Keep your eyes open!...


May 29, 2004


ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: It's a matter of honesty: to receive Communion, we need to be in communion


The Mass is an integral part of Catholic life.

While there have been some changes — better called reforms — in the Mass from time to time, the basic structure of the Mass has been one of remarkable consistency for more than 2,000 years.

The Second Vatican Council called the Eucharist the "source and summit of all Christian life," and the Mass is built around the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ. The Mass reaches back to the Last Supper and stretches to the present, providing a unity of worship and faith for the members of the Church.

The recent publication of "The Sacrament of Redemption" by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments details proper norms for the celebration of the Eucharist and specifies practices that are not permitted.

According to Father Thomas Keller, associate director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship, the need for such clarifications results from changes that evolve over time in the celebration of the Mass, "not through malice, but simply through mistaken ideas" and human error.

For many adult Catholics, the changes in the Mass following the Second Vatican Council were jolting, particularly the change in the language of the Mass from Latin to the vernacular, which, for most Americans, is English.

"The council permitted this change because it wanted the full participation of the people," said Father Keller. What many people don’t realize, he said, is "when Latin began being used in the Church, it was the vernacular."

In the earliest days of the Church, after the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, Christians celebrated Mass in private homes because Christianity itself was illegal.

"The apostles and the successors that they designated presided over the celebration of the Eucharist in the homes of prominent Christians," Father Keller said. "This went on until the fourth century, when the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and made it the religion of the Roman Empire. Then there were so many converts that large public buildings — called basilicas — were set aside as places of public worship."

The original language of the Church was Greek, he added. "The apostles would have spoken Aramaic. But Greek was the popular language of the time, and it wasn’t until about the third century that Latin became more popular. By the time of the public celebrations of worship, Latin had become more prevalent."

The ancient Greek prayer, the Kyrie, still used in Mass but today said in English as "Lord, have mercy," dates back to those ancient Greek liturgies, he said. Eucharist, he added, comes from the Greek word for thanksgiving.

The basic form of the Mass has remained the same for most of the history of the Church, Father Keller said. "The introductory rites, the Liturgy of the Word, which includes Scriptural readings and the homily, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the concluding rites and the dismissal. These have all basically been the same since about 200 A.D. or so, as attested in the writing of people like St. Justin the Martyr."

The early Christians incorporated the reading of Scripture from Jewish religious services and the Eucharist from the Last Supper.

"They celebrated the Eucharist, the great thanksgiving," he said. "The early Christians understood very clearly that it was the Body and Blood of Christ and the real Presence of Christ."

Over time, other changes evolved in the Mass, Father Keller explained. "A lot of the public worship ceremonial came from court life and was adapted to Christian liturgy, like incense. The ceremonial garments had symbolic values, especially with connections to the poor or to baptism. The white albs of the priests and deacons are symbols of baptism, the stole is a symbol of service."

As the Mass evolved over time, so did efforts at reform and simplification, to return it to its original pure form, he said.

"Almost every few generations there have been tremendous efforts of reform in the Church, by various popes, bishops, even emperors," he said.

"Pope Gregory the Great standardized the Eucharistic Prayer, known as the Roman Canon, and began the establishment of standardized music for the Roman rite around 600 A.D. known as Gregorian chant.

The Emperor Charlemagne (742 to 814) brought about uniformity in the missals used in his Holy Roman Empire. And many councils in the Church brought about clarifications in the Liturgy and even in the liturgical calendar."

When the Protestant movement broke away from the Catholic Church, it rejected such matters of faith as the sacraments and the authority of the Church, choosing to rely on Scripture alone as its religious guide.

Church leaders formed the Council of Trent in 1570 to clarify Church teaching and provide unity in wake of the Protestant movement. The council itself made few changes to the Mass, but afterward the Pope, St. Pius V, declared that all priests of the Roman Church must follow the Roman Missal he had prepared when saying Mass, without adding in or leaving out a single word without his authority.

There were some small changes in ensuing centuries, but the next major changes came as a result of the Second Vatican Council, held in Rome from 1963 to 1965. One of its documents, "The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy," established guidelines for reform of the Liturgy and the direction for worship within the Roman Church.

"The primary reform was of the Roman Missal," said Father Keller.

"Along with that came a period of experimentation in parishes and dioceses, in an attempt to implement the guidelines and the directives in ‘The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy.’ "Since then, clarifications have come out of the Holy See where specific instances and practices should be adopted or discontinued," he said, "such as in translations and particular practices in various parishes."

"One issue of the (Second Vatican) council is simplification of the ritual. Much of the ceremony and small symbols, such as making the sign of the cross, was duplicated. There was duplication of prayers, excessive symbols," he said. "All of that was reformed in an attempt to get to the heart of the Mass, found in the more simple form of earlier centuries."

Pope John Paul II has called for a renewal in the Church in both its relationship to the Eucharist and its liturgical practices.

The current document, "The Sacrament of Redemption," addresses specifically instances where experimentation has led to misunderstandings about the Mass, the theology of the Eucharist and other Church issues, Father Keller said.

"The goal is to return to the essential elements of the Mass," said Father Keller, "the hearing the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Word and the celebration of Christ’s presence in the reception of holy Communion."

ONLINE RESOURCE: The Holy Mass Explained

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

20. One kind of joy occurs at the time of prayer for those living in a community, and another comes to those who pray in stillness. The one is perhaps somewhat elated, but the other is wholly filled with humility.

May 27, 2004

Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the Commission for Relations with Jews,: "Young Christians still do not have much hope, and this leads to a major exodus from the region. This has caused great harm (to the community), since the Christian Church has had a strong presence for centuries in the Holy Land. If we go (there) we don’t want to be considered mere lifeless rocks, but living ones. All this must be faced and discussed.”

STORY OF THE DAY: Palestinian carving custom follows exodus of Christian population

VIA Dr. Abe Ata: Exodus of the Palestinian Christians

The Palestinian Christian is an endangered species. When the modern state of Israel was established there were about 400000 of us. Two years ago the number was down to 80000. Now it’s down to 60000. At that rate, in a few years there will be none of us left.

