Keep your eyes open!...


July 31, 2007  

(Mat 10:22) And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.


Baghdad's Church leaders have joined forces in a desperate bid to protect their people from persecution – according to a bishop who has dared to speak out on the growing crisis engulfing the city’s Christians. Amid signs of worsening oppression against Baghdad’s Christian community, Bishop Andeas Abouna said Church leaders from a number of different rites were now rolling out plans to find the faithful homes in safe places away from known hot-spots of extremism.

Speaking during a visit to London, the Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad said that his Chaldean community had linked up with Syriac Catholic and Armenian hierarchy in a rescue mission for thousands of displaced people. During the interview, given to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Abouna said: “It is not easy for our people – they are in need of everything. The Church is helping in any way it can.” Describing the co-operation between the bishops as unprecedented, Bishop Abouna said the initiative was aimed at providing housing and emergency aid for more than 6,000 Christians forced onto the streets and in grave risk of kidnap or murder in a country with huge security problems.

He explained that the Christians had sought sanctuary in central Baghdad’s Al Jadida region having escaped Al Dora, in south west Baghdad, where militant Muslims had put an ultimatum to Christians demanding that they convert to Islam or face eviction from their homes.

The crisis, he said, explained why the exodus of Christians from Baghdad and other parts of Iraq was still high. He said the mass movement of people meant reliable statistics were no longer available. Reports show at least half of the 1.2 million Christians in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein have now fled their homes.

The bishop described how the high risk of kidnappings and killings meant people were afraid to leave their homes. But determined to strike a positive note, the bishop went on: “This is not the first time Christians in the ancient land of Mesopotamia have suffered. Despite all the difficulties of the past, Christians somehow remained in our country.”

He described making morale-boosting pastoral visits to Mansour, the region of south-west Baghdad where he is based. “The families are very sad and upset,” he said. “They were promised freedom and democracy but nothing like that is happening.” The bishop said: “In spite of the situation, we still hope that peace will come.”

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

48. Syncletica of blessed memory said, 'A ship cannot be built without nails and no one can be saved without humility.'

July 26, 2007


(Luke 11:11-13) And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? Or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him? 

Reflection by Father Ted – July 23, 2007

My dearest Lord Jesus, in this coming Sunday’s Gospel, You exhort us not only to pray to the Father, but to pray to Him in a very special way. You want us to ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

You want us to receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness, just as You did on the day that You were baptized by Your cousin John in the Jordan River.

You want us to receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness, just as You and Your Father sent Him to Your disciples – united with Mary – on Pentecost.

You want us to receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness so that He will teach us everything that You taught Your disciples – especially the Apostles – during Your Public Life.

You want us to receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness so that we can perfectly love God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength.

You want us to receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness so that we can truly love one another as You love each one of us.

You want us to receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness so that each day we can know what the Father wants us to do; so that we can do what the Father wants us to do; so that we will do what the Father wants us to do in the way that He wants us to do His Will.

You want us to receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness so that we can truly imitate You and can truly imitate Your Mother, our Mother.

So my dearest Jesus, this evening, on this feast of Saint Bridget of Sweden, I ask the Father to give to me the Holy Spirit.

I need the Holy Spirit.

I want the Holy Spirit.

Father, Holy Father, send Your Holy Spirit upon me. Enkindle within me the fire of Your Divine Love. Teach me what You want me to do – in the way that You want me to do everything.

I need Your Holy Spirit.

Teach me, through the Holy Spirit, how to use the gifts – both natural and supernatural – that You have given to me.

Teach me, through the Holy Spirit, to know myself better – especially my weaknesses.

For only when I know my weaknesses, only when I know the depth of Your love for me, will I be able to ask You for the help of the Holy Spirit to resist the numerous temptations that I experience – and with His help, will I be able to resist these numerous temptations – and thereby grow in virtue and become the saint that You desire me to be.

Thank You Jesus for exhorting me to ask the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You Father for having sent to me in the past the Holy Spirit.

