Keep your eyes open!...






 

July 24, 2014  

THE TRIB TIMES WILL RETURN IN TWO WEEKS, GOD WILLING (James 4:15).

(Php 1:3-6) I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you: Always in all my prayers making supplication for you all with joy: For your communication in the gospel of Christ, from the first day unto now. Being confident of this very thing: that he who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: How do I get Rid of my “inner ugliness?”

RON ROLHEISER, OMI: Patience With God

There’s an adage that says that an atheist is simply someone who cannot grasp metaphor. Thomas Halik, the Czech writer, would suggest rather that an atheist is someone who cannot be patient enough with God.

There is a lot of truth in that. Patience with God is perhaps our greatest faith-struggle. God, it would seem, is never in a hurry and because of that we live with an impatience that can test the strongest faith and the stoutest heart.

Life, as we can all attest to, is not without its bitter frustrations and crushing heartaches. We all live with a lot of pain and unresolved tensions.  Who among us doesn’t experience regularly the pain of sickness, various kinds of personal and professional failure, some kind of humiliation, the inadequacy of self-expression, the soul-searing losses of loved ones, every kind of frustrated longing, and the nagging pain of life’s inadequacy? In this life, there’s no such a thing as a clear-cut, pure joy; rather everything comes with shadow. We do in fact live inside a certain valley of tears.

We are built for happiness, but pure happiness never quite finds us. Neither, it would seem, does justice.  Jesus promised that the meek would inherit the earth, but mostly it doesn’t seem that way. The arrogant among us often believe that. There’s an infamous Ziggy cartoon which shows him praying to God in these words: I just want to let you know that the meek are still getting clobbered down here! Often that appears to be the case. So where is God? Where is the truth in Jesus’ promise about the meek inheriting the earth? In the face of long-standing global injustice we either live in a long-suffering patience with God or we come to believe that neither God’s promises nor God’s existence hold true.

When Jesus was dying on the cross, some onlookers where taunting him and challenging his message with the words: If you are the Son of God, let him rescue you! In essence: If God is real and your message is true, proof it right now! And God let Jesus die! The same held true for Jesus himself in the face of the death of Lazarus. In essence, he was being challenged:  If you possess God’s power in this world and you love this man, why don’t you save him for dying? Jesus let Lazarus die! And the first community of disciples, immediately after the Ascension, painfully struggled with the same question:  Jesus is God and he loves us – so why does he let us die?

Each of us asks that question in our own way because what we want is a God who rescues us, who intervenes actively for justice and goodness in this world, who acts visibly now in this life, and who doesn’t let us get sick and die. None of us want a God who asks us to live in a life-long patience, predicated on the promise that in the end, whenever that will be, love and justice will prevail, all tears will be dried, and all will finally be well. We want life, love, justice, and consummation now, not in some distant future and only after a lifetime of heartache. God, as an old Jewish axiom puts it, is never in a hurry!

And so we live with a lot of expressed and unexpressed impatience with God. Atheists, it would seem, at a certain point just give up on playing the game and, in essence, say the words: I’ve seen enough; I’ve waited enough; and it’s not enough! I will no longer wait for God! But if atheism is just another way of saying I will no longer wait for God than the opposite is also true: Faith is just another way of saying: I will wait for God. If atheism is impatience, faith is patience.

The Italian spiritual writer, Carlo Carretto, after spending more than 20 years in solitude as a monk in the Sahara desert, was asked what single thing he felt that he heard God most say to him inside of the long, deep silence. What, he was asked, do you hear God saying to the world? His answer: God is asking us to wait, to be patient!

Why the need for such great patience?  Does God want to test us? Does God want to see if we indeed have a faith that is worthy of a great reward? No. God has no need to play such a game, and neither do we. It’s not that God wants to test our patience. The need for patience arises out of the rhythms innate within life itself and within love itself. They need to unfold, as do flowers and pregnancies, according to their own innate rhythms and within their own good time. They cannot be rushed, no matter how great our impatience or how great our discomfort.

And neither can God be rushed because it is his timetable that protects us from perpetually stunting life and love by drawing them through the birth canal prematurely.

FATHER BLOOM'S BLOG: Ordinary in an Extraordinary Way!


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

42. Isaiah questioned him about the same subject. Poemen said, 'Cloth, if it is too long in a chest, becomes rotten. If our bodies do not bring those thoughts into the daylight, then they will rot or be destroyed.
'


July 23, 2014
 

(Isa 58:6-7) Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh.

EDITORIAL: El Paso Catholic Bishop Mark J. Seitz explains immigration stance isn't a political one

CNA: The Church's take on immigration by Deacon Ryan Kaup

FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA
  David: Friends, Sunday after reading the Bishop's letter, my wife Peg and I went to Dollar Tree and were able to get nearly everything on the Bishop's list. The plastic shoe box container, we were able to get at the nearby Wal-mart (pack of 5 for $4.50). So, when all was said and done, we were able to do two boxes (1 girl, 1 boy) for about $22 including tax. I dropped off the boxes this morning at Catholic Charities-Fort Worth, 249 Thornhill Drive. They are just west of I-35W and just south of Seminary Drive.

Now, I believe that we must have a secure border and a fair immigration policy.

Also, I believe that this is an engineered crisis by the powers that want to destroy this country. Our elected officials must handle that part. That is "Caesar's part". If they don't do it, vote the rascals out and get someone in there who will do the job.

In the meantime, our part as followers of Christ is to show humanity to these people. That is why I believe that Bishop Olson's letter struck the right chord between the government's responsibility and our responsibility.

Here is the simple shopping list that we used.

ITEM#    ITEM DESCRIPTION    STORE
1    PLASTIC SHOEBOX-SIZED CONTAINER    WAL-MART
2    SHAMPOO    DOLLAR TREE
3    CONDITIONER    DOLLAR TREE
4    BODY WASH/BAR SOAP    DOLLAR TREE
5    TOOTHPASTE    DOLLAR TREE
6    TOOTH BRUSH    DOLLAR TREE
7    BRUSH/COMB    DOLLAR TREE
8    PACK OF HAIR TIES    DOLLAR TREE
9    DEODORANT    DOLLAR TREE
10    SMALL TOY    DOLLAR TREE

If you want to help, and I do hope that you will, please distribute this email as widely as you can.
If we err, then let us err on the side of charity.

