Keep your eyes open!...


November 30, 2007  


(Rev 3:11) I am coming soon; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

LINK: Pope criticizes atheism, modern Christianity, in encyclical on hope


COMMENTARY: Bad news for ‘disobedient’ bishops

It’s beginning to look as if the shabby attempts by various English bishops to block the Pope’s liturgical reforms will end in failure. I do hope so. Here are some developments you should know about:

1. The influential Rome blogger Father Z has picked up rumours that Benedict XVI is preparing a memorandum for seminaries which will ask them to teach seminarians the older form of Mass, now liberated after 40 years, though Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is still in denial about it. This is apparently prompted by (totally justified) concern that some bishops are “disobedient” in the matter.

2. And, on the subject of disobedient bishops and cardinals (not mentioning any names, but you know who you are), the great Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has hit out again: “You hear in certain countries or dioceses that there have been issued by bishops rules which practically countermand or distort the intention of the Pope. Such behaviour is not consonant with the dignity and nobility of the vocation of a pastor of the Church.” Exactly.

3. It now seems certain that the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei will issue further guidance on the implementation of the Pope’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which removed the power of bishops to block the Latin Mass. When it does, English bishops will either have to eat their words or, more likely, retreat into surly silence.

4. Meanwhile, here’s something that their Lordships don’t want you to know. The latest Newsletter of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland carries an article by Mgr Gordon Read, a distinguished canon lawyer, which addresses the question of the new right of a “stable group” of Catholics to request a Latin Mass.

Here is Mgr Read’s interpretation, which flatly contradicts the nonsense being talked by English bishops who want to raise the bar for a “stable group” as high as possible in order to keep the number of traditional Masses as low as possible. Money quote, thanks to Fr Z:

What is meant by ‘stable group’? the Latin reads ‘coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium continenter exsistit’. ‘Coetus’ means ‘group’ implying at least three people. The word order implies that ‘continenter’ qualifies ‘exsistit’ rather than ‘adhaerentium’. What does it mean? If the author had intended ‘stable’ in the canonical sense he would have used ‘stabilis’. The term does not, then, appear to mean a formal group with established membership. On the other hand it would go beyond the wording to require such a group to have existed continuously since 1970. What it specifies is an identifiable group with some kind of continuing existence, as distinct from a one-off request from an ad hoc group.

This is technical stuff, but absolutely crucial to an understanding of Summorum Pontificum. Catholics who support the Pope’s liturgical reforms might want to make a note of it.

A final point. I’d like to know if certain English bishops have quietly consulted their own canon lawyer in order to see how they can sabotage the Pope’s ruling (though of course they wouldn’t put it like that). If they have, it’s a big story.

MORE:  Pope to purge the Vatican of modern music

SHOCKING: A Colossal Monument to Diabolic Disorientation

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

8 (cont.). But let us who are weak and passionate have the courage to offer our infirmity and natural weakness to Christ with unhesitating faith, and confess it to Him; and we shall be certain to obtain His help, even beyond our worth, if only we continually plunge to the depth of humility.

November 29, 2007  

(John 15:19-20) If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.


According to Christian belief, in the first century Saint Thomas evangelized the region we today call Iraq. An estimated 600,000 Christians live in this country of 22 million people.

Despite being in a primarily Islamic, war-torn country, Christians across Baghdad manage to hold on to Christmas by remembering how it was and keeping the holiday alive with plenty of traditions.

Although Christmas was much simpler when he was living in the Iraqi capital, Ned Saigh, an Iraqi-American who grew up in Baghdad, said that celebrating it here was a joyous occasion. He said communities and neighborhoods were involved in the open festivities.

"You can feel it more. It's more traditional. It's more family oriented. You can feel it in the air. Muslims used to celebrate Christmas with the Christians," Saigh said as he recalled holidays past. "They used to show their affections to the Christians, wishing us a 'Merry Christmas.'"

