Keep your eyes open!...


February 25, 2011 


(Gal 1:8-9) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.

SPERO NEWS: Eu: Islam: Europe's stuttering timidity in denouncing the persecution of Christians

CBN: Islam's Woman Problem

SPIRITDAILY: There Are Good People in all Religions but at the Bottom of Islam are Occult Practices 

FROM THE MAILBAG : The Dysfunction of Islam by Jim J. McCrea

With Catholic Christianity, creation is a reflection of God.

Goodness, truth, and beauty in creation are a reflection of God who is infinite goodness, truth, and beauty.

The crown of this, in the visible world, is man who is created in the image of God.

Now Islam denies all this and claims that God is completely dissimilar to creation and has nothing in common with it.

In fact, God's will is above good and evil and good is defined as what God happens to decide independent of what we can understand as good.

This is contrary to the Catholic Christian view that states that if we *rightly* understand something as good, God holds it as good also because God wills what is good in itself and good is not what God arbitrarily decides.  God wills things because they are good.  Things are not good simply because He wills them.  Although God's will is largely a mystery and is infinite in extent, man's finite understanding intersects that partially when it is working properly.

With the exaggerated transcendence of God in Islam, God is considered the only cause of things.  For example, fire does not burn paper, God does.

With this, natural causality is denied, undermining both reason and natural science.

That explains the dysfunctional nature of Islamic societies.

The egregious lack of justice in Islamic societies is based on their rejection of reason.

The fundamentalist Muslim learns verses from the Koran and other Islamic writings by rote.  With this, the teachings of Islam are not examined as to how they fit into the logic of things but are applied by the automatic reactive mind.  As reason is not the guide for their behavior, what guides it are the passions - the passions of lust and power.

Islam is an infra-human religion, in that base passion rather than reason and self-giving love guides it, and the rewards in heaven are sensual delights which are fit for animals not the true dignity of human beings.

Heaven, according to Catholic Christianity, is self giving love where all our actions are oriented towards the good of others and the glorification of God.  In that, we find our true fulfillment.

Those who work for the paradise of Mohammed cannot enter the heaven of Jesus Christ.

RELATED COMMENTARY: Catholic-Muslim dialogue is at the end of the road

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.

February 24, 2011

(Mat 5:13-16) You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

THE RECORD: Cardinal warns against relativising the Bible

EXCERPT: Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev recent lecture in USA

In order to cope with evil we ourselves must stand firmly on the side of goodness rather than that of abstract pluralism. But how is it possible to speak of a firm moral stand when the very foundations of morality are diluted – and that not without the approval of Christian leaders? Our task should be to unite the efforts of those Christians who hold fast to the Word of God without allowing any erosion of its moral imperatives to humour the spirit of the time.

If in a community calling itself Christian, practising homosexuals are consecrated as ‘bishops’, if a rite of blessing same-sex unions is practised and fundamental biblical norms concerning marriage, family and human sexuality are reassessed, can this community be called a church? It is salt that has lost its savour; it has ceased to be salty and is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot (Mt. 5:13).

Today’s Christendom is divided along tracks that conform to a few simple yet important questions: the acceptance or rejection of the absolute value of human life and the related attitude to abortion and euthanasia; a commitment to the biblical view of the family and the related traditional view of relations between men and women; and finally, the duty, or simply the courage, to call a sin a sin.

It should now be clear what is really hidden under the masks of liberalizing Christian doctrine and of eroding ethical teachings. Why indeed has this particular aspect of Christian theology (as opposed to any other) become the object in a number of Protestant churches and communities of diverse experimentation and attempts at relativization? Why has a review of Christian ethical norms arisen in these communities at all? What forces stand behind these processes and what purposes do they pursue?

One explanation, but not the only one, is that Christianity preaches abstention, moderation and self-restriction. As such it clearly becomes an encumbrance that affects the rampant growth of consumerism on which today’s market economy is based. For this reason, there are many who wish to remove Christian ethics from social life. Circles with vested interests oppose the influence of Christian morality on the spheres of economy and business by subjecting everything to their principal market rule: ‘supply should forestall demand’. They also attempt to liberate the exploitation of human sexuality from any public control and above all to deprive Christian Churches of the right publicly to express concerns over this issue.

