this up on the subconscious level and may react to it with hatred. This may explain why a person who is united to Christ might find that someone of the world takes a disliking to him when he first meets him. The reaction is that of hatred because the true Christian is a reminder to the worldling that he does not have the stance towards reality that he ought. His mediocrity and selfishness is shown up. As Christ said:
"If you find that the world hates you, know it has hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own; the reason it hates you is that you do not belong to the world. But I choose you out of the world" (John 15:18-19)
But the good news is, this broadcasting of one's state, on the subconscious level of being a Christian, is a form of evangelization in itself. Without realizing it, the true Christian may powerfully draw people to Christ, simply *by being.* If others are of good will and are open, they will be attracted to this. Instinctively the conversation may turn to Christ and Christianity in particular (we should never force a discussion of Christ when that is not appropriate. Protestant fundamentalists often make that mistake). When the discussion of Christ is appropriate, and when the discussion of the fullness of Christianity which exists in the Catholic Church is appropriate, the true Catholic has a duty to evangelize explicitly. For the light of Catholic Christianity is like a fire which first warms others and then makes those others catch fire themselves. But as Catholics, we must always be ready to do our duty to back our actions in life with an explicit explanation of what we have within us. As St. Peter says:
"Venerate the Lord, that is, Christ in your hearts. Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply... (1 Peter 3:15)
** Endnote 1 - The Christian or the worldling does not exist in a pristine purity on this earth. For the Christian, in this life, always has something of the world. We are all sinners. And even the most die-hard worldling always reflects a glimmer of Christ and has something of the good and the true. People in this world exist in a spectrum of gray, from the very light to the very dark. Those whose attitude is predominantly Christian may not get along with those whose attitude is predominantly worldly. Many people are a mix of the two attitudes, and hence are closer together. As a result of this, on a practical level, many Christians get along with many people of the world. However, it has to be pointed out that this spectrum is not a pure continuum. A person is either in the state of grace or he is not . There are varying degrees of venial sin that can be mixed with the state of sanctifying grace, and there are varying degrees of corruption and natural goodness within the state of mortal sin.
** Endnote 2 - Along with the subconscious natural elements of communication of expressions, body language, comments, tones of voice etc. the Christian in the state of grace radiates supernaturally. This is due to the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. This supernatural radiation works in conjunction with the natural subconscious elements discussed. As a result, the true Christian transmits a "full package" of communications of Christ.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"1 (cont.) For him who truly prays, prayer is the court, the judgment hall and the tribunal of the Lord before the judgment to come.
February 8, 2011
(Isa 19:2-4) And I will set the Egyptians to fight against the Egyptians: and they shall fight brother against brother, and friend against friend, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. And the spirit of Egypt shall be broken in the bowels thereof, and I will cast down their counsel: and they shall consult their idols, and their diviners, and their wizards, and soothsayers. And I will deliver Egypt into the hand of cruel masters, and a strong king shall rule over them, saith the Lord the God of hosts.
HEADLINE: Egypt: Pope Benedict XVI prays for peace amid 'delicate situation'
Pope Benedict XVI called for all sides to work for "the common good,", as Egypt's opposition remained divided over the demand that president Hosni Mubarak resign immediately rather than clinging on to power until elections in September. During his Angelus address in St Peter's Basilica on Sunday, Benedict said he was currently "following the delicate situation in the dear nation of Egypt."
"I ask God that that land, blessed by the presence of the Holy Family, may rediscover tranquility and peaceful coexistence, in a shared commitment for the common good," he pontiff stated.
Relations between the Vatican and Egypt last month became rocky following attacks on Christians in the Middle Eastern country.
On 11 January, Egypt recalled its ambassador to the Holy See following remarks made by Benedict voicing support for minority Coptic Christians and urging better protection for them after the New Year's Eve attack on a church in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria killed 23 people and injured 80.
Anti-government protesters camped out in Tahrir Sqaure in the heart of Cairo for the 14th day, have vowed to stay until Mubarak quits, and hope to take their campaign to the streets on Tuesday and Friday.