Today, the spirit of Christmas is still very much alive in Iraq, but silently tucked away in the safety of private homes because of the security situation many Iraqis face on a day-to-day basis.

The presence of Islamic extremists in some areas of Iraq caused church bells to go silent, as church crosses were taken down. However, in rare areas with a higher concentration of Christians, bells still ring on special occasions like Christmas. "Many people don't go to church any more in Baghdad. They are fearful because of the security and the fanatics," he said. "You still have the feeling of Christmas, but there is some sadness to it at the same time."

"I sympathize with them. If we, as Americans, can do something for them we should. I don't want to see them all leave this country," he said. "They say 'We can't live here. We want to leave,' and if they leave, Christianity will be over in this part of the world. It would be a shame for it to disappear from this part of the world when it was here Christianity began."


Iraqi cardinal works to protect Christians
Elevation of Chaldean patriarch highlights plight of Iraqi Christians
Iraq's top Christian cleric appeals to Christians to return home

PRAYER REQUEST: New Iraqi cardinal: "pray for us, pray for Iraq"

APPEAL: Chaldean Bishop to Make Urgent Appeal of Behalf of Iraqi Christians

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

8. Those who aim at ascending with the body to Heaven, indeed need violence and constant suffering, especially in the early stages of their renunciation, until our pleasure-loving dispositions and unfeeling hearts attain to love of God and chastity by manifest sorrow. This is a great toil, very great indeed, with much unseen suffering, especially for those who live carelessly, until by simplicity, deep angerlessness and diligence, we make our mind, which is a greedy kitchen dog addicted to barking, a lover of chastity and watchfulness.

November 28, 2007  

(Col 1:19-20) For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

VIA ZENIT: Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and of Hearts

Reflection by Father Ted: My dearest Lord Jesus, thank you for the feast day yesterday of You as the Christ, the King; thank You for the time that You gave to me this morning and this afternoon to be in Your Presence in Eucharistic adoration.

Especially this afternoon, during adoration, You reminded me of the blessing of being in Your Presence.

You indicated to me that while I am in Your Presence You offer to me the grace to experience Your healing mercy – which can most appropriately be received through the magnificent Sacrament of penance.

In the gospel for yesterday, You showed to me the effect of being near You in the ultimate response of the man who has been termed “the good thief”.

Although he, like his partner, had cursed You at the beginning of his and Your crucifixion, he was open to the graces that You offered to both him and to his partner in sin.

His partner rejected Your merciful grace of repentance.

He accepted those graces.

His partner chose not to admit his sin.

He accepted that grace to admit his sin and he confessed to You what he had done - in front of many others.

Because he did what he did – accepting Your merciful love by confessing his sin, he was truly forgiven.

Not only that, but he received from You the gift of eternal life.

This gift was offered to his partner; but he rejected this gift.

My Jesus, how many times have You called to me to come into Your Presence? For You want me too to experience Your love and Your mercy.

How many times have I refused this invitation? You know the number.

How many more times have You offered to me this same invitation – even when I have said no to You?

You consistently call to me – because You want me to experience Your divine eternal love.

Thank You Jesus for so often inviting me into Your Presence.

Thank You Jesus for being Present to me in the Holy Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Penance.

Thank You Jesus for loving me to life. I love You, Jesus; may I love You more and more.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

7 (cont.). The former are like those who are healed of the passions of the soul by the care of physicians; these are they who come out of Egypt. The latter are like those who long to put off the uncleanness of the wretched body. That is why they need a helper, an angel, so to speak, or rather, one equal to an angel. For in accordance with the corruption of our wounds, we need a director who is indeed an expert and a physician.

November 27, 2007  

(Rom 14:17-19) For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.


Pope Benedict on Sunday called for a "just and definitive" solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, asking the world to pray for the success of the Annapolis conference.

Benedict, speaking at his weekly address, asked that all join in a day of prayer called for Sunday by U.S. Catholic bishops for a positive outcome to the conference.

