your eyes open!...
January 29, 2016
(Mat 5:14-16) You
are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a
candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let
your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father who is in heaven.
To evangelize the poor: This is the mission of Jesus, according to what
He Himself says; this is also the mission of the Church, and of every
person baptized in the Church. To be Christian and to be a missionary
is the same thing. To proclaim the Gospel, with words, and, even before
that, with one’s life, is the principle end of the Christian community
and of each of its members.
MARK MALLET BLOG: Pope in a Hurry?
CATHOLICCITIZENS.ORG: The Best Is Yet to Come for Catholicism by Fr. C. John McCloskey III
Some years ago I co-wrote with longtime Catholic journalist Russell
Shaw a book entitled Good News, Bad News (still in print from Ignatius
Press). It covers evangelization, conversion, and the crisis of faith,
complete with many anecdotes of conversion, including those of
well-known men and women.
On the one hand, as we all know, over the last several decades, a great
many Catholics have left the faith. For most of us, this phenomenon
hits close to home, with examples among family members.
On the other hand, many thousands over the last several decades have
rejoined the Faith of their Fathers or have newly discovered the truth
and beauty of Catholicism. Every Easter, large numbers are received
into the Church and are some of the most fervent practitioners of the
Faith. For example, in the United States in 2014, the Official Catholic
Directory recorded 39,654 catechumens, baptized, confirmed, and
receiving first Communion, and another 66,831 candidates who had
already received valid baptisms in another church and who were received
into full Communion with the Catholic Church.
This is a very good sign, although of course we need to add many more
to that number. And in some ways today’s society should offer fertile
ground for conversions. More and more people, including serious
Christians from many faltering denominations and many Evangelicals, are
realizing that only in the Church that Christ founded can one find the
wholeness of the Lord’s teachings, safeguarded from erroneous
interpretation. And only there can Christians find all that is
necessary for salvation: that is, all the sacraments instituted by
Christ to give grace.
Among these, the sacrament that produces most yearning in non-Catholic
Christians who are approaching the Church is the Eucharist, the body
and blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord. Outside the Church, they have
no access to this sacrament that Our Lord, on the night before he died,
entrusted to the apostles, who were the first priests and bishops. In
many cases, other Christian faith groups do not even have a priesthood,
and those that do, such as Episcopalians, do not have the unbroken
apostolic succession necessary to confer the true Sacrament of Holy
One area of the world where the Church is flourishing is Africa, where
converts are coming by the hundreds of thousands. The Church is also
strong in parts of Poland and Hungary and, surprisingly, of late also
in certain regions of France. Some of this is likely due to the
realization of the danger that is on their doorstep in the form of
Islam. They are also aware that unless they return to the fullness of
the Church and its teaching on marriage and particularly being open to
life, they will be overrun by Islam.
And of course the Catholic Church is growing in the Far East, including
(despite difficult circumstances) in China. It is only the Catholic
Church that produces a Mother Teresa of Calcutta – soon to be canonized
and a great example of the power of holiness that comes from the
teachings of the Church and its sacraments.
Another magnet to the Church for many people recently has been Pope
Francis. Although his style may not be attractive to some Catholics,
nonetheless he has made a big impact throughout the world, not only
with Catholics but with the faithful members of the so-called
There is much more to be done by all of us as faithful members of the
Catholic faith, who are called to evangelize in some manner our family
and friends, the people we work with, indeed all those we encounter.
The best preparation for doing this is to take advantage of the grace
of the sacraments. We should also ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be
truly joyful in such a way that our happiness will draw people around
us to the Church God founded.
We are engaged in a most important struggle for our country. Although
waged on many fronts – including marriage and the family, assisted
suicide, freedom of conscience, and abortion – all flow from a correct
understanding of our all-wise and all-loving Creator’s plan for his
So our task in this new year is to continue to fight for the right to
life from conception to natural death, with no exceptions. Second and
very important is to once again be a country that recognizes marriage
as solely the union of male and female, as it was from the beginning.
We should continue to pray that all Catholic educational institutions,
from grammar school through high school and university, will be
completely faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
As we know, coming up in this next year is a crucial presidential
election in the United States, and for the first time in many years
there are a good number of candidates who are clearly pro-life,
pro-family, and pro-marriage. By the end of this year we will either
have renewed reason for hope or even greater urgency about our need to
convert our culture and its people.
