Keep your eyes open!...


January 31, 2008  

(Mat 18:5) And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.


LINK: St. John (Don) Bosco

PROPHECY: Don Bosco's Prophecy of the Two Columns

CABIO-org: Prayer

Sweet Savior, Saint John Bosco had a powerful love and tender heart for youth. I lift up to You the children and teenagers in my life. Protect them; lead them away from the temptations of the world and hold them tight in Your arms. When Saint John was a boy, he performed circus tricks to draw in the neighborhood children, and then he shared the homily he'd heard at Mass. Help the youth in my family and church become powerful evangelists to their peers. Bless those who have been gifted with a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, and help them say yes to this call. Saint John Bosco, pray for us. Amen.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

3. Obedience is absolute renunciation of our own life, clearly expressed in our bodily actions. Or, conversely, obedience is the mortification of the limbs while the mind remains alive. Obedience is unquestioning movement, voluntary death, a life free of curiosity, carefree danger, unprepared defense before God, fearlessness of death, a safe voyage, a sleeper's progress

January 30, 2008    

(Deu 3:24) Lord God, thou hast begun to shew unto thy servant thy greatness, and most mighty hand, for there is no other God either in heaven or earth, that is able to do thy works, or to be compared to thy strength.

HEADLINE: Pope wades back into debate on "seductive" science

EDITORIAL: Human Cloning in California?


Is This The Beginnings Of Artificial Life?

In what many believe to be a case of creating artificial life, American scientists have found a way of replication a bacterium's 582,970 base pair genome which should allow for the creation of biofuel-manufacturing bacteria - in other words, building bacteria from scratch that might produce fuel for things like cars. It is the largest man-made DNA structure ever made. The previous largest one contained only 32,000 base pairs.

You can read about this in Science magazine.

Dr. Hamilton Smith, J Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, USA, and sixteen others built a bacterium's genome by chemically synthesizing DNA blocks. These blocks were then weaved together to create bigger DNA pieces - these can be formed to create a synthetic version of Mycoplasma genitalium. The scientists say these tailor-made micro-organisms can be designed to produce hydrogen, or tweaked to absorb surplus carbon dioxide in the air.

The team is not using the term artificial life; they prefer to call it synthetic life. Dr. Smith, in a BBC interview, said "We like to distinguish synthetic life from artificial life. It sets the stage for what we hope is going to be a new approach to engineering organisms."

The J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) says this is the second of three key steps towards the team's aim of creating a fully synthetic organism. They are currently trying to create a living bacterial cell, based completely on the synthetically made genome.


Vatican condemns cloned human embryo research
Soulless Clones and Spineless Men by Father Tad Pacholczyk
Dr. Frankenstein Plods On

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

2. But let us not fail, if you agree, to describe clearly in our treatise the weapons of these brave warriors: how they hold the shield of faith in God and their trainer, and with it they ward off, so to speak, every thought of unbelief and change of place; how they constantly raise the drawn sword of the Spirit and slay every wish of their own that approaches them; how, clad in the armour of meekness and patience, they avert every insult and injury and missile. And for a helmet of salvation they have their superior's protection through prayer. And they do not stand with their feet together, for one is stretched out in service and the other is immovable in prayer.

January 29, 2008    

(Mat 24:12) And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold.


Steve Babinchak, a daily communicant with one eye on the eternal and the other on this troubled world, strays into territory far beyond nostalgia as he argues against the impending closure of churches in the Diocese of Allentown.

''Everybody in an instant in the whole world will see their soul, see their sin, and a lot of people are going to come back to the church,'' the Schuylkill County man said, summarizing the prophecy of Our Lady of Garabandal -- in which four Spanish children claimed in the 1960s to have seen images of the Virgin Mary, who said God would give people one last chance at redemption by allowing them to glimpse the state of their souls. With such an episode imminent, the diocese can't justify closing churches, said Babinchak, imagining floods of repentant sinners searching for places of refuge and finding them shuttered.