He said he hoped the conference would be able to find a "just and definitive solution to the conflict that for 60 years has been bloodying the Holy Land and which has caused so many tears and so much suffering among the two peoples".

Speaking from the steps of St Peter's Basilica after a ceremony with new cardinals, he asked that all join in "imploring God for peace for that region which is so dear to us and to grant the gifts of wisdom and courage to all who take part in this important meeting".

The conference starts on Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland.

It is aimed at resuming talks on a final Palestinian peace with Israel, seven years after a summit at Camp David hosted by President George W. Bush's predecessor Bill Clinton collapsed.

The Vatican supports a Palestinian state and Israel's right to exist in security.

MORE: Work for peace and unity, Pope tells new cardinals

COMMENTARY:  US Catholic bishops speak on Israel-Palestine

FACTBOX: Olmert and Abbas: the distance between them


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

7. Those of us who wish to go out of Egypt, and to fly from Pharaoh, certainly need some Moses as a mediator with God and from God, who, standing between action and divine vision, will raise hands of prayer for us to God, so that guided by him we may cross the sea of sin and rout the Amalek of the passions. That is why those who have surrendered themselves to God deceive themselves if they suppose that they have no need of a director. Those who came out of Egypt had Moses as their guide, and those who fled from Sodom had an angel.

November 22, 2007  

(1Th 5:18) In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all.


FATHER ALTIER ARCHIVES: Thanksgiving Day 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier

Reading I (Sirach 50:22-24) Reading II (1 Corinthians 1:3-9) Gospel (St. Luke 17:11-19)

In the second reading today from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that he gives thanks to God the Father always in his prayers for them, and then goes on to explain to them why they need to be so grateful to God; that among them there are no spiritual gifts that are lacking, that God has provided for them in all ways. So too it is with us. God provides for His Church everything we need, but the problem most of us have is that we do not recognize the spiritual gifts. We live in this very materialistic and scientific age; consequently, we miss the things that are spiritual. Yet, at the same time, what we have to be able to see is that even if we are perhaps overlooking some of the particular gifts that God has given, we still need to be able to see the greater gift, which is obviously what you are recognizing because of your very presence here today. The greatest gift that God has given to each one of us, beyond life itself, is faith, faith in Him in this society which does not recognize God or does not think it needs God, the fact that the Lord has placed into our hearts the faith to be able to recognize our dependence upon Him and the grace to be able to recognize that we need to come before Him like this leper from the Gospel reading and say, “Thank You.” If we go back some two hundred and thirty years, we recognize that the early pilgrims were people fleeing religious persecution, people who were fleeing a society that had become exceedingly decadent and very immoral, and they were looking to be able to practice their faith. Among these early pilgrims, recall, were many Catholics, those who founded, for instance, the states of Maryland and Virginia–both named after our Blessed Lady by Catholics who came to America. The first religious who came to America came in 1776. It was a community of Carmelite nuns who came to the New World to be able to lay a spiritual foundation. The very essence of what our founding fathers came for was to practice their faith, and it is that faith that we have to be so grateful to God for because now it is we who in fact live in a society that is similar to the one they were trying to flee. We live in a society where they are trying to push God out of society, but how grateful we must be that the Lord has given to us the grace to recognize Him, to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.

We also need to be grateful even for the society in which we live, not because it is so decadent but because there has never been a better time to be a saint. There has never been an easier time to be a saint. This is what we need to be grateful for. If we can simply maintain our faith–which is not so simple–but if we can maintain our faith in the midst of this society, we can become saints. We can become great saints, lights shining in the darkness of this world.