Here is the Bishop's original letter: http://www.fwdioc.org/files/news-7-10-14-bishop-olson-unaccompanied-minors-letter-english.pdf

Any donated items and gift cards may be deposited on Monday through Thursday,
8 a.m.-1 p.m at:
Creating Hope Donation Center
249 Thornhill Drive
Fort Worth, Texas, 76115

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

41. Ammon questioned Poemen on the subject of the impure thoughts within the heart, and on the subject of vain desire. Poemen said, 'Can the axe do harm unless th woodman is using it? Do not reach out your hands to use those things, and they will do you no harm.
'


July 22, 2014
 

(1Co 6:19-20) Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God: and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.

CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE: Catholic Answers Relaunches Chastity Website (Chastity.com)

TESTIMONY: Turning Sexual Temptation Into A Blessing

FIRST THINGS: Divorce and Remarriage

CHIESA
: We Priests, Celibate Like Christ by Walter Brandmüller

Dear Mr. Scalfari,


Although I have not enjoyed the privilege of meeting you in person, I would like to revisit your statements concerning celibacy contained in the account of your conversation with Pope Francis, published on July 13, 2014 and immediately disputed in their authenticity by the director of the Vatican press office. As an “old professor” who for thirty years taught Church history at the university, I would like to bring to your attention the current state of the research in this field.

In particular, it must be emphasized in the first place that celibacy by no means dates back to a law invented 900 years after the death of Christ. It is instead the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke that report the words of Jesus in this regard.

Matthew writes (19:29): "And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life."

What Mark writes (10:29) is very similar: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold."

Luke (18:29ff.) is even more precise: "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life."

Jesus does not address these words to the masses, but rather to those whom he sends out to spread his Gospel and proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God.

In order to fulfill this mission it is necessary to free oneself from any earthly and human attachment. And seeing that this separation signifies the loss of what is taken for granted, Jesus promises a "recompense" that is more than appropriate.

At this point it is often highlighted that “leaving everything” referred only to the duration of the voyage of proclaiming his Gospel, and that once they had finished their task the disciples would return to their families. But there is no trace of this. The text of the Gospels, in referring to eternal life, are speaking of something definitive.

Now, seeing that the Gospels were written between 40 and 70 A.D., their redactors would have been brought into a bad light if they had attributed to Jesus words that did not correspond to their conduct of life. Jesus, in fact, demands that those who have been made participants in his mission must also adopt his way of life.

But what does Paul mean, when in the first letter to the Corinthians (9:1, 4-6) he writes: "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? . . . Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?" Do not these questions and statements take it for granted that the apostles were accompanied by their wives?

One must proceed with caution here. The apostle's rhetorical questions referred to the right of the one who proclaims the Gospel to live at the expense of the community, and this also applies to the one who accompanies him.

And this obviously brings up the question of who this companion may be. The Greek expression "adelphén gynaìka" requires an explanation. "Adelphe" means sister. And here sister in the faith means a Christian, while "gyne" indicates - more generically - a woman, whether virgin or wife. In short, a female person. This makes it impossible to demonstrate that the apostles were accompanied by wives. Because if this were a case one would be unable to understand why an "adelphe" is distinctly spoken of as a sister, and therefore a Christian. As for the wife, it must be understood that the apostle left her at the time when he became part of the circle of disciples.

Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Luke helps to clarify this. It states: "The twelve were with [Jesus], and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means." From this description it seems logical to deduce that the apostles followed the example of Jesus.

Attention must also be called to the stirring appeal for celibacy or conjugal abstinence made by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:29ff.): " I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none." And again: "The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided." It is clear that Paul is addressing these words in the first place to bishops and priests. And he himself would have adhered to this ideal.

In order to prove that Paul or the Church of apostolic times did not acknowledge celibacy, the letters to Timothy and Titus, the “pastoral letters,” are sometimes brought out as evidence. And in effect, in the first letter to Timothy (3:2) a married bishop is mentioned. And the original Greek text is repeatedly translated in the following way: “Let the bishop be the husband of a woman," which is taken to be a precept. But one needs only a rudimentary knowledge of Greek to translate this correctly: "For this the bishop must be above reproach, married only once (and he must be the husband of a woman!), sober and judicious." And also in the letter to Titus we read: "An elder (meaning a priest or bishop) must be blameless and married only once."

These are indications that tend to rule out the possibility that a priest or bishop should be ordained who has remarried after the death of his wife (successive bigamy). Because apart from the fact that at that time a remarried widower was not looked upon kindly, for the Church there was also the consideration that in this way a man could never give any guarantee to respect abstinence, to which a bishop or priest would have to devote himself.

THE PRACTICE OF THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH

The original form of celibacy therefore allowed the priest or bishop to continue his family life, but not his conjugal life. For this reason as well the preference was to ordain men who had reached an advanced age.

The fact that all of this can be traced back to ancient and sacred apostolic traditions is testified to by the works of ecclesiastical writers like Clement of Alexandria and the north African Tertullian, who lived in the 2nd-3rd century after Christ. Another witness of the high consideration bestowed on abstinence among Christians is a series of edifying tales of the apostles, the apocryphal 'Acts of the Apostles' composed in the 2nd century and widely read.

In the 3rd century the literary documentation on the abstinence of the clergy multiplied and became increasingly explicit, especially in the East. For example, here is a passage from the Syrian 'Didascalia': "The bishop, before he is ordained, must be put to the test to establish if he is chaste and has raised his children in the fear of God." The great theologian Origen of Alexandria (3rd century) also recognized the celibacy of abstinence as binding; a celibacy that he explains and explores theologically in various works. And obviously there are other documents that could be brought forward in support, something that obviously is not possible here.