CATHOLIC SPIRIT: New initiative aims to make Catholic men ‘watchmen’
Christian faith built on that Old Testament tradition and saw Christ as
the one who breaks whatever endless cycle we might feel exists in our
lives. Christ calls us to an eternal kingdom where we will be happy
forever. Christ also calls us to a kingdom that begins here on earth.
That kingdom begun here challenges us to see Christ in our neighbor and
warns us of a judgment that takes into account how we have treated one
another. Christ calls us to a new way of thinking and acting.
In this way then we have control of
our own ultimate destiny by the way we live our lives here on earth. As
we do so in accord with Christ’s commands, we feed the poor, clothe the
naked and visit those who are ill or in prison. Thus, while looking
toward our own eternal destiny we are making the present life of others
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 26, 2016
(Mat 24:32-36) And
from the fig tree learn a parable: When the branch thereof is now
tender and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you
also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh,
even at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not
pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass: but my
words shall not pass. But of that day and hour no one knoweth: no, not
the angels of heaven, but the Father alone.
ALETEIA: Destruction of Mar Elia Monastery and the Criminal Nihilism of ISIS
REVIEW: ISIS destruction of heritage ‘most brutal since WWII’
TIMELY: NEW TOOL MAPS CULTURAL TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION LEFT BY ISLAMIC EXTREMIST GROUPS
REPORT: Roman Catholic priest has found a unique method of combatting ISIS in Iraq
Father Gabriel Tooma is not going after them with weapons.
He is not involved with any of the several Christian militias that have
taken it upon themselves, in Iraq and neighboring Syria, to defend
their villages against IS onslaught.
What he is doing, he says, is even more important to the Christian
minority's fate in northern Iraq: He is rounding up ancient manuscripts
and relics and hiding them in secure locations around Kurdistan, hoping
to save them from the iconoclastic fury of the terror insurgency.
"If Daesh burns down a church we can rebuild it, but the manuscripts
are our history. They trace back our roots, they are part of our
civilization," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group. "If
they get destroyed, then we are lost, and our culture will be
The 55-year old priest, a Jesuit-like Pope Francis, spoke during a
meeting late last year at a monastery in al Qosh, in the Nineveh Plain.
His words took on a new, urgent meaning on Wednesday, when news broke
that IS fighters had done exactly what he had said. The extremist
militants had razed the oldest Christian church in Iraq, the 1,400-year
old St. Elijah Monastery in Mosul, about 30 miles (50 km) from al Qosh.
In the face of this threat, Father Gabriel is trying to save what he
can, including manuscripts dating back as far as the 11th Century.
They are mainly liturgical books, but there are also Old Testament
stories, books on medicine, and miniatures drawn by monks. "These books
have an inestimable value," he said. He has been at work for four years
on scanning and saving them in digital format, with the help of the
Italian NGO Un Ponte Per and funds from the Italian Episcopal
RELATED 2015 REPORTS VIA AINA.ORG
Isis Bomb Assyrian Homes, Monastery in Iraq, Cemeteries Vandalized
Isis Blows Up 10th Century Assyrian Catholic Monastery Near Mosul
Isis Destroys 4th-century Assyrian Catholic Monastery in Iraq
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 22, 2016
(Psa 139:14-16) I
will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy
works, and my soul knoweth right well. My bone is not hidden from thee,
which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of
the earth. Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in thy book all
shall be written: days shall be formed, and no one in them.
BISHOP R. WALKER NICKLESS:
If we love our country, if we want our children and grandchildren to
inherit anything good and true from the past century, then we must not
bequeath to them the evil of abortion. Pope Francis has reminded us
that the church is a field hospital for all those wounded by sin. We
are all engaged in triage. And in that sense, abortion is the injury
that most urgently needs our attention for healing. Both in its essence
and its scale, abortion is the greatest moral evil of our day. Without
our pro-life witness and efforts, and most especially our constant,
devout prayers, all those souls wounded by abortion risk being lost.
Please be pro-life and anti-abortion!
None of us can simply stand silently and let mothers and fathers choose
to take the innocent life of their son or daughter. We must speak!