Saint Paul tells us that we are to give thanks to God the Father in everything we do. That is something we all need to look at. Do we recognize that in everything we need to be grateful? There are so many things we do that we think we can do all by ourselves: “I really don’t need God to do this thing or that thing because I can handle it myself.” Remember that even the talents and abilities you have are God-given. Certainly, we have had to work at developing those abilities, but God is the One Who gave them in the first place. So to say, “I can do this all by myself,” no we cannot. We cannot do it unless we have the ability which is given by God, so we still need to thank God even for those abilities. We need to thank Him for every breath that we can take, because if He did not provide for us to be able to have the oxygen, we would not even be alive! Again, we begin to see why Jesus says, Without Me you can do nothing. We could not even take a breath without Him.

Everything is a gift, even the things that do not look to us like the gifts we would give to somebody we love, because sometimes they are not very pleasant. Things happen in our lives which, in fact, are pretty rotten. When was the last time we thanked God for those? Most of us probably look up at Him and have some things to say that are not very prayerful, are they? But we are supposed to give thanks to God just the way Jesus did before He suffered and during His suffering.

Again, we see how God is providing for each one of us to become saints. That is what we need to be most grateful for because the faith by itself, excellent as it is, is not an end in itself. Heaven is the end. Union with God is the end. If we have been able to recognize this gift then we need to be able to come to Him and to thank Him, which of course we are doing right here and now in the most profound and perfect way. The word Eucharist, remember, is the Greek word that means “thanksgiving.” So we are here offering the sacrifice of thanks to God, offering the perfect sacrifice which brings the grace of God to us and gives Him the greatest honor and glory. But it is not just here in church that we are to do this; this is to be the pattern for every single aspect of our lives so that in all we do we give thanks to God the Father through Jesus Christ Our Lord. That is the direction Saint Paul gives us. That is to be what our lives are all about. In everything, no matter what it is that happens in our day-to-day lives, we need to say “Thank You,” and we need to recognize that absolutely everything that happens in our lives, no matter how good or bad they may seem at the time, are all gifts from God and they are all designed to help us grow in holiness and become great saints.

If we can keep our focus on God, it will help to put a perspective onto everything else and then we can do exactly what we have been told to do, to come back to Him, to thank Him, and then even at the moment in absolutely everything to give thanks to God the Father through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

6. The man who has withdrawn from the world in order to shake off his own burden of sins should imitate those who sit outside the city among the tombs, and should not cease from his hot and fiery streams of tears and voiceless heartfelt groanings until he, too, sees that Jesus has come to him and rolled away the stone of hardness from his heart, and loosed Lazarus, that is to say, our mind, from the bands of sin, and ordered His attendant angels: Loose him from passions, and let him go to blessed dispassion. Otherwise he will have gained nothing.

November 21, 2007  


Scientists have made ordinary human skin cells take on the chameleon-like powers of embryonic stem cells, a startling breakthrough that might someday deliver the medical payoffs of embryo cloning without the controversy.

Laboratory teams on two continents report success in a pair of landmark papers released Tuesday. It's a neck-and-neck finish to a race that made headlines five months ago, when scientists announced that the feat had been accomplished in mice.

The "direct reprogramming" technique avoids the swarm of ethical, political and practical obstacles that have stymied attempts to produce human stem cells by cloning embryos.

Scientists familiar with the work said scientific questions remain and that it's still important to pursue the cloning strategy, but that the new work is a major coup.

"This work represents a tremendous scientific milestone -- the biological equivalent of the Wright Brothers' first airplane," said Dr. Robert Lanza, chief science officer of Advanced Cell Technology, which has been trying to extract stem cells from cloned human embryos.

"It's a bit like learning how to turn lead into gold," said Lanza, while cautioning that the work is far from providing medical payoffs. "It's a huge deal," agreed Rudolf Jaenisch, a prominent stem cell scientist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "You have the proof of principle that you can do it."

The White House lauded the papers, saying such research is what President Bush was advocating when he twice vetoed legislation to pave the way for taxpayer-funded embryo research.

There is a catch. At this point, the technique requires disrupting the DNA of the skin cells, which creates the potential for developing cancer. So it would be unacceptable for the most touted use of embryonic cells: creating transplant tissue that in theory could be used to treat diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's, and spinal cord injury.