THE FIRST LAW ON CELIBACY

It was the Council of Elvira in 305-306 that put this practice of apostolic origin into the form of a law. With canon 33, the Council prohibited bishops, priests, deacons, and all other clergy from having conjugal relations with their wives, and likewise prohibited them from having children. At the time it was therefore thought that conjugal abstinence was compatible with family life. Thus even the sainted pope Leo I, called Leo the Great, wrote around 450 that ordained men did not have to repudiate their wives. They were to remain together with them, but as if "they did not have them," as Paul writes in the first letter to the Corinthians (7:29).

With the passing of time there was an increasing tendency to ordain only celibate men. The codification would come in the Middle Ages, an era in which it was taken for granted that the priest and bishop would be celibate. It was another matter that the canonical discipline was not always followed to the letter, but this should not come as a surprise. And, as is in the nature of things, the observance of celibacy has seen highs and lows over the course of the centuries.

There is, for example, the famous and fiery dispute in the 11th century, at the time of what is called the Gregorian reform. At that juncture one witnessed a split that was so stark - especially in the German and French churches - as to lead the German prelates who were contrary to celibacy to forcibly expel from his diocese the bishop Altmann of Passau. In France, the pope's emissaries who were charged with insisting on the discipline of celibacy were threatened with death, and at a synod held in Paris the sainted abbot Walter of Pontoise was beaten by bishops opposed to celibacy and was thrown in prison. In spite of this the reform succeeded and a renewed religious springtime took place.

It is interesting to note that the contestation of the precept of celibacy has always coincided with signs of decadence in the Church, while in times of renewed faith and cultural blossoming one has noted a strengthened observance of celibacy.

And it is certainly not difficult to draw historical parallels with the current crisis from these observations.

THE PROBLEMS OF THE CHURCH OF THE EAST

 Two questions that are frequently posed still remain open. There is the one concerning the practice of celibacy on the part of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine empire and of the Eastern rite, which does not admit marriage for bishops and monks but grants it for priests on the condition that they be married before they receive the sacrament. And taking precisely this practice as their example, there are some who ask if it could not be adopted by the Latin West as well.

In this regard must be emphasized in the first place that it was precisely in the East that the practice of abstinent celibacy was held to be binding. And it was only during the Council of 691, called "Quinisextum" or "Trullanum," when the religious and cultural decadence of the Byzantine empire was evident, that the rupture with the apostolic patrimony was reached. This Council, influenced to a great extent by the emperor, who wanted new legislation to restore order in relations, was never recognized by the popes. It was precisely then that the Church of the East adopted its practice. When later, beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries, and afterward, various Orthodox Churches returned to the Church of the West, the problem was posed in Rome about how to deal with the married clergy of those Churches. The various popes decided, for the good and unity of the Church, not to require any modification in their way of life for priests who had returned to the mother Church.

THE EXCEPTION IN OUR TIME

There is a similar motivation behind the papal dispensation from celibacy granted - beginning with Pius XII - to the Protestant pastors who convert to the Catholic Church and want to be ordained priests. This rule was recently applied by Benedict XVI to the numerous Anglican prelates who wanted to unite, in conformity with the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus," with the Catholic mother Church. With this extraordinary concession, the Church recognizes the long and sometimes painful religious journey of these men of faith who have reached their destination with conversion. A destination that in the name of truth leads those directly concerned to renounce even the financial support realized until that moment. It is the unity of the Church, a good of immense value, that justifies these exceptions.

BINDING PATRIMONY?

But apart from these exceptions, the other fundamental question is raised, and that is: can the Church be authorized to renounce an evident apostolic patrimony?

This is an option that is continually taken into consideration. Some think that this decision could not be taken only by a part of the Church, but by a general Council. In this way it is thought that in spite of not involving all the ecclesiastical ranks, at least for some the obligation of celibacy could be relaxed if not abolished outright. And what appears inopportune today could be the reality tomorrow. But if there were the desire to do this one would have to bring back to the forefront the binding element of the apostolic traditions. And one could also ask if, with a decision made in the assembly of a Council, it would be possible to abolish the celebration of Sunday, which, if one wished to be meticulous, has fewer biblical foundations than celibacy.

To conclude, allow me to advance a consideration projected into the future: if it is still valid to contend that every ecclesiastical reform worthy of this definition must emerge from a profound understanding of the ecclesiastical faith, then the current dispute over celibacy would be overcome through a deepened understanding of what it means to be a priest. And if it were understood and taught that the priesthood is not a function of service exercised in the name of the community, but that the priest - by virtue of the sacrament received - teachers, guides, and sanctifies “in persona Christi," all the more so would it be understood that it is precisely for this reason that he also takes on Christ's way of life. And a priesthood understood and lived in this way would once again exercise a power of attraction over the finest of the young.

As for the rest, it must be taken into account that celibacy, just like virginity in the name of the Kingdom of Heaven, will always be troublesome for those who have a secularized conception of life. But as Jesus said in this regard: “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

RELATED: 10 Reasons for Priestly Celibacy


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

34. Macarius said, 'If we remember the evil that men have done us, we close our minds to the power of remembering God. But if we remember the evil which the devils cause, we shall be undisturbed.
'


July 21, 2014
 

(Mat 5:11-12) Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.

NEWS.VA: “Today our brothers are persecuted” – the Pope said – "they are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!”  And, assured them of his closeness and constant prayer he said: “My dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know that you are deprived of all. I am with you in faith in He who conquered evil”.  The Pope then appealed to all – to those present in the Square and far beyond – to persevere in praying for peace in all situations of tension and conflict in the world, and he especially mentioned the Middle East and Ukraine.  “May the God of peace” – Francis said – “arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”

BREITBART NEWS: Christian Holocaust Underway in Iraq, USA and World Look on

ALETEIA: Kristallnacht in Iraq

AINA NEWS
: ISIS Statement Ordering Christians to Convert or Die

Praise be to God and glory to Islam in its victory, humiliation to the polytheist in their subjugation, and renderer of his righteousness, and peace and blessings on whoever God lifted the illumination of Islam with his sword, and hereafter:

And when a community among them said: "Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy or to punish with a severe torment?" (The preachers) said: "In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allah), and perhaps they may fear Allah." al-Araf (163) [sic].