It's perhaps the most esoteric argument being mounted by the laity as parish consolidation, a process that has unfolded slowly across the five-county diocese in the past year, picks up speed. Some churches could vanish beginning this year as the diocese tries to reconfigure itself to serve shifting Catholic populations -- shrinking in cities, growing in suburbs -- with a dwindling number of priests.

In McAdoo, Monsignor Edward Zemanik earlier this month said from the pulpit what most parishioners already knew: that the six churches he oversees will be folded into one, meaning the long history of ethnic parishes in that area -- Slovak, Polish, Italian and Irish -- will effectively end.

Until then, there had been little vocal opposition to the process -- especially compared with places such as Boston and Pittsburgh, where church consolidations in the past several years have sparked protests, rosary prayer rallies and even sit-ins. But, jolted by the news from McAdoo and fearful of similar decisions hitting their own churches in the Pottsville area, Babinchak and some of his fellow coal country Catholics have begun to push back.

They placed a lengthy advertisement in The Morning Call on Jan. 16, calling the process a ''gross and awful mistake'' and demanding Bishop Edward Cullen put a stop to it. They have circulated petitions and may even lease a bus to bring disaffected parishioners to Allentown for a confrontation, Babinchak said.

Among their contentions: Other Christian churches with lower attendance than Catholic parishes manage to stay open and serve the faithful. And combining four or five churches into one will make for overcrowding, especially at Christmas and Easter.

''We just want to make sure our bishop isn't a more secular person,'' said Babinchak, fearful that the decision-making in Allentown isn't accounting for the spiritual welfare of the diocese's 273,000 Catholics in Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill counties.

RELATED: Catholic Church reshaping parishes

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

1. Our treatise now appropriately touches upon warriors and athletes of Christ. As the flower precedes the fruit, so exile, either of body or will, always precedes obedience. For with the help of these two virtues, the holy soul steadily ascends to Heaven as upon golden wings. And perhaps it was about this that he who had received the Holy Spirit sang: Who will give me wings like a dove? And I will fly by activity, and be at rest by divine vision and humility.

January 25, 2008    


(1Th 5:20) Despise not prophecies.

BOOKLET: The Warning by Father Philip Bebie, C.P.

Ben J. Verdina: Update: The Church's Position on Our Lady of Garabandal

For sometime, certain erroneous information has circulated the Internet claiming that the Church has ruled against the mystical occurrences in Garabandal, Spain which occurred during the 1960's.

Satan never sleeps.

A few years ago we published a piece to the group entitled (#218) Garabandal: The Church's Position. Therein we explained that the mystical occurrences at Garabandal have yet-to-be-approved by the Church as worthy of belief, meaning that they remain in the neutral category --- neither approved nor disapproved.

Recently in a personal letter to Mr. Edward Kelly, Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra not only reinforced the fact that Garabandal remains in the yet-to-be-approved category, but encouraged the Faithful to continue maintaining devotion to Our Lady of Garabandal. An image of the letter, written in Spanish on the Archbishop's official stationery and signed by him together with an English translation, was published in the Special Edition of Garabandal Journal (1) (received January, 2008). 

The entire English transcript is presented below for your discernment.

Response From the Archbishop of Oviedo, Carlos Osoro Sierra, Current Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Santander, to Edward Kelly of the United States Who Wrote to Him Regarding the Apparitions of Garabandal May 7, 2007 

Dear Edward, 

Acknowledging receipt of your kind letter presenting to me your assessment of the events at Garabandal, I want you to know that I am open to all information and to every consideration about Garabandal, and I want to continue in this manner, as long as the Holy Father sees fit for me to be Apostolic Administrator, what my brothers in the episcopacy have done regarding the subject in question. What I have done now is authorize priests to go to Garabandal and celebrate Mass there at whatever hour they desire, and to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to as many people who desire it there.