But the DNA disruption is just a byproduct of the technique, and experts said they believe it can be avoided.

COMENTARY EXCERPT: The Future Is Now- Stem cell debate changes By Father Thomas Berg

Like the unexpected climax of a romance novel, these historical paradoxes foreshadow a culmination to the ten-year tale of human embryonic-stem-cell research that is remarkably unlike anything we could have imagined. To be sure, a new day has dawned in the world of stem-cell research, thanks to the intellectual honesty and scientific acumen of researchers like Thomson, Wilmut and Yamanaka. The best part, of course, is that, for advocates of embryonic-stem-cell research, as well as for those opposed to embryo-destructive research, and especially for those millions of potential beneficiaries of stem-cell related therapies, the advent of the age of somatic cell reprogramming marks an enormous victory for all of us.

UK Dolly Creator Gives Up Cloning Method

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

5. All who have willingly left the things of the world, have certainly done so for the sake of the future of the Kingdom, or because of the multitude of their sins, or for love of God. If they were not moved by any of these reasons, their withdrawal from the world was unreasonable. But God who sets our contests waits to see what the end of our course will be.

November 20, 2007

(Matthew 5:10-12) “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you”.

EXCERPT: The persecuted share Christ’s cross by Bishop J. Peter Sartain 

The New Testament was written at a time of persecution at the hands of a variety of groups and individuals, among them Saul of Tarsus, later Paul. In fact, the first three centuries of Christianity were marked by a spirituality of martyrdom (martyr means “witness”), and early monasticism, which originated later in more peaceful times, was understood as a kind of voluntary martyrdom, in which one gave his or her life as a witness to Jesus through prayer and love.

There have been persecutions in every age, however, and that is no less true today. Across the world, Christians are intimidated, vilified, ridiculed, denied rights and even killed, and their faith-filled heroism continues to strengthen the Church. In the United States, we find it hard to imagine that such things happen in the modern world, yet they do, sometimes in horrifying proportions.

Why persecution? The persecution of Christians is motivated by religious, political and sociological factors, but it arises primarily as a reaction to the fact that Christians want to proclaim the Gospel and all it entails. They want to follow their Savior, and it is toward him that persecution is ultimately directed. In other words, it is because of our identification with Jesus—or, more properly stated, because of his identification with us, that Christians are persecuted.

We are Christians because through baptism Christ has united himself to us in a life-changing, eternal, way. Accepting the gift of salvation means recognizing that we are caught up in the mystery of Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20).

On the one hand, as the Lord said, whoever gives us a drink of cool water because we are disciples will receive a reward; and on the other hand, we will also drink from the cup of his suffering. The beatitudes challenge us to ask whether we have truly accepted our identity in Christ—and thus whether we are willing to accept both the joys and the sufferings of discipleship.

Those who suffer persecution share the cross of Christ in a tangible way. That is why their suffering bears fruit—not just for them, but for people of all times and places, for whom Christ died.


Views differ on whether vote was a message to Archbishop Burke
Pope Benedict XVI gets radical
Cardinal's criticism is met with silence by Democrats

Dale O’Leary: "When was the last time you fasted to stop abortion, offered reparations for the offenses against purity in the media, or said the rosary for the restoration of the truth about marriage? We would besiege heaven if we heard one child was dying. Should we not pray with more intensity for a culture that is dying and will, if it does, take many, many children with it?"

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

4. The irreligious man is a mortal being with a rational nature, who of his own free will turns his back on life and thinks of his own Maker, the ever-existent, as non-existent. The transgressor is one who holds the law of God after his own depraved fashion, and thinks to combine faith in God with heresy that is directly opposed to Him. The Christian is one who imitates Christ in thought, word and deed, as far as is possible for human beings, believing rightly and blamelessly in the Holy Trinity.

November 16, 2007  


LINK: Catholic bishops: Remember abortion in 2008

“The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," the bishops said in adopting a statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,’’ at the close of their fall meeting in Baltimore.