Palestinian Christians within Israel fare little better. On the face of it, their number has grown by 20000 since 1991. But this is misleading, for the census classification ‘Christian’ includes some 20000 recent non-Arab migrants from the former Soviet Union.

So why are Palestinian Christians abandoning their homeland?

We have lost hope, that’s why. We are treated as non-people. Few outside the Middle East even know we exist, and those who do, conveniently forget. I refer, of course, to the American Religious Right. They see the modern Israel as a harbinger of the Second Coming, at which time Christians will go to Paradise, and all others (presumably including Jews) to Hell. To this end they lend military and moral support to Israel.

Even by the double-dealing standards of international diplomacy this is a breathtakingly cynical bargain. It is hard to know who is using whom more: the Christian Right for offering secular power in the expectation that the Jewish state will be destroyed by a greater spiritual one; or the Israeli Right for accepting their offer. What we do know is that both sides are abusing the Palestinians. Apparently we don’t enter into anyone’s calculations.

The views of the Israeli Right are well known: they want us gone. Less well known are the views of the American Religious Right. Strangely, they find the liberation Iraqis from a vile dictator just, but do not find it unjust for us to be under military occupation for 38 long years. Said Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma): ‘God Appeared to Abraham and said: “I am giving you this land,”the West Bank. This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.’ House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) was even more forthright: ’I'm content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank… I happen to believe that the Palestinians should leave.’ There is a phrase for this. Ethnic cleansing.

So why do American Christians stand by while their leaders advocate the expulsion of fellow Christians? Could it be that they do not know that the Holy Land has been a home to Christians since, well… since Christ?

Do not think I am asking for special treatment for Christians. Ethnic cleansing is evil whoever does it and to whomever it is done. Palestinian Christians: Anglican, Maronite Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Armenians, Baptists, Copts and Assyrians have been rubbing shoulders with each other and with other religions: Muslims, Jews, Druze and (most recently) Baha’is for centuries. We want to do so for centuries more. But we can’t if we are driven out by despair.
What we seek is support: material, moral, political and spiritual. As Palestinians we grieve for what we have lost, and few people (the Ashkenazi Jews are one) have lost more than us. But grief can be assuaged by the fellowship of friends.

Signed Prof. Abe W. Ata is a 9th generation Christian Palestinian born in Bethlehem

SEE ALSO: Challenges of New Franciscan Custodian of Holy Land

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

19. The beginning of prayer consists in banishing by a single thought the thoughts that assault us at the very moment that they appear; the middle stage consists in confining our minds to what is being said and thought; and its perfection is rapture in the Lord.

May 26, 2004


SALT LAKE CITY — “The center of our religion is the Eucharist,” said Father Charles Ramirez, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Monrovia, Calif., in the opening Mass of the Our Lady of Fatima Conference, April 30-May 2, at the Red Lion Hotel. “Sometimes we do not realize God’s mercy. God said, ‘I am a God of mercy.’ Through the Eucharist, we are constantly striving for greater holiness.” Fr. Ramirez said God sees what we can become day in and day out. God never gives up on us and Mary, our mother, prays for us.

Sue Taylor, president of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, Salt Lake City Division, said “We not only have people from Utah at this conference, we have people from Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New York, California, Indiana, Nevada, and Washington, who have come to hear these messages and take them home to their parishes.” She said the conference was held to teach the Catholic faith or deepen the faith of those attending. The conference was sponsored by the Blue Army of Salt Lake City, and assisted by the National Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, headquartered in Washington, D. C.

Bishop George Niederauer of the Diocese of Salt Lake City said it is enormously important for us, as the Catholic Church in Utah, to have this conference here to witness, to pray with us and for us, and to begin so much devotion. It is wonderful to have that sense of how privileged we are as Catholics to have, not just Jesus as our Savior, but Mary as our mother, and Joseph as our intercessor.

“The Catholic church in Utah is flourishing because of God’s grace, and the intercession of Our Lady,” said Bishop Niederauer. “Ask Mary, the mother of all priests, for vocations in your diocese and in ours as well.” The opening speaker was Tim Staples, whose talk was “All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed.” Staples converted to Catholicism in 1988, and studied for the priesthood until 1994. He is now married and an evangelist.

Staples said all of the dogmas of our faith are centered on Christ, including the Marian dogmas. The greatest of Mary’s titles is the mother of God, and for many years he denied that dogma in his Protestant beliefs. In seeing the truth about Mary, he realized the prejudice toward the Catholic Church he held in his heart because everything he heard about Catholicism was negative.

“When the angel Gabriel asked Mary to be the mother of God, he waited for her response,” said Staples. “The word was made flesh and our salvation made possible. We are called to follow in Mary’s footsteps and say ‘Yes’ to God. Christ can be born in us and the world can be changed.” Fr. Ramirez said in a healing service, we are all like the leper whom Jesus healed because we have all sinned. We all have hurts, broken hearts, misunderstandings, and we all mourn. But we must bury our egos and allow God to mold us. Our conversion is a life-long process and takes the grace of perseverance and prayer to happen.

“God always hears our prayers, he just does not always answer us the way we want him to,” he said. “Let go and let God take control of your life.” Mercy Father Wade Menezes said all proper Marian devotion is Christ- centered. Mary is never referred to in any of the gospels without, at least, an implicit reference to her son. For example, at the Annunciation, Mary is asked to be Jesus’ mother.

He said if you tamper with the title of Mary as the mother of God, you also tamper with the debate as to whether or not Jesus is God. How Marian devotion must be Christocentric can be seen in one of the church’s principal non-liturgical prayers — the rosary. The rosary is directly addressed to Christ.

“Saint Padre Pio said, ‘Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today,’” said. Fr. Menezes.