I am sure that the next bishop will advance the studies of the Garabandal events so they may be examined more deeply with the results being sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

I respect the apparitions and have known of authentic conversions. In light of these events, how can we not always feel the need to open our heart to our mother Mary to tell her that we need her protection, help, spirit, desire, faith, hope and love! I encourage you to continue maintaining this devotion to our Mother.

If your are interested in speaking with me, don't hesitate to ask for an audience at the Santander bishopric through the Vicar General. There they can take down all your information and set the date and hour for the visit.

Hoping to count on your continued prayers and cooperation, I extend to you my most cordial greeting and give you my blessing.

+ Carlos, Archbishop of Oviedo Apostolic Administrator of Santander

Footnotes (1) Garabandal Journal, P.O. Box 1796, St. Cloud, Minnesota USA 56302-1796

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

11 (cont.). Run from Egypt without looking back; because the hearts which look back upon it with affection shall not see Jerusalem, the land of dispassion. Those who left their own people in childlike simplicity at the beginning, and have since been completely purified, may profitably return to their former land, perhaps even with the intention, after saving themselves, of saving others too. Yet Moses, who was allowed to see God Himself and was sent by God for the salvation of his own people, met many dangers in Egypt, that is to say, dark, periods in the world.

January 24, 2008    

(John 17:20-21) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.


The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity started on Friday, as the pope reminds Roman Catholics everywhere to never grow tired of praying for unity to be restored among Christians.

Receiving an ecumenical delegation from Finland, Pope Benedict XVI told the delegation that he was humbled by the joint prayer between them and emphasised the importance of prayer to his host, which he said leads us to gain a new perceptive on the Kingdom of God.

“Christian unity is a gift from above, stemming from and growing towards loving communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The joint prayer of Lutherans and Catholics from Finland is a humble but faithful sharing in the prayer of Jesus, who promised that every prayer raised to the Father in His name would be heard,” the Pope told the Finns, reported the Catholic News Agency.

“This indeed, is the royal door of ecumenism: such prayer leads us to look at the Kingdom of God and the unity of the Church in a fresh way; it reinforces our bonds of communion; and it enables us to face courageously the painful memories, social burdens and human weaknesses that are so much a part of our divisions.”


Pope and World Council of Churches head Kobia to pray together for Christian unity
Pope says in praying for unity Christians identify cost of divisions
Vatican invites Alexy II to Rome to Apostle Paul's jubilee

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

11. When we have lived a year or two away from our family, and have acquired some piety or contrition or continence, then vain thoughts begin to rise up in us and urge us to go again to our homeland, 'for the edification of many', they say, 'and as an example, and for the profit of those who saw our former lax life'. And if we possess the gift of eloquence and some shreds of knowledge, the thought occurs to us that we could be saviours of souls and teachers in the world, that we may waste in the sea what we have gathered so well in the harbour. Let us try to imitate not Lot's wife, but Lot himself. For when a soul turns back to what it has left, like salt, it loses its savour and becomes henceforth useless.

January 23, 2008    

(Psa 139:13-14) For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! ....

HEADLINE: Abortion foes protest on anniversary of US legalization

ZENIT: Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil

OPINION: Anti-Catholicism And Abortion

POLITICS: 'Jane Roe' Endorses Ron Paul


Jayne Teague: is intelligent, hard hitting, and to the point. The site unambiguously explains and shows the reality of abortion, offers systematic and effective arguments against every defense a pro-abort may offer, and then lays out some ways you can make a difference. This is not a site that "preaches to the choir", although it's sure to reinvigorate them. It challenges those who are pro-abortion or apathetic to be honest and think.

Here's an excerpt from the home page:

"Abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S. but the average American knows little of its gruesome reality. Million dollar ad campaigns have schooled us in "choice", but told us nothing of abortion itself. Day after day, year after year, it lurks in the shadow, destroying. The jig is up. offers you refuge from a steady diet of apathy and ignorance. Herein, you will find an abortion education, the likes of which is available nowhere else. You are standing on the threshold, so come a little further. We dare you to know."
Be sure to watch the video on this page.