USCCB: Statement On The 43rd Anniversary Of Roe V. Wade
REVIEW: US War Deaths vs Abortion Deaths
VICTIMSOFABORTION.COM: Abortion Grief: Mother Love, Mercy Love and God's Compassion by Anne Lastman
Grief is a universal human experience which every culture experiences
and has its own methods of dealing with it. But abortion grief is
unique since it is a pain which has no name and cannot be openly spoken
about; yet it is deep and very painful. This pain is experienced when
“mother love” is wounded.
“Mother love” is a mysterious love written deep within the heart of a
woman, deep within the essence of her feminine “I.” “Mother love” is
the mysterious union between her “I” and the “I” of another, her child.
This is a union which society and the abortive woman have not
understood or anticipated; and they have found it cannot be suppressed.
This grief which follows abortion is the truth of the very existence of
“mother love” which ensures that no creation will pass by unnoticed.
Many reasons are given for this grief but the most fundamental one is
that a woman has written within her being a connection, a primordial
attachment, to her infant, from its earliest moment of conception. This
is because her body knows it has cooperated with God to bring to birth
a new creation: “[M]otherhood involves a special communion with the
mystery of life as it develops in the woman’s womb” (John Paul II, On
the Dignity & Vocation of Women).
There is no error in this knowledge except perhaps in the matter of a
defective affective faculty where a mother’s understanding is truly
distorted, e.g., she is sociopathic. As John Paul II pointed out in the
above document: “Each and every time that motherhood is repeated in
human history, it is always related to the covenant which God
established with the human race through the Motherhood of the Mother of
This covenant is extended every time motherhood is repeated making the birth of each child a salvific moment for a woman.
The blood shed in an abortion is that of a mother’s child and, whether
acknowledged or not, a woman cannot allow the dying of this child to be
forgotten. Her being cannot tolerate this violence without the
resulting anguish of heart at the loss of someone who is for her the
visible sign of her feminine being. Her anguish is a recognition of her
failure to protect the “Word” spoken by God into her being, the “Word”
which was “Life.”
The moral awareness or “knowing” that to abort her child is wrong and
harmful to both of them, and to humanity, is the intuitive knowing
deeply written within a mother’s feminine dignity, “the dignity which
is joined in the closest possible way to the vocation of every person”
(John Paul II). Her child’s dignity is that of an authentic human being
designed in the image and likeness of God. This is indelibly imprinted
in a mother’s conscience, that private sanctuary where God has communed
His desires to her.
Abortion grief is the response to the death of one whose dignity,
irrespective of gestational age, is the dignity accorded to it by God
in His primordial design of the human species and continued with each
new conception; a dignity which no one may violate without suffering.
This grief is experienced by the essential “I” in recognition of the
violence done against another “I” in a determined deliberate action. It
is the law written on the human heart (Jer 31:31-33) which demands the
grief; and it is right and just to do so.
Authentic awareness of the deeper realities of the human being is
strengthened when actions and experiences activate the primordial
imprint, “do good and avoid evil”. These actions and experiences
resonate with the innermost instructions written on the human heart
(Jer 31:31-33) and lived out in a manner visible to all. Abortion does
not resonate with these inner realities and indeed beckons evil where
previously none existed.
Grief and suffering following abortion need not be dismissed nor
doubted but can be received as a gift of mercy from God because it
ensures that the child created by Him will not be willed out of
existence, but be remembered and loved for an earthly lifetime and into
eternity. For its parents this grief can be the moment of metanoia, a
change because of the mercy offered.
Mercy and the healing of these wounds call into being a new and holier
creation, woman, who has been ministered to by God Himself who willed
in Jesus Christ to suffer and to die so that her sin could be forgiven.
Indeed, through the suffering and repentance of the abortive woman (and
man), united to the suffering of Jesus Christ, the misery of that
primordial act in Eden (Genesis 3:1-34), now repeated in the abortion
facility, is reversed and changed into a new option for God.
Abortion grief is a type of penitent suffering which is profound and
experienced by the woman’s “I” as it travails to touch the other “I”
which it has wounded. Yet within this type of suffering is hidden the
key to the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ. It is here where he
meets, forgives and heals; here where he regathers to himself his own.
The origin of suffering is not divine. However, the response to it is,
and because this is so, the abortive woman who turns to God in an
attitude of humility can be forgiven and shown Mercy Love, just as the
memory of her baby cannot be forgotten because of “Mother Love.” The
memory of the abortion remains as a salvific moment which deepens the
understanding of the individual’s personal history, action and
salvation. Indeed, Mercy Love and Mother Love equal the compassion of
RELATED: Human Life International
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 21, 2016
(46:10) Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.
