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May 31, 2001


The current unilateral cease-fire cannot continue indefinitely, and if Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat does not take this opportunity to stop the violence, Israel's next step will likely be to go to war to wipe out the military and terror infrastructure in the PA, Housing Minister Natan Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post yesterday.

"I think that for many years we have made great efforts to turn Arafat into a partner," Sharansky said. "I think now we are at the end of the road; it is the last chance for Arafat to prove that he can still be a partner. I don't have a lot of hope. At some point we have to be willing to say we did not succeed, he is not willing to be our partner. Then you have to know how to fight and defend your people."

Asked if this means that if Arafat does not join the cease-fire, Israel should go to war against the PA, Sharansky replied: "What does that mean, to initiate a war? We are in a war, no? We are in a war where we are not using our strength. Everyday our people are being killed. I am not saying to reconquer Gaza, but we need to fight with all the strength we have against the terror infrastructure."


Pope Sends Envoys on Middle East Peace Mission
Cardinals Call for Peace in the Holy Land
Muslim states take stand against Israel
Egypt Says Israel Deceiving World with Cease-Fire
Saddam Wishes He Could Join Palestinian Revolt
Report: Sharon warns Assad against attack

FROM THE MAILBAG VIA Barbara Richmond:


In a phone call last night from a close friend in Israel who holds a position in the Sharon government, comes this message to all of you. He said: "Please thank all of those who are praying for us in this time. No one will ever know how many hundreds of lives have been saved especially in the last few weeks and we know it is because G'd is doing miracles for us. Miracles still happen because Hashem (the Lord) keeps His covenant with us and because so many Christians are praying for us. We know this. Please tell them for me, Thank You, and please don't stop praying."

He told me that certain terrorist attacks that would have been "devastating in their proportions" have been thwarted and most of this is not reported in the news anywhere for security reasons but that he wanted the Christians who were praying to know that their prayers were being answered. SO....brothers and sisters, be encouraged that your intercession is of great value and please continue. May the Lord be praised for His grace and intervention!

Shalom, Barbara (

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please join me in praying also for the Palestinians, particularly Palestinian Christians, who are caught in the crossfire of this "unholy" war.

(Psa 122:6)  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love you be secure.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

99. When the man of God has conquered almost all the passions, there remain two demons that still fight against him. The first troubles the soul by diverting it from its great love of God into a misplaced zeal, so that it does not want any other soul to be as pleasing to God as itself. The second demon inflames the body with sexual lust. This happens to the body in the first place because pleasure with a view to procreation is something natural ans so it easily overcomes us; and in the second place it happens because God allows it. When the Lord sees an ascetic maturing in all the virtues, He sometimes allows him to be difiled by this sort of demon, so that the ascetic will regard himself as lower than those living in the world.

May 30, 2001

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


The 1995 encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" formally confirmed the Church´s resistence to the use of the death penalty. In No. 56 of the document John Paul II observed the growing tendency to limit or abolish the death penalty.

The encyclical did not declare that capital punishment in itself is unacceptable. However it is seen as an extreme measure that should not be done except "in cases of absolute necessity." This would be the case when it is impossible to defend society without putting the prisoner to death, the Pope explained. But these cases, he noted, "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church was amended to take into account the Pope´s words. No. 2267 now includes the teaching of "Evangelium Vitae" and explains that while the Church does not absolutely exclude the death penalty, non-lethal means are preferred when they are sufficient to defend people´s safety.

Since the publication of the encyclical, John Paul II has repeatedly called for an end to the death penalty. He has also sent numerous messages to U.S. governors calling for clemency to be exercised. In January 1999, during his visit to St. Louis, Missouri, the Pope appealed for an end to the death penalty, saying it was "both cruel and unnecessary."

Three Saudis executed for rape, armed robberies
Teen-ager executed in Iran for murder
Four Men Found Guilty of U.S. Embassy Bombings


Poland's Roman Catholic Church was taking an important step to improve relations with the Jewish community Sunday by apologizing for the Poles who took part in a massacre of up to 1,600 Jews during World War Two. The 1941 massacre in the town of Jedwabne came to prominence last year with the publication of "Neighbors," a book by emigre scholar Jan Gross, who alleged that Poles, not occupying Nazi Germans, had brutally murdered Jews and taken their possessions.

"We wish to apologize above all to God, but also to the wronged, on behalf of those Polish citizens who committed evil against citizens of the Mosaic faith," Polish Primate Jozef Glemp said in an interview in the Catholic weekly Niedziela. An expiation service being held in Warsaw's biggest church, near the site of the former Jewish Ghetto, was to include a prayer by Polish-born Pope John Paul, a champion of Christian-Jewish reconciliation.

(Mat 5:25-26)  "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

98 (cont.). Troops protected by armour, when attacked by adversaries with bows and arrows, hear the twang of the bow and actually see most of the missiles that are shot at them; yet they are not wounded, because of the strength of their armour. Just as they are undefeated because they are protected by iron, so we can break through the black ranks of the demons if, because of our good works, we are protected by the armour of divine light and the helmet of salvation. For it is not only to cease from evil that brings purity, but actively to destroy evil by pursuing what is good.

May 29, 2001


A report on Mother Teresa will be submitted to the Vatican in August to decide on the beatification of the nun who died in 1997 after years of service to the poor, an Indian archbishop said Monday.

The Diocesan Commission was set up in July 1999 after Pope John Paul granted a special dispensation to put the nun of Albanian descent on the fast track to sainthood in response to requests from Roman Catholic bishops around the world.


Some comments have to be added to that statement by the Supreme Court Justice, saying that one has to be a fool to believe in traditional Christianity (saying this as the world perceives us). If it were true, absolutely speaking, that Christians were "cretins," people who were a little warped and strange, as modern sophisticated society sees us, that would be a legitimate reason to avoid Christianity. In fact, it is the perception that Christianity is different from what is normal and natural, which constitutes a stumbling block for people to accept Christianity.

This perception, by the modern world, is based on the fact that the modern world has an erroneous attitude and view of reality. What the Gospels call the "world," which is antagonistic to Christian values, is the belief that man's basic purpose in life is to acquire pleasure, status, power, and material possessions. You are only good to others so that others will be good to you. The basic premise is gain for the self. With worldlings, pride has a large sway, but they have become so skilled in the prudence of the world, that part of the deal they make with other worldlings, is that they can allow their pride to express itself in a certain way, and the others won't be offended if these others are allowed to express their pride in a given way. The code as to what is allowed and what isn't, is very sophisticated, and worldlings understand this by a sixth sense. The same thing applies to the procuring of pleasures, the acquisition of material goods, and the advancement of each other to positions of status of power.

Why Christians are hated by worldlings, is precisely because they upset this economy. The integrity of being a Christian, in fact, demands it. The Christian has to put their foot down, speak up, or even protest by example, because so many elements of the economy of the worldling are wrong and sinful. These elements are either unjust, uncharitable, unchaste, untruthful, or disdainful of things deserving honour. Much of the behavior depicted in popular entertainment is based on the worldling economy. Politicians who are "Catholic" and "pro-choice" wish to consider themselves Catholic (for the personal benefits this will procure) but, in fact, adhere to the worldling economy.