After the heads of Christians and their followers were notified of the date to be present to demonstrate their presence in the Khalifate state in the Wilaya (State) of Nineveh they turned away and failed to come at the appointed time and of which were notified in advance, and it was decided to offer them one of the three:
  1. Islam (to become Muslim).
  2. Pay Jizya (which is taking tribute for being Christians).
  3. If they refuse, there is nothing for them but the sword.
The Prince of the Faithful Caliph Ibrahim -- God Glorify him -- will allow them to evacuate themselves only from the borders of the state Alkhalafah by Saturday, Ramadan 21, 1435 [July 19, 2014] noon hour, and after this date, the only thing between us and them is the sword.

Glory to God, his Prophet and the believers that the hypocrites do not know.

FIDES.ORG: The last Christian families leave Mosul

EXCERPT REUTERS: Iraqi bishop urges world to act after Mosul's Christians forced to flee

"The world must act, speak out, consider human rights," Chaldean Catholic Bishop Shlemon Warduni said on Sunday, a day after a deadline expired for Christians in Mosul to submit to the rule of the radical Islamic State or die.

Hundreds of Christian families left the city ahead of the ultimatum, many of them stripped of their possessions as they fled for safety, the remnants of a community which once numbered in the tens of thousands.

"Gunmen lurking like thieves took everything from them - even women's rings, cars, cell phones... because they are fanatics," Warduni told Reuters by telephone from the city of Arbil, 50 miles (80 km) away in the autonomous Kurdish region.

The bishop said the solution to the crisis should be in Iraq's own hands but the state was weak and divided, and Muslim leaders had failed to speak out.

"We haven't heard from clerics from all sects or from the government," he said. "The Christians are sacrificed for Iraq".

BISHOP EDWARD J. BURNS: A Bishop's Perspective: The cry of Christians in Iraq

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

31. A brother asked Joseph, 'What shall I do? I cannot bear to be tempted, nor to work, nor to give alms'. He said to him, 'If you cannot do any of these, at least keep your conscience clear from every sin against your neighbour, and you will be saved, for God looks for the soul that does not sin.
'


July 17, 2014
 

(1Ti 2:1-4) I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

UN REPORT: Up to 80% of fatalities in Israel’s bombing of Gaza are civilians

ICN: Pax Christi decries escalating violence in Israel and Palestine

ACN INTERVIEW EXCERPT: Searching for peace in Gaza

How is life in Israel right now?

Depends on the region we are talking about. The areas close to the Gaza strip are in an emergency situation. The sirens sound there permanently and people are running for shelter to the bunkers. But also in more remote areas like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa there were attacks and air raid alarms. This shows how Hamas could increase the range of its missiles.

But in these areas people do not feel immediately threatened. Life goes on normally more or less. Attacks are sporadic only and the Iron Dome systems intercept the rockets. Not least because of this most Israelis feel relatively secure in their entirety. So far there were no direct fatalities.

How is the situation in Gaza instead?

In Gaza the picture is completely different. In this small and densely populated area there are no bunkers and sirens. Weapons and rocket launchers are often deployed in residential areas.  
In total more than 175 people have been killed by Israeli attacks so far. Caritas estimates that more than 70 percent of them were civilians. Further they think that more than 1200 persons have been wounded, partially seriously. Hundreds of houses have been either completely or partially been destroyed. Hundreds of families thus became homeless.

The supply situation is becoming dramatically bad. Electricity and potable water are getting low.

What about the Christians in Gaza?

They suffer like everybody else there. Up to now there are no reports about fatalities among Christians. But the Catholic parish priest of Gaza fears that radical Islamist groups might try to benefit from an atmosphere of anarchy to turn against Christians.  

How many Christians are there in Gaza?

They are a tiny minority only. Among an estimated 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza, only 1300 persons are Christians. The majority belongs to the Greek-Orthodox Church, which has an Archbishop residing in Gaza city. Only 170 persons belong to the Roman-Catholic Church. According to estimates more than the half of Gaza`s Christian population has left since 2005.

What is the Church's position with regard to the conflict?

The Catholic Church in the Holy Land naturally calls for an immediate ceasefire. But the Church asks for more. It wants a just peace implemented and not only another round of a shaky ceasefire.  

The commission Justitia et Pax of the Catholic conference of ordinaries recently published a text saying: “The present situation in Gaza is an illustration of the never-ending cycle of violence in the absence of a vision for an alternative future. Breaking out of the cycle of violence is the duty of all, oppressors and oppressed, victims and victimizers.”

“In order to commit themselves to this aim, all must recognize in the other a brother or sister to be loved and cherished rather than an enemy to be hated and eliminated.”

RELATED: Gaza's Christians work together to stay safe

A MOMENT WITH MARY: Go to the Holy Virgin—she will tell you what you must do

I remember once at the Shrine of Luján I was in the confessional and there was a long queue. There was even a very modern young man, with earrings, tattoos, all those things... And he came to tell me what was happening to him. It was a big and difficult problem.

And he said to me: “I told my mother all this and my mother said to me, go to Our Lady and she will tell you what you must do.” Here is a woman who had the gift of counsel. She did not know how to help her son out of his problem, but she indicated the right road—go to Our Lady and she will tell you. This is the gift of counsel. That humble, simple woman, gave her son the truest counsel.

In fact, this young man said to me: “I looked at Our Lady and I felt that I had to do this, this and this...” I did not have to speak, his mother and the boy himself had already said everything. This is the gift of counsel. You mothers who have this gift, ask it for your children, the gift of giving good counsel to your children is a gift of God.

Pope Francis
General Audience of May 7, 2014

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

25. Once one of the monks came to Theodore and said, 'Look here, that brother has gone back to the world.' Theodore said to him, 'Don't be surprised at that. Be surprised when you hear that a man has been able to escape the jaws of the enemy.
'


July 16, 2014
 

(Rom 8:35-39) Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Or distress? Or famine? Or nakedness? Or danger? Or persecution? Or the sword? (As it is written: For thy sake, we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.) But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

PADRE PIO: The most beautiful Credo is that which comes from your lips in darkness, in sacrifice, in pain, in the supreme effort of an unbending will for good. It is this which, like a stroke of lightning, penetrates the darkness of the soul; it is this which in the flash of the tempest lifts you and leads you to God.

