Keep your eyes open!...


January 31, 2014  

(Psa 16:8-11) I set the Lord always in my sight: for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved. Therefore my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover, my flesh also shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; nor wilt thou give thy holy one to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance: at thy right hand are delights even to the end.


Francis, and the Coming Passion of the Church
Francis, and the Coming Passion of the Church Part II

VIA Blog: "Tell my people that the hour is almost at hand. Love one another, pray for one another, and weep for one another for the hour draws near. The force of the enemy will be great, but for those in whom My Spirit truly dwells my strength will prevail, those who have made Me their refuge shall succeed as overcomers and take their rightful place with me in my everlasting Kingdom.

Do not fear what lies ahead. Do not succumb to the terror that will befall you. Keep your eyes upon Me and your faith will not fail you in your hour of testing. All that I have written and spoken of will soon come to pass. Keep your eyes upon Me and not upon the travails that surround you for all that surrounds you is passing away, yet I will endure forever and those who have followed My path will endure with Me."

: Living With Frustration and Tension

Among William Blake's infamous Proverbs from Hell we find this one: Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

There are subtle layers of meaning to this, but on the surface it speaks volumes, especially for our generation. Today we are for the most part congenitally unwilling and existentially unable to carry tension for long periods of time, to live with frustration, to accept incompleteness, to be at peace with the circumstances of our lives, to be comfortable inside our own skins, and to live without consummation in the face of sexual desire. Of course, in the end, we do not have a choice. We are not above our humanity and simply have to accept and live with the tensions of incompleteness, but we struggle to do so without bitter impatience, pathological restlessness, and all kinds of compensatory activities.

Emotionally and morally, this is our Achilles heel. Our generation has some wonderful emotional and moral qualities, but patience, chastity, contentment with the limits of circumstance, and the capacity to nobly live out tension are not our strengths. The effects of this can be seen everywhere, not least inside of our struggle to be faithful to our relational commitments.

We have made life-long commitment in marriage very difficult because we find it hard to accept that any marriage, no matter how good, cannot take away our loneliness. We have desacralized sexuality and severed its link to marriage because we are unable accept sex as limited to a marriage commitment. We have basically rendered consecrated celibacy existentially impossible because no one, we feel, can be expected to carry sexual tension for a lifetime. And, most painful of all, we have sown a deep restlessness inside of ourselves because, in our incapacity to accept the incompleteness of our lives, we torture ourselves with the thought that we are missing out on life, that we should not have to live with so much incompleteness, and that the full symphony for which we so deeply long should already be ours.

And the fault is not entirely our own. Much of it lies with those who were supposed to prepare us for life and did not give us the emotional and psychological tools to more naturally and nobly accept life's innate frustrations and the conscriptive asceticism that brings with it. More simply, too many of us were not taught that life is hard, that we have to spend most of it waiting in one kind of frustration or other, and that this is the natural state of things. Too many of us were given a false set of expectations. We were given the impression that indeed we could have it all, clear-cut joy without a shadow and full intimacy without frustration or distance.

Worse still, many of us were not given the simple, basic permission to live in frustration, that is, to feel okay about ourselves and about our lives even when for the most part we are frustrated. We were not given permission to accept that frustration is natural, the normal state of things, and that it is okay to accept ourselves and our lives as they are and find joy and happiness inside of them, in spite of the frustrations.

I'm still part of the generation whose moral and religious elders gave us this permission. I got this from my parents who, deeply schooled in the concept of original sin, understood themselves as "mourning and weeping in a valley of tears". This, rather stoic, perspective which believes that on this side of eternity all joy comes with a shadow, did not make them morbid. The opposite, it gave them permission to accept the limits of their lives and the circumstances of their lives and, paradoxically, find joy in the imperfect precisely because they were not expecting the perfect. They understood that it is normal to be frustrated, to not have everything you want, to have to live in incompleteness, and to accept that in this life we will experience more hunger than satiation.

Most of us will have to learn this the hard way, through bitter experience, through tears, and through a lot of restlessness from which we might be spared if we already knew that hunger, not satiation, is what is normal. As Karl Rahner famously puts it: In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable we finally learn that here in this life all symphonies must remain unfinished.

Wisdom and maturity invariably do find us and life eventually turns each of us into an ascetic. We may kick against the goad for a while, like a child kicking against a mother's restraining arms, but eventually we tire, stop wailing, and accept the restraints, though not always peacefully. But it can be peaceful, if we accept that frustration is normal.

And so I would amend Blake's proverb: Better to murder an infant in its cradle … unless you give that child a realistic set of expectations with which to deal with unrequited desire and frustration.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Possessing Nothing

17.  Someone asked a hermit to accept money for his future needs but he refused, because the produce of his labour was enough for him. When the giver persisted, and begged him to take it for the needs of the poor, he replied, 'If I did that my disgrace would be twofold. I do not need it, yet I would have accepted it: and when I gave it to others, I would suffer from vanity.

January 30, 2014  

(Rev 6:9-11) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.

Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch: "Daily the suffering is getting worse, daily the problems are growing. The level of suffering is much greater than the aid provided."