And on the second page (

"The case against abortion is long and deep, but if you only have a moment, the video you are about to see may be enough. While there is certainly more to the case against abortion than just the photographic evidence, there is not less. Words can only go so far. Injustice of this magnitude must be seen to be understood, so until you are willing to face what abortion does, you will never truly understand what abortion is."

The video on this page is HARD to watch. Be forewarned. But anyone who remains obstinately in favor of the right to have an abortion should be required to watch this before attempting to defend their position. No one in their right mind could view these images without being deeply disturbed, the only truly human response to the reality of abortion. (While the site is geared to teens and young adults, I hesitate to forward this to minors because of the nature of the images; this is strangely ironic because in many places, minors can get abortions without their parents knowledge.)

Most telling about the effectiveness of this site: "To date (among those visitors who have filled out our feedback form), 30% of the people who come into the site supporting abortion, leave the site opposing abortion."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

10. Be on the look-out for this trick and wile of the thieves. For they suggest to us that we need not separate ourselves from people in the world, and maintain that we shall receive a great reward if we can look upon women and still remain continent. We must not believe these suggestions, but rather the opposite.

January 22, 2008    

(Luke 12:20-21) But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee. And whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God. 

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others - for his neighbour, for the poor, for God. And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others."


Stocks fell sharply worldwide Monday following declines on Wall Street last week amid investor pessimism over the U.S. government's stimulus plan to prevent a recession.

U.S. markets were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the downbeat mood from last week's market declines there circled through Europe, Asia and the Americas. Britain's benchmark FTSE-100 slumped 5.5 percent to 5,578.20, France's CAC-40 Index tumbled 6.8 percent to 4,744.15, and Germany's blue-chip DAX 30 plunged 7.2 percent to 6,790.19.

In Asia, India's benchmark stock index tumbled 7.4 percent, while Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng index plummeted 5.5 percent to 23,818.86, its biggest percentage drop since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Canadian stocks fell as well, with the S&P/TSX composite index on the Toronto Stock Exchange down 4 percent in early afternoon trading. In Brazil, stocks plunged 6.9 percent on the main index of Sao Paulo's Bovespa exchange.

Investors dumped shares because they were skeptical that an economic stimulus plan President Bush announced Friday would shore up the economy that has been battered by problems in its housing and credit markets. The plan, which requires approval by Congress, calls for about $145 billion worth of tax relief to encourage consumer spending.

Concerns about the outlook for the U.S. economy, a major export market for Asian companies, has sent the region's markets sliding in 2008. Just last Wednesday, the Hang Seng index sank 5.4 percent.

"It's another horrible day," said Francis Lun, a general manager at Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong. "Today it's because of disappointment that the U.S. stimulus (package) is too little, too late and investors feel it won't help the economy recover."


Emotions shattered as stock market plunges
Black Monday as biggest FTSE crash since 9/11 wipes off nearly 60bn in shares
Experts Warn of Stock Market Hysteria

MORE FROM POPE BENEDICT XVI: Pope decries world with luxury for few and poverty for manyLadder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

9. Run from places of sin as from the plague. For when fruit is not present, we have no frequent desire to eat it.

January 18, 2008


BOOKLET: THE LAST TIMES by Father Jacques Emily

EXCERPT: Do not follow the world and its fashions, do not let your dear children be corrupted by the school system, the television, bad company, bad music, bad literature…May also our dear mothers always give, in the image of Mary, a good example of Christian modesty to their children. “As long as modesty will not be put in practice, the society will continue to degrade,” Pope Pius XII said. “Society reveals what it is by the clothes it wears.” In the same way, a person reveals himself by the clothes that he is wearing. For example, the fashion today for women is to have low necklines, tight shirts, tight trousers, tight and/or short dress. Until not so long ago that manner of dress was indicative of a woman of ill repute enticing her clients to sin. By what mystery or logic are these fashions now practiced in Catholic families?