VIA BHLA2@yahoogroups.com: Profit By Your Sufferings! by the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

There's a stranger, usually unwelcome, who makes an appearance in each of our lives.  His name is "Suffering."  Because he is a mysterious stranger-too many of us don't know just why he comes, or exactly what he expects of us.

Let us immediately say that suffering in itself is an evil-for it is a deprivation of a certain good of mind, or heart or spirit.  The saints never considered suffering as desirable in itself, but only as the manifestation of the will of God.

To love pain for the sake of pain is not only un-Christian, it is unnatural.  The saints looked upon suffering as a caress in the arms of Christ Crucified.  They realized with St. Paul that "to those who love God all things work unto good."  To them the Cross without Christ was meaningless!

With this in mind, let's consider the triple role of suffering in the life of the Christian:

1) The first role of suffering is to save us from ourselves.  We need this saving, because our tendency is to become so absorbed with the creatures of this world as to lose sufficient concern for the life to come.  We become wrapped up in our little plans, our preoccupations, our round of pleasures and get side-tracked in our march to eternity.

We become like the Apostles looking on the Transfigured Christ upon the heights of Tabor, Ecstatic over the heavenly vision they called out: :"Lord, it is good for us to be here."  We sometimes tell God not to dare change anything; we like things just as they are.

We're not really content, just comfortable.  Not resigned, just placid.  Why?  Because there's no real hunger for the things of God-no real desire for the vision for which we were created.  And so, God sends the Cross to shake us up and regain perspective.

2) The second role of suffering is to destroy our self-centeredness.  The cancer of selfishness is usually so deeply rooted in us that only the Divine Physician can cut it out.  Suffering is often the spiritual surgery by which He removes this malignancy.

An honest scrutiny of our hearts quickly reveals how much in life revolves about self.  How frequently we cater to our desires for comfort and pleasure.  How often we pamper our vanity and pride.  How little we are concerned with the good pleasure of God.  We are fearful lest having God we have naught else besides, as the poet expressed it.

3) The third purpose of suffering is the key to all the others.  It is to increase our Christlikeness.  This indeed is the ultimate purpose of God's handling our lives.  It's true that suffering can scar or disfigure the spirit of man, but it can also heal and redeem.  It is an invitation to share the redeeming pain of the Passion of Jesus.

Suffering then casts us in the mold of Christ Crucified.  It then becomes the highest and most fruitful expression of the Christlife.  It is a continuing of the Passion of Christ in time.  And if we suffer with Him, we shall be glorified with Him.

God always uses the cross as a mold in which He forms the most perfect reproductions of His well-beloved Son.  That's why it can never hurt you when borne with patience and love.  It may deprive you of something you want or something you think you need, but it always offers something far more precious in its stead.

It always offers you Christ, the unchanging Lover, because you can't embrace the cross without embracing the God-man on it!

CARDINAL PIE (26 September 1815 – 18 May 1880) QUOTE:  “In such an extremity, in such a desperate state of affairs, where evil has taken over a world soon to be consumed in flames, what are all the true Christians to do, all good men, all Saints, all men with any faith and courage? Grappling with a situation more clearly impossible than ever, with a redoubled energy by their ardent prayer, by their active works and by their fearless struggles they will say, O God, O Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name on earth as it is in Heaven, thy kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. On earth as it is in Heaven! And they will still be murmuring these words while the very earth is giving way beneath their feet.

“And just as once upon a time, following upon an appalling military disaster the whole Roman Senate and State officials of all ranks could be seen going out to me et the defeated consul and to congratulate him on not having despaired of the Roman Republic; so likewise the senate of Heaven, all the Choirs of angels, all ranks of the Blessed will come out to meet the generous athletes of the Faith who will have fought to the bitter end, hoping against hope itself.

“And then that impossible ideal that the elect of all ages had obstinately pursued will become a reality. In his Second and final Coming the Son will hand over the Kingdom of this world to God his Father, the power of evil will have been cast out for ever into the depths of the abyss; whatever has refused to be assimilated and incorporated into God through Jesus Christ by faith, love and observance of the law will be flung into the sewer of everlasting filth. And God will live and reign for ever and ever, not only in the oneness of his nature and in the society of the three divine Persons, but also in the fullness of the Mystical Body of his Incarnate Son and in the fulfilment of the Communion of Saints!”

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

20. "Evagrius said, 'A wandering mind is strengthened by reading, and prayer.  Passion is dampened down by hunger and work and solitude.  Anger is repressed by psalmody and long-suffering and mercy.  But all these should be at the proper times and in due measure.  If they are used at the wrong times and to excess, they are useful for a short time.   But what is only useful for a short time, is harmful in the long run.'



July 14, 2014
 

(Joh 16:33) These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress. But have confidence. I have overcome the world.

VATICAN RADIO: Pope Francis appeals for peace in the Holy Land

Pope Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for peace in the Holy Land.

Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope described his appeal as “heartfelt” and said we must all continue to pray insistently for peace in the Holy Land in the light of the tragic events of the past days.

Fresh in mind – the Pope said - is the memory of the Vatican encounter on June 8th between the Patriarch Bartholomew, President Peres and President Abbas, during which an invocation for the gift of peace was pronounced and the call to break the cycle of hatred and violence was reflected upon.

Some may think – he continued - that that encounter took place in vain.  But no! Prayer helps us – Francis said –not to be conquered by evil or to resign ourselves that violence and hatred may prevail over dialogue and reconciliation.

And Pope Francis exhorted all interested parties and all those with political responsibility, both on a local and on an international level not to spare their prayers, and not to spare all their efforts to achieve the cessation of all hostilities and the desired peace for the good of all.

And then the Pope invited everyone, first in silence, and then vocally, to join him in prayer:

“Lord help us! Give us your peace, teach us peace, guide us towards peace. Open our eyes and our hearts and give us the courage to say: “never again war!”: with war all is destroyed!  Give us the courage to perform concrete gestures to build peace. Make us available to listen to the cries of our fellow citizens who ask us to transform our arms into instruments of peace, our fears into trust, our tension into forgiveness. Amen”.