: Patriarch John X of Antioch and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow Issue Appeal on Syria

EDITORIAL: The world's most ancient Christian communities are being destroyed — and no one cares


Forced Exodus: Christians in the Middle East
Syrian Bishop: 'Christians Are Being Targeted'
Reports of Christian martyrdom nearly doubled in 2013
Christian persecution expected to rise in 2014



VIA Anne: This is the second response I received. It is very interesting...and different from Mr. Casey's response.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding United States intervention into the Syrian civil war. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.

Pro-democracy protests in Damascus began in early 2011 against the government of Bashar al-Assad. His government responded with violent crackdowns. Over the next few months the conflict spread throughout the country and degenerated into civil war. While the conflict might have started with pro-democracy protesters, in this civil war, there are no clear allies. On March 17, 2013, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated, "I am no longer sure that the United States could identify the ‘right people' in Syria."

The government of Syria has a long history of sponsoring international terrorism and was listed as a state sponsor of terror by the U.S. Department of State in 1979. Under Bashar al-Assad, Syria has continued to provide overt aid and comfort to violent extremist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and several factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Unfortunately, the makeup of rebel forces has become increasingly complicated. Many of the rebel groups have ties to organizations that support terrorism across the globe including al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.

The President has vacillated in determining what the U.S. policy toward Syria should be. Speaking to reporters in 2012, President Obama announced that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” for him, and would force U.S. intervention. In April of this year, reports of chemical attacks surfaced. In August, rebel forces accused Assad of another chemical attack near Damascus that killed hundreds of people, including women and children. President Obama came to Congress seeking authorization for the use of military force against the Syrian government.

I sympathize with the Syrian people fighting to get out from under Assad’s years of brutal dictatorship, but the President has not made a compelling case for U.S. intervention, and has even admitted there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. Unfortunately, there are no clear allies for the United States. Becoming militarily involved in this civil, sectarian war, produces no good outcomes for the U.S. and is likely to increase the potential for further conflict in the region. If the President continues his policy of arming the rebels, I fear we are necessarily allying ourselves with al-Qaeda. I do not support this and have introduced legislation (S. 1201) that would require Congressional approval before military assistance could be provided to groups in Syria.

In early September, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on a resolution to authorize the use of force in Syria (S.J.Res.21), I asked Secretary of State John Kerry what the outcomes of a U.S. military strike are likely to be. I asked what the likelihood of the chemical weapons being used again, or falling into the wrong hands, might be. I asked what the goal of the strike was and if it was likely to improve the conditions of Syrian Christians. Sec. Kerry was unable to give a clear answer to any of these questions. It reminds me of Winston Churchill's caution to those about to go to war, “once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” The Founders knew this, and our own military veterans know it still. War is horribly unpredictable, it cannot be entered into lightly. The U.S. should only go to war when there is no other choice and for no other purpose but full and complete victory. The decision to go to war, no matter the magnitude or duration, is the heaviest of burdens a statesman can carry. Such a thing must be carefully considered, the debate robust, and ultimately the decision of the American people through their elected representatives. Prudently, the Founders gave the power to declare war to Congress, as James Madison wrote, “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.”

I have vigorously opposed going to war with Syria because there is no clear American interest or certainty that U.S. involvement, of the kind for which the President sought approval, would improve the situation. Instead it is likely to end in stalemate making a tragic situation worse.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10 to 7 with one abstention in favor of authorizing military intervention in Syria. However, the resolution was not brought to either the Senate or the House of Representatives for a final vote.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to closely follow the situation in Syria. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. It is an honor and a privilege to represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the United States Senate. Please do not hesitate to contact my office regarding any other federal legislative issues.

Rand Paul, MD
United States Senator

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Possessing Nothing

16.  A brother asked a hermit, 'What must I do to be saved?' He took off his clothes, and put a girdle about his loins and stretched out his hands and said, 'Thus ought the monk to be: stripped naked of everything, and crucified by temptation and combat with the world.

January 28, 2014  

(Mar 1:15) And saying: The time is accomplished and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel:

BISHOP DAVID McGOUGH: "Jesus sets before us the first step in discipleship, a step that must be constantly renewed: 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Christ’s kingdom is present to us in every prayer, every thought that calls us to believe that we can indeed live in his light, that we can repent and entrust the past to his forgiveness. We must never take this step for granted, embracing it, whenever possible, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Repentance, frequently renewed, opens our lives to the call that Jesus made to Peter and Andrew: 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'"

TRACT: The Sacrament of Reconciliation: Celebrating God's Forgiveness by Sandra DeGidio, O.S.M.


: We should be dying to go to Confession

Laura relates – and I am sure others will identify with this – that having decided to return to the Church she realised she needed to go to Confession. So she went punctually to the scheduled slot at her local parish – to find the door was locked. She waited 15 minutes but nothing happened. So she went back the next week, accidentally ten minutes late – to find the door was now open but the confessional was empty. The priest had been and gone; he hadn’t waited for a possible latecomer.

Then she drove to a bigger church, relieved to see a sign saying that Confession was scheduled at that moment. She joined a queue, but was puzzled to find that no-one seemed to be coming in or out of the confessional as one would have expected. After half an hour everyone in the queue was growing restless. Finally “a lady walked into the church and announced, ever so apologetically, that the priest scheduled to hear confessions had forgotten about it. He was playing golf instead.”