Thank You Holy Spirit for coming to me – for enkindling within me the fire of Your Divine Love – for enabling me to do the Will of the Father.

All glory and praise to the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – now and forever. Amen.

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

45. The same brother asked him, 'Do you think Satan persecuted the men of old as he persecutes us?' Sisois said, 'More, for now his doom has drawn nearer, and he is weakened.'"

July 26, 2007

(Mat 5:48) Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.


You Must Really Desire Perfection!
By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

Why do most Christians fail to achieve familiar friendship with our Blessed Lord? I think the answer is obvious. They never effectively desire it. Desire is always the first movement of the soul towards union with God. The desire for Christian perfection is a movement of our wills, spurred on by the grace of God, causing us to seek union with Him. This desire should be fervent and constant.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint John, we read an incident that traces the beginnings of this desire for perfection...

John and Andrew, those young Galilean fishermen, often slipped away from their nets to listen to the preaching of John the Baptist. One day, following on of the Baptist's stirring talks, a young stranger passed by. The Precursor looked up and said: "Behold, the Lamb of God." His words pierced the heart of John like a fiery dart, but he did nothing.

The next day the incident was repeated. On both occasions the stranger had said nothing; but this time, John and Andrew stumbled after Him. After a short distance, the stranger turned about: "Whom do you seek?" Like youngsters caught tin a childish prank, they muttered: "Master, where dost thou dwell?" Our Blessed Lord-for He was the stranger-answered: "Come and see."

Our Blessed Lord "looks" upon every soul-and this look is a grace-filled invitation to follow Him. Unfortunately, not every soul imitates John and Andrew. They hesitate-or they refuse the invitation. Thus, they neglect to stir up their desire for the perfection of their Heavenly Father.

Studying this Gospel incident, we find three stages in the Apostles' following of Christ:

The first was their discovery of Christ. It is true that the Prophet John pointed out this divine model of perfection. But not before John and Andrew had placed themselves in the occasion of grace by listening to the Baptist's words so filled with unction and inspiration. Most people fail to make real spiritual progress because they fail to place themselves in the occasions of grace. Prayerfully to meditate on a life of Christ, or to read the Gospels with simplicity and piety is always such and occasion.

The second stage is to take the first steps. Many souls thrill at the beauty of Christ. Their first realization of the attractiveness of His Personality awakens a desire in their hearts to follow Him. But they neglect to fan the sparks of their desire into the fires of fervor. They fear the difficulties, or are unwilling to pay the price of the effort involved.

The final stage is to "go and see" what God is like. John and Andrew spent that entire day in the company of Christ. Later on, they dedicated their whole lives to Him. They teach us that the quest for God takes constant and energetic effort. We need more than a wishy-washy hope of union with God; we must be willing to bulldoze away any obstacle that stands in the way of its fulfillment.

Saint Teresa of Avila for years had led a mediocre life in the convent as she served God only half-heartedly. Only when she took the plunge and broke with her attachments did she begin to make progress. She wrote from her own experience when she said: "Let us believe that with the divine help and our own efforts we, too, can in the course of time obtain what many saints aided by God finally obtained."

Remember, your will is the master of your destiny and nothing worthwhile in this life is ever achieved unless it is at first willed. God's love will draw you, and His grace will carry you on, but never against your own will. Like John and Andrew, you have to discover Christ-then take the first steps-and finally "go and see" what your God is like. He'll be waiting to teach you!

In fact, He will even accompany you!

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

44. 'A brother once came to Sisois on the mountain of Antony, and as they were talking he said to Sisois, 'Have you reached the stature of Antony yet, abba?' He answered, 'If I had a single thought like Antony, I should leap toward heaven like a flame. But I know myself to be someone who can only with an effort keep his thoughts in check.'