VIA CNA: Egyptian Christians worry about possible radical Islamic takeover
Issam Bishara, Vice President for Pontifical Mission activities in Egypt, detailed the concerns of Coptic Orthodox and Catholic Christians in a Feb. 3 report provided to CNA by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. “Though some of the primary opposition leaders in this revolt appear to be modern secular reformers, church leaders believe the main engine fueling and organizing the demonstrators is the Muslim Brotherhood,” Bishara wrote. “They fear that the brotherhood intends to seize power through future elections, compromising all patriotic and ideological parties participating in the protests.”
So far, most of the demonstrators opposing President Mubarak have kept religion out of the picture. However, the prominent role of the Muslim Brotherhood – considered to be the best-organized opposition to Mubarak's National Democratic Party – is causing concern among Egyptian Christians. The group's stated aim is to make Islam the “sole reference point” for Egypt's government and society.
“Coptic Christians — as well as Egypt’s Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Latin, Maronite and Melkite Greek Catholics — all fear a fate similar to that of Iraq’s Christians,” Bishara stated, recalling how a power vacuum in that country “left its minorities, especially the Christians, marginalized and exposed to the terror of Islamic extremists and criminals.”
Nina Shea, an international human rights lawyer who directs the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., urged Westerners to regard the Muslim Brotherhood with extreme caution – both on account of the group's history, and because of the recent trend toward radicalization in Egyptian religious culture at large.
About two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East now live in Egypt. For this reason alone, Shea said, a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood could have drastic consequences for Christians throughout the region.
“We could see the virtual end of Christianity's native presence in the Middle East, faster than anyone thought, if they come to power.”
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Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"1 (cont.). Prayer is the mother and also the daughter of tears, the propitiation for sins, a bridge over temptations, a wall against afflictions, a crushing of conflicts, a work of angels, the food of all the bodiless spirits, future gladness, unending activity, a source of virtues, a means of obtaining grace, invisible progress, food of the soul, enlightenment of the mind, an axe against despair, a demonstation of hope, a cure for sorrow, the wealth of monks, the treasure of hesychasts, the reduction of anger, the mirror of progress, the disclosure of stature, an indication of one's condition, a revelation of future things, and a sign of glory.
February 4, 2011
THE TRIB TIMES WILL RETURN NEXT WEEK, GOD WILLING (James 4:15).
2:15-17) Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions,
which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle. Now
our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God and our Father, who hath loved
us and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope in
grace, Exhort your hearts and confirm you in every good work and
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LINK: The Role of Saints
FROM THE MAILBAG
REFLECTION by Father Ted – January 31, 2011
My dearest Lord Jesus, we need Your help more than ever to do what is right, to do what is needed to help our country.
As we have begun this special week – Catholic School Week – we are urged to focus upon the importance and the role of all our Catholic schools – especially within the United States.
You allowed me many years ago to teach in one of our Catholic High Schools. In the process of becoming a teacher, You taught me what a Catholic School is all about.
Our Catholic Schools are meant to complement the mission of the parents who are the first teachers of the children. As we are reminded in the baptismal rite, since they are the first teachers, we pray that they become the best teachers.
And I have learned that the most effective way to teach is by example.
We need today, perhaps more than ever, men and women who strive to become the saints that You have created us to be.
We need today, fathers and mothers who strive to become saints who will teach their children that they were created through their love for each other – with God so that they too would become saints who will enter into the home of our Father, namely heaven.
Our Catholic schools have been established to assist our parents in accomplishing this mission of making saints – saints who will also assist their brothers and sisters within the United States to live as faithful children of God and at the same time as faithful American citizens who promote the wellbeing of all the citizens of our country and even of the world.
As I was taught as a very young child, You made us to know You, to love You and to serve You on earth so that we, with others, might enjoy being with You forever in heaven.
To accomplish this challenge, parents need a lot of help. The parish is meant to do this. One of the great ways that this is done is through our Catholic elementary schools.
The religious formation is meant to parallel the academic formation. For one cannot be fully educated academically without a profound religious formation. The school teaches our youngsters how to acquire the knowledge they need to know – so they can love and serve God first of all, and at the same time to know, love and serve one another.