A friend then suggested to Laura that she go to a weekday Mass and corner the priest afterwards, so that he could hear her confession on the spot. She did this – but unfortunately chose a day when the local primary school was having its own Mass.

Still determined, she decided to go to Mass every morning until she found a priest who would hear her confession. But she fell ill and the plan had to be delayed for a few weeks. Finally, she found another local parish, waited until after Benediction and “strengthened by the graces of the Eucharist, I confessed my sins. The priest was lovely. I cried a lot. He gave me absolution and for penance, a Hail Holy Queen.”

Looking back on these setbacks after two years Laura rejoices that despite “locked doors, golfing priests and nasty germs I returned to the Catholic Church.” I relate all this to remind priests to preach about Confession perhaps more than they do now, and to remember to be available, perhaps at their own inconvenience, for those in need of the Sacrament. After all, the point of being a priest is to save souls. A priest once told me that if he had to choose between celebrating Mass and hearing Confessions he would choose the latter. To bring stray or lost sheep back to the Good Shepherd was what it was all about for him.

As it happened, a friend called on me yesterday. He told me his practice of his Faith had been rather perfunctory until he happened to join a pilgrimage to Lourdes. He decided to skip the scheduled Mass in the underground basilica. Instead, he wandered over to the baths. There he discovered there wasn’t the usual long queue. On impulse he decided to go inside, never having bathed in the waters before. He told me that as soon as he came out of the water an inner voice told him to go to Confession. Needless to say, the grace he received in the sacrament brought about a permanent renewal of his faith.

Lapsed Catholics, aided and abetted by those outside the Church, might gripe about guilt complexes, fixations with sin, bad experiences in the confessional and so on. Actually it’s very simple: we believe that Christ died on the Cross out of love for us; we show our love for Him in return by being faithful to the Sacraments. Confession is about the renewal of a relationship of love between sinner and Saviour. Seen in this light, we should be dying to go; indeed, to stop going on the grounds we have nothing much to confess will lead to spiritual death. That’s a scary thought.

VATICAN.VA: The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Possessing Nothing

10. Cassian said that Syncleticus renounced the world, and divided his property among the poor.  But he kept some for his own use, and so he showed that he was unwilling to accept either the poverty of those who renounce everything or the normal rule of monasteries.  Basil of blessed memory said to him, 'You have stopped being a senator, but you have not become a monk.

January 23, 2014

(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.

STRATFOR: The Geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War

ICEJ: Syrian War Expanding and Melting Down at the Same Time

EXCERPT AINA REPORT: The Holy Land's Endangered Christians

The announcement of Pope Francis's Holy Land visit coincided with a depressing report from Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide. The group's annual survey noted that the number of Christians killed for their faith doubled in 2013 from the year before, with Syria accounting for half of the documented 2,123 "martyr" killings.

The group acknowledged their count is "very minimal" and based on what they have been able to confirm. Other Christian groups put the annual figure in 2013 as high as 8,000 deaths with most coming in turbulent Middle East or African states where the majority religion is Islam. Michel Varton, head of Open Doors France, told journalists in Strasbourg that failing states with civil wars or violent internal tensions were the most dangerous for Christians, citing Syria as the worst example.

"In Syria, another war is thriving in the shadow of the civil war--the war against the church," he said. "Islamist extremism is the worst persecutor of the worldwide church." That persecution in the shadow of civil war has seen a mass Christian exodus with Christian refugees retreading the steps of their persecuted forebears and fleeing into southern Turkey for sanctuary. The civil war has seen half-a-million flee--nearly a quarter of Syria's Christians--with more arriving in Turkey and Lebanon each day.

And fears are mounting that the sectarian conflict to oust President Bashar al-Assad could spell the doom of Syrian Christianity, in much the same way as Christianity has been severely damaged in Iraq, where after the fall of Saddam Hussein, sectarian killings, persecution of Christians and an increasingly Islamist political culture propelled more than half of the Iraqi Christian population to flee.

Before the civil war, Syria had an estimated Christian population of 2.5 million with the Greek Orthodox Church accounting for the largest share. The country also contained Catholics and Syriac Christians as well as Protestants and adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East.


VIA Anne:  I was very concerned with your articles regarding Syria and what is going on. So much so, that I sent it to everyone on my email list, asking for many prayers and to pass along those articles to their friends so that could also pray for the people and know the real stories. I also sent your articles to three senators and asked for their help. I decided to share with you what one of my State Senators said:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about Syria. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

Beginning with demonstrations in March 2011, the Syrian people have courageously challenged President Bashar al Assad’s repressive regime, demanding basic human rights and greater democratic representation. The Syrian regime has responded with terrible violence against its citizens, including the use of weapons of war, torture, arbitrary executions, sexual violence, and interference with access to medical treatment. Over the course of more than two years, the Assad regime has unleashed a barrage of unspeakable terror across the country with the sole aim of remaining in power. More than 100,000 people have been killed and countless injured, according to the United Nations. More than two million refugees have fled to neighboring countries, taxing the limits of those countries’ capacity and risking a regional crisis. Further, an estimated 4.25 million Syrians are internally displaced.