BREITBART NEWS: Christians Search For Refuge Amid Israel-Palestinian Conflict

CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE: Phone calls, evacuations: Gaza's Christians work together to stay safe

COMMENTARY: Bombs, Rockets and Silence: Life in Gaza

ICN: Bishop's Conference statement on Gaza

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

17. "Daniel said, 'If the body is strong, the soul weakens.  If the body weakens, the soul is strong.'  He also said, 'If the body is prosperous, the soul grows lean; if the body is lean, the soul grows prosperous'."


July 11, 2014
 

(Rev 19:9) And he said to me: Write: Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith to me: These words of God are true.

FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA
Purgatory ProjectThe Meaning of the Mass - Venerable Fulton Sheen

VIA joycelist2@yahoogroups.com: The Holy Mass Is Your Life!

The rational man needs the Mass to pay Almighty God the debt of homage and adoration he owes Him. The grateful man needs the Mass to pay his debt of thanksgiving. The sinful man, and who among us is without sin, needs the Mass to propitiate God’s justice and to pay his debt of satisfaction.

The needy man needs the Mass, that praying with Jesus Christ and through Him, he may offer a prayer that is worthy of being heard and, thus, discharge his duty and debt of petition.

At the hour of death, the Masses you have heard will be your greatest consolation. Every Mass will go with you to judgment and plead for pardon. At every Mass, you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins. Assisting devoutly at Mass, you render the Sacred Humanity of Jesus, the greatest homage. He supplies for many of your negligences and omissions. He forgives you all the venial sins you are determined to avoid. He forgives you all the unknown sins you have never confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.

By hearing Mass, you afford the Souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief. One Mass heard by you, during life, will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after death.

Holy Mass preserves you from many dangers and misfortunes that would otherwise befall you. You shorten your Purgatory by every Mass. You win for yourself a higher degree of glory in Heaven. At Mass, you kneel amidst a multitude of angels who are present at the adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe. You receive the priest’s blessing which Our Lord Himself ratifies in Heaven. You are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.

“If you ask the Father anything in My Name, He will give it to you.” John 16-23

Nihil obstat: P. L. Biermann, Censor Librorum. Imprimatur:  George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago

VIA BHLA2@yahoogroups.com: 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."

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

13. "Agatho said, 'If an angry man were to raise the dead, God would still be displeased with his anger'."


July 10, 2014
 

(Exo 20:8-11) Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.

ICN: Pope Francis: not working on Sunday is good for everyone

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[Rom. 12:4-5, 15-21; Matt. 12:9-13]

It is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. This is what the said Lord after healing a man with a withered hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath day as a reproach to the Pharisees, who took the commandment about the Sabbath rest so far that they even measured the number of steps they could make on that day. But since it is not possible to do good deeds without movement, they would sooner agree to neglect good deeds than to allow any extra movement. The Saviour denounced them for this time and again, because the Sabbath required rest from worldly cares and not from deeds of piety and brotherly love.

In Christianity instead of the Sabbath day, Sunday is celebrated with the same goal — rest from all worldly affairs and devotion of that day solely to deeds of God. Christian good sense never reached the pharisaic pettiness concerning not doing things on Sunday; but nevertheless the permissible allowance for doing things on this day has been set far beyond the proper limits. Not doing things alienated the Pharisees from doing good deeds, whereas the things which Christians allow themselves are what lead them away from good deeds. On the evening before Sunday they go to the theatre, then some other entertainment as well. In the morning they oversleep and there is no time to go to church. There are several visits, lunch, and in the evening again entertainment. Thus all time is relegated to the belly and pleasing the other senses, there is no time to even remember God and good deeds.


VIA Jim J. McCrea: The Doctrine of the Antichrist by Jim J. McCrea

The doctrine of Antichrist is not so much a set of dogmas that we would find in a religion, but is more a philosophical world-view.

The spirit of Antichrist is now alive and well, as this philosophy has taken hold of much of Western society, to the extent that it constitutes a kind of tyranny.

Several decades past, when traditional Judeo-Christian morality was dominant in Western society concepts had clear meanings. Now, this is no longer the case. It is considered now that one concept bleeds into another - that nothing is stable and certain, and that traditional distinctions no longer hold.

For example, it is considered that there is no solid distinction between polarities such as God and creation, spirit and matter, human and animal, intelligible and sensible, subjective and objective, male and female, marriage and cohabitation, etc.. In the religious sphere it is considered that there is no proper distinction between sacred and secular, supernatural and natural, and priest and laity.

As far as blurring the distinction between God and creation, it is considered that there is no transcendent God who is radically distinct from creation and almighty over it. That is considered childish, and the "enlightened" stance is to hold that God is nothing but the positive energies exhibited by nature and our own inner power. God is thus to be found within by tapping our interior potentials.

There is no distinction held between body and soul and matter and spirit. Thus, training the body and the neurons is the key to spiritual enlightenment, as spirit is considered nothing but the more subtle workings of matter.

The lack of recognized distinction between human and animal allows animals an exaggerated importance to the detriment of human interests. This is connected with the perceived lack of distinction between the sensible and intelligible, as the cleverness of animals to make associations between various sense objects is considered intelligence, and it is not recognized that humans have a cognitive ability different in kind from animals in their capacity to understand abstract concepts.

The lack of recognition between male and female gives rise to the emasculation of males in society and radical feminism. This feeds the tendency to not rightfully recognized homosexuality as a perversion and a deviation, but as a legitimate alternative, as it is seen that a male being drawn to a female is not essential to proper romantic or sexual attraction, but is merely incidental or accidental and such a male could just as properly be attracted to another male.

In the religious sphere, the lack of recognition between the natural and the supernatural and the secular and the sacred, has dumbed down religious services and Masses in the Catholic Church to simply a party - and human relations, pop psychology, sociology, and political activism are preached instead of sacred doctrine and morals.

This is all done in the name of freedom and progress, as the traditional categories are seen as "static" and "rigid" and as limitations on freedom.

However, true freedom and progress require stable and absolute principles that only the traditional categories can provide - it requires the classical polarities.