How can a Christianity that is disunited and riddled with contrary views in theological and anthropological teachings oppose such tendencies?

In our disquiet over the preservation of Christian values, we should in the first place strive to be at one. Liberal tendencies in Protestant and Anglican communities present a challenge to Christians and Churches that have remained faithful to the evangelical principles that underlie doctrine, church order and ethics. We should then seek out allies to combat the destruction of Christianity’s very essence. Finally, we should defend Christian values against the challenges of secularism and relativism.

The Lord has placed each of us in a particular life situation where we are surrounded by people at home, in the university, and at work. We must act among these people as apostles and preachers of Christ’s Truth. Christian spiritual and moral ideals should imbue our entire life. We should be Christians not only in church but also as a family, at work and in every place where people meet us. We should never impose the Christian faith on anybody; no-one can be forced to believe in God. But at the same time we ought to live in such a way that people may be inspired by our example.

Authentic religious life begins not when we provide rational answers to questions of God’s existence but when we begin building our lives in accordance with God’s commandments.

Father Corapi: Turning the Tide of Evil

One of the first things I became acutely aware of as I began ministering as a priest more than 14 years ago was that the vast majority of Catholics have never really learned their faith. For years I administered a simple test at the end of parish missions. The average grade, achieved by adults, was 43%. This failure translates into the ills and evils seen today in contemporary society. Why? For the simple reason that Catholic-Christians are called to be the salt and light of the world. When we fail to do so the world sinks under the weight of its sins. If we do not provide the moral compass to guide the world through dark and turbulent times, no one will.

Learning our faith is a moral mandate. It is not optional. We do it and please God, or we don't do it and don't please God. It isn't rocket science and it doesn't take that great a commitment in time and energy. To fail to do it is to fail in our mission, which is the same as the mission of the Redeemer--Redemption.

There is no opposition between learning and loving. If I love God and my neighbor as myself out of love for God (Charity) then I'll want to know God (Truth). Our ignorance of basic moral and doctrinal teaching is ultimately harmful to ourselves, our families, our Church, our society and our world.

LINK: Father Corapi Q & A

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.

February 23, 2011

(2Pe 3:8-9) But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord delayeth not his promise, as some imagine, but dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance,

SPERO NEWS: What is the role of Russia in Salvation history? by Robert Moynihan

"If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world." —The Second Secret of Fatima, spoken in an apparition by the Virgin Mary to three children in Fatima, Portugal, on July 13, 1917 

REFLECTION by Father Ted –  February 20, 2011

My dearest Lord Jesus, thank You for allowing me to share with others about how You used the two young children Francisco and Jacinta together with their cousin Lucia to bring a portion of Your peace to the world during the early part of the 20th century.

I am very grateful that You sent to them, first of all, Your messenger the Archangel Michael in 1916 to prepare them for the apparition of Your Mother in 1917.

You taught them in the first place the importance of praying often. You gave to them that beautiful prayer, which You have encourage me to pray daily – “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, I love You. I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.” For You want us not only to believe in You, but to adore, to hope and to love You. You want us to pray for those who don’t.

This is one of our great responsibilities – namely, to pray for those brothers and sisters of our who unfortunately do not believe in You, who neglect to adore You, who do not trust in You, and do not give to You the love that You deserve.

You sent Saint Michael to them two other times during 1916. During the 2nd visit of this great archangel, You taught them another prayer which also emphasized Your Real Presence in the Eucharist and also that sin does offend You, and Your Father and Your Holy Spirit.

As You urged them to pray this prayer frequently, encourage me to do likewise - so that I honor You and continue to pray for others.

On the 3rd visit, Saint Michael brought with him a Consecrated Host which he had obtained from the nearby chapel. And with that Consecrated Host he also brought a chalice – from the same chapel. Before he gave the Consecrated Host to Lucia, who had made her 1st Holy Communion, You allowed drops of Your Precious Blood to come from the Consecrated Host and fall into the chalice. He would give Your Precious Blood to Francisco and Jacinta since they had not yet made their 1st Holy Communion. All three experienced Your Presence and Your deep love for them.

So when Your Mother came to them the following year beginning in May, they were ready to listen to her and to do what You asked of them through Your Mother.

And they obeyed Your Mother.