I have repeatedly called for a more robust U.S. response to the crisis in Syria. What happens in Syria is of great consequence to our national security and to our allies in the region. It is of vital interest to the United States and our allies to have a stable Syria in the heart of the Middle East. Contrary to that interest, letting the civil war drag on and the humanitarian crisis grow would create further instability. The Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, expressed grave concern stating, "I think there is no disagreement anywhere that the situation in Syria is extremely bad and getting worse, that it is a threat to the region and a threat to peace and security in the world.”

For decades, Iran has sought to bolster the Assad regime in Damascus, its only true ally in the region. During this conflict, it has provided weapons, logistical support and military advisors to the Syrian government forces. Iran also uses Syria as a channel for support to Hezbollah, which has substantially increased its arsenal of rockets and missiles after its 2006 war against Israel. Degrading the influence of Iran and Hezbollah is clearly in the interest of regional stability and U.S. national security.

Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Assad’s willingness to deploy his chemical weapons against his own people reveals the depth of the threat his regime poses to regional security. The evidence of the use of chemical weapons in the spring of 2013 underscores the imperative that the United States stand with the people of Syria during this critical period. I also had the opportunity to speak with the military leader of the Syrian opposition General Salim Idris, and he reported that the situation inside the country was dire. In August 2013, the Syrian government is believed to have killed hundreds of civilians in a chemical attack on Ghouta, a city outside Damascus, violating international law and crossing what the Obama administration has called a “red line.” On August 26, a senior Obama administration official said there was little doubt concerning use of chemical weapons by forces loyal to President Assad. After receiving several intelligence briefings, I have no doubt that Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his people.

The gas attack on Ghouta represents the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since 1988 -- and the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said “This is a war crime.” In September 2013, the U.S. and Russia reached a diplomatic agreement on the destruction of Assad’s chemical weapons. It is essential to ensure the chemical weapons are removed and ultimately destroyed in a verifiable manner and on a strict timeline.

Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis

In the midst of the removal and destruction of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile, a devastating civil war rages on creating a dire humanitarian crisis that the World Health Organization has called the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis on earth. The UN estimates that approximately 40% of Syrians are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that fifty percent of the refugees are children under the age of 17; twenty percent are four years old or younger; and around thirty percent are women. Many displaced persons remained unregistered, either due to lack of UN capacity or out of fear of discrimination. I have strongly supported greater humanitarian and refugee assistance in this deplorable crisis.

I proudly introduced S. 617, the Syria Democratic Transition Act of 2013 on March 19 with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. This bill includes a combination of humanitarian assistance, non-lethal equipment and training to the vetted elements of the Free Syrian Army, and sanctions against elements of the regime. Key provisions from this legislation were included as amendments to S. 960, the Syria Transition Support Act.

The situation in Syria and the international conversation on the need to bring an end to the civil war in Syria are in constant flux. This conflict has driven millions of Syrians from their homes, and we stand to lose an entire generation to the trauma of war if it continues unabated. A stable, peaceful, and prosperous Syria in the heart of the Middle East is in the national security interest of the United States and our allies.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please be assured I will continue to monitor the crisis in Syria. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Bob Casey United
States Senator

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Possessing Nothing

5. Evagrius said that there was a brother who had no possessions except a Gospel book and he sold it in order to feed the poor. He said something worth remembering: 'I have sold even the word that commands me to sell all and give to the poor.'

January 22, 2014  

(Mar 10:13-14) And they brought to him young children, that he might touch them. And the disciples rebuked them that brought them. Whom when Jesus saw, he was much displeased and saith to them: Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

POPE FRANCIS: "It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day. Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary."

NEWS: Roe v. Wade anniversary brings together Catholics in remembrance and protest

PROFILE: Cardinal Dolan on the Civil Rights of the Unborn

EXCERPT HOMILY: The Lord says to us in Sacred Scripture, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer. 1:5); from all eternity God knew and loved each of us in a unique and personal way. It’s important not only that we discover our own identity as His children, but that we help others achieve this all-important goal as well—for this sort of self-discovery truly can be life-changing, and even life-saving. The National Right to Life Committee tells a story about a woman on her way to an abortion clinic for the second time. At her first appointment there, the abortion counselor told her it would be a very simple, insignificant procedure—merely the removal of a mass of cells. Nothing was said about how the unborn child within her already a heartbeat, tiny yet recognizably-human features, and a unique genetic code and identity. A date was scheduled for the abortion, but as the woman was returning to the clinic a few days later, she saw a bumper sticker that had been created by the National Right to Life Committee; it proclaimed a simple but powerful truth: “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart.” The woman was stunned, and her eyes and her heart were opened—she wasn’t carrying a “mass of cells,” but a baby. She turned around and went home, and as a result her soul, and her baby’s life, were saved.

For more than forty years, the Right to Life Movement has proclaimed the unique identity and value of each human life—echoing the unchanging teaching of the Church, dating some 2000 years, back to Jesus Christ Himself. Abortion is not only a tragedy, but also a grave abomination in the eyes of God—one which every true follower of Jesus is morally bound to oppose. Our society today rightly rejects and denounces racism, thanks in large part to the peaceful and heroic witness and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of his nieces, Dr. Alveda King, once said, “For many years I have been an outspoken advocate for the unborn child, because in a culture of abortion, the child is like a slave. The new civil rights movement of our time is the pro-life movement.” Can you imagine a so-called Christian back in the 1960s dying after having supported racism and segregation and violence against blacks, and having to defend his or her actions while being judged by God? It’s just as morally impossible today for any Christian to promote or defend abortion—though God’s mercy is always lavishly available to any woman guilty of such a sin, if only she repents of it. You and I are called to be witnesses of this mercy—for Jesus does not want anyone to condemn him or herself as a sinner; rather, everyone is called and invited to recognize him or herself as a redeemed sinner.