The necessity for limits and absolutes is explained in Msgr. Pope's article here

** End Note 1 - it is true that there are subtleties, paradoxes, and ambiguities in things and situations, but these are governed by absolute rules on a higher level.

** End Note 2 - The obliteration of the traditional polarities is done in the name of freedom. But it is not free. In reality, it is the opposite. It is close and oppressive.

MORE VIA Jim J. McCrea: What is Meant by "a Mystery of the Faith"?

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

9. Daniel said, 'When Arsenius was dying, he gave us this instruction: Do not make any offering for me. If I have made any offering for myself during my life, I shall find it.'


July 9, 2014
 

(Psa 122:6) Pray ye for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and abundance for them that love thee.

OVERVIEW:
Five things you need to know about current Middle East conflict

ANALYSIS: Why the Israel-Palestine conflict is spiraling into the worst violence in years

NEWS REPORT
: Hamas fires rockets on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa

Hamas militants in the Gaza strip have fired missiles at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv after Israel killed 21 Palestinians on the first day of a major campaign to stamp out rocket fire.

It was the most serious flare-up over Gaza since November 2012 and came as Israel was struggling to contain a wave of violence at home over the grisly murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.

After a day in which Israel staged multiple air strikes on Gaza, leaving 17 people dead and more than 100 wounded, militants from the Islamist movement Hamas hit back with rocket fire on Israel’s major population centres in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

As sirens wailed across the Holy City, three loud explosions were heard and a series of flashes light the sky to the southwest.

MAP: More than half of Israel under Hamas rocket attack

VATICAN RADIO: Israel launches attack on Gaza

DETAILS: Israel assassinated a top local leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group in the northern Gaza Strip early on Wednesday, neighbours and hospital officials said, and five others including family members were also killed.

The militant, Hafez Hamad, two brothers and his parents were killed when his house was bombed in an air strike in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas media and Gaza interior ministry said. An unidentified woman in the house was also killed.

That brought the death toll in Gaza to at least 22 since Israel launched its offensive on Tuesday. It included four Hamas gunmen, a senior Islamic Jihad leader and 17 civilians, including seven children.

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

8. "A brother asked Poemen, 'What am I to do do, for I become weak just by sitting in my cell?'  He said, 'Despise no one, condemn no one, revile no one: and God will give you quietness, and you will sit at peace in your cell."


July 8, 2014
 

(2Co 4:9-11) We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not. Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

REVIEW: The War on Christians

CLOSER LOOK: 7 terrible countries for Christians

The case of a Christian woman in Sudan who was sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her faith has cast new light on the plight of persecuted Christians worldwide.  Sudan ranks as one of the worst countries for people who practice Christianity, but it by no means is alone.

Like people of other faiths, Christians can face discrimination, harassment, arrest, jail time and even death for what they believe.

Here's a look at seven terrible countries for Christians:

North Korea

For the 12th year in a row, North Korea tops the list of places where Christian persecution is most extreme, according to Open Doors, a group that ranks countries in order of persecution.  The organization estimates as many as 70,000 Christians are imprisoned in labor camps.

"The God-like worship of the leader, Kim Jong-Un, and his predecessors leaves no room for any other religion, and Christians face unimaginable pressure in every sphere of life," the group says on its website.  "Forced to meet only in secret, they dare not share their faith even with their families, for fear of imprisonment in a labor camp. Anyone discovered engaging in secret religious activity may be subject to arrest, disappearance, torture, even public execution."

Among those imprisoned is Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American.  Pyongyang sentenced him last year to 15 years of hard labor, accusing him of planning to bring down the government through religious activities.  He is widely reported to have been conducting Christian missionary work in North Korea.

Sudan

Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has tracked the world's worst abusers of religious rights. Sudan has been on the list since its inception.  The country has arrested and deported Western Christians suspected of spreading their faith, according to a State Department report.

Recently, Sudan also arrested and sentenced a woman to die for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. The 27-year old woman was released after weeks of international controversy over her conviction.  She was later detained with her husband and two children, accused of traveling with falsified documents and giving false information.

Eritrea

Just four religious groups are officially allowed to openly practice their faith in this African nation; the rest are subject to detention or worse.  So if you're not an Eritrean Orthodox Christian, a Sunni Muslim, a Roman Catholic or an Evangelical Lutheran, life could be tough for you here. Harsh detentions for religious dissenters are the norm, according to the State Department report.

Members of various religious groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses, face retaliation for refusing to participate in military portions of mandatory national service, the report reads. The government is said to penalize Jehovah's Witnesses by denying them government services and entitlements.

As of November, 52 Jehovah's Witnesses were imprisoned in Eritrea, according to the Jehovah's Witnesses website. It says none has been formally charged or tried.

Saudi Arabia

The oil-rich monarchy doesn't even pretend to respect religious rights for any faith other than Islam.  Sunni Islam is the official religion, and the country's constitution is based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.  The public practice of any other religion is prohibited, according to the State Department.

Open Doors says most Christians in Saudi Arabia are expatriates from Asia or Africa. Last year, Christian migrant fellowships were raided, and worshipers were detained and deported, the group says.

Nigeria

Nigeria is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.  Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group, vowed in 2009 to rid the nation's north of all non-Muslim influence, including Christians, according to The Voice of the Martyrs, another group that tracks the persecution of Christians.

More than 3,000 people have been killed since then, the organization reports.

Boko Haram translates as "Western education is a sin" in the Hausa language. The militant group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation. Boko Haram's attacks have intensified in recent years and have included the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls.

Somalia

Pressure is increasing on Christians in this country, according to Open Doors.  "Islamic leaders and government officials publicly reinforce that there is no room for Christians, and there is a strong drive to purge Christianity from Somalia. The militant Islamist group, al-Shabaab, targets Christians and local communities," the group says on its site.

The terror group is notorious for prohibiting recreational activities and has banned films, dancing and watching soccer in the past. It had also barred foreign aid organizations from southern Somalia, describing them as Western spies and Christian crusaders.

Iraq

Religious minorities, such as Christians and Yazidis, make up less than 5% of Iraq's population.  Since 2003, attacks against these minorities by insurgents and religious extremists have driven more than half of the minorities out of the country, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

According to Open Doors, attacks and threats against Christians rose last year as Islamic terrorist groups gained more influence.  Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, are in the midst of an offensive in Iraq.