In Fr. Menezes’ talk “Thirteen Basic Points to Help Foster Your Spiritual Life,” he said the devil is so cunning. Man’s free will is his greatest gift to choose for God instead of against God. Only man is made in the image and likeness of God. The 13 points are:

1. Monthly confession. The law is once a year if you are free of mortal sin.
2. Weekly eucharist coupled with a weekly visit to the blessed sacrament — adoration.
3. Morning offering upon rising.
4. Pray five decades of the rosary each day.
5. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is the devotion of the third millennium.
6. Two daily examinations of conscience – one at midday, and a general examination at the end of the day, and close with the Act of Contrition.
7. Say short fervent prayers 20 times a day.
8. Include a daily reading of the Mass or a daily reader such as Magnificat.
9. Read the bible.
10. Read five paragraphs of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
11. Read a good, condensed version of the life of a saint.
12. Read St. Faustina’s diary.
13. Use sacramentals such as holy water.

VIA Sue Taylor: The talks referred to in the above article are available in a complete conference tape/cd package provided by St. Joseph Communications. The 8 audio cassettes are $40.00 for the complete set and the 8 CD's are priced at $50.00 for the complete set. Orders can be made through our Blue Army Gift Store by calling 1-866-513-1917 or if the order desk is not ready to accept orders call St. Joseph Communications at 1-866-526-2151 or visit: The Messages of Fatima---ask for Our Lady of Fatima Conference Tapes or CD's. If you have trouble ordering contact Sue Taylor at: [email protected].

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

18. If you have ever seen the Sun (of Righteousness) as you ought, you will also be able to converse with Him fitly. But if not, how can you truly hold converse with what you have not seen?

May 25, 2004

POPE JOHN PAUL II: “To all those here today I once again extend my invitation to pray for world peace, especially in Iraq and the Middle East. With the support of international community these dear nations can make definite steps on the road to reconciliation, dialog and cooperation.”


Pope John Paul has marked the 100th anniversary of Rome's synagogue by saying Muslims, Jews and Christians all have to play a part in ending violence in the Holy Land.

The Pope said he is concerned over "the too much innocent blood [which is] being shed by Israelis and Palestinians, which blocks out the dawn of a peace based on justice."

Pope John Paul II Condemns Anti-Semitism

Pope John Paul II condemned anti-Semitism Sunday in a message read in Rome's central synagogue, where the pontiff made history with a visit in 1986.

The pontiff sent two top-ranking cardinals to the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the temple.

Last month, a senior Vatican official said John Paul turned down the Jewish community's invitation to attend because he didn't want to take away from the "unique and historic" character of his visit two decades ago, the first ever by a pope to a synagogue.

Heavy security surrounded the gathering in the monumental temple, whose soaring dome dominates Rome's Old Ghetto neighborhood, home to one of the world's longest continuously inhabited Jewish communities.

In 1982, Arab terrorists attacked the synagogue, killing a 2-year-old boy and wounding 36 people.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian bishops conference and papal vicar for Rome, read the message from the pope, who said his 1986 visit "remains engraved in my memory and my heart as a symbol" of improved relations between Jews and the Catholic church.

"The Church has restated in a clear and definitive way the refusal of anti-Semitism in all its expressions," the pontiff said. His message referred to the groundbreaking declaration of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

But "the dutiful deploring and condemnation of hostilities against the Jewish people, which often characterized history, isn't enough," the message said. "We need to also develop friendship, esteem and brotherly relations" with Jews.

Only hours earlier, European Jewish leaders meeting in Hungary said anti-Semitism was on the rise.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

17. Try to lift up, or rather, to enclose your thought within the words of your prayer, and if in its infant state it wearies and falls, lift it up again. Instability is natural to the mind, but God is powerful to establish all things. If you persevere indefatigably in this labour, He who sets the bounds to the sea of the mind will visit you too, and during your prayer will say to the waves: Thus far shall ye come and no further (Cf. Job 38:11). Spirit cannot be bound; but where the Creator of the spirit is, everthing obeys.

May 22, 2004


Via Jim McCrea: The infinite sanctity of God

Many may find this hard to accept, but great saints have said that if earth and heaven and all the angels and saints within them would be spared destruction, if we would commit one slight sin, we would not be permitted to commit it. Nothing - absolutely nothing can justify the least sin.

This is because the sanctity of God, so offended, is infinite. God's dignity is completely beyond our comprehension, and his rights and His dignity infinitely exceeds human rights and dignity. With God, we have an infinitely transcendent order of being. All things are zero in comparison to Him.

Fortunately, there is God's mercy, which is equal to His dignity, which allows us poor sinners to survive. He leads us bit by bit, tolerating our sins and disclosing them only to the extent that we are able to eradicate them and advance towards Him.

But in His love (which is equal to His mercy and His dignity) He has created us for the infinite happiness of heaven. His Son died for us poor sinners so that we may get there. The infinite attributes of God should not frighten us, but fill us with consolation. It is precisely those infinite attributes of dignity, sanctity, purity, mercy, and love, (along with infinite beauty and truth) that will be the cause of our infinite happiness in heaven. As Christ said [only] the pure of heart shall see God.

VIA Abbas Anthony:  YOU SAY and so, GOD SAYS

You say: "It's impossible"
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired"
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 3:34)

You say: "I can't go on"
God says: My grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "I can't do it"
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able"
God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it"
God says: It will be worth it (Roman 8:28)

You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: I Forgive you (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage"
God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid"
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)

You say: "I don't have enough faith"
God says: I've given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)

You say: "I'm not smart enough"
God says: I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone"
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

16. Until we have acquired genuine prayer, we are like people teaching children to begin to walk.

May 21, 2004

Patriarch Michel Sabbah: "Humanly speaking, for the time being there is no perspective of peace," he said. "In the meantime, we live by bearing the cross, but with the cross we also bear in our hearts all the hope of the Resurrection."


Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is playing to full houses in the Syrian capital Damascus.  Watching it here turns out to be much the same as watching it on opening night in New York—customarily rowdy moviegoers observe a reverent silence, the usual sound of candy wrappers is replaced by sobbing and gasping, and, at the end of it all, the audience files out of the theater in silence and contemplation.  Many of those watching the movie on this occasion are Palestinian Christian refugees whose parents or grandparents were purged from their homeland—the land of Christ—at the foundation of Israel in 1948.  For them the movie has an underlying symbolic meaning not easily perceived in the West: not only is it a depiction of the trial, scourging, and death of Jesus, it is also a symbolic depiction of the fate of the Palestinian people.  “This is how we feel,” says Zaki, a 27-year old Palestinian Christian whose family hails from Haifa.  “We take beating after beating at the hands of the world, they crucify our people, they insult us, but we refuse to surrender.”