Are we not the appalled witnesses of such persons who, to the greatest desolation of the Heavenly Court, for the joy of the devils and to the scandal of innocent souls, dare to come in such attire to Church and even to approach the communion rail? And what is the most shocking is to see a certain number of people (few fortunately among our faithful) who find this perfectly normal and acceptable. Did I not tell you that we have entered into the last times? Are not these fashions pointed out and condemned by Our Lady at Quito and La Salette? It is, unfortunately, to be feared that only the chastisements to come will be able to open the eyes of so many blinded people.

These impure fashions, which exalt the forms of the body and display the flesh, reveal, as Pope Pius XII says, what this society actually is and for what it stands. But we know that this society, which promotes these impure fashions, is the same one which promotes sexual education to children, which sells and displays contraceptives and pornography everywhere, which aborts its babies and promotes homosexuality. How is it then, that our Christian women can follow these abominable fashions, symbols and expression of all these crimes of this decadent society? May our dear Catholic ladies, who bear the grace of the baptism in their souls, consider their responsibility in so doing! May they ponder upon the tears of Our Lady on the Mount of La Salette and may they, for God and Mary’s love, never any longer follow these fashions which are dragging souls into hell. It is not because it is the “up-to-date fashion” and because “everybody does it” that immodesty is no longer sinful. God has not changed his law and the words of the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Saint Paul still apply in 2003! “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty…Of which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.” (Gal.5.19-21) “For know this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (for that is idolatory) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one lead you astray with empty words; for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. Do not, then, become partakers with them”. (Eph. 5.5-7)

Once more, let us pay attention to the warning of Our Lady: “There will come a time when certain fashions will offend Our Lord very much. The persons who serve God must not follow these styles” (Our Lady at Fatima, 1917). These “certain fashions” are those of today that we are denouncing “in season, out of season” because so many have lost the sense of decency and completely ignore the nobility and value of modesty. So few are listening the warnings of Our Lady! It is so much easier to follow the fashions of the world in order to avoid being portrayed as “old-fashioned”, “narrow-minded”, “fanatical” and the like. So many Catholics alas, think that this question of fashion is a matter without importance and we might have agreed with them if only the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Paul, the Popes and so many saints had not insisted so much on this subject, thus indicating that it is far from being just a trifle. Here is what Jacinta, repeating nearly word for word Our Lady’s warning, has to say about it: “The sins which hurl most souls into hell, are the sins of impurity. Certain styles will be invented that will offend Our Lord very much. The persons who serve God must not follow these fashions”.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

8. Eve was exiled from Paradise against her will, but the monk is a willing exile from his home. She would have liked the tree of disobedience again; and he would certainly expose himself daily to frequent danger from relatives according to the flesh.

January 17, 2008

(Mat 25:40) And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.


More than 600 people have died and almost 200,000 people are now displaced by violence resulting from the contested December 27 general election, according to government officials in Kenya. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has provided $250,000 worth of emergency supplies to aid 37,500 people in the worst-affected regions of the Rift Valley. Working closely with other agencies, including the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Caritas Kenya, CRS is now assessing ongoing needs and planning longer term response activities.

"The political crisis in Kenya is far from resolved, and unfortunately we fear that the humanitarian challenges are just beginning," said Ken MacLean, CRS Kenya's country representative. "Of critical concern is the upcoming planting season. Families must prepare fields and plant seeds soon to have sufficient food, but until people feel safe from the threat of violence, they will not take action to secure their futures."

In addition to providing emergency relief, with Caritas partners CAFOD and Trocaire helping to fund initial efforts, CRS is developing plans to help communities rebuild trust and eventually enable displaced families to rebuild their lives after extensive loss. CRS is also supporting the peace and reconciliation efforts of the Kenya Episcopal Conference.