COMMENTARY: Priests for Life Comments on Bishops' Election Document

VIA  Dawn Walker:

I share with you today this inspiring meditation based on a sermon I once heard, and adapted to the concerns of the pro-life movement.

It's Friday. Jesus is on the cross. He has been killed by his enemies; he is off the scene. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Mary is weeping in bitter grief; the disciples are fleeing in all directions, confused and afraid. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Pilate is washing his hands; the Pharisees are calling the shots; the Roman soldiers are strutting around with their spears. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. The forces that oppress the poor and abandon the lowly and trample upon the rights of the weak, making them suffer and robbing them of hope, are in control. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Satan is doing his dance, and he thinks he rules the world. Governments do his bidding, and businesses do his work, and institutions are at his command. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Abortionists continue their work 4,000 times a day, tearing off the arms and legs of little babies and crushing their heads. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Pro-abortion groups put out their hands and receive blood money from billionaires who are as deceived as they are. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Liars attempt to speak for all women and hide the pain of abortion, and ignore the evidence of how it harms women, and call abortion a blessing. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Judicial activists have their way, writing the law instead of applying it, ignoring the will of the American people and allowing abortion to continue. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. People of hardened hearts guard their abortion clinics and usher desperate women in to have their abortions, while keeping them from the pro-life people who want to give them hope. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

It's Friday. Many preachers of God's word are silent in the face of all these evils, as they spend more energy calculating how to keep safe from lawyers than how to keep safe from the wrath of God. But that's because it's Friday. Sunday's comin'!

Hope does not mean that we ignore or minimize the evils around us. It means, rather, that we see the whole picture, which is that evil is conquered because of what happened one Sunday morning.

The power of sin and death has been broken by the Resurrection of Christ. We are called to proclaim, celebrate, and serve that victory, waiting in joyful hope for Christ's return and the full flowering of the Culture of Life!

Indeed, Sunday's comin'!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

3. God belongs to all free beings. He is the life of all, the salvation of all- faithful and unfaithful, just and unjust, pious and impious, passionate and dispassionate, monks and laymen, wise and simple, healthy and sick, young and old- just as the effusion of light, the sight of the sun, and the changes of the seasons are for all alike; 'for there is no respect of persons with God.'

November 15, 2007

(John 17:20-22) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one.


A joint commission working to heal the 1,000-year split between the Catholic and Orthodox churches has agreed the Pope has primacy over all bishops but disagrees over just what that authority permits him to do.

The Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue reached the agreement during talks last month in Ravenna, Italy, according to a document being published Thursday.

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches were united until the Great Schism of 1054, which was precipitated largely by disagreements over the primacy of the Pope.

Tensions remain strained over Orthodox accusations that the Vatican is seeking converts on traditionally Orthodox territories, particularly in eastern Europe - allegations that Rome denies.

Pope Benedict has said that uniting all Christians and healing the split is a "fundamental" priority of his pontificate.

The theological commission said it agreed in Ravenna that Rome occupied the "first place" in canonical order of the ancient seats of bishops - including Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

The commission said it agreed "that the bishop of Rome was therefore the 'protos' (first in ancient Greek) among the patriarchs."

"They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as 'protos,"' the commission's document said.

The Oct. 8-15 meeting in Ravenna was the second since the Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue resumed in 2006 after breaking off for six years.


Alexy II: Catholics and Orthodox remain united against threat of “persecution” in Europe
Kazakstan: close tie between Catholic rites sought
Traditional Anglicans ask for full communion with Catholics

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1- "On Renunciation of the World"

2. Each of the classes mentioned above might well have a special treatise devoted to it. But for simple folk like us it would not be profitable at this point to enter into such lengthy investigations. Come then, in unquestioning obedience let us stretch out our unworthy hand to the true servants of God, who devoutly compel us and in their faith constrain us by their commands. Let us write this treatise with a pen taken from their knowledge and dipped in the ink of humility which is both dark yet radiant. Then let us apply it to the smooth white paper of their hearts, or rather rest it on the tablets of the spirit, and let us inscribe the divine words (or rather sow the seeds). And let us begin like this.