July 25, 2007

(Act 19:13-17) Now some also of the Jewish exorcists, who went about, attempted to invoke over them that had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying: I conjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth. And there were certain men, seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, that did this. But the wicked spirit, answering, said to them: Jesus I know: and Paul I know. But who are you? And the man in whom the wicked spirit was, leaping upon them and mastering them both, prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the Jews and the Gentiles that dwelt a Ephesus. And fear fell on them all: and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 


The coordinator of exorcists of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Pedro Mendoza, criticized the skepticism of some priests about the existence of the Devil and said that although there are not many cases of possession, there are many who suffer from demonic attraction, which is the result of man’s estrangement from God.

At the conclusion of the 3rd National Congress of Exorcists, Father Mendoza warned that those who do not believe in the existence of the Devil forget that it is a dogma of the faith, “no matter how much they want to explain (these phenomenon) as psychological or something else.”

Speaking to reporters, Father Mendoza said there are seven exorcists in the archdiocese and that the number is low because of the few cases of possession. But, he warned, there are many cases of individuals who suffer from demonic attraction as a result of estrangement from the faith, “which leads them to be interested in magic, witchcraft, spells, horoscopes and even death, and priests are not helping them because they don’t know how.”

He said the congress was a success as bishops were encouraged to address this issue in seminaries and thus train more priests to be exorcists.

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

42. 'Once Theophilus of holy memory, the archbishop of Alexandria, came to Scetis. The brothers gathered together and said to Pambo, 'Speak to the bishop, that he may be edified.' Pambo replied, 'If he is not edified by my silence, my speech certainly will not edify him."'

July 24, 2007

(Mat 9:36-38) And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd. Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.


While on retreat at his California seminary, Shawn Carey found himself in a bind when the leader turned on some music. "Please focus on the music," the leader instructed, "and think about what words in the music impact you."

Carey's face crumples in a mock cry at the memory. "How? How?" he pleads, using sign language interpreted by the Rev. Jeremy St. Martin, director of Deaf Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Boston. "That bothered me a lot."

It was a rare instance of his disability (that's society's word; Carey calls it a gift from God) impeding his worship. Deaf from birth, cocooned in eternal silence, Carey may not be able to savor the majestic hymns that his fellow Catholics raise to their God. Instead, he taps into inaudible pathways to the divine.

"The deaf, we're very visual people," said the 34-year-old seminarian. "We depend on [vision] for learning; we can't hear. Whenever I see the Blessed Sacrament at adoration, the Eucharist, I see Christ there. I use visual imagination [to see] how Christ suffered and died. There's a picture inside my brain, like a movie. That's my spirituality. That's how I communicate with God."

The thought of becoming a priest first flickered for Carey when he was a freshman in his Catholic high school, when one of his teachers, who was a priest, impressed him.

That interest subsided for a time, as he took a job after college with an investment firm. He enjoyed the job but felt he was held back, perhaps unintentionally, for his deafness. "It's hard to receive a promotion," he said. He was told that his inability to participate in phone calls was an issue.

More important, he said, "the hound of heaven was following me." (The reference is to a poem by Francis Thompson: "I fled him, down the nights and down the days . . . From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.")


The number of priests in the United States has shrunk considerably since the 1960s, and young priests are increasingly hard to come by.

One young North Carolina man, however, has impressed his elders with his devotion to his faith. Michael Burbeck, 23, begins six years of training next month to become a Catholic priest, The Raleigh News & Observer reported Sunday.

Unlike many priests, Burbeck will be only 29 when he is ordained. Church authorities say that in a culture that promotes material possessions, sex and self-promotion young people are increasingly turned off by the relatively quiet life of the priesthood.

In the United States, the number of priests has shrunk from 58,632 in 1965 to 41,794, the News & Observer said. Bishops are struggling to recruit priests -- particularly young men -- and several parishes have had to close.

Meanwhile, the Catholic population burgeons.

MORE: Boston Catholic Archdiocese facing priest shortage

RESOLUTIONS FROM ANNUAL CONVOCATION: Confraternity of Catholic Clergy press release

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

41. 'They said of Poemen that he never wanted to cap the saying of others, but always praised what had been said.'