The political and moral issue of abortion is like a mirror being held up to the soul of every American—and what we see there goes a long way toward revealing whether or not we’re accepting and living up to our true identity as children of God, and whether or not we are indeed journeying toward His Kingdom of Heaven and our true home. A fearsome struggle for the soul of our country is underway, and the Lord does not allow us to sit it out, run for the sidelines, or declare our neutrality. By means of our involvement, financial contributions, influence, votes, and prayers, Jesus expects us to stand up and be counted in defense of His gift of human life—for in today’s world, this is an inescapable and vitally-important way of identifying ourselves as His disciples. On Judgment Day, nothing will matter more than this; only those who here and now discover, accept, and live out their identity as God’s children will be entitled to share in His Kingdom.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[James 1:1-8; Mark 10:11-16]

With what love the Lord treated children! Who doesn't treat them with love? The longer one lives, the more one loves children. In them is seen freshness of life, cleanness and purity of disposition, which cannot but be loved. Looking at the innocence of childhood, some suppose that there is no original sin, that each person falls himself when he comes of age and meets with immoral urges, which, it seems to him, he does not have the strength to overcome. Everyone falls himself, yet the original sin nevertheless is present.

Apostle Paul sees in us the law of sin, warring against the law of the mind. This law, like a seed, at first is as if not visible, but then is revealed and entices. Those who are born of lepers do not manifest leprosy until a certain age, but then it is revealed, and begins to consume them just as it did their parents. Where was the leprosy before this time? It was hiding within. So does the original sin hide until the time, and then comes out and does its business.

Environment means a lot for both suppressing this sin and revealing it. If there were no sinful elements all around, there would be nothing with which to feed this hidden sin, and perhaps it would dry up of its own. But herein is our sorrow: that all around there is very much favourable food for it. There is much sin in every person as well as in society; but all of this does not necessarily determine that we will sin. Sin is always a matter of freedom — struggle and you will not fall. Only he who does not want to struggle falls. Why do we not want to struggle? There are no regulations concerning desire and lack of desire: I want to, because I want to; and I don't want to, because I don't want to. Self-rule is the original principle — one cannot go beyond it.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Possessing Nothing

3. Once when Arsenius was in Scetis he became ill, and he needed just one penny. He had not got one, so he accepted it as alms from someone else, and said, 'Oh God, thank you! For your name's sake you have made me worthy to come to this, that I should have to ask for alms.'

January 20, 2014  

(Mat 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

ACN: Syria's Catholic leader makes urgent appeal ahead of Geneva peace conference

The leader of Catholics in Syria has issued an urgent appeal to the faithful in Syria, and people throughout the world, to pray for the success of next week's Geneva II peace conference to be held in Montreux, Switzerland.

Damascus-based Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III has called on every Syrian Catholic, whatever their circumstances, to pray for an end to the hostilities that have prompted almost 9 million Syrians to flee their homes since the conflict began almost three years ago.

Writing in his capacity as President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs (bishops) in Syria, the leader of the world’s Melkite Greek Catholics issued a statement yesterday calling for the prayers from “my beloved bishops, all our children, priests, monks, nuns, faithful, confraternities, youth movements, families and young people.”

In his statement, he goes on to appeal to the West to join him and his community in praying for peace,  “Let there be a global prayer campaign for peace in Syria, the Holy Land, the Arab world and the whole world.”

In the document, a copy of which was sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Patriarch Gregorios states: “We implore [God] to hear our prayers, respond to our cries of distress and the suffering of the victims, and grant us the gift of peace.”

Patriarch Gregorios’ appeal for an end to the violence comes as latest UN statistics show that nearly two-fifths (40 percent) of the country’s 22.5 million pre-war population have now fled their homes, with 2.3 million living as refugees abroad and a further 6.5 million displaced within the country; more than 115,000 people, most civilians, have died in the fighting so far.

Addressing the mounting humanitarian crisis, made worse by one of the worst winters on record, the Geneva II Middle East Conference is expected to bring together representatives of Syria’s Assad regime and the opposition in a bid to end the country’s civil war and pave the way for a transitional government.

In his appeal, Patriarch Gregorios, who is noted for his peace advocacy work, writes: “We beg [God] to inspire the countries and their representatives who are about to meet with the wherewithal for peace, security and a better future for Syrians.”

In a separate document released alongside his peace appeal statement, Patriarch Gregorios stresses the need for unity among the international community in calling for peace and a halt to the influx of weapons to armed groups in Syria.

Highlighting his hopes for a widespread take-up of his appeal for prayer, he states: “We long and pray for the peace to be Syrian though we are grateful to all those countries who are working for that Syrian peace.

“The [international community’s] efforts should be concentrated on obtaining a peace that is really Syrian, for that would be true peace and the best and most suitable for all parties to the conflict and for all Syria.”