HEADLINE: Relief organizations stretched thin by dollar's weakness



Milwaukee archbishop named to head Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services follows Christ's mandate to accompany the poor and poor of heart
Three Years On, Catholic Relief Services' Tsunami Reconstruction Nearing Completion

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

7. Have you become an exile from the world? Do not touch the world any more; because the passions desire nothing better than to return.

January 16, 2008

(Rev 22:18-19) For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.

HEADLINE: Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code

Islam watchers blogged all weekend about news that a secret archive of ancient Islamic texts had surfaced after 60 years of suppression. Andrew Higgins' Wall Street Journal report that the photographic record of Koranic manuscripts, supposedly destroyed during World War II but occulted by a scholar of alleged Nazi sympathies, reads like a conflation of the Da Vinci Code with Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail.

The Da Vinci Code offered a silly fantasy in which Opus Dei, homicidal monks and twisted billionaires chased after proof that Christianity is a hoax. But the story of the photographic archive of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, now ensconced in a Berlin vault, is a case of life imitating truly dreadful art. It even has Nazis. "I hate those guys!" as Indiana Jones said.

No one is going to produce proof that Jesus Christ did not rise from the grave three days after the Crucifixion, of course. Humankind will choose to believe or not that God revealed Himself in this fashion. But Islam stands at risk of a Da Vinci Code effect, for in Islam, God's self-revelation took the form not of the Exodus, nor the revelation at Mount Sinai, nor the Resurrection, but rather a book, namely the Koran. The Encyclopaedia of Islam (1982) observes, "The closest analogue in Christian belief to the role of the Koran in Muslim belief is not the Bible, but Christ." The Koran alone is the revelatory event in Islam.

What if scholars can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Koran was not dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammad during the 7th century, but rather was redacted by later writers drawing on a variety of extant Christian and Jewish sources? That would be the precise equivalent of proving that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels really was a composite of several individuals, some of whom lived a century or two apart.

MORE: The Lost Archive- Missing for a half century, a cache of photos spurs sensitive research on Islam's holy text

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran:  "Muslims do not accept discussion about the Koran, because they say it was written under the dictates of God. With such an absolutist interpretation, it's difficult to discuss the contents of the faith."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

6. Detachment is excellent; but her mother is exile. Having become an exile for the Lord's sake, we should have no ties at all lest we seem to be roving in order to gratify our passions.

January 15, 2008

POPE BENEDICT XVI:  "God wanted to save us by plunging to the bottom of the abyss of death himself, so that every man, even the one who has fallen so low that he can no longer see the sky, may find and take hold of the hand of God, rising up from the shadows to see once again the light for which he was made. We all feel, we all perceive within ourselves that our existence is a desire for life that cries out for a fullness, a salvation. This fullness of life is given to us in Baptism".


Pope Benedict celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his back turned on the congregation, reintroducing an old ritual that was phased out decades ago.

The Pope used the Sistine Chapel's ancient altar, set right against the wall under Michelangelo's dramatic depiction of the Last Judgment, instead of a mobile altar which allowed his predecessor, John Paul II, to face the congregation.

A statement by the Vatican's office for liturgical celebrations said it had been decided to use the old altar, where ballots are placed during papal elections, to respect "the beauty and the harmony of this architectural jewel".

That meant that for the first time in this kind of celebration since the Second Vatican Council, between 1962 and 1965, the Pope occasionally turned his back on the faithful and faced the Cross.

The pontiff is slowly reintroducing some of the rituals phased out after Vatican II, which modernised the Church and ordered that local languages be used instead of Latin.


Latin Mass revives an ancient Catholic rite
Latin Mass likened to a symphony
Vatican to elaborate on Pope's liberalization of the old Latin Mass

Bishop Schneider: "Wouldn't it correspond better to the deepest reality and truth about the consecrated bread if even today the faithful would kneel on the ground to receive it, opening their mouths like the prophet receiving the word of God and allowing themselves to be nourished like a child?" 