They prayed the Rosary daily for peace in the world and for the end of World War I. They made the sacrifices that You asked them to do for the conversion of sinners.

Thank You for offering to them these graces. Thank You for offering to me and to others the great example of these youngsters.

Through the intercession of Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta, and through the intercession of Sister Lucia, help us to follow their example and respond to Your call to holiness and to bring Your Peace to our world today.

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.

February 22, 2011

(Rev 3:15-17) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest: I am rich and made wealthy and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

IN THE NEWS: Obama administration replaces controversial 'conscience' regulation for health-care workers

After two years of struggling to balance the rights of patients against the beliefs of health-care workers, the Obama administration on Friday finally rescinded most of a federal regulation designed to protect those who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds.

The decision guts one of President George W.  Bush's most controversial legacies: a rule that was widely interpreted as shielding workers who refuse to participate in a range of medical services, such as providing birth control pills, caring for gay men with AIDS and performing in-vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women. 

MORE: Officials Consider Requiring Insurers to Offer Free Contraceptives

FR. ALTIER: Is Our Culture Worse Than Sodom And Gomorrah?

Father Corapi: Death Wish!  The Impending Suicide of a Once Great Nation

A large number of endangered, unwanted, and unborn children held a town hall meeting on the 4th of July - alarmed at the brutal and untimely killing of millions of their brothers and sisters in recent years.  That the murderous war waged on them had the full force and respectability of the law made their plight all the more terrifying.

Their complaint was humble and it was simple.  They were not distressed by rising gas prices, or the deteriorating economy in general.  They were not even frightened by the exponential increase of natural disasters.  The threat of global warming or global terrorism did not greatly disturb them.

They had become an endangered species, and little had been done to answer their terrified and silent screams from the womb.  They decided that the barbaric treatment that they and their fellow unwanted unborn human beings have had to endure for perilous decades was unconscionable and unbearable.  They cried out to their Creator for inspiration and protection, and then unanimously they put forth a declaration.  It began as follows:

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of nature and the Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT, THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, THAT THEY ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, THAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...


The first and pre-eminent right is the right to life.  This truth the Founding Fathers were sure of, and anyone with any common sense at all is equally sure of it.  232 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed the amount of common sense that seems to be operative in many spheres of influence - most notably the courts and the political arena - can easily be poured into a very small thimble.  The United States of America seems to have a death wish, and we have traveled far down the road to having that wish realized.  When law divorces itself from common sense and spawns the illegitimate offspring of distortions of law, resulting in illegal laws - based neither on the natural law nor divine law - this undermines law itself, generating disdain for the law.  Erosion of trust in the courts, or the system in general, is inevitable.

The genesis of the death wish is rooted in the fall of man that we see in the Book of Genesis.  The substance of the fall is wrapped up in Lucifer's pride, transferred to Adam and Eve - "You can be like gods, knowing good and evil." The unholy, yet inevitable, consequence of that price is disobedience - eating the forbidden fruit.  The ultimate end is death, as God said it would be.  That's the way it was in the beginning.  That's the way it is now.  That's the way it will be until time breathes forth it's last moment.

The prototypical sin is pride, the pride that seeks to exalt the creature above the Creator:

"I can be like God." Then, subjectively and arbitrarily, man tries to assert himself, imagining that he knows what's good and evil for himself without reference to God and God's law.  This was the fall of the angels and the fall of man.  The attempt by creatures to usurp what is only the province of God.  Only God knows what is good for His creation.

In recent years it took the form of a self-inflicted heart wound when some dissident Catholics rejected the teaching of the Church, a teaching that clearly held that artificial contraception is intrinsically evil.  Then, as Pope Paul VI had warned, it metastasized into abortion.  From abortion it degenerated even further into partial-birth abortion.  It was then a short and easy step to infanticide.

It's hard to believe that we have degenerated to the point that we'll murder a helpless baby should it escape the violence of an abortion and be born alive.  Can a Catholic vote for such persons?  [who support abortion] We are told, "yes" for a "proportionate reason." What, I might ask, is the proportionate reason so weighty as to excuse supporting those responsible for what is tantamount to genocide?