Statement from Vatican workshop on Syria
Churches seek decisive action on Syria conflict


War On Christians in Syria: Where Are The Missing Bishops, Priests And Nuns?
Palestinian refugees starving to death in Syrian camp, human rights groups say
Syria: Christian Stabbed with Crucifix, Decapitated

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

25. A hermit said, 'Chastity is born of tranquillity, and silence, and inner prayer.'

January 16, 2014  

(Mat 28:19-20) Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

POPE FRANCIS: “In every generation through baptism, we are reborn to the new life of grace and called to be witnesses of the Gospel before the world. Baptism makes us “missionary disciples” within the communion of the Church”.

CATHOLIC JOURNAL: Answering Our Call by Fr Joseph Esper

BLOG: The Urgency of the New Evangelization: An Interview with Dr. Ralph Martin

CATHOLIC SENTINEL: New Evangelization 101: Confident embrace of faith then invitation

In explaining the New Evangelization, the website of the U.S. Catholic Bishops begins with a quote from the Gospel of Mark: "It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."

The New Evangelization calls on Catholics to deepen their faith, believe in the Gospel message and then go forth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus — both what he taught and who he is. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on re-proposing the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith. The bishops say it is a matter of giving hope to that growing group. According to a 2008 study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, only 23 percent of U.S. Catholics regularly attend Mass once a week, while 77 percent self-identify as proud to be Catholic. Ten percent of the U.S. population of 314 million describe themselves as former Catholics.

The idea of the New Evangelization developed in the years after the Second Vatican Council. In the mid-1970s, centuries after the missionary thrusts of the Age of Exploration, Pope Paul VI revived the notion that the Church exists to evangelize. In 1983, speaking to Latin American bishops, Pope John Paul II first coined the term, calling for a "new evangelization; new in its ardor, methods and expression." The British Jesuit Father Dominic Robinson says the new approach drew heavily on the experience of the Church in Latin America, where there was a particular zeal for the Vatican II's call to dialogue with culture.  

In the 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Pope John Paul drew a distinction between the mission to those who have never heard the Gospel and those who have heard it but have not fully responded. The New Evangelization was born.

In Porta Fidei, a 2011 apostolic letter, Pope Benedict more clearly defined the method of the New Evangelization. For him, faith is just what the world wants to fill its emptiness. Pope Benedict spoke of the need for Catholics to rediscover the journey of faith "so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ."

The Year of Faith, which just ended, was called by Pope Benedict to adjust the Church’s mission from maintenance to growth, through the work of the New Evangelization.  

In the homily at his Portland installation last April, Archbishop Sample said we will never convince the world of Jesus Christ and the truth of our faith if we ourselves are not convinced and enthusiastic in its proclamation.

"At the heart of all of this is Jesus Christ," the archbishop wrote later. "We must never lose sight of who we are in relation to Him and why we are so passionate about spreading the Good News and bringing as many as we can into the Church."

RELATED: Denver archbishop: Follow Pope's example of evangelization


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

12. A brother was obsessed by lust and it was like a fire burning day and nigh in his heart. But he struggled on, not examining the temptation nor consenting to it. After a long time, the fire left him, extinguished by his perseverance.

January 14, 2014  

(Eph 6:10-13) Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect.

POPE FRANCIS: “That is the path of Jesus Christ: abasement, humility, humiliation as well. If a thought, if a desire takes you along the road of humility and abasement, of service to others, is from Jesus. But if it brings you to the road of sufficiency, of vanity, of pride, along the path of an abstract thought, it is not from Jesus. We think of the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness: all three proposals the demon makes to Jesus are proposals that intended to take Him away from this path, the path of service, of humility, of humiliation, of charity. But the charity accomplished with His life, no? To the three temptations Jesus says no: ‘No, this is not my path!”

MYSTICS OF THE CHURCH BLOG: The Battle for Souls -Stories of the attacks of the demons against modern day mystic saints

NEW OXFORD REVIEW: The Devil in Our Midst

DAILY TELEGRAPH: 'Satan stepping up war for souls'

Dioceses across Italy and in other predominantly Catholic countries, such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, intended to rid people of possession by the devil or his minions.

The rise in demonic possession reports is a result of more people dabbling in black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija-board conjuring, often exploring "the dark arts" with the help of information readily found on the internet, the church said.

The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the church to sideline self-proclaimed exorcists, and is tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive.

The Diocese of Milan recently nominated seven new exorcists, the bishop of Naples appointed three new ones a couple of years ago and the Catholic Church in Sardinia sent three priests for exorcism training in Rome, amid concern that the Mediterranean island, particularly its mountainous, tradition-bound interior, is a hotbed of occultism.

In Spain, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, the Archbishop of Madrid, chose eight priests to undergo special training in May to confront what he described as "an unprecedented rise" in "demonic possession". The church in Spain was coming across many cases that "go beyond the competence of psychologists" and they were occurring with "a striking frequency", the archbishop said.

"Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism," said Father Francesco Bamonte, president of the International Association for Exorcists.

"The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help," he said.


Satanists’ statue design for Oklahoma Capitol: ‘Sit on the lap of Satan’
Ex-Satanist Approves of Catholic Church's Training More Priests to Perform Exorcisms

BLOG: Should the Church Consider Reintroducing the Exorcism Prayers in the Rite of Baptism? By: Msgr. Charles Pope

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

8. Poemen said, 'As a bodyguard is always standing by to protect the Emperor, so the soul should always be ready to fight the demon of lust.'