November 14, 2007  

(Phi 1:6) 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.



I have heard there is a monastery in Greece perched high on a cliff, several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach it is to be suspended in a basket which is pulled to the top by several monks who pull and tug with all their strength. Obviously the ride up the steep cliff in that basket is terrifying.

One tourist got exceedingly nervous about halfway up as he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed. With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope. The monk thought for a moment and answered serenely, "Whenever it breaks."

We are shocked that someone would wait that long before changing the rope. It makes sense that the rope ought to be changed long before reaching that point. But it dawned on me that God operates the same way in our lives.

If we ask God when He will change our lives, His answer might be, "Whenever you break." You see, our lives can only change once we have what the Bible refers to as a "broken spirit." As long as we remain arrogant and determined to do things our way, God can't shape us and mold us. Like a wild stallion, we remain useless until we are "broken."


Moses and the people were in the desert, but what was he going to do with them?

They had to be fed, and feeding 2 or 3 million people requires a lot of food.

According to the Quartermaster General in the Army, it is reported that Moses would have to have had 1500 tons of food each day. Do you know that to bring that much food each day, two freight trains, each at least a mile long would be required! Besides you must remember, they were out in the desert, so they would have to have firewood to use in cooking the food. This would take 4000 tons of wood and a few more freight trains, each a mile long, just for one day. And just think, they were forty years in transit. And Oh yes! They would have to have water. If they only had enough to drink and wash a few dishes, it would take 11,000,000 gallons each day and a freight train with tank cars, 1800 miles long, just to bring water! And then another thing! They had to get across the Red Sea at night. Now, if they went on a narrow path, double file, the line would be 800 miles long and would require 35 days and nights to get through. So there had to be a space in the Red Sea, 3 miles wide so that they could walk 5000 abreast to get over in one night. But then, there is another problem...each time they camped at the end of the day, a campground two-thirds the size of State of Rhode Island was required, or a total of 750 square miles...think of it! This much space for camping. Do you think Moses figured all this out before he left Egypt? I think not! You see, Moses believed in God.

God took care of these things for him. Now do you think God has any problem taking care of all your needs? To guide you and protect you as you go along your way..........His love is always with you, His promises are true, And when we give Him all our cares, You know He will see us through. Our God is an Awesome God! So when the road you're traveling on seems difficult at best, just remember I'm praying and God will do the rest.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1: "On Renunciation of the World"

1 (cont.). By friends of God, dear and holy father, we simple people mean, properly speaking, those noetic and incorporeal beings which surround God. By true servants of God we mean all those who tirelessly and unremittingly do and have done His will. By worthless servants we mean those who think of themselves as having been granted baptism, but have not faithfully kept the vows they made to God. By those estranged from God and alienated from Him, we mean those who are unbelievers or heretics. Finally, the enemies of God are those who have not only evaded and rejected the Lord's commandment themselves, but who also wage bitter war on those who are fulfilling it.

November 13, 2007


A technical breakthrough has enabled scientists to create for the first time dozens of cloned embryos from adult monkeys, raising the prospect of the same procedure being used to make cloned human embryos.

Attempts to clone human embryos for research have been dogged by technical problems and controversies over fraudulent research and questionable ethics. But the new technique promises to revolutionise the efficiency by which scientists can turn human eggs into cloned embryos.

It is the first time that scientists have been able to create viable cloned embryos from an adult primate – in this case a 10-year-old male rhesus macaque monkey – and they are scheduled to report their findings later this month.

The scientists will also demonstrate that they have been able to extract stem cells from some of the cloned embryos and that they have managed to encourage these embryonic cells to develop in the laboratory into mature heart cells and brain neurons.