However, to be fully Catholic and Christian, is to be fully normal and natural. The closer one comes to God, the more normal and natural one tends to become. It may be objected that there were saints who were odd, and that many devout people have noticeable personality flaws. This is in spite of their sanctity, not because of it. It is these areas of abnormality into which the transforming power of Christ has not yet reached. Many have wondered what it would be like to meet the Blessed Virgin, who was completely sinless and the closest to God of all creatures. My guess is that she would appear utterly natural, with every word and action completely appropriate to the situation at hand. There would be an atmosphere of total liberty and complete openness about her, with no trace of narrowness or concern for what is particular to her.

With light from God, it is the worldling who turns up as abnormal. A narrowness, a selfishness, and a hardness discloses itself. It can be seen that the reactions of worldlings to things is subtly twisted (but this cannot be perceived by other worldlings because they all operate according the same twisted logic). The intrinsic unattractiveness of such a personality becomes manifest. The great twentieth century Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand discussed, in his writings, the attractiveness of natural virtue and the supreme attractiveness of supernatural virtue. One element of the transcendent happiness of heaven will be the fact that it will be transcendently more natural than nature on earth. The supernatural (which is God's own mode of existing) is not unnatural or a-natural. It is infinitely natural. In heaven it will be disclosed that it is the worldling who is part of the "out" crowd, and that it is the Christian who is part of the "in" crowd. It is our limited perspective on earth which could make it appear that the reverse is true.

NEWSFLASH! Supreme Court Rejects City's Ten Commandments Tablet

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

98. Dispassion is not freedom from attack by the demons, for to be free from such attack we must, as the Apostle says, 'go out of the world' (1 Cor. 5:10); but it is to remain undefeated when they do attack.

May 26, 2001


(1 Cor 1:23-25)  But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.


One has to be a fool to believe in traditional Christianity, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a gathering of Catholic judges and lawyers. But, he said, that is what Christ and the apostles expect us to be.

He said sophisticated society in modern times views Christians as “cretins,” people who are a little warped and strange. Today’s society believes “one can be sophisticated and still believe in God,” Scalia said. “One can even believe in a benevolent being that loves mankind, so long as that being does not intrude too ridiculously into the world by working so-called miracles.”

He said modern society even allows one to be sophisticated and believe in Jesus Christ, as all are . “But to believe in traditional Christianity, that Jesus Christ was God ... the notion that the Creator would become man, is as unsophisticated as the notion that Zeus should become a bull. Or to believe that he was born of a virgin — well, really! And that he actually rose from the grave and founded a church that could bind and loose ... that hardship and suffering are not to be avoided at all costs but be embraced and even sought after. How utterly ridiculous!”

Scalia quoted biblical passages showing that worldly sophisticates have trouble perceiving the things that are of God. “It is foolishness to him and he cannot respect it (Corinthians).” Scalia said Paul told the believers that if anyone thinks himself wise, let him become a fool so he becomes wise.


Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus has added a new testimony!  Praise God!!!
To read the most recent addition visit

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

97 (cont.). When someone is trying to purify gold, and allows the fire of the furnace to die down even for a moment, the material which he is purifying will harden again. So, too, a man who merely practises the remembrance of God from time to time, loses through lack of continuity what he hopes to gain through his prayer. It is a mark of one who truly loves holiness that he continually burns up what is worldly in his heart through practising the remembrance of God, so that little by little evil is consumed in the fire of this remembrance and his soul completely recovers its natural brilliance with still greater glory.

May 25, 2001


Genetic engineers already have it within their grasp to devise a lethal bio-weapon for terrorists and rogue states, the British science publication Nature warned last week. Small changes in the DNA of well-known bacteria and viruses could turn these agents into mass killers, the journal says.

The publication echoes warnings by a pair of Australian scientists, Dr Ron Jackson and Dr Ian Ramshaw, who accidentally created an astonishingly virulent strain of mousepox, a cousin of smallpox, among laboratory mice. They realised that if similar genetic manipulation was carried out on smallpox, an unstoppable killer could be unleashed. They decided to publish their findings in January to draw attention to the potential misuse of biotechnology.

Nature warns: "Making subtle genetic alterations to existing pathogens to increase their virulence or durability in the environment, or to make them harder to detect or to treat with drugs, is within the limits of today's technology. "With the decoding of a pathogen's entire genome now commonplace, and transgenic techniques advancing all the time, some researchers believe that the sinister potential of biology can no longer be ignored."

"It's time for biologists to begin asking what means we have to keep the technology from being used in subverted ways," said Harvard University molecular biologist Professor Matthew Meselson, who has often spoken of the dangers of biowarfare.

MORE FROM THE RESEARCH BENCH: Promise of production-line embryos

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

97. When the heart feels the arrows of the demons with such burning pain that the man under attack suffers as if they were real arrows, then the soul hates the passions violently, for it is just beginning to be purified. If it does not suffer greatly at the shamelessness of sin, it will not be able to rejoice fully in the blessings of righteousness. He who wishes to cleanse his heart should keep it continualy aflame through practising the remembrance of Jesus, making this his only study and his ceaseless task. Those who desire to free themselves from their corruption ought to pray not merely from time to time but at all times; they should give themselves always to prayer, keeping watch over their intellect even when outside places of prayer.

May 24, 2001


(Luke 18:8)  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"


What was God doing before he created the world? The philosopher and writer (and later saint) Augustine posed the question in his "Confessions" in the fourth century, and then came up with a strikingly modern answer: before God created the world there was no time and thus no "before." To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there was no "then" then.

Until recently no one could attend a lecture on astronomy and ask the modern version of Augustine's question — what happened before the Big Bang? — without receiving the same frustrating answer, courtesy of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes how matter and energy bend space and time.

But lately, emboldened by progress in new theories that seek to unite Einstein's lordly realm with the unruly quantum rules that govern subatomic physics — so-called quantum gravity — Some theorists suggest that the Big Bang was not so much a birth as a transition, a "quantum leap" from some formless era of imaginary time, or from nothing at all. Still others are exploring models in which cosmic history begins with a collision with a universe from another dimension.

All this theorizing has received a further boost of sorts from recent reports of ripples in a diffuse radio glow in the sky, thought to be the remains of the Big Bang fireball itself. These ripples are consistent with a popular theory, known as inflation, that the universe briefly speeded its expansion under the influence of a violent antigravitational force, when it was only a fraction of a fraction of a nanosecond old."If inflation is the dynamite behind the Big Bang, we're still looking for the match," said Dr. Michael Turner, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago. The only thing that all the experts agree on is that no idea works — yet.

(Gen 1:1)  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

96 (cont.). So those who wish to live virtuously should not hanker after praise, be involved with too many people, keep going out, or abuse others (however much they deserve it), or talk excessively, even if they can speak well on every subject. Too much talk radically dissipates the intellect, not only making it lazy in spiritual work but also handing it over to the demon of listlessness, who first enervates it completely and then passes it on to the demons of dejection and anger. The intellect should therefore devote itself continually to keeping the holy commandments and to deep mindfulness of the Lord of glory. For it is written: Whoever keeps the commandment will know no evil thing' (Eccles. 8:5)- that is, will not be diverted to base thoughts or words.

May 23, 2001


Cardinals discussing the future of the Roman Catholic church have raised the issue of the gulf between Vatican directives on sex and other issues and reality back at the parish. Some cardinals pointed to problems of "communication'' between the Vatican and its worldwide dioceses at a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. There were also "rare mentions'' of the word "collegiality,'' Navarro-Valls said, a code word for more democracy in the church.