July 21, 2007


(Heb 10:23-25)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised): And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed: but comforting one anther, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.


In the discussion over Pope Benedict XVI's liberalization of the rules permitting the celebration of the "old Mass," i.e., the form of the Mass celebrated before - and during - Vatican II, much has been made of its goal of reunifying Traditionalist groups with the Catholic Church.

What's been overlooked is the extent to which the Holy Father hopes this liberalization will reform the celebration of the "new Mass" that followed, but is distinct from, Vatican II. As Benedict writes in the letter announcing the change, "in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear."

Those "deformations" undoubtedly contributed to plummeting rates of Mass attendance. From a high of 75 percent of Catholics in the early 1960s, attendance rates have sunk to a national average of around 25 percent.

In defiance of the decrees of Vatican II, which call for solemnity-inspiring things like the retention of Latin and the singing of Gregorian Chant, celebrations of the new form of the Mass have all too often become lazy, careless affairs subject to the whims of local worship committees.

Benedict seeks something better. "The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI [the new form of the Mass] will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage."

In other words, exposure to the dignity, solemnity and contemplation that characterize the "old" form of the Mass might inspire similar sensibilities in the celebration of the new.

What can be done to encourage these sensibilities? Benedict reminds pastors and those charged with the celebration of Mass that "[t]he most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."

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

40. Joseph told this story:  Once when we were sitting with Poemen, he talked about 'abba' Agatho.  We said to him: 'He is a young man, why do you call him abba?'  Poemen said, 'His speech is such that we must call him "abba".'

July 20, 2007

(Rev 12:12-13) Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell therein. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child.


He refused to leave Baghdad, even after the day last year when masked Sunni gunmen forced him and eight co-workers to line up against a wall and said, "Say your prayers." An Assyrian Christian, Rayid Albert closed his eyes and prayed to Jesus as the killers opened fire. He alone survived, shot seven times. But a month ago a note was left at his front door, warning, "You have three choices: change your religion, leave or pay the jeziya"--a tax on Christians levied by ancient Islamic rulers. It was signed "The Islamic Emirate of Iraq," a Qaeda pseudonym. That was the day Albert decided to get out immediately. He and the other 10 members of his household are now living as refugees in Kurdistan.

Across the lands of the Bible, Christians like Albert and his family are abandoning their homes. According to the World Council of Churches, the region's Christian population has plunged from 12 million to 2 million in the past 10 years. Lebanon, until recently a majority Christian country--the only one in the Mideast--has become two-thirds Muslim. The Greek Orthodox archbishop in Jerusalem, where only 12,000 Christians remain, is pleading with his followers not to leave. "We have to persevere," says Theodosios Atallah Hanna. "How can the land of Jesus Christ stay without Christians?" The proportion of Christians in Bethlehem, once 85 percent, is now 20 percent. Egypt's Coptic Christians, who trace the roots of their faith back to Saint Mark's preaching in the first century, used to account for 10 percent of their country's population. Now they've dwindled to an estimated 6 percent. "The flight of Christians out of these areas is similar to the hunt for Jews," says Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-Italian author and expert on Islam, himself a Muslim. "There is no better example of what will happen if this human tragedy in the Arab-Muslim world is allowed to continue."

Nowhere is the exodus more extreme than in Iraq. Before the war, members of the Assyrian and Chaldean rites, along with smaller numbers of Armenians and others, constituted roughly 1.2 million of the country's 25 million people. Most sources agree that well over half of those Christians have fled the country now, and many or most of the rest have been internally displaced, but some estimates are far more drastic. According to the Roman Catholic relief organization Caritas, the number of Christians in Iraq had plummeted to 25,000 by last year. Of the 1.7 million Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria, half are Christians, says Father Raymond Moussalli, a Chaldean vicar who now says mass every night in a basement in Amman. "The government of Saddam used to protect us," he says. "Mr. Bush doesn't protect us. The Shia don't protect us. No Christian was persecuted under Saddam for being Christian."