Today it is believed that the number of Christians in Israel and occupied Palestine number some 175,000, just over 2 percent of the entire population, but the numbers are rapidly dwindling due to mass emigration.  Of those who have remained in the region, most live in Lebanon, where they share in the same bottomless misery as all other refugees, confined to camps where schools are under-funded and overcrowded, where housing is ramshackle, and sanitary conditions are appalling.  Most, however, have fled the region altogether.  No reliable figures are available, but it is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 Palestinian Christians currently live in the U.S.

Among the remnant communities in Palestine, most belong to the traditional Christian confessions.  The largest group is Greek Orthodox, followed by Catholics (Roman, Syrian, Maronite, and Melkite), Armenian Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans.  There is also a small but influential Quaker presence.  These communities are centered in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and Ramallah.

Christians find themselves under the hammer of the Israeli occupation to no less an extent than Muslims, yet America—supposedly a Christian country—stands idly by because its most politically influential Christians have decided that Palestinian Christians are acceptable collateral damage in their apocalyptic quest.  “To be a Christian from the land of Christ is an honor,” says Abbas, a Palestinian Christian whose family lived in Jerusalem for many generations until the purge of 1948.  “To be expelled from that land is an injury, and these Zionist Christians in America add insult.”

Abbas is one of the handful of Palestinian Christians that could be described as Evangelical, belonging to a group that appears to be distantly related to the Plymouth Brethren.  Cherishing the role of devil’s advocate, I had to ask him, “Is the State of Israel not in fact the fulfillment of God’s promise and a necessary step in the second coming of Christ?” Abbas looked at me briefly and laughed.  “You’re kidding, right?  You know what they do to our people and our land.  If I thought that was part of God’s plan, I’d be an atheist in a second.”


Israel Condemned as Missile Attack Kills Young Protesters
Israel Continues Offensive Despite Outcry
Israel's house demolitions leave hundreds homeless
Troubled times for Christians in Middle East

EDITORIAL: "Operation Rainbow"- the Palestinian Viewpoint

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

15. If you are clothed in all meekness and freedom from anger, you will not have much trouble in loosing your mind from captivity.

May 20, 2004

(Luke 24:50-51) And he led them out as far as Bethania: and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. And it came to pass, whilst he blessed them, he departed from them and was carried up to heaven.

Excerpt of HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II 24 May 1979

And the second reflection on the meaning of the Ascension is found in this phrase: Jesus took his place. After having undergone the humiliation of his passion and death, Jesus took his place at the right-hand of God; he took his place with his eternal Father. But he also entered heaven as our Head. Whereupon, in the expression of Leo the Great, the glory of the Head became the hope of the body. For all eternity Christ takes is place as the firstborn among many brethren: our nature is with God in Christ. And as man, the Lord Jesus lives for ever to intercede for us with Father. At the same time, from his throne of glory, Jesus sends out to the whole Church a message of hope and a call to holiness.

Because of Christ’s merits, because of his intercession with the Father, we are able to attain justice and holiness of life, in him. The Church may indeed experience difficulties, the Gospel may suffer setbacks, but because Jesus is at the right-hand of the Father the Church will never know defeat. Christ’s victory is ours. The power of the glorified Christ, the beloved Son of the eternal Father, is superabundant, to sustain each of us and all of us in the fidelity of our dedication to God’s Kingdom and in the generosity of our celibacy. The efficacy of Christ’s Ascension touches all us in the concrete reality of our daily lives. Because of this mystery it is the vocation of the whole Church to wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Dear sons, be imbued with the hope that is so much a part of the mystery of the Ascension of Jesus. Be deeply conscious of Christ’s victory and triumph over sin and death. Realize that the strength of Chist is greater than our weakness, greater than the weakness of the whole world. Try to understand and share the joy that Mary experienced in knowing that her Son had taken his place with his Father, whom he loved infinitely. And renew your faith today in the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has gone to prepare a place for us, so that he can come back again and take us to himself.

This is the mystery of the Ascension of our Head. Let us always remember: Jesus gave instructions, and then Jesus took his place. Amen.

FROM Saint Augustine, bishop "Sermo de Ascensione Domini"

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

14. Oil and salt are seasonings for food; and tears and chastity give wings to prayer.

May 19, 2004


EXCERPT HOMILY FATHER ALTIER: We are called to true holiness. We are called to the peace that Jesus offers to us. It is a peace, He says, that the world cannot give. The world says, “You will have peace as long as you have lots of money. You will have peace as long as you have pleasure. You will have peace as long as you can do what everyone else does and fit in.” It is a very fleeting peace and it is a very surface-level peace. When you are united with Christ and you are in the state of grace, you will have a deep and profound peace, a peace which no one can take away from you because it is spiritual; it is not temporal. It is something which is deep and profound, not something which is surface-level. It is something which is unchanging because it is the peace of Christ, Who is unchanging. It is not the kind of worldly, external peace that changes with social mores where if you do not wear the right kind of clothes or you do not have the right kind of hair style or if you do not do things like everyone else then you do not fit in and therefore you do not have peace. The peace of Christ is an abiding peace, and that is His gift to us: the peace of knowing that what you are doing is right.

Reflection by Father Ted, May 16, 2004

My dearest Lord Jesus, again today You offer to us Your gift of peace. And it is not like the peace that the world offers to us.

Your peace is the result of accepting the tremendous love that the Father and You offer to us through the Holy Spirit.

Your peace enables us to recognize that You are the Lord of the Universe.

Your peace allows us to accept not only our gifts but also our limitations.

Your peace permits us to surrender our own plans - in order to permit You to accomplish the plans of the Father - which is the salvation of Your people.

Through Your gift of peace we know that we need Your help to know the Will of the Father and to accomplish all that You want us to do to bring Your peace to others.

Through this realization we can rightly ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit - whom You promised not only to Your disciples on Holy Thursday evening, but also to us.

You have asked us to ask for the Holy Spirit - who is the Spirit of Truth and of Love.