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

5. In going into exile, beware of the demon of drifting and of sensual desire; because exile gives him his opportunity.

January 11, 2008


(Heb 12:1-2) And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who, having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God.


Father Angelus, O.F.M, Capuchin: We Need The Holy Family

Mark Mallet: State of Emergency

Zenit: Sainthood Is Not Only for the Chosen Few

HEADLINE: Italian Archbishop Wants to Exhume Padre Pio

FROM THE MAILBAG FROM RAY VIA Frank Rega:  Thank you both so much for sharing with all of us the Italian/English links regarding plans seemingly set in place for St. Pio's exhumation. As devoutee's, as all of you are, my wife Phyllis and I expect the year 2008 to be a year of exceptional graces.

This new's, with all its' joy, does seem to be a prelude to his eventual move to the new church. Personally, I have no problem with it. Certainly, we do not know if his body will be found incorrupt. It would be wonderful but if not it will in no way detract from his saintliness nor from his being perhaps the greatest servant of God who ever lived.

To have had the opportunity to pray and weep uncontrolably at his tomb housed beneath the "old church", the prospect of returning to San Giovanni Rotondo and having the chance to view his mortal body will take on a different perspective, one that I know will be difficutlt to handle, knowing my absolute wretchedness.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

4. In hastening to solitude and exile, do not wait for world-loving souls, because the thief comes unexpectedly. In trying to save the careless and indolent along with themselves, many perish with them, because in course of time the soul's fire goes out. As soon as the flame is burning within you, run; for you do not know when it will go out and leave you in darkness. Not all of us are required to save others. The divine Apostle says: 'Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God.' And again he says: 'Thou therefore that teachest another, dost thou not teach thyself?' This is like saying: I do not know whether we must all teach others; but we must most certainly teach ourselves.

January 10, 2008

(Mat 2:9-10)  Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  

VIA ZENIT: The Decisiveness of the Magi

Reflection (1/6/08) by Father Ted:  

My dearest Lord Jesus, today You remind us that You have revealed Yourself to us. You remind us that You are always with us. You remind us that You always offer to us signs of Your love and of Your presence.

In today’s gospel You revealed to us how You provided signs – not only for the three Magi, but also for King Herod, the chief priests and the scribes of Your presence among them.

You were the new-born king of the Jews – the Messiah.

Only the Magi – who were truly wise – took advantage of the signs that You had provided for all of them.

The star was the sign for the Magi.

The scripture passages, especially from the prophet Micah, were the signs for those in Israel.

All had the opportunity to come and see – the new-born king.

All had the opportunity to come and worship the Messiah.

But only the Magi took advantage of the opportunity.

They did not have to search for You in Bethlehem – as King Herod had suggested.

You showed them the way – with the star.

And they responded.

When they saw You, they adored You – they prostrated themselves in front of You.

Then they gave to You signs of their love for You – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

They also showed their love for You by obeying the message that You provided for them in the dream.

How much we can learn from these wise men, the Magi, from Persia – that is modern Iraq.

Help us to read the signs that You provide for us these days.- among such signs are Your Eucharistic Presence, Your Holy Scriptures, as well as the Church Herself – which You established.

May we listen to Your Church, Your voice, as did the Magi to the dream You gave to them.

May we do what You ask of us, as did they.

Thank You Jesus for always revealing Yourself and Your love to us this day.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

3. If every prophet goes unhonoured in his own country, as the Lord says, then us beware lest our exile should be for us an occasion of vainglory. For exile is separation from everything in order to keep the mind inseparable from God. Exile loves and produces continual weeping. An exile is a fugitive from every relationship with his own people and with strangers.

January 9, 2008 

(Mat 10:38-39) And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.