The judges and politicians that support such barbaric practices are truly guilty of genocide: genocide - the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, racial, religious, national, or social group.  "What is the group so target?", you might ask.  The group is unwanted, unborn children - tens of millions of them.  The Supreme Court justices that gave us Roe v.  Wade will have to plead temporary insanity in the court of history.  There will be no defense in the highest Court that is the judgment seat of almighty God if they do not repent of the incalculable evil they have wrought.

Yet, despite the life and death importance of this travesty of authentic law, there will be no serious discussion among political candidates, or anyone else.  It is as if society has been bewitched, blind to the splendor of truth, deaf to the cries of the most innocent, most vulnerable, and most utterly helpless.

From artificial contraception to abortion to partial-birth abortion, then on to infanticide we march toward the abyss of oblivion, a society marked for death...

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.

February 17, 2011


(Joh 8:31-32) Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth: and the truth shall make you free.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "Educational work seems to be becoming ever more arduous because, in a culture which all too often makes relativism its creed, the light of truth is lacking.  Indeed, it is considered dangerous even to speak about truth, thus instilling doubt about the basic values of individual and community life."

CATHOLIC ONLINE: The Catholic Church: Gift of Love, Truth and Life 

FROM THE MAILBAG: The Profundity of Catholicism by Jim J. McCrea

People of the world have a false conception of Catholicism.

They think of it as dry old dogmas which are not connected to real life and as arbitrary moral rules that stand in the way of true freedom. The mainstream media presents the Catholic Church this way.

However, there is an infinite distance between the caricature and the reality.

In reality, Catholicism expresses the deepest dynamism and nature of life and reality. It is the perfect expression of the true, the good, and the beautiful.

The world that is in opposition to it is an expression of extreme ugliness. Take the example of the modern "progressive" immodestly dressed woman or girl. Here, both modesty and femininity have been departed from. We have a specter of round fleshy bodies with faces as hard and sharp as nails. The modern world is imbalanced one way or the other, while avoiding the mean where the true good is found - where Jesus Christ is found.

Many are of the impression that Catholicism is for stupid people. This misconception is held also by many evangelical Protestants with their often too-bright and too-much-on-the-surface joy.

However, as far as truth goes, nothing is deeper or more profound than the intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church.

It says in the "Imitation of Christ"

"The more a man is united within himself, and interiorly simple, the more and higher things doth he understand without labor; because he receiveth the light of understanding from above." (Bk. I, Ch. 3)

The more pure a person is, the subtler, profounder, and higher realities he is able to grasp with his mind.

In heaven, as we ascend through the nine choirs of angels, which are the nine grades of being in heaven, the knowledge there becomes subtler, deeper, and more profound.

But as it becomes subtler, deeper, and more profound, it also becomes simpler, easier, more obvious, and more intelligible - and there is an increasing delectability in that knowledge.

There exists infinite potential grades of depth and profundity of knowledge (outside of what has actually been created) going higher and higher, leading right to the abode of the Blessed Trinity. In the abode of the Trinity there is both infinite profundity and infinite simplicity. Only God is capable of understanding all truth, absolutely simply and comprehensively. The rest of us can be given more or less a share of that.

But it is all important to point out that our love must grow in proportion to the truth that we have; for the knowledge that we have is there only for the sake of our expressions of love or agape.

Catholicism has all truth and all love contained within it, which is incarnated in Jesus Christ. It is our life's journey to unpack that more and more.


Why Catholicism is the Truth
The Logic of the Trinity
Quintessential Divine Attributes

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.

February 16, 2011

(Luk 1:38) And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

LINK: Apparitions and Shrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary which have been approved by legitimate Church Authority

THE RECORD: Is seeing believing? Sifting the claims and proving apparitions

When the Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin recently recognised a series of Marian apparitions from 1859, it marked the first time apparitions in the United States received official approval.
That’s quite an achievement considering that more than 1,500 visions of Mary have been reported around the world, but in the past century only nine cases have received official Church approval as being “worthy of belief,” said an expert in Marian apparitions.

The Church has made very few judgements on apparition claims.

“It’s not always possible to ascertain if they are true or false because the phenomenon is much bigger than us,” said Marianist Fr Salvatore Perrella, assistant dean at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum and a theologian who also serves as an expert for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The enormous job of determining the veracity of an apparition falls to the local Bishop, said Fr Perrella. To help with that task, the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation established a set of norms in 1978 to guide the process of discernment and the investigation of reported apparitions and revelations.