Pope John Paul II summoned the cardinals for three days of talks on challenges facing the church in the third millennium. The gathering also gives the princes of the church, as cardinals are known, an opportunity to get to know one another for the time when they will have to vote for a successor to the 81-year-old John Paul. Speeches from several of the 153 cardinals present Tuesday touched on the Vatican policy stressing the traditional family of husband and wife.

John Paul has made improving relations with non-Catholics a major goal of his papacy. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of England suggested the Vatican organize a major meeting of leaders of various Christian denominations.

MORE: Pope is 'prisoner' of Vatican curia

Ornamentation lost to Vatican II reforms uncovered, restored

St. Mary, Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church is part of a nationwide movement, principally among Catholic churches, to correct the sins of the 1960s and 1970s when a renewal movement sought to update worship and simplify architecture. Well-intentioned reformers put indoor-outdoor carpeting over terrazzo flooring and tore out anything smacking of religious grandeur to create what they believed were more intimate, theologically correct worship spaces.

"We have seen a real trend all across the country. People are yearning for beautiful architecture and beautiful churches again," said Duncan Stroik, a professor of architecture at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

96. Those who love the pleasures of this present life pass from evil thoughts to actual sins. Since they lack discrimination, they turn almost all their sinful thoughts into wicked words or unholy deeds. Those, on the other hand, who are trying to pursue the ascetic life, struggle first against external sins and then go on to struggle against evil thoughts and malicious words. So when the demons find such people cheerfuly abusing others, indulging in idle and inept talk, laughing at the wrong time, uncontrollably angry or desiring vain and empty glory, they join forces to attack them. Using love of praise in particular as a pretext for their evil schemes, the demons slip into the soul- as though through a window at night- and despoil it.

May 22, 2001


In reflections he made before praying on Sunday, the Pope noted that Monday was to be the start of the extraordinary consistory of the College of Cardinals, which will conclude with a concelebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Ascension Thursday. "In coming days," he said, we will consider together the prospects in the life of the Church and her mission in the world. Our basic reference point will be the Apostolic Letter 'Novo millennio ineunte' in which, in the light of the Jubilee experience, I indicated the priorities for the entire People of God: contemplating the face of Christ; starting out again from Him on a renewed path of sanctity; being witnesses to His love."

"In every moment, but especially in decisive ones," affirmed the Holy Father, "the Church listens to the Spirit. This was true in the Cenacle, as it was in the first 'council' which opened the doors to s, and so it will be in this consistory. At the side of the Successor of Peter and the cardinals, his closest collaborators in leading the universal Church, the prayerful support of the People of God must not be lacking. I thus ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to accompany us with your prayers."

MORE: Cardinals ring in church debate


Michelle McKinney Hammond says she knows how to look irresistible to men, and it has nothing to do with lipstick or good lighting. Hammond thinks a woman's glow should come from faith in Jesus, and says so in an advice book that has sold 60,000 copies.

Her "Secrets of An Irresistible Woman,'' is part of a major segment of the Christian publishing industry - self-help books that marry Scripture with the marketing pitch of the recovery movement. The goal: sell the Bible as the original self-help book. "I take Biblical applications and make them practical. I think you need to have God as a partner,'' said Hammond, a 43-year-old, born-again Christian from Chicago, whose other works include "If Men Are Like Buses Then How Do I Catch One?''

Roman Catholic publishers, with books that typically appeal to scholars, have recently entered the self-help field. The Jesuit publisher Loyola Press is planning a September release for ``My Monastery is a Minivan,'' about the spiritual life of a mother of four.

MORE: Cor blimey! Church blesses Bible stories in Cockney rhyming slang

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

95 (cont.). We cannot acquire the second without having passed through the first; for unless God's grace begins by softening our will by means of the first, testing it through assaults of the passions, we cannot receive the riches of the second.


May 21, 2001

(Mat 25:37-40)  "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'


Sounding a call to arms, President Bush used a speech at a Catholic university on Sunday to prod corporate America and the nation's youth to join him in "a determined assault" on poverty.

In a return to his "compassionate conservative" campaign roots, Bush devoted a commencement address at Notre Dame to framing his faith-based solutions to society's ills as the next front in the war on poverty begun 40 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson.

"Compassion often works best on a small and human scale," he told 2,500 graduates and guests. "It is generally better when a call for help is local, not long distance."

Bush's plan to let churches, synagogues and mosques help deliver $250 billion in federal social programs, ranging from aid to pregnant teens to helping the homeless, is a pillar of the Republican president's domestic agenda and a flash point for some who see a blurring of the constitutional line between church and state.

"Our society must enlist, equip, and empower idealistic Americans in works of compassion that only they can provide," Bush said. "A determined assault on poverty will require both an active government and active citizens."

MORE: Bush promotes compassionate approach to combating poverty


Some 10,000 people thronged the streets of Jerusalem yesterday afternoon to take part in the annual march on the eve of Jerusalem Day, which marks the unification of Jerusalem 34 years ago.

Israelis from across the country flocked to the capital to take part in the colorful parade that made its way through the streets of downtown Jerusalem.

"The fact that despite all of the warnings, alerts, and fears of terror attacks, thousands of Israelis from across the country and from Jerusalem turned out is a testament to the strength and confidence of the people of Israel," said Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, who along with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President Moshe Katsav, and other dignitaries watched the Jewish Agency-sponsored parade from a VIP tent set up at city hall.

RELATED: 'NY Times' ad: Temple Mount central to Jews

(Luke 21:24)  They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

95 (cont.). The first type of humility is usually marked by remorse and despondency, the second by joy and an enlightened reverence. Hence, as I have said, the first is found in those half-way along the spiritual path, while the second is given to those nearing perfection. That is why the first is often undermined by material prosperity, while the second, even if offered all the kingdoms of this world, is not elated and is proof against the arrows of sin. Being wholly spiritual, it is completely indifferent to all material glory.

May 19, 2001


The occasion is an extraordinary meeting of cardinals - those recently elevated and those holding the red hat for decades - in what is shaping up as the largest assemblage in history of the so-called princes of the church. Some are calling it a ``pre-conclave'' - referring to the gathering that elects a pope. The three-day session that opens Monday will give them an opportunity to check out the beds in Santa Marta, the Vatican  hotel built to house cardinals during a conclave, and to check out each other. And while the meeting won't be in the Sistine Chapel, where conclaves are held, the location in the Synod Hall is just across St. Peter's Square.

Pope John Paul II summoned all 183 cardinals to the three-day meeting to discuss church strategy in the new millennium. Vatican officials describe it as an open meeting with no fixed agenda. Talking points suggested by the Vatican include such issues as the church's missionary activities, the sharing of authority among bishops, the response of ordinary Catholics to church teaching on sex and the role of the papacy. It is the first such meeting since 1994 and was called by the Pope in February just days after he elevated 44 new cardinals.