HEADLINE: Pope warns diplomats that conflicts threaten global stability


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!: St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims by Frank M. Rega, S.F.O.

"The most important book on St. Francis in English, in recent years." Brother Alexis Bugnolo, Editor, the Franciscan Archive,

"This is a rare and daring approach to the life of St. Francis and one that is so necessary in our world at this time." From the Preface by Father Angelus M. Shaughnessy, O.F.M. Capuchin and EWTN Priest.

". . . ecumenical revisionists are now seeking to deconstruct the great Franciscan and refashion him into a multi-cultural icon, as forewarned in this . . . forthcoming book, which concentrates on his Islamic encounters during the 5th Crusade." Rod Pead - Editor, "Christian Order"

EXCERPT (with permission): (Sultan) Al-Kamil made another attempt to test St. Francis, this time in the matter of the Gospel teachings of Christ. This incident shows that he had some familiarity with Christian doctrine, perhaps based on what had already been preached to him by Francis. The Sultan confronted the friar with the words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, recounted in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other: And if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him. (Matthew 5: 39-40).

The sultan asked Francis why, in the light of this teaching of Jesus, should Crusaders be invading the lands of the Muslims? Since the passage teaches “turning the other cheek” and repaying evil with good, the sultan was contending that there was no justification for the Crusader invasions, even though he knew that the Muslims had taken the land by force from the Christians centuries earlier.

Once again the response of Francis surprised al-Kamil. He declared that the sultan had not completely studied the Gospel, and pointed out to the king the words Jesus had spoken earlier in the same discourse:

And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. (Matthew 5: 29-30).

Francis then proceeded to impart a distinctive interpretation to these lines, by referring them to those who attempt to turn Christians away from their faith and love of God. The sultan was as dear to him as his own eye, he admitted to the potentate.  But, explaining Our Lord’s words that a person should pluck out his own eye if it leading him astray, Francis continued.

Here He wanted to teach us that every man, however dear and close he is to us, and even if he is a precious to us as the apple of our eye, must be repulsed, pulled out, expelled if he seeks to turn us aside from the faith and love of our God. That is why it is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from His worship. But if you were to recognize, confess, and adore the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves. . . .”

When Francis had finished addressing the sultan, “All the spectators were in admiration at his answers.”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

2. Those who have come to love the Lord are at first unceasingly and greatly disturbed by this thought, as if burning with divine fire. I speak of separation from their own, undertaken by the lovers of perfection so that they may live a life of hardship and simplicity. But great and praiseworthy as this is, yet it requires great discretion; for not every kind of exile, carried to extremes, is good.

January 8, 2008


A top Vatican official says a high-level delegation of Muslim clerics and scholars will travel to Rome in coming months to open a Christian-Muslim dialogue.

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, confirmed the plans in an Italian Catholic weekly news report this week. Planning sessions with three visiting Muslim scholars in February or March will precede the larger meeting.

No date has been set for the larger session, but another cardinal, Jean-Louis Tauran, said it could take place by mid-June.

Cardinal Tauran was the Vatican's foreign affairs chief in the early 1990s who later became a vocal opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Pope Benedict moved to facilitate the historic meeting after receiving an open letter in October from 138 Muslim scholars urging dialogue among Christians and Muslims on their common belief in one God.

COMMENTARY: The Factors that Divide the Pope from the Muslims


Evangelical Leaders Pledge Common Cause with Islam
Bishop: Extremism Creating 'No-Go' Areas for Non-Muslims in Britain
Malaysia orders Catholic paper not to use word 'Allah'

BOOK REVIEW: God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

Coming tomorrow: St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

1. Exile means that we leave forever everything in our own country that prevents us from reaching the goal of piety. Exile means modest manners, wisdom which remains unknown, prudence not recognized as such by most, a hidden life, an invisible intention, unseen meditation, desire for humiliation, longing for hardship, constant determination to love God, abundance of love, renunciation of vainglory, depth of silence.
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