When we have the Holy Spirit within us we can recognize the Truth and we can live the Truth.

And we can proclaim the Truth, in love, to others - because we want them to experience the fullness of Your divine love just as we are doing so.

On Easter Sunday night, when You came to visit Your Apostles, You gave to them, first of all, Your Peace.

Not once, but twice, You spoke: "Peace!"

They received Your Peace.

Then You breathed upon them and gave to them Your Spirit - as You declared: "Receive the Holy Spirit!"

This gifting of Your Holy Spirit enabled them to forgive their brothers and sisters the sins that they had committed - which either weakened the gift of peace which they had received earlier or wiped it out because of their behavior.

When we sin - which many today deny- we weaken that Peace which You have given to us. And sometimes we destroy it - through mortal sin.

Yet You want us to possess Your gift of Peace.

That is why You exhort us to admit our sins - to repent of our sins - and to confess our sins - to Your priests.

For it is sin that hinders us from experiencing this Peace of Yours.

Help us Lord Jesus, to accept Your Peace in the way that You offer it to us.

May we, Your beloved children today, do so as willingly and as humbly as did they on that Easter Sunday night.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

13. Though you may have climbed the whole ladder of the virtues, pray for forgiveness of sins.  Listen to the cry of Paul regarding sinners: Of whom I am chief (1 Tim 1: 15).

May 18, 2004

POPE JOHN PAUL II: "There is no space for compromising on truth."



Pope John Paul II named six new saints Sunday, including a woman who became a symbol for abortion opponents because she refused to end her pregnancy despite warnings that it could kill her.

Gianna Beretta Molla was the 10th of 13 children of a devout, well-educated Catholic family of whom three entered religious life. She graduated in medicine and intended to work as a lay missionary, but then married an engineer. She continued to work in Italy as a pediatrician, even though they soon had four children.

Dr Molla, although aware of womb cancer from the second month of pregnancy for her fourth child, refused an abortion. Her doctor recommended it for the complete removal of a fibrous tumor. She agreed to an operation only provided it did not endanger the child.

Later she ordered that if her life or that of the child had to be sacrificed during the birth, the child was to be saved. Both survived the birth, but Dr Molla died a week later, on April 28, 1962. She was 39 when she died. The child, Gianna Emanuela, is still alive.

Some feminists, including Gloria Buffo, an MP of the formerly communist Democratic Left, criticise the choice Dr Molla made because it implies unborn life is more valuable than that of a woman.

Her canonisation is in keeping with Pope John Paul's consistent opposition to abortion. Legislation on abortion is a live issue in the US presidential campaign of John Kerry, a pro-choice Catholic.

The canonisation is also in keeping with John Paul's desire to create near-contemporary lay saints to serve as models. During his reign he has created more saints - 476 - than all his predecessors together since canonisation procedures were standardised in the 17th century.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: "May our age be able to rediscover, through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!"

OF INTEREST: Colo. Bishop Issues Warning to Voters

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

12. Do not be bold, even though you may have attained purity; but rather approach with great humility, an you will receive still more boldness.

May 14, 2004




Terrorism is not an enemy. It is a method. It is the most sinister, brutal, inhumane method of our age. But it is nonetheless just that: a method. You cannot, and you do not, make war on a method. War is made on an identified — and identifiable — enemy.

In the here and now, that enemy is militant Islam — a very particular practice and interpretation of a very particular set of religious, political and social principles.

The men who carried out the World Trade Center bombing spent years training for it, mostly in rural outposts remote from Manhattan — like Calverton, Long Island, western Pennsylvania, and northern Connecticut. There, they drilled in shooting, hand-to-hand combat, and improvised explosive devices. From about 1988 on, they were operating here, and saw themselves as a committed jihad army in the making.

They were fully convinced that their religion compelled them to brutality. And unlike us, they had no queasiness: They were absolutely clear about who their enemy was. They did not talk in jingos about the "War on Freedom," or the "War on Liberty." They talked about the War on America, the War on Israel, and the War on West. They were plainspoken about whom they sought to defeat and why.

Their leader was a blind Egyptian cleric named Omar Abdel Rahman, the emir of an international terrorist organization called the "Islamic Group." This was a precursor of al Qaeda, responsible for the infamous 1981murder of Anwar Sadat for the great crime of making peace with Israel. Abdel Rahman continues to this day to have a profound influence on Osama bin Laden; his sons have been linked to al Qaeda, and one of bin Laden's demands continues to be that America free the "Blind Sheikh," who is now serving a life sentence.

Abdel Rahman laid out the principles of his terror group — including its American division — with alarming clarity: Authority to rule did not come from the people who are governed; it came only from Allah — a God who, in Abdel Rahman's depiction, was not a God of mercy and forgiveness, but a God of wrath and vengeance, and a God single-mindedly consumed with the events of this world. For the Blind Sheikh and his cohorts, there would be no toleration for other religions or other views. There was militant Islam, and there was everybody else.

All the world was divided into two spheres — and it is very interesting how those spheres were referred to: the first was Dar al Islam, or the domain of the Muslims; the second was Dar al Harb. You might assume that Dar al Harb would be the domain of the non-Muslims. It is not. It is instead the domain of war. The militants perceive themselves as in a constant state of war with those who do not accept their worldview.

Sometimes that war is hot and active. Sometimes it is in recess while the militants take what they can get in negotiations and catch their breath for the next rounds of violence. But don't be fooled: the war never ends — unless and until all the world accepts their construction of Islam.

MORE: Militant Islam Is Moving Ahead As Expected

COMMENTARY: The Sacred Muslim Practice of Beheading


Disgust Over Beheading Video
Death Toll in Nigeria Riots 500-600 - Christians
Forced Islamization Under Way in Western Sudan

OF INTEREST: Vatican warns Catholics against marrying Muslims

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

11. If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it; for then our guardian angel is praying with us.

May 13, 2004

Mat 24:11  And many false prophets shall rise and shall seduce many.

LINK: The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed by Hilaire Belloc


For Hamtramck, a city of 23,000 surrounded by Detroit, the battle of the loudspeaker, which the city council approved last Tuesday, had revealed a crossfire of religious, ethnic and lifestyle grievances.