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Ahmadinejad: It will be a 'hot' summer

It's going to be a "hot" summer in the Middle East, said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following a surprise meeting with Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in Damascus on Thursday evening, Channel 10 reported.

Nasrallah allegedly entered Syria via an underground tunnel, the television channel said.

"We hope that the hot weather of this summer will coincide with similar victories for the region's peoples, and with consequent defeat for the region's enemies," Ahmadinejad added, in an apparent reference to Israel.

During his one-day trip to Damascus, Ahmadinejad held talks with counterpart Bashar Assad which focused on the Iraq situation, Palestinian territories and Lebanon, where both Teheran and Damascus wield influence.

"The enemies of the region should abandon plans to attack the interests of this region, or they would be burned by the wrath of the region's peoples," the hardline Iranian leader said at a joint press conference with Assad.

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

39. 'He also said, 'Once when the monks were sitting down to eat, Alonius stood and waited on them: and when they saw it, they praised him.  But he said not a word.  So one of them whispered to him, "Why do you not answer when the brothers praise you?"  Alonius said, "If I answer them, I will be pleased that I have been praised."'

July 18, 2007

(Mat 18:6) But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.


With the historic $660 million settlement Monday ending the clergy sexual-abuse scandal against the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese, attention turned to the future of the central figure in the case - a man who never molested children nor was charged with a crime.

But Cardinal Roger Mahony may forever be linked to the scandal, which he tried to cover up by first transferring known molesters from parish to parish, then fighting prosecutors - all the way to the Supreme Court - to keep church records of the abuse a secret.

For several years, Los Angeles businessman Armando Soto Mayor has kept a watchful eye over the church's pedophile-priest revelations for deep personal reasons. He was an altar boy and considered becoming a priest. Now, the man whose family has been part of the Catholic Church for centuries refuses to have his 1-year-old son baptized.

"A person who abuses a child is sick," he said. "However, the man who covers it up is a criminal. ... That's why I believe that Cardinal Mahony is the worst thing that could have happened to the Catholic Church.

"Cardinal Mahony's legacy? He has no legacy."

It's a question that, with the litigation finally over, is now up for debate in ongoing assessments of Mahony's administration as the fourth archbishop of Los Angeles - a period of record growth in the country's largest archdiocese but also an era marked by one of the ugliest chapters in the church's long history.

With the scandal now a stain on his record, is there time for the 71-year-old cardinal to carve out a new legacy and does he have time to silence his critics? Or, perhaps the more pressing question is, should he resign?

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

38. He also said, 'If a man stays in his own place, he will not be troubled.'

July 14, 2007   



Comportment at Holy Mass and Afterwards A Letter from St. Padre Pio to Annita Rodote Pietrelcina, July 25, 1915
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In Memory of His Holiness Pope John Paul II

Reflection by Father Ted – July 6, 2007

My dearest Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Saint Maria Goretti and through the intercession of Saint Dominic Savio, I ask You to help our children and our youth to be pure and to be holy.

You know them and You love them. You created them in Your image and likeness. You want them to be like You.

You gave to us the privilege and the responsibility to teach them how to know You and how to love You as well as how to receive Your love.

You gave to us this privilege and responsibility just as You gave to the parents and clergy of Maria Goretti and Dominic Savio this privilege and responsibility.

The parents and the priests of these two children did teach them.

By their example they taught them.

Both of these youngsters responded to what their elders taught them.

They knew You and they loved You – just as they knew and loved Your Father and Your Holy Spirit.

But do our children and our youth know You?

Do our children and our youth love You?

Would that they did!

Lord Jesus, help us now to teach them – so that they, like Maria Goretti and like Dominic Savio, will become the holy children, the happy children, the joyful children and youths that You desire them to be.

Today, so many of them are victims of the seductive influences of our hedonistic society.

They do not know how to resist the false allurements of our pagan world.

So many of them are falling into these traps because no one, or should I say, hardly no one is there to warn them and to show them how to resist these destructive life-styles.