Our schools are meant to enable them to discover and perfect the gifts that God has given them. Their teachers who must also be men and women of deep faith and love of God are the ones who share with their students what they themselves have learned.
As our children learn how to develop their skills they are enabled to begin to serve others with their talents – thus helping them to become good citizens. For when we teach our youth in our schools all the truths revealed by God to us we help them to become the A+ citizens that our country needs and desires.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"1. Prayer, by reason of its nature, is the converse and union of man with God, and by reason of its action upholds the world and brings about reconciliation with God.
February 3, 2011
(46:10) Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.
FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA Christian Witness: A Lesson from an Old, Blind Monk
One of the last Netflix
movies I rented was “Into Great Silence” about the daily lives of
Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse, high in the French Alps.
It’s incredible to know that such a peaceful, quiet place exists in our
busy, noisy world!
At the end of the movie an old, blind monk shares what he knows about God and happiness and why he is thankful to be blind:
The closer one brings
oneself to God, the happier one is. The faster one hurries to meet him.
One should have no fear of death. On the contrary! For us, it is a
great joy to find a Father once again. … The past, the present, these
are human. In God there is no past. Solely the present prevails. And
when God sees us, he always sees our entire life. And because He is an
infinitely good being, He eternally seeks our well-being. Therefore,
there is no cause for worry in any of the things which happen to us.
often thank God that he let me be blinded. I am sure that he let this
happen for the good of my soul… It is a pity that the world has lost
all sense of God. It is a pity…They have no reason to live anymore.
When you abolish the thought of God, why should you go on living on
this earth? … One must (never) part from the principle that God is
infinitely good, and that all of his actions are in our best interest.
Because of this a Christian should always be happy, never unhappy.
Because everything that happens is God’s will, and it only happens for
the well-being of our soul. Well, this is the most important. God is
infinitely good, almighty, and he helps us. This is all one must do,
and then one is happy.
VIA [email protected]: Meditation by Rev. Fr. Arsenio C. Jesena, SJ Catholic author of the Jubilee year 2000
Several years ago, I left the
Philippines. Maybe to look for myself. Maybe to look for God. And so I
went to Rome, the capital of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
BUT I DID NOT FIND GOD THERE.
And then I went to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ, the Son of God was born, and where He died.
BUT I DID NOT FIND GOD THERE.
Too noisy. Too commercial. Too institutional. Too regimented. Too artificial.
And with the endless pilgrims streaming in and out, not really praying, but forever posing for their pictures and their souvenir albums, I could not find God. Only vanity, and shallowness.
So I went away, and retreated to a place that was ordinary, and humble and obscure- - Nazareth.
And in Nazareth, I looked for the most ordinary, the most humble, the most obscure place. And I prayed there during the day, and as darkness came, I walked out in the cool of the evening and I gazed up at the myriad stars, the same stars that the Carpenter Jesus saw thousands of years ago. And I inhaled the cool evening breeze, the same cool breeze that the Son of Mary, the Son of God, inhaled.
And there, in that simple, silent place, I was touched by the True, the Holy, the Divine.
My brothers, my sisters- - as you walk the road of life, you may sometimes find the need to search. For yourself. To search. For God. You may find the need to be touched. By the Divine, the Holy, and the True.
Do not look for your answers in the dancing sun and the bloody tears and the magic petals, because they are not always there, and they are not always true.
Look instead for Nazareth. YOUR NAZARETH. Stop, and for the first time, notice and appreciate, your COOK and your MAID, who prepare your breakfast and who clean your toilet every day. Stop and appreciate the LOLA and the LOLO in your house, who may no longer feel useful and who may no longer feel needed, and no longer feel loved.
Stop, and notice and appreciate your LITTLE CHILD, so vulnerable, so open, so close to God. Stop and notice and appreciate YOUR WIFE, who because she is always there, serving your children and loving you, you have long ago taken her for granted. Stop and notice and appreciate YOUR HUSBAND, who works every day, to feed you and to send the children to school.
Most of all, my friend, stop in front of the mirror. Then notice and appreciate the person you see there- - YOURSELF - - and behind the disguise of the common and the ordinary, discover the Divine and the Holy and the True. For Jesus Christ says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Look again at yourself. And discover God right there.