The sentiments were aggravated by the lingering memories of Sept 11, which left many Muslims here feeling they were under suspicion.

Once an enclave of Polish immigrants, Hamtramck had since the 1990s become a haven for immigrants from Bangladesh, Yemen, Pakistan, Bosnia and other countries and has a large Muslim population.

In the 2000 census, 41 per cent of the city's population was born outside America.

Three mosques have opened in the past few years, increasing in size while the congregations at neighbouring Roman Catholic churches dwindled.

Yet the ethnic populations had coexisted with little overt friction.

'Even after 9/11, we had no problems,' said Mr Abdul Motlib of the al-Islah mosque, which serves mostly Bangladeshis.

Then last year, he applied for approval to amplify the call to prayer, a sonorous invocation in Arabic that lasts up to two minutes.

For some long-time residents, like 68-year-old Joanne Golen, a born-again Christian, the request crossed a line.

'My main objection is simple,' she said. 'I don't want to be told that Allah is the true and only God five times a day, 365 days a year.

'It's against my constitutional rights to have to listen to another religion evangelise in my ear.' Some residents complained about the potential noise.

But Mr Motlib said the mosque had applied for approval 'because we want to be good neighbours'.


France: Muslim Population Flexing its Muscles
Czech Republic: Many Looking To Islam In Their Search For Spirituality

AUTHOR: "Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

10. Do not try to be verbose when you pray, lest your mind be distracted in searching for words. One word of the publican propitiated God, and one cry of faith saved the thief. Loquacity in prayer often distracts the mind and leads to phantasy, whereas brevity makes for concentration.

May 12, 2004

(John 14:27) Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid.

TODAY'S HOMILY BY FATHER ROBERT ALTIER: Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading that He gives to us His peace. That is the gift He left to us. And He tells us that with His peace we do not need to be afraid; in fact, He makes it extremely clear: Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. These things are going to be very important for us. He tells us that He told us all of this so that when it happens we may believe. He tells us also that the prince of this world is about to come; and while he has no power over Our Lord, nonetheless, this is what needs to happen. Our Lord, knowing what was going to be happening to Him, was at peace in His own heart. He knew that He had to suffer and die, He knew that the devil was going to have his moment, but He also knew that when it was all said and done that He Himself was going to be victorious.

We have the exact same knowledge. We know the power that the devil has. All we have to do is walk outside and look around. These days, you do not even have to go outside; just turn on the stupid TV set or the radio and you can see and hear very clearly the power that the old boy has because he is everywhere, or at least that is what he wants us to think. He is not. He has been given great power, but that is an opportunity for us to be able to make some choices as to whom we will serve.

As Saint Paul told us in the first reading, we are going to have to undergo many trials before we enter the kingdom of God. That is not an option. If you think about Saint Paul and the context of it, we hear that he was stoned to the point of being taken for dead and dragged out of the city. He gets right back up and walks back in and starts to preach all over again, and then goes to these other places and tells the disciples to continue on and that they too are going to have to suffer if they want to enter the kingdom of God. And so it is for all of us.

The real tragedy is that we have things rather backwards. The devil has incredible power right now and the way he is using that power is to try to make things easy for everybody. The tragedy is that none of us seems to be too terribly afraid of that – we like it. We like the money; we like the ease; we like all the stuff the devil is offering to us, all the materialism, all the sensuality. I do not see too terribly many people who are afraid of it. But the thought of being with Our Lord is something that terrifies people, that is, the thought of judgment. To have to stand before the Lord and know that we are going to be judged, that is something that frightens people. Isn’t it sad that we are not afraid to be with Satan, but we are terrified to be with Jesus? That says something pretty unfortunate about ourselves when that is the reality of our lives.

The fact of the matter is that there are going to be some things in the next couple of months that are going to shake the world, and it is going to be terrifying unless we have faith because we will have to rely solely on God. If we do not, we are going to fall. The choice is completely ours. We can be afraid, we can pull into ourselves, and we will have no hope. Or we can turn to God, we can be at peace, and we can be filled with hope. It is just that simple. The Lord has given us His peace, and He has told us not to be afraid, not to be afraid of anything. In the context, He tells us that He is going to the Father and He is going to come back to us, and that in His Father’s house there are many mansions. So He is telling us that ultimately we do not even have to be afraid of death. If we are doing God’s Will, we have nothing at all to fear – nothing.

If we were trusting in God, we would be rejoicing that things are happening. We need to. It is time that we stand up and say, “It’s about time that God intervenes in this world.” And it is not going to be a singular intervention; it is going to go on for a while. The evil is going to get more evil, but the good are going to get even better. So we have, again, that choice to make. We have to make a choice for Jesus Christ and be at peace with that choice. The only alternative is to be with Satan. If we stop and think about it, the way the world is going right now, if most people are perfectly at peace with Satan and they are terrified of Jesus, what is going to happen on the Day of the Lord? They are going to run from God, and they are going to turn to the devil because he is the one who has provided for them all of the nonsense and all of the garbage they have filled their lives with. Turning in to the self, in that case, is the same thing as turning to the devil because we are turning away from God.

It is critical that we pray, that we have our focus proper, that we are turning to God, that we are seeking God, that we look to Him for everything, and that we put our faith into practice because that will be the only option; there will be no other. But that is the choice we have to make. And just as it is with death – that at the last moment of our lives we have to make that ultimate choice – if we are accustomed to saying “yes” to God, we will say “yes” to Him in that last choice; if we are accustomed to saying “no” to God and turning from Him to ourselves, in that last moment of life we will probably once again turn away from God. So now, if we are accustomed to turning to God in prayer, then when things get really ugly we are going to turn to God in prayer. If we are accustomed to turning away from God, if we are accustomed to cursing Him when things do not go our way, then when things get really bad we are probably going to do the same thing. This is our last opportunity now to make that choice to turn to God, to immerse ourselves in prayer, and to get accustomed to doing that because very soon it will be too late and we will not have that option any longer. Jesus made perfectly clear the way that His disciples should be: not to be troubled or afraid because His peace has been given to each one of us.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

9. Do not be over-sophisticated in the words you use when praying, because the simple and unadorned lisping of children has often won the heart of their Heavenly Father.