Oh Jesus, encourage us to show them how to live Your joy-filled and peaceful life.

Make us the witnesses to them of the peace of being a child of God.

May we pray for them and sacrifice for them so that they will respond to Your love and to Your call – to become like Maria and Dominic saints.

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for them. Saint Dominic Savio, pray for them.

All you holy ones in heaven, pray for them – now and at the hour of their deaths.

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

37. He also said, 'Humility is the ground on which the Lord ordered the sacrifice to be offered.'

July 13, 2007

(John 15:20) Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep yours also.

VIA Denver Catholic Register:

Martyrdom and the Christian future in Iraq By George Weigel

In early June, I received a forwarded e-mail from a correspondent who’s done several tours in Iraq. He, in turn, had just heard from an Iraqi fellow-Catholic, a former translator for U.S. forces there, of the death of Father Raheed Ganni. The broken English of the Iraqi’s e-mail conveys the force of the scene better than I ever could:

“Today 3 June, Sunday morning and after he did Sunday service in his church (The Holy Spirit) in Al-Nour neighborhood in Mosul, and while he and three of the [deacons] of his church were leaving the church, stooped them a group of criminals of the Jehadists of Muslims extremist who call themselves members of Iraqi Islamic State and very close to the church, because they were waiting them outside the church and asked them to get out of the car and at the wall of the church they shooted them and kill all them, in the same time they planted some IEDs close to their dead bodies to make more hurt and damage happen when peoples come to evacuate them. Their dead bodies stayed out side the church many hours in the street...Actually I know this priest since 2 years ago. He is a very nice guy, respectable man, kind, love the others, always like visit and help the poor peoples. After his graduation from Rome, he was able to find him a church outside Iraq and stay there to do service for the expatriate of Iraqis, but he preferred to come back to Iraq to serve his own peoples. He was always praying to stop this violence in Iraq. I ask God the mercy for him and for the other martyrs.” 

Subsequent traffic on the Catholic Internet circuit revealed a remarkable man. At his ordination in 2004, Father Raheed had evidently told a friend that he didn’t expect to live more than two more years; God gave him three. Father Raheed was martyred soon after receiving word that he had been accepted for doctoral studies in Rome, and as suggested above, his death had a biblical aura to it: like great Christian witnesses in the Book of Revelation, Father Raheed Ganni’s body and the bodies of his three deacon-companions were left in the street, unattended, until the IEDs could be disarmed and the remains of the saints taken into Father Raheed’s church.

I say “saints” with confidence, for there is no doubt that Father Raheed Ganni and his deacons are martyrs, killed “in hatred of the faith” by the haters who have created the current chaos in parts of long-suffering Iraq. We may, rightly, rejoice at the triumph of the martyrs. But we must also ask, now what?

The Holy See’s opposition to the use of force in Iraq in March 2003 is well known. Perhaps less well known is the widespread conviction in the Vatican today that a precipitous American withdrawal from Iraq would be the worst possible option from every point of view, including that of morality. Senior officials of the Holy See with whom I discussed the issue in May share the view of American analysts who are convinced that a premature American disengagement from Iraq would lead to genocidal violence, Iraq’s collapse into a failed state, chaos throughout the Middle East, and a new haven for international terrorists. That all of this would make life intolerable for Iraq’s remaining Christians is pluperfectly obvious.

The question of Iraq’s Christians was discussed during June 9 meetings involving President Bush, Pope Benedict, and senior Vatican diplomatic officials. U.S. Catholics and all those committed to religious liberty must urge the U.S. government to bring every possible lever into play to ensure that the Maliki government in Iraq takes seriously the religious freedom provisions of Iraq’s democratically ratified constitution, and moves to redress the plight of Chaldean Catholics and other Iraqi Christians who, too often, are being given three unacceptable choices: convert to Islam; face sometimes-lethal pressures to convert; or emigrate.

May the intercession of Father Raheed Ganni and his Companions hasten the day of peace with freedom and justice in Iraq.