MORE: Consistory of College of Cardinals to Convene Monday

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

95. Humility is hard to acquire, and the deeper it is, the greater the struggle needed to gain it. There are two different ways in which it comes to those who share in divine knowledge. In the case of one who has advanced halfway along the path of spiritual experience, his self-will is humbled either by bodily weakness, or by people gratuitously hostile to those pursuing righteousness, or by evil thoughts. But when the intellect fully and consciously senses the illumination of God's grace, the soul possesses a humility which is, as it were, natural. Wholly filled with divine blessedness, it can no longer be puffed up with its own glory; for even if it carries out God's commandments ceaselessly, it still considers itself more humble than all other souls because it shares His forbearance.

May 18, 2001

(Rom 13:9-12) The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."  Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.


Israelis and Palestinians faced the specter of increased death and destruction on Thursday after senior officials of both sides threatened to intensify a conflict that has killed more than 500 and wounded thousands.

Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landau, speaking in New York, said the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was escalating its reaction to the Palestinian revolt and warned of possible resort to "all-out" combat to quell the unrest.

Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, a top Palestinian presidential aide, vowed on Thursday that Palestinians would step up their struggle against Israeli occupation in response to a new round of Israeli missile attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abdel-Rahman denounced a late-night Israeli helicopter bombardment of Palestinian security posts as "Sharon's madness" and said it would not snuff out the nearly eight-month-old uprising for independence.


ARAB HATRED OF JEWS- Hatred of Israel as an Ideal In the Palestinian Authority official press

An article in the PA's official daily paper, entitled: Hatred of Israel as a Yardstick of Patriotism by Fahmi Huwaidi "...It is proper that the call to hate Israel continue to be a medal worn on the chest of every Arab, and I repeat my position that it should be regarded as a measurement of patriotism and as a certificate of greatness and nobility. We are not oblivious to the grand reputation the singer Shaaban Abdul Rahim earned himself, and the [record] sales of his single hit declaring his hatred of Israel. These words of his brought about, from the depths of Egypt, the eruption of a volcano of hatred, abhorrence and bitterness that had been continuously accumulating for half a century... "I was not pleased to learn of the [Egyptian] reaction relayed to the Israeli authorities, who protested over the fact that a pharmacy owner hung a sign over the door of his pharmacy: "No Dogs Or Jews". He had removed the sign when he encountered the negative reactions to such a sign, but he hung it again with the outbreak of the intifada... "The position of hate is natural, and it is an expression that must be understood..."

[The official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, 16 MAY 2001]

Red Cross official: Jewish settlements are a 'war crime'
Gun battles in Gaza
Terrorists fail in bid to blow up passenger train


The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

94 (cont.). As the Psalmist says, 'We have been marked by the light of Thy countenance, O Lord' (Ps. 4:6). We must therefore submit to the Lord's will thankfully; for then our frequent illnesses and our fight against demonic thoughts will be counted a second martyrdom. The devil, who once said to the holy martyrs through the mouths of lawless rulers, 'Deny Christ, choose earthly honours', is now present among us constantly saying the same to the servants of God. In times past he tortured the bodies of the saints, inflicting the utmost outrage upon spiritual teachers held in honour by using such people as served his diabolic schemes; and now he attacks the confessors of holiness with the various passions, and with much insult and contempt, especially when for the glory of the Lord they give determined help to the poor and downtrodden. So we should fulfil our inward martyrdom before God with confidence and patience, for it is written: 'I waited patiently for the Lord; and He heard me' (Ps. 40:1).

May 17, 2001

(Prov 31:8-9)  "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."


Venezuela's Catholic Church chided President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday for failing to deliver promised solutions to poverty and crime, and questioned whether his very personal, populist rule was fully democratic. The stinging rebuke to the 46-year-old paratrooper-turned-president and his two-year-old "revolution" was contained in a report presented by Venezuelan church officials to a meeting of Catholic Bishops from all over Latin America. The report said political changes introduced by Chavez since he took office in early 1999 were "centered and concentrated on the personal popularity and power of the president."

In assessing the future challenges faced by the oil-rich nation of 24 million inhabitants, Venezuela's bishops cited "massive, dehumanizing poverty," growing violent crime, and widespread unemployment. These situations persist, they added, despite government coffers swollen by high-priced oil exports and despite electoral promises made by Chavez to improve the lot of the vast majority of Venezuelans living in poverty. The reform promise "has not been translated into effective changes, especially social and economic," the report said.

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SEE ALSO- The M+G+R Foundation Commentary: Understanding the Wrath of God

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

94 (cont.). By weaknesses the Apostle means the attacks made by the enemies of the Cross, attacks which continually fell upon him and all the saints of the time, to prevent them from being 'unduly elated by the abundance of revelations', as he says himself (2 Cor. 12:7). Because of their humiliation they persevered still more in the life of perfection, and when they were treated with contempt they preserved the divine gift in holiness. But by weaknesses we now mean evil thoughts and bodily illnesses. In those times, since their bodies were submitted to deadly tortures and other afflictions, men pursuing the spiritual way were raised far above the passions which normally attack human nature as a result of sin. Today, however, since by the Lord's grace peace prevails in the Church, the bodies of those contending for holiness have to be tested by frequent illnesses, and their souls tried by evil thoughts. This is the case especially for those in whom divine knowledge is fully and consciously active, so that they can be stripped of all self-esteem and conceit, and can therefore, as I said, receive in their hearts the seal of divine beauty through their great humility.

May 16, 2001

(2 Tim 3:1-5)  But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.


The U.S. State Department advises Americans abroad to take special precautions based on reports that they could be targets of a terrorist threat.

The government has learned of a possible threat from extremists linked to Osama Bin Ladin's Al-Qaida organization, the State Department reported in issuing the worldwide caution, which expires on August 11.

"U.S. citizens are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness to reduce their vulnerability," the announcement said.

U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert, the announcement said, and some of those facilities may close or suspend operations if the need arises.

RELATED: Experts: U.S. medicine unprepared for biological terrorism

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

94. As wax cannot take the imprint of a seal unless it is warmed or softened thoroughly, so a man cannot receive the seal of God's holiness unless he is tested by labours and weaknesses. That is why the Lord says to St Paul: 'My grace is sufficient for you: for My power comes to its fulnes in your weakness'; and the Apostle himself proudly declares: 'Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me' (2 Cor. 12:9). In Proverbs, too, it is written: 'For whom the Lord loves He disciplines; He chastens every son He accepts' (Prov. 2:12).

May 15, 2001

(Amos 9:14-15)  I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God.


"Al Naqba," Arabic for "the catastrophe," is how the Palestinians describe their displacement, which they date to the May 15, 1948, the day the state of Israel was founded, setting off a war that lasted more than a year. The marches and rallies have turned bloody on two of the past three anniversaries, and Tuesday's events fall at a time when violence is on the upsurge.

The militant Islamic group Hamas, unwilling to wait for Tuesday's anniversary, held an Al Naqba rally Saturday at the central square in Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem. Masked men brandished fake mortar tubes and vowed further attacks. A mock Jewish settlement was set on fire. Hamas leaders in exile spoke to the cheering crowd by telephone. More than a dozen men wearing white robes and white masks paraded through the crowd, representing Hamas suicide bombers.

The current feud traces its origins directly to the 1948 war, when neighboring Arab states declared war on Israel at its founding. Thousands were killed on both sides, and an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were displaced at the time. In a dispute that still rages, the Palestinians say they were driven from their homes because of Israeli attacks on Palestinian villages that often resulted in civilian casualties. Many Israelis argue that the Palestinians left their homes voluntarily, encouraged by Arab leaders who expected a quick victory over Israel that would clear the way for the Palestinians to return home safely. Fifty-three years later, they are still waiting.