January 10, 2014  

(Rom 11:25-26) For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery (lest you should be wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

NEWS HEADLINE: Israel's Ex-PM Ariel Sharon 'Close To Death'

The hospital treating Ariel Sharon has said the former Israeli leader's condition has deteriorated further and he is now "close to death".

Mr Sharon, who has been comatose since suffering a stroke eight years ago, suffered a downturn in his health last week when he suffered serious kidney problems after surgery.

The Sheba Medical Center said his condition has worsened over the "past hours".

"His condition is described as extremely critical and his family is at his side all the time," said a statement from the hospital near Tel Aviv.

Mr Sharon, one of Israel's most controversial and iconic figures, suffered the stroke at the height of his political power as he appeared to be cruising toward re-election.

His career has stretched across most of Israel's 65-year history.

ISRAEL TODAY: The Rabbi, the Note and the Messiah

A few months before he died, one of the nation’s most prominent rabbis, Yitzhak Kaduri, supposedly wrote the name of the Messiah on a small note which he requested would remain sealed until now. When the note was unsealed, it revealed what many have known for centuries: Yehoshua, or Yeshua (Jesus), is the Messiah.

With the biblical name of Jesus, the Rabbi and kabbalist described the Messiah using six words and hinting that the initial letters form the name of the Messiah. The secret note said:

Concerning the letter abbreviation of the Messiah’s name, He will lift the people and prove that his word and law are valid.

This I have signed in the month of mercy,

Yitzhak Kaduri

The Hebrew sentence (translated above in bold) with the hidden name of the Messiah reads:

Yarim Ha’Am Veyokhiakh Shedvaro Vetorato Omdim

ירים העם ויוכיח שדברו ותורתו עומדים

The initials spell the Hebrew name of Jesus יהושוע . Yehoshua and Yeshua are effectively the same name, derived from the same Hebrew root of the word “salvation” as documented in Zechariah 6:11 and Ezra 3:2. The same priest writes in Ezra, “Yeshua (ישוע) son of Yozadak” while writing in Zechariah “Yehoshua (יהושוע) son of Yohozadak.” The priest adds the holy abbreviation of God’s name, ho (הו), in the father’s name Yozadak and in the name Yeshua.

With one of Israel’s most prominent rabbis indicating the name of the Messiah is Yeshua, it is understandable why his last wish was to wait one year after his death before revealing what he wrote.

A few months before Kaduri died at the age of 108, he surprised his followers when he told them that he met the Messiah. Kaduri gave a message in his synagogue on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, teaching how to recognize the Messiah. He also mentioned that the Messiah would appear to Israel after Ariel Sharon’s death. (The former prime minister is still in a coma after suffering a massive stroke more than a year ago.) Other rabbis predict the same, including Rabbi Haim Cohen, kabbalist Nir Ben Artzi and the wife of Rabbi Haim Kneiveskzy.

BRIEF BIO: Yitzchak Kaduri (died January 28, 2006), was a renowned Mizrahi Haredi rabbi and kabbalist who devoted his life to Torah study and prayer on behalf of the Jewish people. He taught and practiced the kavanot of the Rashash. His blessings and amulets were also widely sought to cure people of illnesses and infertility. In his life, he published no religious articles or books.  When he died, more than 200,000 people joined the funeral procession on the streets of Jerusalem to pay their respects as he was taken to his final resting place.

RELATED VIDEO: Orthodox Rabbi Reveals Name of Messiah "JESUS","Yehoshua"

OF INTEREST: Miraculous Healing in Jesus Stuns Israelis

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

7. Mathois used to say that a brother came and told him that the slanderer was worse than the fornicator.  Her replied, 'This is a hard saying.' Then the brother said to him , 'What do you think about the matter?' Mathois said, 'Slander is bad, but it can be cured quickly; the slanderer can do penance and say "I have spoken wrongly," and it is over. But lust is certain death.'

January 9, 2014  

(Mar 8:38) For he that shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 

MSGR. POPE BLOG: Church of England “Waters Down” Baptismal Rite?

LIFESITENEWS.COM: German bishops will give Communion to those ‘remarried’ outside Church despite Vatican’s opposition

NCR: CDF Head Discusses the SSPX, Liberation Theology and Divorced-Remarried Catholics


WILDERNESS BLOG: The Wings of the Eagles

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[II Thess. 2:1-12; Luke 12:48-59]

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

What is the reason? Those who believe in the Lord are filled with an entirely different spirit, contrary to that which reigned in people before His coming; that is why they cannot get along together. The pagan world pursued exclusively worldly and earthly interests. The Jews at least had indications of higher good things, but towards the end they inclined toward the path of the pagans. The Lord, coming to the world, showed people other treasures, outside of the family, outside of society, and awakened other aspirations.

Those who accepted His teaching naturally established a way of life different from before, for which they were subjected to hostility, oppression, and persecutions. This is the division. The Apostle Paul then said that all desiring to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Tim. 3–12). So it was and so it is. When worldly and earthly interests begin to prevail in society, then society looks unfavourably at those who display other, unearthly strivings; it cannot even understand how it is possible to be interested in such things. People cannot stand those who serve as representatives of a way of life which is not similar to their life. This is happening now before everyone's eyes. Is this not a sign of the times?...