May 11, 2004


The month of May is dedicated to the Christian devotion of Mary, hence Pope John Paul II’s words of reflection prior to his noontime praying of the Regina Caeli together with faithul below in St. Peter’s Square.

To conquer hatred and violence in our society, the pope said, we must resort to Mary “with love and hope”, allowing her to take us in under her protection and guidance with her “maternally untiring” heart.

John Paul II gave a special reminder about the feast Our Lady of Fatima this May 13. The pope holds particularly dear this date: on May 13, 1981 John Paul II was nearly mortally wounded in St. Peter’s Square, with his assasin's bullet just missing his vital organs (a miraculous intervention which he claims occured on behalf of Mary).

After praying the Regina Caeli, the pope reminded faithful of the date of Mother’s Day, celebrated the second Sunday of May. Below is the full version of the Pope’s words of reflection (translation by AsiaNews):

“During the month of May, God’s people feel the need to intensify their devotion to Mary, whose maternal presence is a support to Christians throughout the world.

Since the young maiden of Nazareth declared her “fiat”, her virginal and motherly heart, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has forever followed the work of her Son, seeking to help all those whom Christ has and continues to embrace in his untiring love for man. " (Redemptor Hominis, 22). If, therefore, Christ’s mercy is inexhaustible, His Mother’s immaculate heart is “maternally untiring”. (Ibid.)

While hanging on the Cross Jesus wanted to broaden, in a way easily accessible to everyone, Mary spiritual maternity through giving his favorite disciple over to her care (cf. John 19, 26). Since then generation after generation of faithful have called upon her protection and guidance, resorting to her with love and hope. And Our Lady expressed her motherliness “in her unique closeness to man and all his affairs.” (Redemptor Hominis, 22).

If only men would take notice of this extraordinary gift, they would feel much more easily like brothers, giving up hatred and violence to open their hearts to pardon those who have offended them and grant unconditional respect for the dignity of every person!

With a few days, on May 13, we will celebrate the Virgin Mary’s apparition in Fatima, where she called the world to conversion.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray so that even men and women in our day well accept the urgent call of Mary who watches over the Church and whole word with love.”

A LOOK BACK: Fatima, Portugal " Our Lady of Fatima"

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

8. If you have ever been under trial before an earthly judge, you will not need any other pattern for your attitude in prayer. But if you have never stood before a judge yourself and have not seen others being cross-questioned, then learn at least from the way the sick implore the surgeons when they are about to be operated on or cauterized.

May 8, 2004


(John 6:48-50) I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert: and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven: that if any man eat of it, he may not die.


VIA Jim McCrea: In defense of perpetual Eucharistic adoration

VIA Nadine: Why The Mass Matters So Much! By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

We have all heard the expression, "It's the Mass that matters", but do we really understand why it matters so much? In a word, the Mass should mean a great deal to us because Calvary meant so much to God.

Let's start off by saying that only in and through Christ is the fullness of divine worship given to God and are we perfectly reconciled to God. Our Lord accomplished this principally by His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. This "Paschal Mystery" is renewed and re-presented at each Sacrifice of the Mass. We are enabled to offer all this to God at Holy Mass. It's your greatest gift to God.

Did you really appreciate the urgency of your need to offer this sacrifice? Your dependence on God is so basic and complete that even your most heartfelt prayers and most fervent praise falls desperately short of giving to God that worship that is His due. However, up until the time of Calvary, you lacked an act of perfect worship to offer to God. You didn't have an adequate means of saying to God the things that should be said. All the worship you owe to God was given Him in the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. All the thanksgiving you should offer Him was offered. All the satisfaction demanded by your sins was made to Him. And all that you shall ever need was once and for all merited by Him.

It was the crowning work in the life of our Blessed Lord. His interior acceptance of the brutal sufferings of His Passion and Death, accomplished with perfect love of His Father and us, was a perfect sacrifice in which He was both Priest and Victim. Being the complete expression of an unending act of adoration, love and obedience ever present in the Heart of the Savior, it possesses a value and merit beyond all measuring.

His loving kindness went further. On the eve of His death, He gave us a means of sacramentally renewing and representing His Supreme Sacrifice. Because the Priest and Victim are the same - namely, Christ Himself - the Eucharist Sacrifice contains all the realities of the sacrifice of Calvary. Only the manner in which it is now offered, differs.

What do we really have in the Mass? We have everything that Christ offered on Calvary. All the love, worship and obedience that filled His Sacred Heart to overflowing are offered to the Heavenly Father at each Mass. But now they are ours to offer and ours in which to share.

That is why the Mass should matter so much to us. The Mass daily places the Paschal Mystery in our midst giving us the opportunity to share in what He did on Calvary. It's a sacramental renewal of that Supreme Sacrifice that infinitely pleases God and applies the fruits of Christ's Passion and Resurrection to our souls.

In its "Constitution on the Liturgy", the Vatican Council added that the Divine Sacrifice of the Eucharist "is the outstanding means whereby the faithful express in their lives and express to others-the mystery of Christ-and the real nature of the Church."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

7. Before all else, let us list sincere thanksgiving first on the scroll of our prayer. On the second line, we should put confession and heartfelt contrition of soul. Then let us present our petition to the King of all. This is the best way of prayer, as it was shown to one of the brethren by an angel of the Lord.

May 7, 2004


Pope John Paul II told visiting U.S. bishops Thursday they should pay close attention to educating seminarians to ensure they are properly schooled in chastity, celibacy and church theology.

John Paul urged the 20 bishops from Michigan and Ohio to visit seminaries frequently to make sure they are producing "mature and balanced" priests — and to follow up after they are ordained to care for their spiritual life.

"Proper formation in chastity and celibacy remains an essential component of seminary training, together with the presentation of a solid and correct theological understanding of the church and the priesthood," John Paul told the bishops.

That includes a "clear and precise identification" of those positions which are not compatible with the church's positions, the pope said.