Pope: End The Absurd Spiral of Violence in the Holy Land
Hezbollah fires anti-tank missiles across Israel's northern border from Lebanon
Israeli Arabs urged to mark 'Al-Nakba'

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

93 (cont.). Thus, when the Lord first leads us into the path of salvation, He says: 'How narrow and strait is the way leading to the kingdom and few there are who follow it' (Cf. Matt. 7:14); but to those who have firmly resolved to keep His holy commandments He says: 'For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light' (Matt. 11:30). At the beginning of the struggle, therefore, the holy commandments of God must be fulfilled with a certain forcefulness of will (cf. Matt. 11:12); then the Lord, seeing our intention and labour, will grant us readiness of will and gladness in obeying His purposes. For 'it is the Lord who makes ready the will' (Prov. 8:35), so that we always do what is right joyfully. Then shall we truly feel that ' it is God who energizes in you both the willing and the doing of His purpose' (Phil. 2:13).

May 14, 2001

(Mat 5:23-24)  "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.


The influential Cardinal Jaime Sin apologized to the poor of the Philippines on Sunday, acknowledging that the church has neglected them and made them easy prey for selfish, powerful people.

"We would like to ask the poor for forgiveness," Sin said. "We should listen to the poor's complaints. We should not wait for another crisis before we open our eyes."

Sin made the rare gesture during a Mass at a historic shrine where tens of thousands of ousted President Joseph Estrada's mostly poor followers gathered for six days in late April before storming the presidential palace.

FROM THE MAILBAG VIA William F. Wallack:

Over the past few years with the Pope's apologies for a whole host of Roman Catholic sins, I have felt some distress as to need to apologizes for "historical sins". To me, the recent apology to the Greek and Eastern Orthodox churches was one more questionable act of apologizing by Holy Mother Church. I had wondered, again, why? Since we are the one, true Church founded by Jesus upon the rock of St. Peter - outside of which there is no salvation, why then do we need to apologize for maintaining our sacred Doctrine, Dogma, and Traditions.

It occurred to me that maybe the reason is much more obvious than I realized and maybe for much more dire reasons. Specifically, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Pope may have been permitted to know the eternal schedule for the End Times. As Fr. Malachi Martin had stated, "the Pope is the only one who stands at the precipice between earth and eternity." He may know that we may be fast approaching the dark days of the Anti-Christ's reign and its Tribulation, and as such needs to apologize for any sins committed by Holy Mother Church in order to save Her and Her children for eternity.

Your quote today (5-11) from the Philokalia would seem to concur:

"When spiritual knowledge is active within us to a limited degree, it makes us feel acute remorse if, because of sudden irritation, we insult someone and make an enemy of him. It never stops prodding our conscience until, with a full apology, we have restored in the person we have insulted the feelings he had towards us before."

I would also suggest the Gospel verse of "... better to pluck out one's eye than to rot in Hell with two good ones." Perhaps, it is better for the Church to pluck out it pride of not apologizing for past sins, then to rot in Hell or on earth during the tribulation. If the Church truly has sinned and committed offenses, then the apologies are necessary for God's forgiveness and protection for the days ahead. But let it be understood that in apologizing, Holy Mother Church shouldn't further sin by diluting the truth in is repository of Faith in order to be more accepted by other churches or by the world.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

93. To those who are just beginning to long for holiness the path of virtue seems very rough and forbidding. It appears like this not because it really is difficult, but because our human nature from the womb is accustomed to the wide roads of sensual pleasure. But those who have travelled more than half its length find the path of virtue smooth and easy. For when a bad habit has been subjected to a good one through the energy of grace it is destroyed along with the remembrance of mindless pleasures; and thereafter the soul gladly journeys on all the ways of virtue.

May 12, 2001

(Mat 10:28)  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


A Soul Without Grace by James H. Dobbins, Ph.D.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote a beautiful book about a soul in the state of grace, and how a soul makes progress toward perfection in the spiritual life. It is called Interior Castle and is a classic in al theology.

We should also consider what it means when a soul is not in a state of grace, when a person dies in a state of mortal sin. When we think of a soul going to hell we think of the various images found in scripture of the soul being subjected to fire and such, with eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth, but we seldom think about what the source of this pain really is or what it would truly be like to be in hell. A soul, being a spirit, is not affected by physical fire, and has no teeth, but the image is very apt because it is said that being severely burned is the most painful kind of experience we can have. What is the pain of hell? The important thing to realize is that we will not be as we are now if we go to hell. What happens to us as we enter hell is much more horrible than anything we can now imagine. Jesus told us the mind of man has never even conceived of what God has prepared for those who enter heaven. Neither has the mind of any living man conceived of what his existence would really be like if he were condemned to hell.

When Satan finally defeats a man, and I use the term generically to refer to all of humanity, he captures that man's soul for all eternity. For all intents and purposes, the soul belongs to Satan, for God cannot tolerate its presence. When Satan captures a soul, what he has, and what is kept in hell, is not really a man at all. That which makes man truly man is the same thing by which he exists in the image and likeness of God, and that is love, for God is love. The source of all spiritual life in any man is God's love. God's love for us is the one and only real source of dignity for any man, regardless of his station in life. No matter how bad a man is, there is at least some small spark of love, some small ember of love kept there by God, which can be fanned into a mighty flame by that man's contrition, repentance and his request for God's mercy, even in his last moments on earth. But when condemned to hell, man is stripped of every last vestige of that which gave him the power to be a child of God, to be in the image of God, for he is stripped of every possibility of love, either to love or to be loved. Every vestige of spiritual warmth and light is removed from the soul and it exists for eternity in complete spiritual frigidity and darkness. God is Love and God is Light. What Satan captures for hell is nothing but animal residue which results when everything enabling the soul to be a true man, to be a child of God, has been completely torn away from him. God can not allow Satan to have any control whatsoever over any part of Himself, however slight, and He, being Love, must therefore strip from that condemned soul every part of Himself, every connection that soul has with Him, every possibility of love of any kind, however slight it might be.

When that happens, God looks at the soul and says, "I do not know you." God recognizes us, knows us, when He sees at least some part of Himself in our soul, when He sees some level of union, however slight, with Himself. But in a soul condemned to hell, there is nothing of love left in the soul, nothing left to receive love and nothing through which it can give love of any kind to any other being.

This is a mercy for others who knew this soul, for we often hear parents with children who have gone astray struggle with how they could possibly be happy in heaven if they know their child is in hell. The mother wonders how she could love her child in hell and still be happy in heaven, never to see him again. The concepts of eternal happiness in heaven co-existing with the knowledge that one's child in is hell seem irreconcilable. But when a soul is in hell, all possibility of that soul being loved ceases, for there is nothing left in that soul capable of being loved. It becomes impossible to love that soul, and so, for the person in heaven, it is as if that soul had never existed. If God completely severs any and all connection of the condemned soul with Himself, the souls in Heaven, who are united with God in the most complete and most intimate way possible, must also be completely severed from any connection with that condemned soul. They cannot simultaneously be united with the source of Love and with the complete absence of Love. Their connection with that soul was always a connection of love, and, since God is love, that connection has necessarily been severed for them as well. They also, with God, say, "I do not know you."