MARK MALLET: Ascetic in the City
CATHOLIC GLOBE: Contemplative Prayer, A Loving Inflow of God into the Soul
BHLA2: Distractions During Prayer
Many people complain of distractions during prayer. One must not think
that this is only a problem for people of today. Shakespeare writes the
following for one of the characters in his plays:
My words rise up,
My thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts
seldom to Heaven go.
What is a distraction? Let me describe some. I start praying perhaps by
meditating on a Mystery of the Rosary. I am thinking about the
Presentation in the Temple while praying the Hail Mary when all of a
sudden I am thinking about a baseball game, what's for lunch or what
I'm going to do the next day. Now if I did not mean to think these
distracting thoughts then my prayer has not been in vain. Remember that
prayer is not an intellectual exercise but a conversation or a desire
for a relationship with God. Still, many people would like to have less
distractions during prayer. Here are some suggestions that might help.
When you realize during prayer that you are no longer in the Presence
of God but have wandered somewhere else then throw the distraction out.
But one must do this gently and not with violence. A violent
return to prayer can be a bigger distraction than what one is trying to
throw out. The spiritual writers of old used to advise that one simply
brushed distractions away as if they were annoying flies. This is a
good analogy for the problem. I know that when I am talking to someone
and a fly takes a great interest in me I am only momentarily distracted
from the conversation. But let a bee instead of a fly landed on me and
we have a totally different story. The conversation with the other
person would be abruptly stopped while I tried to avoid being stung. My
total concentration would be on the bee and not on the person I was
talking to for some time. So treat distractions lightly and don't worry
Another technique to overcome annoying distractions is to make them
part of one's prayer. For instance I remember once while praying the
Rosary being distracted by thoughts of my sick cousin. Instead of
throwing this out I began to pray for my cousin. Even a distraction as
unrelated as a baseball game still involves people who could use one's
prayers. Mention these people to Jesus and ask Him to help them. Jesus
told Sister Mary of the Holy Trinity, a Poor Clare, concerning
distractions to "use them by praying for what is presented to you."
Health and environment do effect the number of distractions one has
during prayer. Being sleepy or tired causes the mind to wander much
more easily. Other factors such as not eating properly, tension,
worries, etc. can lead to a very distracting time. I remember being
told once to pray now while one is healthy because it is almost
impossible to do so when you are sick. A bad headache can make just
thinking, let alone praying, a very challenging task. If possible try
to minimize these problems. If you can't then pray about them or pray
for the grace to pray with them.
In passing I must say that our present world environment is not
conducive to prayer. Our minds are overwhelmed with images from the
television, sounds from the radio, horror stories from the newspapers,
etc. The media feeds our minds with many thoughts for distraction
during prayer. These things whether we like it or not become impressed
upon our minds. They make it difficult for one to raise one's mind to
St. Therese of Avila, a Doctor of the Church called the Doctor of
prayer, taught that most of the problem one has during prayer is
related to what one does when one begins to pray. She really emphasizes
the importance of beginning prayer by placing oneself in the Presence
of God. Another term for this recollection. This fancy term means
nothing more than collecting your thoughts. Give yourself time to
settle down to prayer. Breathe deeply, find the best position, forget
about what you were doing a few minutes before, etc. Don't begin your
prayer already distracted. In whatever way is best for you, maybe a
picture of Jesus, imagining Him before you or by another method place
Him before you.
There is a Saint to pray to for help in this area. The French Carmelite
nun Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity said before she died that when she
was in Heaven she would help people to be recollected.
Finally, consider praying out loud when distractions are really bad -
if you are alone. This technique is especially helpful while doing what
is called "conversational prayer," that is talking to God. By praying
out loud at least if you get so distracted - and stop praying - you'll
Brother John Raymond - Community of the Monks of Adoration
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.
January 19, 2016
(Lev 19:19) Keep
ye my laws. Thou shalt not make thy cattle to gender with beasts of any
other kind. Thou shalt not sow thy field with different seeds. Thou
shalt not wear a garment that is woven of two sorts.
(Isa 14:12-14) How
art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning?
how art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations? And
thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my
throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the
covenant, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the height of
the clouds, I will be like the most High.