In the northern city of Mosul, the site of one of the first major ISIS victories, witnesses told CNN the group used vehicle-mounted loudspeakers to announce that it had decided to form Islamic Sharia courts in the city.  The group also reportedly removed statues of the Christian Virgin Mary, Arab poet Abu Tammam and singer Mulla Othman, witnesses said.

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

6. "A brother said to Poemen, 'If I see my brother sin is it really right not to tell anyone about it?' He said, 'When we cover our brother's sin, God covers our sin.  When we tell people about our brother's guilt, God does the same with ours."


July 4, 2014
 

(Eph 6:10-12) Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

CRISIS MAGAZINE: On Being and Staying Catholic in the Modern World

CHAPLAIN'S CORNER: Saint Michael, patron saint of the airborne, military by Army Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Lynn


A few years back, I was roaming through the Barnes and Noble bookstore and stumbled across a volume which caught my attention.
 
Titled "The Sword of St. Michael: The 82nd Airborne Division in World War II," it opens with a quote from John Milton's book, Paradise Lost:

"... but the Sword
Of Michael from the Armorie of God
Was giv'n him tempered so, that neither keen
Nor solid might resist the edge: it met
The sword of Satan with steep force to smite
Descending, in half cut sheere, nor staid,
But with swift wheele reverse, deep entering shar'd
All his right side; then Satan knew first pain ..."

The highly spiritual and religious quote cited above can spark a chill down one's spine.

This is the battle between good and evil crafted in poetic fashion.

But, what is the origin of this fierce spiritual warrior, Saint Michael, the patron of the airborne?

Three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all cite Michael as a great figure to be revered.

He's mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian New Testament, and the Quran.
The name Michael means "Who is like God?" in Hebrew.

The ultimate answer to his name is "no one."

The Bible records Michael's name with the title, archangel, which means "chief angel."
He is one of the chief angels of the heavenly army doing God's bidding in the fight against spiritual evil.

The Catholic Church has listed an additional title - saint, meaning holy one.

So, what is the historical link between Saint Michael and the military community?

During medieval times the Catholic Church chose Michael to be the patron of the military.

As a patron saint, he was an advocate and intercessor to God on behalf of the military.

According to the holy texts, there is a continuous spiritual war between good and evil going on, and it is fleshed out on the battlefield in both heaven and earth.

This spiritual battle is described in the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Church at Ephesus.

In Ephesians 6:10, he wrote, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, and against the authorities, and against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

Christian religious texts say there is a relationship between our prayers to God, the archangel Michael's fight in the heavenly areas, and how our lives are affected on earth.
To say it another way, there is a correlation between a service member's prayers and Michael's heavenly fight against evil.

Our prayers fuel Michael's fight, which in turn provides us with protection and assistance.

One can easily see why Saint Michael would be adopted as the patron of the airborne paratrooper in World War II.

There was great evil that needed to be conquered, both in Europe and in the Pacific.

Saint Michael is a symbol for us as a spiritual warrior, who stands ready to fight on behalf of the good.

He is, in a sense, a captivating and encouraging symbol.

For many who believe, we are drawn to God through Michael as a symbol of protection and assistance in the midst of a dangerous employment.

We take great comfort that God has placed such an advocate on the side of the good to help us succeed.

This is the faith we bring to the fight.

INSPIRING: War hero Zamperini lived 'unimaginable drama'

FATHER BLOOMS BLOG: Ten Tricky Tactics of the Tempter

ALETEIA: The Devil in the Details of Everyday Life

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Non-Judgement 

5. Joseph asked Poemen, 'Tell me how to become a monk.'  He said, 'If you want to find rest in this life and the next, say at every moment, "Who am I" and judge no one.'



July 2, 2014
 

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

POPE FRANCIS: "There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves’: that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries. So during this Mass, remembering our glorious ancestors, let us think also to our brothers who are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of so many little Churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us”.

ACN: Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako: Christian exodus from Iraq accelerates

In an interview with the international Catholic pastoral charity, Aid to the Church in Need given on Saturday, June 28th in Ankawa, near Erbil, he said, "When I was in Turkey recently ten Christian families from Mosul arrived. And in the space of only one week twenty families left Alqosh, a completely Christian town not far from Mosul. This is very serious. We are losing our community. If Christian life in Iraq comes to an end, this will be a hiatus in our history."

The head of the Chaldean-Catholic Church, which is in full communion with Rome, sees the future of Christians in Iraq as being under threat: "In ten years there will perhaps be 50,000 Christians left. Prior to 2003, this figure was about 1.2 million. Within ten years we have shrunk to a community of perhaps four to five hundred thousand faithful."

The Patriarch, who resides in Baghdad, also regards the disintegration of Iraq as inevitable: "Perhaps there will be a symbolic unit and the name Iraq may continue to exist. But de facto there will be three independent zones with their own budgets and armies." He shared with other bishops the view that the situation would continue to deteriorate, Sako said. "At present there are three fragments of Iraq, a Sunni one, a Kurdish one and a Shiite one. The Kurds already enjoy autonomy anyway. The Shiites do as well in a sense. Now the Sunnis are following suit. Iraq will therefore be divided up."

The effects of the disintegration of the state on the country's Christian community are not yet definitively foreseeable in the view of Louis Raphael I. "To be honest we Bishops are somewhat at a loss at the present time. The future may lie in Kurdistan. Many Christians are already living there after all. But there are also many who live in Baghdad, and there are also some in Basra in the Shiite south. We must wait and see how things develop."

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The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Non-Judgement 

4. In Scetis a brother was once found guilty. They assembled the brothers, and sent a message to Moses telling him to come.  But he would not come.  Then the presbyter sent again saying, 'Come, for the gathering of monks is waiting for you.'  Moses got up and went. He took with him an old basket, which he filled with sand and carried on his back. They went to meet him and said, 'What does this mean, abba?' He said, 'My sins run out behind me and I do not see them and I have come here today to judge another.'  They listened to him and said no more to the brother who had sinned but forgave him.
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