Therefore, the soul condemned to hell is completely isolated, completely alone in the most utter and absolute sense imaginable; in fact, beyond imagining. Any connection any person has with another is always, somehow, a connection of love, and any possibility of love has been eliminated from the condemned soul. With complete understanding, he faces the stark reality of an immortal existence void of love, existing for all eternity in complete and utter isolation from all other creatures, even from those who may be right next to him, for no connection with or to them can be created. He experiences this immortal existence knowing all the while that God loved Him with an infinite love, desired Him to live eternally with Him in happiness beyond any imagining, and that he chose to be his own master and reject God. He chose self above all else. He got his wish. He is now his own master in an eternal universe of emptiness and isolation of the most profound kind. The man who has loved himself so much that he had too little love left, or no love left, for God, now finds that he is no longer able to be loved, or to love at all, not even to love himself even one iota. That self love which caused him to choose hell is now something he will never again experience. And he remains in this state of complete isolation and deprivation of love, this subhuman state, entirely because of his own deliberate choices, for all eternity.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

92 (cont.). As a result the intellect also neglects contemplation; for spiritual knowledge, consisting wholly of love, does not allow the mind to expand and embrace the vision of the divine, unless we first win back to love even one who has become angry with us for no reason. If he refuses to lay aside this anger or avoids the places we ourselves frequent, then spiritual knowledge bids us visualize his person with an overflowing of compassion in our soul and so fulfil the law of love in the depths of our heart. For it is said that if we wish to have knowledge of God we must bring our mind to look without anger even on persons who are angry with us for no reason. When we have done this, not only can our intellect devote itself to theology, but it also ascends with great boldness to the love of God, rising unhindered from the second level to the first.

May 11, 2001

(Rev 6:7-8)  When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!"  I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.


Experts Warn AIDS May Push Poor Nations Into War
Secret that the Arab world is afraid to face: AIDS
HIV Carriers in Russia to Hit 1 Million by End of 2001
US Plans to Give $200 Million to Global AIDS Fund

NEW LINK: The Daily Mass-Video Site


VIA Janice Cummings:  Interested in discussion or reading on the interior life? Here is a new website (almost complete) which introduces five email discussion groups (with option to listen in only) dealing with some aspect related to cultivation of union of the soul with Christ:

Web site title: "Be Sober and Watch" hosted on

You may join any or all the groups. Participating members also have the opportunity to advertise their own web sites in the group owner's "Angels in Cyberspace". The groups featured include:

(1) Get-serious--international Catholic group discussion of growth in the interior life

(2) ImageofLOVE--on the Eucharist only--stories/quotes/healing

(3) Streams of Living Water--series for both Catholic and Protestant on identification of the true church, and doctrine of the faith applied to the Christian call

(4) A-perspective--for writers and anyone who enjoys writing on or simply listening to a particular topic of Catholic interest

(5) Lost-andFound A-Gain--stories of personal conversion.

Web site owner: Janice Cummings of Kansas City, MO Email contact: [email protected]

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

92. When spiritual knowledge is active within us to a limited degree, it makes us feel acute remorse if, because of sudden irritation, we insult someone and make an enemy of him. It never stops prodding our conscience until, with a full apology, we have restored in the person we have insulted the feelings he had towards us before. Even when a worldly person becomes angry with us for no reason, this intense compunction in our conscience fills us with uneasiness and anxiety because, in some way, we have become a stumbling-block to one of those who speak after 'the wisdom of this world' (1 Cor. 2:6).

May 10, 2001

(Rev 6:9)  When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.


A Danish pilot was killed on Wednesday when a plane he was flying for the International Committee of the Red Cross came under fire over southern Sudan, the ICRC said. The killing came less than two weeks after six ICRC workers were attacked and killed in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo last month.


"What we saw and heard and touched is the material for nightmares, a human hell," reported an American Episcopal priest returning from a January 1998 trip to Sudan.

The country of Sudan, already enduring seemingly endless civil war, is being devastated by a jihad led by the militant Islamic regime in Khartoum. Their tactics include aerial bombardment of citizens, scorched earth and destruction of livestock, forced displacement of over three million people, abduction, imprisonment, torture, execution of men, abduction and enslavement of women and children, and forced Islamization and conscription. The government justifies its reign of terror and Sudan persecution by claiming that it is a "divine mission" in the name of Allah.

By their own admission, militant Muslims see Sudan persecution as only the first step in an attempt to impose their brand of radical Islam all the way to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. But God may have other plans. The Church in the Sudan continues to grow at an amazing rate. The wildfire spread of Christian faith in the ruins of Southern Sudan is captured in these lines from a song by Sudanese Christian Mary Alueel: "God has not forgotten us. Evil is departing and holiness is advancing. These are the things that shake the earth." Sudan persecution still exists, but the movement passionately goes on.

BREAKPOINT COMMENTARY: Really Strange Bedfellows Cochran, Starr, and Sudan

Sudan--Human Rights Report, Christian Persecution in Sudan
Bush Names Envoy to Monitor Sudan
Nuba (Sudan) Christians Under Fire
Sudan: Evidence: Religious Persecution
Crisis in Sudan -What you can do!

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

91 (cont.). Whoever loves God far more than himself, or rather no longer loves himself but only God, no longer vindicates his own honour; for his sole wish is that the divine righteousness, which has accorded him eternal honour, should alone be held in honour. This he no longer wishes in a half-hearted way, but with the force of an attitude established in him through his deep experience of the love of God. We should know, moreover, that a person energized by God to such love rises, at that moment, even above faith, since by reason of his great love he now senses consciously in his heart the One whom he previosly honoured by faith. The holy Apostle expresses this clearly when he says: 'Now there are three things that endure: faith, hope, love; but the greatest of them is love' (1 Cor. 13:13). For, as I have said, he who holds God in all the richness of love transcends at that moment his own faith, since he is wholly rapt in divine longing.

May 9, 2001


QUESTION/COMMENT: On today's news from the BBC a report that, for the first time in history a Pope has prayed in a Moslem mosque! Now where does that leave us now?  "I am thy Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no strange gods before Me". What a terrible blasphemy!

Details: Pope, in Damascus, Reaches Out for Unity With Mosque Visit

EDITOR'S REPLY: I am going to try to explain what I believe the Pope has done. Do you recall the following verse in Scripture?

(Mat 16:23) Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Jesus rebuked Peter for looking at the upcoming Passion from man's viewpoint rather than God's.  We must always be on guard to view unfolding events from God's perspective and not our own. Certainly I understand your reaction but a closer examination of the Pope's motives may serve to allay your concerns.

Jesus also said:

(Mat 28:19-20) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Now this "Great Commission" is virtually impossible to fulfill in Arab lands as things stand right now. As you are likely aware missionaries in many of these countries are tortured and/or killed for the "capital offense" of preaching the Gospel.

How can the Gospel be preached without establishing a dialogue with these countries which sets the stage for future interaction? Can anyone, no matter how devout or well intentioned, walk into Libya now and start preaching the Gospel? How long will that person live??

What the Pope is trying to do is to establish a "civilized" relationship between Muslims and Christians so that, through the grace of God, the Gospel can be preached sometime in the future both through action and words.