EXCERPT Saying of the Desert Fathers: The holy Fathers were making predictions about the last generation. They said 'What have we ourselves done?' One of them, the great abba Ischyrion replied, 'We ourselves have fulfilled the commandments of God.' The others replied, 'And those who come after us, what will they do?' He said, 'They will struggle to achieve half our works.' They said, 'And to those who come after them, what will happen?' He said, 'THE MEN OF THAT GENERATION WILL NOT ACCOMPLISH ANY WORKS AT ALL AND TEMPTATION WILL COME UPON THEM; AND THOSE WHO WILL BE APPROVED IN THAT DAY WILL BE GREATER THAN EITHER US OR OUR FATHERS.'

Abba Copres said, 'blessed is he who bears affliction with thankfulness.'

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

5. When Cyrus of Alexandria was asked about the temptation of lust, he said, 'If you are not tempted, you have no hope; if you are not tempted, it is because you are sinning. The man who does not fight sin at the stage of temptation is sinning already in his body. The man who is sinning in his flesh has no trouble from temptation.'

January 8, 2014  

(Mar 6:48-51) And seeing them labouring in rowing, (for the wind was against them,) and about the fourth watch of the night, he cometh to them walking upon the sea, and he would have passed by them. But they seeing him walking upon the sea, thought it was an apparition, and they cried out. For they all saw him, and were troubled bled. And immediately he spoke with them, and said to them: Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not. And he went up to them into the ship, and the wind ceased: and they were far more astonished within themselves:

MARK MALLET BLOG: 2014 and the Rising Beast


So we are now officially one year closer to the Second Coming. One year closer to meeting our loved ones who have already passed from this life into Eternity. One year closer to being faced with the harsh or brilliant truth, depending on your point of view, that the Catholic Church has been right all along.

That She is the Bride of Christ, His Mystical Body, the pillar and foundation of the truth – to toss in a quote from St. Paul for our Protestant viewers. Yes – St. Paul calls the Church the pillar and foundation of the truth.

There are two major problems which plague Catholics these days – one is universalism the other is indifferentism and each one feds the other.

Universalism is the belief that everyone – or almost everyone except for Hitler and Stalin – is saved. That no one goes to Hell. It is preached – in its only slightly modified form by those who say – we have a reasonable hope that all men are saved. No we don’t.

The second plague is indifferentism – the belief that all religions are essentially the same, so a person can be indifferent about the choice of which one to belong to. And its easy to see how these two beliefs feed each other.

If practically everyone is saved, why WOULD it matter which religion a person belongs to? In fact, you wouldn’t really have to be religious at all when you carry it out to its logical conclusion.

And if it doesn’t matter which religion you belong to, then none of them REALLY teach anything absolute and right – so that must mean that since there are so many contradictions in the teachings of so many different religions, that in the end, we must all get to heaven anyway.

Why do we say that these two problems plague the Catholic Church? For two reasons – one, it is these two dominant cultural attitudes that hold the greatest sway over most people today. And two – these two dominant themes are either accepted on various levels INSIDE the Church today, or at a minimum, not fought against by leaders.

These two thoughts and what they represent – that nearly everyone goes to heaven and no religion is superior to any other are heresies, or so closely bordering on heresy that they share the same life blood as heresy.

Until Church leaders stand up and denounce and condemn these heresies, in strident tones and damning words – which is EXACTLY how heresy should be treated – they will continue to see the mass exodus that they see each year from the faith. AND they will continue to place their own souls in jeopardy of eternal damnation. Bishops and priests who will not teach the truth or water it down will go to Hell.

There will be no defense for them, nowhere for them to hide when they approach the throne of God and have to give an account for how they spent their vocations.

They will be like the man in one of Our Lord’s parable who was given a coin by the king .. a talent .. and instead of taking it and going out and increasing it .. he hid it away and did not increase its yield.

The king had him tied up hand and foot and thrown out into the outer darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Just who do the bishops, who are so anxious not to offend anyone by declaring Our Lord’s truth – their MASTER’S truth –, think he is referring to in this parable?

It’s 2014 – another year closer to meeting Our Lord, either universally on the clouds of Heaven OR privately at our own death.

Not including those killed in the holocaust of abortion, about 60,000,000 of us will go to God in 2014 – 60,000,000! Already, just on New Year’s day ALONE – 165,000 humans died and stood before God. For them – the New Years Day was their last day on earth.

2014 will only be a Happy new year if we go to heaven.

You are GUARANTEED heaven by dying in a state of grace within the Catholic Church. There is no other guarantee. That’s why Our Lord established it. Leaders need to start announcing that.

Those 60,000,000 souls will die this year will die on their watch.

Pray for our bishops my fellow Catholics. Pray that they respond to the grace to announce the truth boldly and clearly that Hell is real and many many go there and the only hope of salvation is the Holy Catholic Church.

It was for this they were ultimately made bishop – and nothing else.

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

2. Gerontius of Petra said, 'Many people who are tempted by pleasures of the flesh do not sin with the body but lust with the mind; they keep their bodily virginity but lust in their heart. It is better then, beloved, to do what is written, "Let everyone keep a close guard upon his heart" (Prov. 4:24).'
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