FATHER LONGENECKER: Transhumanism: The Future Horror is Here
EXCERPT IEET: Transhumanism - The Final Religion?
“Transhumanism is a class of philosophies of life that seek the
continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life
beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of
science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and
values.” (Max More 1990)
Which sounds harmless enough and rather bland. What lies beneath is
most definitely neither bland nor harmless and represents a potential
change in life on Earth, and Humanity as a whole, which is
unprecedented not only in the historical record but the geological. It
is, perhaps, the single most momentous event in a billion years – if
its more ambitious goals can be realized. Indeed, these goals are so
ambitious that they warrant the title of this article irrespective as
to whether they are in any way feasible, and it will become abundantly
clear that while we may talk of a philosophy what we have is a
declaration of intent. They are aspirations that address questions that
were once the sole preserve of religions, but unlike conventional
religions they seek hard engineering answers rather than ill defined
and ancient obfuscations. They address the deepest hopes and fears of
the Human mind – life, death, the afterlife, immortality, the nature of
God(s) and the destiny of the universe.
It begins with what most people would consider an outlandish proposal,
and escalates from there. It is of course, one of Humanity’s oldest
obsessions – the elimination of aging. A modern incarnation of the
desire to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, to drink from the
Fountain of Youth, to create the Philosopher’s Stone and never have to
worry about growing old and infirm. It is also a technology that looks
like it might finally be within our grasp, with significant scientific
progress being made or at least enough to grab regular headlines in the
popular press. There is also a compelling argument to be made from the
government’s point of view. In an aging population medical costs are
escalating to a ruinous degree as we try to tackle heart disease,
cancer, stroke, diabetes, dementia and general infirmity, not by curing
but postponing. Yet it is increasingly obvious that these are merely
symptoms of the root problem, which is failure of the body’s own repair
mechanisms. Aging is the underlying disease.
Contrary to the claims of many conspiracy theorists Transhumanists are
generally not very interested in eugenics or genetically engineering
Homo Sapiens. This is not because of any ethical considerations but on
pragmatic grounds – it is too slow. The favored route is to merge our
existing biology with our machines through such devices as brain
computer interfaces. The hope is that our AIs will become extensions of
ourselves leading to the first wave of what is termed Post Humanity.
Any alteration of biology to accommodate this symbiosis could involve
genetic engineering of adults, and nanotechnology (another hand waving
catchall which might as well be magic). How realistic these ideas might
be remains to be seen, but the road map to the destination is in place.
The PostHuman dream is of uncorrupted immortal bodies housing the minds
of gods, as far beyond us as we are beyond cats and dogs, where all
aspects of emotion, suffering and intellect are under conscious
control. Our animal heritage finally jettisoned in favor of the new and
immaculate conception. A world without suffering or stupidity or
violence. There is even one project proposed by philosopher David
Pierce to re-engineer the genomes of all life on Earth to eliminate
suffering, or at least put a limit on the amount of pain or stress any
creature (including ourselves) can experience. Obviously for the longer
term, or perhaps on a smaller scale for farm animals…
CHARISMA NEWS: Dr. Richard Land Warns of a Transhumanism 'Frankenstein' Future
VIDEO OVERVIEW: Inhuman
Human-Animal Chimeras Are Gestating on U.S. Research Farms
UK on verge of editing genome of human embryos
Chinese Cloning Factory Can Clone Humans But Boss Says It Won't Make Frankensteins
of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 2- "On Detachment"
6. It is worth investigating why those who live
in the world and spend their life in vigils, fasts, labours and hardships,
when they withdraw from the world and begin the monastic life, as if at
some trial or on the practising ground, no longer continue the discipline
of their former spurious and sham asceticism. I have seen how in the world
they planted many different plants of the virtues, which were watered by
vainglory as by an underground sewage pipe, and were hoed by ostentation,
and for manure were heaped with praise. But when transplanted to a desert
soil, inaccessible to people of the world and so not manured with the foul-smelling
water of vanity, they withered at once. For water-loving plants are not
such as to produce fruit in hard and arid training fields.
January 15, 2016
(Jas 1:22-25) But
be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own
selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall
be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he
beheld himself and went his way and presently forgot what manner of man
he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty and
hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer but a doer of
the work: this man shall be blessed in his deed.