The process “is never brief,” said Fr Perrella. For example, the Green Bay apparitions received approval 151 years after the first apparition was reported, but that’s just half of the nearly 300 years it took the Church to approve the apparitions of Our Lady of Laus in France, he said.

The process is lengthy because visionaries and witnesses must be questioned and “the fruits of the apparitions, such as conversions, miracles and healings” must be examined, he said.
The local Bishop sets up a commission of experts, including theologians, canonists, psychologists and doctors, to help him.

According to the norms, the Bishop and his commission “must determine the veracity of the facts and the mental, moral and spiritual wholesomeness and seriousness of the visionary and his or her testimony,” he said.

Fr Perrella said that when the Bishop’s investigation is complete, he can come to one of three conclusions: he can determine the apparition to be true and worthy of belief; he can say it is not true, which leaves open the possibility for an appeal; or he can say that at the moment he doesn’t know and needs more help.

NEWS REPORT: Official Holy Site Near Green Bay

It has never happened in the entire United States, but now the Catholic Church makes a bold move right here in Wisconsin.

A site near Green Bay where a woman saw the Virgin Mary is declared official by the Catholic Church itself.

To the casual traveler, blink and you'll miss Champion, a town just outside Green Bay. Now it's getting worldwide attention for 'Our Lady of Good Help'--home to a tiny shrine where big miracles are happening.

It all started in 1859, when Belgium immigrant Adele Brise says the Virgin Mary visited her 3 times at that very site.

Green Bay Bishop David Ricken describes the apparition. "The blessed mother told her to pray for the conversion of sinners, and to educate the children in the ways of the faith, especially preparing for the sacraments."

Adele followed Mary's wishes, and became a teacher.

Since then, people come to the shrine to pray for various miracles.



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.

February 15, 2011

(Mat 5:10-12) Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.

CNS: West cannot understand risk of 'Islamization,' Iraqi archbishop warns

STATFOR COMMENTARY: Egypt: The Distance Between Enthusiasm and Reality

HEADLINE: Copts wary of Egypt's uncertain future

Father George Nakhil, who leads the St Demiana and St Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church in Punchbowl, in Sydney's southwest, concedes he was very worried when he learned Mr Mubarak had ceded power.

"I didn't celebrate when I heard the news, I was sceptical - that is the truth," Father Nakhil said.

"You need to understand the Copts have our own problems and agenda in Egypt.

"Many Egyptian Muslims are moderate, this is true, but we have been discriminated against, by the government but also by other Muslims.

"We are not represented sufficiently in senior jobs, in policing, in the military, in the number of ministers.

"And there is so much uncertainty now about what will happen: of course people are fearful.

"When (Mubarak) announced he would leave in September, the church supported that transition in power to a truly democratic state. But it's chaos now.

"Who is running the show? How do we know the Copts will be treated appropriately?" 

CNS: Priest wonders if Egypt will be better for Christians with Mubarak gone

FIRST THINGS: What Happens to Egypt's Christians After Mubarak?

CHRISTIANITY TODAY: Egypt's Christians After Mubarak

FACTBOX: Reaction to fall of Mubarak around Middle East   

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.

February 11, 2011


(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 shut up.


Blessed Sacrament Adoration Rubrics
Follow-up Report
Are Non-Catholics Saved?

Note from Ron: To receive my Catholic Q&A reports please contact me with your correct email address.

THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT:  Nun, 100, calls prison ministry the best thing she's ever done

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 

(Luk 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

TRACTHell 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)."


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:

WASHINGTON TIMES: John 3:16 Super Bowl ad rejected on basis of 'religious doctrine'

BLOG: Something about the Name Mary?

HEADLINE: The New York Times Equates The Roman Catholic Church To The Radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood

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.”

: Who will defend Mideast Christians?


Tide turns in favor of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in revolt
Egyptian VP Holds Unprecedented Talks with Muslim Brotherhood
Egypt without a pharaoh portends a storm

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 


(2Th 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 word.


How to File a Church Related Complaint
Consequences of Leaving the Catholic Church
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LINK: The Role of Saints

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.

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.

I 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.


And then I went to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ, the Son of God was born, and where He died.


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.




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.
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