Were you aware that the Moslem mosque in which the Pope prayed was in reality a Christian Church? It was built many centuries ago and thought to contain the head of John the Baptist. As is often their custom upon conquering a territory (eg. the present Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem), the Moslems destroyed the Christian Church and rebuilt the mosque over it. So a prayer in that location is not at all blasphemy. Instead I am certain that the Pope was beseeching the Lord that once again, soon, the Gospel could be preached and that Jesus would be worshipped within those walls.

I hope that this explanation helps you to better understand the Pope's actions. Please pray about it.

RELATED: New Middle East Violence Erupts Despite Pope Appeal

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

91. A man who loves the Lord with unflagging resolve once said to me: 'Because I desired conscious knowledge of divine love, God granted me a full and active experience of such love. I felt its energy so strongly that my soul longed with an inexpressible joy and love to leave the body and go to the Lord, and to become in a sense unaware of this transient form of life.' Once a man has experienced this love, he does not become angry however much he is insulted and harmed- for one pursuing the spiritual life still suffers such things- but he remains united in love to the soul of the man who has insulted or harmed him. His anger is kindled only against those who injure the poor or who, as the Scripture says, 'speak iniquity against God' (Ps. 75:5), or follow other forms of wickedness.

May 8, 2001

(Mat 5:38-39) "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.


Sister Helen Prejean, a staunch opponent of the death penalty, says showing the May 16 federal execution of the Oklahoma City bomber will change Americans' view of capital punishment.  "If the public could see what it means," she told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, "the consequences to take a human being who's alive and take him into a room, or her, and — I think we'll end the death penalty sooner."

Prejean acknowledges that it is difficult for people to have sympathy for McVeigh, since he shows no signs of remorse for the 168 people he killed in his attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City six years ago.  But the Catholic nun, who has ministered to condemned prisoners, says people need to look beyond execution of a murderer. "It's very hard to have sympathy for Timothy McVeigh," she said. "Who has sympathy for Timothy McVeigh? But if we move past him, to his father and his family and what happens when the state and government kills human beings, then you see there's another family."

Sister Prejean is the founder of Survive, an advocacy group for the relatives of murder victims, and says that contrary to conventional wisdom, executions do not give mourning families a sense of peace or closure. "Are we doing something for these victims' families by supposedly trying to legitimize it? Saying 'Oh, yeah, it's going to bring them closure, it's going to bring them healing?'" said Prejean. "I don't believe that."

RELATED: Pope's Appeal for McVeigh Rejected

(John 8:7)  But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

90 (cont.). It is therefore necessary to work upon the soul forcefully for a while, so that we may come to taste divine love fully and consciously; for no one can acquire the perfection of love while still in the flesh except those saints who suffer to the point of martyrdom, and confess their faith despite all persecution. Whoever has reached this state is completely transformed, and does not easily feel desire even form material sustenance. For what desire will someone nourished by divine love feel for such things? It is for this reason that St Paul proclaims to us the future foy of the saints when he says: 'For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom. 14:17), which are the fruits of perfect love. Those who have advanced to perfection are able to taste this love continually, but no one can experience it completely until 'what is mortal in us is swallowed up by life' (2 Cor. 5:4).

May 7, 2001


John Paul II became the first pope to enter a mosque Sunday, calling for brotherhood between Christians and Muslims and stepping across a sensitive line in his campaign for better relations among different faiths.

The visit was also a natural step in John Paul's longtime campaign to heal the wounds separating Christians, Muslims and Jews. In 1986, he became the first pope to visit a Jewish synagogue. After leaving the mosque, the pontiff urged Muslims and Christians to "turn to one another with feelings of brotherhood and friendship, so that the Almighty may bless us with the peace which heaven alone can give."

"For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other forgiveness," he said in his address to Muslim leaders, including the Grand Mufti of Syria.

The pope who is retracing the biblical travels of St. Paul the Apostle on a six-day pilgrimage to Greece, Syria and Malta began the day with an open-air Mass for some 35,000 people in the Syrian capital's Abbasid Stadium. "In this holy land, Christians, Muslims and Jews are called to work together with confidence and boldness and to work to bring about without delay the day when the legal rights of all peoples are respected and they can live in peace and mutual understanding," the pope told the stadium crowd, speaking in French.


Pope Makes History in Mosque, Preaches Forgiveness
Arabs Accuse Pope of 'Jewish Lobby'
In Syria, ancient language of Christ proudly preserved

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

90. If we fervently desire holiness, the Holy Spirit at the outset gives the soul a full and conscious tast of God's sweetness, so that the intellect will know exactly of what the final reward of the spiritual life consists. But later He often conceals this precious and life-creating gift. He does this so that, even if we acquire all the other virtues, we should regard ourselves as nothing because we have not acquired divine love in a lasting form. It is at this stage that the demon of hate troubles the soul of the spiritual contestant more and more, leading him to accuse of hatred even those who love him, and defiling with hatred even the kiss of affection. The soul suffers all the more because it still preserves the memor of divine love; yet, since it is below the highest level of the spiritual life, it cannot experience this love actively.

May 5, 2001

(1 Tim 2:1-4) I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.


Pope John Paul II reached across a nearly 1,000-year divide Friday and issued a sweeping apology for the "sins of action and omission" by Roman Catholics against Orthodox Christians, including the sacking of Constantinople, the ancient center of Greek Byzantium. The declaration long sought by Orthodox leaders could provide a new foundation for the pope's attempt to mend the rupture between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity.

The historic move by the 80-year-old Pontiff came during at the start of a highly-charged visit in which Greek Archbishop Christodoulos, voicing the anger of many Orthodox faithful, called on the Pope to apologize for centuries of misdeeds. "For occasions past and present, when the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by actions and omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him," the white-clad Pope said in an address to Christodoulos. Christodoulos, who had only grudgingly gone along with the Pope's visit but refused joint prayers, burst into applause. The two men later embraced.

The two men signed a joint declaration that condemned "violence, proselytism and fanaticism in the name of religion" words clearly sought by the Orthodox who often accuse the Vatican of sending missionaries to their territory. "We are experiencing today events that two months ago were unthinkable," said John Paul's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls.


First worry, then confusion and, finally, a papal kiss
Malta, Ancient Bastion of Faith, Awaits Pope
Catholics, Jews Set Forth Plans for Cooperation

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

89 (cont.). In portraiture, when the full range of colours is added to the outline, the painter captures the likeness of the subject, even down to the smile. Something similar happens to those who are being repainted by God's grace in the divine likeness: when the luminosity of love is added, then it is evident that the image has been fully transformed into the beauty of the likeness. Love alone among the virtues can confer dispassion on the soul, for 'love is the fulfilling of the law' (Rom. 13:10). In this way our inner man is renewed day by day through the experience of love, and in the perfection of love it finds its own fulfillment.

May 4, 2001

Editor's Note: Let's all dedicate our First Friday devotions to the success of the Pope's pilgrimage!!!


On Wednesday, Pope John Paul spoke of his forthcoming pilgrimage to Greece, Syria and Malta, and asked the faithful to accompany him in prayer "on this trip which is so meaningful to me." Pope John Paul leaves today for Greece. He will travel to Syria on May 5 and will go to Malta on the 8th for the final leg of his pilgrimage.

The Pope said he was "fulfilling a desire, expressed within the perspective of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, to go personally to pray where God's initiative for the salvation of man was concretely expressed. After having been on the Sinai, where God revealed Himself to Moses, and in the Holy Land, I am now about to leave for several cities linked in special ways to St. Paul. My pilgrimage in the footsteps of the great apostle will be a return to the roots of the Church."