CARDINAL DONALD WUERL: At the Service of the Truth and Love of Jesus Christ
ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Telling the truth when we pray
The Protestant reformer Martin Luther once said, “Don’t lie when
you pray.” His words may be more legend than real, but their
content still rings very true. And they’re good to remember as we
prepare for next week’s holiday (January 18) honoring Dr. Martin Luther
King taught us to be honest about our faith and the convictions that
should flow from it. He took Scripture seriously — especially its
passages on forgiveness, love and justice — and he acted on it,
refusing to count the cost.
Too many of us who call ourselves Christians, especially in a wealthy
country like ours, fall into the habit of living our religious beliefs
as if they were moral slogans. We use our faith for comfort when we
feel sad or when we suffer. But many of us never really carry the
implications of believing in Jesus Christ beyond that. We’re
embarrassed to share him with others. We ignore or water down his
teachings when it comes to our racial attitudes, or our economy, or our
politics. And that suits the modern state very well, because when our
faith remains private, it has no public consequences. The callousness
of the world can go on as usual, and undisturbed.
The trouble with such faith is this: It’s a form of lying. Dr. King
understood that very well. He saw clearly that the greatest enemy
of God in every age doesn’t come in the shape of the world or the flesh
or the devil. It comes in the tepid faith of God’s people. If we want
to know why the world isn’t a better place, we only need to look in the
The Epistle of James tells us to “be doers of the word and not hearers
only” (1:22), because “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”
(2:17). God didn’t make us to be “good enough” human beings. He made us
to be saints. He made us for greatness and heroism. Every human heart,
Christian or not, instinctively knows that.
God calls each of us to transform the world, and if we don’t live the
way God intended us to live, the world will remain as it is — a
place of conflict, prejudice and violence.
Dr. King once said, “If you want to change people, you have to love
them; and they need to know you love them.” In my 45 years as a priest,
I’ve never forgotten those words. Dr. King loved well, and by the power
of that love, he helped to change the heart of a nation. He returned
hatred with forgiveness, and by the power of that forgiveness, he
showed that real strength and real justice come from love, not violence.
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote, “the question is
not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremist we will
be. Will we be extremists for hate, or extremists for love? Will we be
extremists for the preservation of injustice — or will we be
extremists for the cause of justice?” Dr. King answered those questions
by the example of his life. And the witness he left us invites every
one of us, Christian and non-Christian alike, to do the same.
Don’t lie when you pray. We need to live honestly. We need to act on
the convictions we say we believe — racial equality, economic
justice, the sanctity of the human person from the unborn child to the
elderly; from conception to natural death. The biggest lie of the last
100 years is that individuals can’t make a difference; that our
problems are too big and complicated for ordinary people to do anything
Dr. King proved that God can use us to do anything — anything,
even touch the conscience of the greatest power on earth — if a person
fights for the truth in a spirit of love. That’s what the life of
Martin Luther King, Jr., means. That’s what discipleship in Jesus
Christ means. That’s a lesson we all need to remember, this year and
CRISIS MAGAZINE: Letter to a Priest
MSGR. POPE BLOG: What the Book of Proverbs Has to Say About the Current Age
of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 2- "On Detachment"
5. Having resolved to run our race with ardour
and fervour, let us consider carefully how the Lord gave judgment concerning
all living in the world, speaking of even those who are alive as dead,
when He said to someone: Leave those in the world who are dead to bury
the dead in body. His wealth did not in the least prevent the young man
from being baptized. And so it is in vain that some say that the Lord commanded
him to sell what he had for the sake of baptism. This story is more than
sufficient to give us the most firm assurance of the surpassing glory of
January 13, 2016
(Mat 25:37-40) Then
shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry
and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? Or when did we see thee a
stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? Or when did we
see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? 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.
EXCERPT SAT7UK.ORG: FAITH RISES FROM THE RUBBLE OF OLD HOMS, SYRIA IN SAT-7 CHRISTMAS BROADCAST
Fr Jihad Nassif, Head of the Maronite Church in Homs, told SAT-7 he had
come to live in Al-Hamidiya “to plant hope in people’s hearts”. He
said, “Christmas is for everyone, but it is specifically for those who
lost their loved ones, the kidnapped ones, the lonely ones, the sad,
and the displaced”.
The process of rebuilding a city is not an easy task, he said. “We face
many financial challenges. We try to fulfil some needs like clothing
and food but the church doesn’t have the provisions to build all the
houses here. But there are people who are helping with some
painting or building or electricity.”