The churchmen are the latest group of American bishops to visit the Vatican on their "ad limina" visits — which bishops must make every five years.

John Paul didn't refer to the U.S. church sex abuse scandal in his comments, but Cardinal Adam Maida, archbishop of Detroit, mentioned it in his speech to the pope.  He said the "sad saga" of the sex scandal had nevertheless produced some "positive fruits" for the faithful.

"More than ever, Catholic laity appreciate the unique and necessary role of the ordained ministerial priesthood.  They are deeply grateful for the great sacrifice being made by the majority of faithful, hardworking priests who are humbly living their vows of celibate chastity."

John Paul opened his remarks by praising the work of American priests, particularly those involved in parish work. "I invite you, their bishops, to join me in thanking them and acknowledging with gratitude their untiring commitment," he said.


Father, we pray for your protection and guidance over our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.  Give him strength and wisdom to stand as a prophet for our times.  May he be a light in darkness around which we gather in hope.  We ask you to bring about reconciliation through his faithful teaching of peace and justice.  Grant him compassion and care to live the gospel in love and service to all people.  Let him follow in the path of Peter and Paul who, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached that the Lord saves all who call upon his name.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

6. The work of prayer is one and the same for all, but there are many kinds of prayer and many different prayers. Some converse with God as with a friend and master, interceding with praise and petition, not for themselves but for others. Some strive for greater (spiritual) riches and glory and for confidence in prayer. Others ask for complete deliverance from their adversary. Some beg to receive some kind of rank; others for complete forgiveness of debts. Some ask to be released from prison; others for remission from offences.

May 6, 2004


In a growing practice that troubles some ethicists, a Chicago laboratory helped create five healthy babies so that they could serve as stem-cell donors for their ailing brothers and sisters.

The made-to-order infants, from different families, were screened and selected when they were still embryos to make sure they would be compatible donors.  Their siblings suffered from leukemia or a rare and potentially lethal anemia.

This is the first time embryo tissue-typing has been done for common disorders like leukemia that are not inherited, and the results suggest that many more children than previously thought could benefit from the technology, said Dr.  Anver Kuliev, a Chicago doctor who participated in the research.

"This technology has wide implications in medical practice," Kuliev said Tuesday at a news conference.

The Chicago doctors said the healthy embryos that were not matches were frozen for potential future use.  But some ethicists said such perfectly healthy embryos could end up being discarded.

"This was a search-and-destroy mission," said Richard Doerflinger of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops.  The chosen embryos "were allowed to be born so they could donate tissue to benefit someone else."

Valparaiso University professor Gilbert Meilaender, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, called the practice "morally troubling."

The council recently called for increased scrutiny of the largely unregulated U.S.  infertility industry.


Maverick Italian doctor says cloned babies born
Cloning Can Lead to a New Slavery, Warn Mexican Doctors
Mice with 2 moms, no dad
Anger over horse cloning ban

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

5. Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.

May 5, 2004

(Jud 1:17-19) But you, my dearly beloved, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who told you that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. These are they who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit.

EDITORIAL BY ARCHBISHOP GEORGE PELL: The case against gay marriage


Cambridge, Mass., plans to hand out marriage applications to same-sex couple within seconds of Massachusetts allowing same-sex marriages.

Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Massachusetts beginning May 17, after a state Supreme Court ruling last November. Cambridge officials told the Boston Globe they will open at midnight to begin handing out marriage applications.

The Cambridge City Hall celebration will begin at 11 p.m. May 16 with music and cake. The clerk's office will open an hour later.

MORE: Training Sessions Begin For Clerks Regarding Gay Marriage


Presbyterian Court: Church Law Does Not Prohibit Same-Sex Marriage
Gay couples praise N.J.'s domestic partner law, but want more
Spain's New Government to Legalize Gay Marriage
Gay marriage opponents face protesters at rally
Gay Anglican Bishop says he would like to marry


Proposed Kansas constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage
Louisiana group urges state ban on same-sex marriages
Proposal to ban gay marriage going on ballot in Oklahoma

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

4. When you are going to stand before the Lord, let the garment of your soul be woven throughout with the thread of obliviousness to wrongs. Otherwise, prayer will bring you no benefit.

May 4, 2004


Pope John Paul on Sunday welcomed the 10 new nations of the European Union but said the bloc could only face the challenges of the 21st century if it defended its Christian roots.

The pope, whose native country, Poland, is one of the new countries in the 25-strong EU, told a packed St Peter's Square Europe's identity would be "incomprehensible" without Christianity.

"Only a Europe that does not remove, but rediscovers its Christian roots will reach the stature needed for the great challenges of the third millennium: peace, dialogue between cultures and religions, the safeguarding of creation," he said.

He has repeatedly called for the bloc to enshrine Christianity in its constitution, but this has been resisted by secular politicians.

RELATED: Polish leader proposes Christian addition to EU text


Pope John Paul has ordained 26 new priests, warning them it would be hard to convince people that God was still important in a materialistic world.

"You are becoming priests in an age in which, even here in Rome, strong cultural tendencies seem to want to cause people to forget God, in particular the young and families," the 83-year-old pope said on Sunday, speaking in a relatively clear voice.

"But do not have fear. God is always with you."

The Polish pope's appeal is the latest in a series to remind people to keep religion in their lives. Last month, he said Sunday should be a day for God, not for secular diversions such as entertainment and sports.

The frail pontiff, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has recently shown an improvement in his health. A year ago, aides cut secondary engagements, such as ordinations, from his schedule. On Sunday, he led the mass, seated in a throne on wheels, and personally ordained each of the priests.

In another sign of his renewed vigour, the pope is expected to travel to Switzerland in June and to the Marian shrine at Lourdes in August.

Of the new priests 17 came from Italy and the others from Spain, Hungary, Panama, Peru, India, Mexico, Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea and one from the pontiff's native Poland.

MORE: Vatican says Pope will visit Switzerland

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

3. If we wish to stand before our King and God and converse with Him, we must not rush into this without preparation, lest, seeing us from afar without weapons and clothing suitable for those who stand before the King, He should order His servants and slaves to seize us and banish us from His presence and tear up our petitions and throw them in our face.

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