In asking for prayers for his trip, John Paul II said: "May this be a happy occasion to increase understanding with our Orthodox brothers, favoring further advances on the path to the full unity of Christians. I also hope that my visit to Syria and, in particular, the great mosque of Damascus will help to reinforce interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam."



The 2 Minute Briefing - Papal visit to Greece
Greek Orthodox Church fears Pope's visit will 'infect' country

(Eph 4:4-6) There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

89 (cont.). Our power of perception shows us that we are being formed into the divine likeness; but the perfecting of this likeness we shall know only by the light of grace. For through its power of perception the intellect regains all the virtues, other than spiritual love, as it advances according to a measure and rhythm which cannot be expressed; but no one can acquire spiritual love unless he experiences fully and clearly the illumination of the Holy Spirit. If the intellect does not receive the perfection of the divine likeness through such illumination, although it may have almost every other virtue, it will still have no share in perfect love. Only when it has been made like God- in so far, of course, as this is possible- does it bear the likeness of divine love as well.

May 3, 2001

Jan. 27, 1999 - John Paul II described the death penalty as a "cruel" and "unnecessary" punishment. The Pope said in St. Louis, Missouri: "Modern society has the means to protect itself and does not need to deny definitively the possibility of correction."


Jerry Frank Townsend, the mentally retarded drifter who confessed to murder after murder and was sent to prison two decades ago, was cleared Friday of two Florida killings that helped put him away for life.

DNA testing by the Broward Sheriff's Office pinned both murders on a different man: Eddie Lee Mosley. Townsend got an admission he had been wronged from Broward County's sheriff. He could eventually get something more: his freedom.

Although Townsend still faces life sentences from the early 1980s in four other slayings -- two in Broward, two in Miami-Dade -- all of the cases are now under review. Broward prosecutors say they will vacate Townsend's murder sentences there unless they find independent evidence to back up his questionable confessions, something the prosecution did not produce at trial.

Imprisoned in 1980, Townsend is serving two consecutive life sentences with minimum terms of 25 years each. A Broward judge will consider vacating one of those sentences in coming days. That would leave Townsend with four years left, at a minimum, on the remaining 25-year term. His other murder sentences are being served at the same time. But a judge could conceivably decide to free Townsend sooner.

"DNA is a wonderful thing,'' said Barbara Heyer, attorney for Townsend.

RELATED: Death-Penalty Moratorium Asked By U.N. Panel

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

89. Divine grace confers on us two gifts through the baptism of regeneration, one being infinitely superior to the other. The first gift is given to us at once, when grace renews us in the actual waters of baptism and cleanses all the lineaments of our soul, that is, the image of God in us, by washing away every stain of sin. The second- our likeness to God- requires our co-operation. When the intellect begins to perceive the Holy Spirit with full consciousness, we should realize that grace is beginning to paint the divine likeness over the divine image in us. Artists first draw the outline of a man in monochrome, and then add one colour after another, until little by little they capture the likeness of the subject down to the smallest details. In the same way the grace of God starts by remaking the divine image in man into what it was when he was first created. But when it sees us longing with all our heart for the beauty of the divine likeness and humbly standing naked in its atelier, then by making one virtue after another come into flower and exalting the beauty of the soul 'from glory to glory' (2 Cor. 3:18), it depicts the divine likeness on the soul.

May 2, 2001

Excerpt from the Hippocratic Oath: "I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy".


Women should be able to keep an advance prescription of "morning-after" pills in their medicine cabinets to prevent pregnancy if they have unprotected sex, the new head of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says.

Dr. Thomas F. Purdon asked the nation's 40,000 obstetrician-gynecologists to routinely offer women of childbearing age advance prescriptions for emergency contraceptives during checkups.

The proposal to distribute the pills through advance prescriptions follows efforts by the academy and other groups to make emergency contraception available over the counter. Uncertainty over when, or even if, over-the-counter sales will be approved prompted the academy to push its alternative plan.

"Although over-the-counter approval by the FDA would be the broadest step to increase women's access to emergency contraception, we can't afford to delay other steps while we wait for this scenario to occur," said Purdon.

The pills are designed to prevent conception by blocking the release of eggs from a woman's ovaries. If ovulation has already occurred when a woman has unprotected sex, they may also prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. But the pills won't work if implantation has occurred.

That's the big difference between morning-after pills and RU-486, which causes a miscarriage if taken early in pregnancy. The Vatican opposes both, but other abortion foes have been less vocal on "morning-after" pills.

FROM THE MAILBAG VIA Stephen A Rinehart:

Click on the following page,, to read a summary of some of the main differences between Catholics and Orthodox.

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

88 (cont.). Ever since our intellect fell into a state of duality with regard to its modes of knowledge, it has been forced to produce at one and the same moment both good and evil thoughts, even against its own will; and this applies especially in the case of those who have reached a high degree of discrimination. While the intellect tries to think continually of what is good, it suddenly recollects what is bad, since from the time of Adam's disobedience man's power of thinking has been split into two modes. But when we begin wholeheartedly to carry out the commandments of God, all our organs of perception will become fully conscious of the light of grace; grace will consume our thoughts with its flames, sweetening our hearts in the peace of uninterrupted love, and enabling us to think spiritual thoughts and no longer worldly thoughts. These effects of grace are always present in those who are approaching perfection and have the remembrance of the Lord Jesus unceasingly in their hearts.

May 1, 2001

(John 17:20-21)  "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.


Greek Orthodox leader Archbishop Christodoulos will not pray with Pope John Paul when he visits Athens next week but will lecture him on a 1,000 years of disputes between the two churches.

"There will be no joint praying whatsoever," the Holy Synod, the Greek church's administrative body, announced on Friday after a meeting to discuss the Pope's visit. Instead, Archbishop Christodoulos has been instructed to lay out for the Pope all Orthodox grievances, many stemming from the Greak Schism in 1054 which divided Christianity into Eastern and Western branches.

"(He) will present with honesty, clarity, theological and historical documentation, all issues of dogma, ecclesiastical and theological, which cause grief, bitterness and perplexity to the Orthodox world," Holy Synod spokesman, Metropolitan Efstathios, told reporters.

The two men, who have never met, will be together on three occasions during the May 4-5 visit, including walking on the Arios Pagos hill under the Acropolis, where Saint Paul preached to ancient Athenians in 51 AD.


Christian Credibility Demands Unity, Pope Insists
Religious leaders seeking a uniform date for Easter

The Philokalia excerpt: St. Diadochos "On Spiritual Knowledge"

88. When a man stands out of doors in winter at the break of day, facing the east, the front of his body is warmed by the sun, while his back is still cold because the sun is not on it. Similarly, the heart of those who are beginning to experience the energy of the Spirit is only partially warmed by God's grace. The result is that, while their intellect begins to produce spiritual thoughts, the outer parts of the heart continute to produce thoughts after the flesh, since the members of the heart have not yet all become fully conscious of the light of God's grace shining upon them. Because some people have not understood this, they have concluded that two beings are fighting one another in the intellect. But just as the man in our illustration both shivers and yet feels warm at the touch of the sun, so the soul may have both good and evil thoughts simultaneously.

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