My brothers, my sisters, do not be so fascinated with the very good, and the very bad.
LOOK RATHER FOR THE ORDINARY, THE HUMBLE, THE OBSCURE. LOOK FOR NAZARETH- - YOUR NAZARETH. MAYBE, MAYBE YOU’LL FIND GOD THERE.
BECAUSE HE IS THERE- -
WAITING - - FOR YOU.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"68. Faith is the wing of prayer; without it, my prayer will return again to my bosom. Faith is the unshaken firmness of the soul, unmoved by any adversity. A believer is not one who thinks that God can do everything, but one who believes that he will obtain all things.
February 2, 2011
(1Pe 4:12-14) Dearly beloved, think not strange the burning heat which is to try you: as if some new thing happened to you. But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you be reproached for the name of Christ, you shall be blessed: for that which is of the honour, glory and power of God, and that which is his Spirit resteth upon you.
EXCERPT PAKISTAN CHRISTIAN POST: Coptic Christians fear the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is clearly hoping to install an Islamic state on the rubbles of the Hosni Mubarak regime. The mass media in the West may focus on genuine factors behind current events in Egypt and some Egyptians may speak about democracy and liberty. However, it is abundantly clear that Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood desire an Islamic state and given their past history and ongoing political intrigues, then it is reasonable to expect an Islamic grab for power.
This raises serious questions for many in Egypt but the purpose of this article is to focus on the minority Christian community which is between eight to twelve million according to different statistics. After all, the reality of the demise of Saddam Hussein in Iraq led to the complete marginalization and persecution of the Christian community and Christian numbers in Iraq have dropped dramatically because of constant persecution.
Therefore, despite the anti-Christian nature of the Mubarak regime the Christian community is faced with “the authoritarian leader they know” against “the devil leadership” which may take power in Egypt?
It is clear that the Coptic Christian community faces many genuine concerns because they suffer institutional discrimination in Egypt under Mubarak. However, given the reality that democracy is not a flourishing concept within the majority of Muslim dominated nations then the worst must be feared. This applies to an Islamic state under the Muslim Brotherhood whereby Islamic Sharia law is governed more tightly over Egyptian society rather than the pick and mix version under Mubarak.
The sad reality is that Egypt under Mubarak is an Islamic dominated society whereby you have many laws which discriminate against the Christian community. This applies to severe restrictions on building new Christian churches; mass prejudice in family law which always supports the Muslim spouse over the Christian spouse in divorce cases; educational discrimination which marginalizes the indigenous Christian faith; persecution of apostates from Islam to Christianity; and in many other areas of life and this applies to government and so forth.
However, an Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood would be even more dangerous because the Islamization of Egypt which was done more discreetly under Anwar Sadat and Mubarak would be much more open under the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore, the Christian community in Egypt is faced with the reality of discrimination and persecution under the current Mubarak regime or even greater Islamization of Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood. It is abundantly clear, that the situation is very tense for all Egyptians but notably for Christians because they suffer death and persecution under the current prevailing conditions but these prevailing conditions may get even worse if events turn out negatively and Islamists seize power.
RELATED: Coptic Christians Worry About Future Without Mubarak
OPINION: Why Coptic Christians Fear a Revolution
NEWSWIRE: Open Doors Calls for Prayer for Christians in Egypt
EXCERPT COMMENTARY: When Egypt shakes, it should be no surprise that Israel trembles
So here's the scenario making Israeli heads throb. Hosni Mubarak leaves, replaced eventually by forces dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. They hold elections – but they are of the "one man, one vote, one time" variety.
Among the new regime's first moves is tearing up the Israel treaty – heeding the demands of those in Tahrir Square reportedly chanting for Mubarak to "go back home to Tel Aviv". No longer will Egyptian forces police the tunnels that run under the border with Gaza: instead Hamas will be allowed to import as much weaponry as it wants, including from Iran. Nor will Cairo play intermediary between Israel and Hamas (useful until Egypt-Hamas relations all but broke down recently).
Suddenly the map will look very different, with Israel facing what one analyst calls Islamist "encirclement: Hezbollah from the north (in Lebanon), Hamas from the west (in Gaza) and the Muslim Brotherhood from the south (in Sinai)."