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

36. He also said, 'A brother asked Alonius, "What is humility?" The hermit said, "to be lower than brute beasts and to know that they are not condemned."'

July 11, 2007   

(Eph 4:1-6) I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called: With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.


VATICAN CITY (CNS). In a brief document, the Vatican's doctrinal congregation reaffirmed that the Catholic Church is the one, true church, even if elements of truth can be found in separated churches and communities.

Touching an ecumenical sore point, the document said some of the separated Christian communities, such as Protestant communities, should not properly be called "churches" according to Catholic doctrine because of major differences over the ordained priesthood and the Eucharist.

The Vatican released the text July 10. Titled "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church," it was signed by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and approved by Pope Benedict XVI before publication.

In a cover letter, Cardinal Levada asked the world's bishops to do all they can to promote and present the document to the wider public.

The text was the latest chapter in a long-simmering discussion on what the Second Vatican Council intended when it stated that the church founded by Christ "subsists in the Catholic Church," but that elements of "sanctification and truth" are found outside the Catholic Church's visible confines.

The related discussion over the term "churches" surfaced publicly in 2000, when the doctrinal congregation -- then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict -- said the term "sister churches" was being misused in ecumenical dialogue.

In a format of five questions and answers, the new document stated that Vatican II did not change Catholic doctrine on the church. It said use of the phrase "subsists in" was intended to show that all the elements instituted by Christ endure in the Catholic Church.

The sanctifying elements that exist outside the structure of the Catholic Church can be used as instruments of salvation, but their value derives from the "fullness of grace and truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church," it said, quoting from Vatican II's "Decree on Ecumenism."

COMMENTARY BY Sandro Magister:

COMMENTARY VIA CATHOLICNEWSAGENCY: Reaffirmation of doctrine on salvation in the Church related to St. Pius X Society?


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

35. He also said, 'Do not be proud of yourself, but stay with anyone who is living a good life.'

July 10, 2007   


The Pope’s Liturgical Liberalism 
By Richard John Neuhaus  

One of the more deft moves in Benedict’s apostolic letter motu proprio, titled “Summorum Pontificum,” is in referring to the 1962 form of the Roman Rite as the Mass of Blessed John XXIII. It is not the Tridentine Mass or the Mass of Pius V but the Mass of John XXIII. It is the form of the Mass that was celebrated daily at the Second Vatican Council.

Benedict notes that, over the many centuries of the Roman Rite, popes have from time to time made modest changes. Pius V did so in 1570, John XXIII did so in 1962, and Paul VI did so in 1970, the last producing what is called the Novus Ordo. Benedict notes that John Paul II also made small but important emendations regarding references to the Jews in the Good Friday Liturgy. (More on that below.)

By associating the Latin Mass that is now universally approved with John XXIII, Benedict steals a card from the deck of liberals and progressives, for whom John XXIII is always “good Pope John,” in contrast to his successors. But this is much more than a deft rhetorical move. “Summorum Pontificum” is a thoroughly liberal document in substance and spirit, remembering that liberal means, as once was more commonly understood, generosity of spirit. 

In his letter to the bishops, Benedict is directing them to be generous in embracing the fullness of the Catholic tradition and responding to the desires of the Catholic faithful. This is proposed in contrast to the rigidity, bordering sometimes on tyranny, of a liturgical guild that mistakenly thought that the Second Vatican Council gave them a mandate to impose their ideas of liturgical reform on the entire Church.

ENTIRE ESSAY (highly recommended!):

TRADITIONALIST BLOG COMMENTS: Dear Priests of the entire world, cherish and make full and good use of this document: it is not the property of "estranged minorities"; it is not the domain of "nostalgic clerics"; it belongs to all of you, it is your charter of liturgical freedom.

VIA INSIDE THE VATICAN: "Not a Rejection of the Council"

VIA CNS: At a glance: Differences between Tridentine Mass, Mass said today



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

34. He also said, 'The tools of the soul are these: to cast oneself down in God's sight; not to lift oneself up; and to put self-will behind one.'
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