Fr Michel Naaman, Priest of the Syrian Catholic Archbishopric , said
four schools have reopened, giving 1,500 to 2,000 children a vital
opportunity to carry on their education.
One of the worst-hit churches in the district is that being cared for
by Deacon Silwan Sneige of St George Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The
heavily damaged church has no roof but still it holds mass and
celebrations such as marriages, he said.
“My message to the world is that we must believe that the last word is
not for the evil but for the good,” stressed Fr Kamaz. “The birth of
Jesus Christ brings hope and peace to the earth. We must pray to Him to
have them in our country and our lives.”
This was also the clear message of the televised Christmas morning
celebration, themed on Jesus’ promised gift of peace (John 14:27) and
in which Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox leaders all took
In his introduction to the service Fr Nassif told worshippers, “We are
all running to seek safety and security in the world, but
Jesus says He will give us the peace… When we forget Jesus’ words we
fall into despair as we see the current events.”
For the Western (25 December) and Eastern Christmas (7 January)
festivals Christian satellite TV network SAT-7 broadcast a rich
programmeschedule of Christmas programmes from across the Middle East,
including live services, diverse musical concerts and films retelling
the Christmas story.
VATICAN RADIO: Caritas: We need to overcome indifference to starving Syrians
Residents of the most isolated and war-ravaged parts of Syria are
desperately awaiting the arrival of promised food aid and other
emergency supplies. The Syrian government agreed yesterday to allow
humanitarian deliveries to some of the most isolated areas. Tens of
thousands of people are said to be facing the imminent threat of death
Caritas Internationalis has launched an international campaign with its
regional partners in the Middle East to pressure the international
community to act decisively to bring the nearly five-year-old civil war
in Syria to an end.
The General Secretary of Caritas Internationalis, Michel Roy, told us
there is real danger of losing sight of the terrible human toll of the
Caritas Internationalis, together with its colleagues, all agree that
Syria is at the heart of a geo-political struggle in which the Syrian
people "count for nothing."
"When we met last September we agreed to ask the international
community to seek peace," Roy said. "The problem is that the
international community will talk about peace but will not include
Assad in its talks. This means, according to Roy, that "we go on with
Caritas Internationalis therefore decided to launch a campaign for
peace in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East so as to exert pressure on the
governments there and around to the world to make sincere, inclusive
efforts at a workable peace process. The objective is to overcome
international indifference toward the Syrian people. "After five
years," says Roy, "war in Syria has become normal."
DISTURBING VIDEO: Syrian civilians 'starving to death' - BBC News
Starvation in Syria: People in Town Under Siege Eating Leaves and Grass
'Our life was catastrophic': Innocent Syrians trapped in war tragically forced to eat cats and dogs during food shortage
Aid Workers Report 'Barely Moving Skeletons' in Syria's Madaya
AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED DONATION LINK: Baskets of Hope
of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 2- "On Detachment"
4. Let us listen to what the Lord said to the young
man who had fulfilled nearly all the commandments: 'One thing though lackest:
sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor and become a beggar who
receives alms from others'.
January 10, 2016
REFLECTIONS ON THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD
Fr. Jerry M. Orbos SVD:
By virtue of our baptism, we become sons and daughters of God, and
become members of the Church. As sons and daughters of God, we are
supposed to be like Him in our thoughts, words and deeds, and make Him
real and present by our very lives. As members of the Church, we must
not become delinquent members or mere bystanders. We must get involved,
and we must share and spread our faith to others. Our being sons or
daughters of God is not just a gift but also a responsibility. Our
Church membership is neither exclusive nor merely for decoration
EXCERPT TIMES OF MALTA: Contagious spirit
The dramatic challenges facing the world call on the Church and on
believers to wake up and ask how God is at work loving the world in
these times. In the wake of the elapsed festive season we need to avoid
the trap of idealist pictures of the Church and instead seek to
understand its concrete reality in communion with the world God loves.
The account of Jesus in today’s gospel joining the queue to be baptised
by John is not in the first place, as very often we recall, a gesture
of humility. It is rather indicative of the way God involves Himself in
the world and with the world to be with people wherever they may be.
With the baptism of Jesus there is discontinuity from the baptism of
John. In fact, the gospel says: “Heaven opened and the Holy Spirit
descended on him in bodily shape”. John’s baptism was linked to a
judgment that was imminent, while the baptism of Jesus was one meant to
fill the heart of people with joy.