If that scenario doesn't sound gloomy enough, Israel will have lost something even deeper. Beyond all the talk of borders and buffer zones, what Israel craves is recognition of its legitimacy – starting with acceptance of its existence. The 1979 treaty provided that, signalling an acknowledgement – grudging, maybe; cold, perhaps – that Israel was in the Middle East to stay. If Egypt were to annul that accord, the strategic bedrock of Israeli security and its sense of itself in the region will have been pulled away.
This is what the Israeli official who spoke to me of a "game-changer" has in mind. Suddenly, Jordan would stand alone as the sole Arab state that formally recognises Israel – and judging by King Abdullah's hasty sacking of his prime minister today under popular pressure, that hardly seems a reliable foundation. Lacking the cover once provided by Egypt, the Palestinian Authority would be increasingly isolated in its policy of dialogue with Israel.
MORE: Egypt crisis: Israel faces danger in every direction
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"61. Let the remembrance of Jesus (Jesus Prayer) be present with each breath, and then you will know the value of stillness.
February 1, 2011
(Jer 6:13-14) For from the least of them even to the greatest, all are given to covetousness: and from the prophet even to the priest, all are guilty of deceit. And they healed the breach of the daughter of my people disgracefully, saying: Peace, peace: and there was no peace.
ANALYSIS: The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report
NEWS HEADLINE: Reluctant peace doves refuse to leave Vatican
Doves of peace released by Pope Benedict XVI during the weekly Angelus prayer on Sunday refused to leave the Vatican and flew straight back in through the open window, an AFP photographer said.
Embarrassed officials only managed to catch and re-release one of the birds.
The pope was accompanied at the window of his studio in St. Peter's square by two children from the Catholic Action of Rome who had celebrated a "Month for Peace" in January.
The amused pair joined the effort to recapture the doves.
During the Angelus, Benedict marked the International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land, calling for "concrete plans for peace," and wished serenity and prosperity for those about to celebrate the Lunar New Year in the Far East.
The pope made no reference to the ongoing tensions in Egypt.
OPINION: Victoria priests offer insight into Egypt
AMERICAN SPECTATOR: Egyptian Intransigence Ominous
BALTIMORE SUN: Maryland Copts pray for safety of families in Egypt amid protests
As they have done for nearly 20 years, members of the close-knit and expanding community of Coptic Christians in Maryland prayed Sunday morning at a church in Savage, the red-brick building thick with incense and echoing with the sound of religious recitations sung in Arabic and English.
On this particular Sunday, as massive protests aimed at unseating President Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime gripped Egypt, the congregation at St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church prayed not just for the safety of family members there but also for a resolution to the unrest — one that would put in power a moderate government friendly to religious diversity.
"They say it's horrible there, a mess everywhere," said George Mekhail, a Columbia resident with family in Cairo, Egypt's capital city and the site of the largest and most violent demonstrations against Mubarak's government. "The men are coming out to protect" their neighborhoods against looters who are taking advantage of the chaos in the country, Mekhail said.
Unable to reach family in Egypt last week on their cell phones or by e-mail after Mubarak shut down cellular and Internet connections to stop protesters from organizing, members of Maryland's Coptic diaspora said they have had to depend on landline connections to call loved ones in Egypt. Cellular connections were recently restored by Egyptian authorities.
Their families, they said, have largely barricaded themselves in their homes, with doormen staying on guard around the clock inside apartment buildings. Mona Gobrial, whose husband, the Rev. Guirguis Gobrial, has served as the Savage congregation's priest since 1995, said Saturday was the first time since the large-scale protests began on Jan. 25 that her sisters in Cairo could go out to get food for their families.
"Nobody's sleeping," she said. "They don't know how it went from peaceful to that chaotic."
Father Gobrial called for three days of fasting and extra prayer services this week at St. Mary's in light of the protests and violence in Egypt. As the Sunday services ended around noon and the crowd of mostly young families began to disperse, a woman told two friends animatedly in Arabic and English about the sounds of gunshots her extended family said they had heard in Cairo.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"60. Stillness is unceasing worship and waiting upon God.
Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus
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