As we explore the significance of baptism on the feast of the baptism
of the Lord, there are forgotten truths we have to recall and painful
truths we have to acknowledge. Jesus is the one who instils in us the
powerful apostolic genius that carries the movement of his Church and
gives it life, making it innovative and creative. But, standing by our
practices, baptism has practically got nothing to do with this
Jesus’ last words to his disciples in the gospel were his commission to
preach and baptise. The Greek word baptizo means ‘to immerse’, commonly
used to describe a garment being dyed, rather than just pouring or
sprinkling water. It means being completely submerged. We no longer
seem to immerse people, not just because we interrupted the original
ritual of immersing people fully in water, but also in the sense that
we are taking baptism too superficially.
What has made things worse is that we impoverished the reality and
meaning of baptism by reducing it to a ritual that cancels what we were
taught – that we inherit ‘original sin’ by virtue of our being born
humans. So with time, we actually reversed the richness of immersion,
making baptism something akin to the Old Testament practice of
circumcision done to infants shortly after birth.
Baptism should first and foremost refresh in us today the way the
Church, as an organic body rather than an organisation, grows and
spreads. Baptism is at the heart of discipleship, which is what
Christian life is about. The ‘feeling of expectancy’, which in the
gospel is said to have characterised the people at the time of John the
Baptist, is the same feeling that characterises our times. But in a
quite different sense.
Today, many have high expectations from what we proclaim in faith. If
we do not upgrade our practices, if we fail to rise to today’s
situations and challenges, then we are in for more and more illusions.
In the presence of Jesus, John the Baptist declared his baptism
outdated, and pointed to the one who “will baptise you with the Holy
Spirit and fire”.
Standing by the recent study of the status of Christianity in our
islands published with the title Enigmatic Faith, the data collected
and studied on the degree to which people practise their religion can
be very telling from a records perspective. But what is the real impact
of that on the life of the Church and on of the country?
The Church can make incremental shifts in its struggle to win back the
disenchanted. But the issue today is more about becoming healthier,
about really being empowered as a Church, in the words of the prophet
Isaiah, to be a joyful messenger on a high mountain, to let the glory
of the Lord transpire from what we stand for.
On the Baptism of Christ (Gregory of Nyssa)
The Church Fathers Reflect on Jesus and the Holy Spirit: The Theophany After the Baptism of the Lord
Fr. George W. Rutler:
John the Baptist was bewildered when his cousin who was sinless asked
to be baptized. John said it should be the other way around. According
to human logic, he was right, but Jesus came into time to turn the
whole world around. This was to “fulfill all righteousness,” which
means he who “takes away the sin of the world” plunges into the
water with sinners, just as his divine nature plunged into history with
a human nature, the two being perfectly united yet not compromising
each other. The water was a symbol, but the divine intention was a
fact. Long before, Naaman could not understand why he had to make a
long trip from Damascus to wash in the Jordan when there were better
rivers back home. He learned that what cured him was his obedience to
The Holy Spirit came down on Christ
“like a dove.” Artists portray this as best they can, but one can get
the impression that the Holy Spirit actually was a bird. That he “came
down like a dove” explains that the divine love between the Father and
the Son made this the moment that the Son accepted the commission to
save the world. Immediately after the Baptism, Christ went into the
desert to challenge the Anti-Christ. In January of 2014, our Pope had
two children release doves from his window, and immediately they were
attacked by a large crow and a seagull. Feathers flew and no one knows
where the doves went, but the image of one white dove struggling
against the black crow was worthy of an icon, and it is in fact
replicated in all the “hours, days, years, centuries” of human
existence. Baptism begins a fight, but it is a good fight. Chesterton
said: “I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.”
of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 2- "On Detachment"
3. After our renunciation of the world, the demons
suggest to us that we should envy those living in the world who give alms
and console [the needy], and be sorry for ourselves as deprived of these
virtues. The aim of our foes is, by false humility, either to make us return
to the world, or, if we remain monks, to plunge us into despair. It is
possible to belittle those living in the world out of conceit; and it is
also possible to disparage them behind their backs in order to avoid despair
and to obtain hope.
Dr. Zambrano Home
2000: Bringing the World to Jesus
Tribulation Times Archives:
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