Scientists who know of the research said it was the breakthrough that they had all been waiting for because, until now, there was a growing feeling that there might be some insuperable barrier to creating cloned embryos from adult primates – including humans.

The development will not be welcomed in all quarters. Opponents of cloning will argue that the new technique of manipulating primate eggs to improve cloning efficiency will lead to increased attempts at creating – and destroying – cloned human embryos for research purposes.

Although it is illegal in Britain to place any such cloned embryos into the womb of a woman, many people also fear that the relative ease of being able to perform cloning using the skin cells of an adult will increase the chances of its being applied to produce a cloned baby. Scientists in South Korea reported in 2004 that they had created the first cloned human embryo but in 2006 their study was retracted after it emerged that its main author, Hwang Woo-suk , had committed fraud.

There has only been one other documented example of a human embryonic clone, but it died after a few days and did not produce stem cells. The work has so far not been replicated.

IN THE NEWS: Vatican to study origin, development of embryo

ANALYSIS: Cloning: A Diabolical Counterfeit of Eternal Life


The mouse that shook the world
I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer
Artificial Life Likely in 3 to 10 Years

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 1: "On Renunciation of the World"

1. Our God and King is good, transcendently good and all-good (it is best to begin with God in writing to the servants of God). Of the rational beings created by Him and honoured with the dignity of free-will, some are His friends, others are His true servants, some are worthless, some are completely estranged from God, and others, though feeble creatures, are His opponents.

November 9, 2007  


(Mat 28:19-20) Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

LINK:  Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization

: Evangelizing a Digital World How Churches Can Communicate With Youth Today By Father John Flynn, LC

POST YOUR CATHOLIC TESTIMONY TODAY: Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

LINK: New Tool For Catholic Evangelization - User Generated Catholic Videos

LoveToBeCatholic is a unique user generated video website where Catholics can celebrate, worship, learn, and evangelize the Catholic Faith.

Quick Facts:

* enables users to upload, watch, and comment on user generated Catholic videos. Videos can be shared privately with friends/family or publicly with just about anyone.

* Unlike other video web sites, content is monitored to assure that videos reflect true Catholic teaching. The goal is to provide a safe and entertaining place for people to access Catholic content on demand, 24/7.

* Users can find, join and create groups to connect with others in their parish, school or Catholic organization.

* LoveToBeCatholic is run by Catholici Sumus, a non-profit organization whose mission is to utilize new media and the Internet to help evangelize the Catholic faith.

Says Thomas Hall, founder of LoveToBeCatholic: "Catholics stumble upon a lot of poor theology and damaging things on popular video web sites like YouTube. People will find to be fun and unique. They can also be confident that videos will reflect true Catholic teaching. We aim to make the go to source for Catholic video clips. To that end, we want to encourage people to sign up and upload videos. The more that people do so, the more valuable the site will be as a tool for evangelization."

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

18. A brother asked Poemen about the words, 'Do not render evil for evil' (1Thess. 5:15). He said to him, 'The passions work in four stages: first in the heart, then in the face, third in words, fourth in deeds- and it is in deeds that it is essential not to render evil for evil. If you purify your heart, passion will not show in your expression, but if it does, take care not to speak about it; if you do speak, cut the conversation short in case you render evil for evil.'

November 8, 2007  

(Gen 1:14-15) And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth, and it was so done.


For more than a century, the comet known as 17P/Holmes has been too shy to shine. It would slip past Earth every seven years with a light so dim, the naked eye couldn't see it. Even astronomers largely ignored its fainter-than-faint, reliably uneventful visits.

But when an observer in the Canary Islands looked up into the northeast sky early on the morning of Oct. 24, an object where the dark comet should have been beamed so brightly that he couldn't explain it. Minutes later, the same strange object was spotted from Barcelona, Spain, by another equally bewildered stargazer.

In less than 24 hours, Comet 17P/Holmes had intensified so much that its once dark mass resembled a star, prompting a rash of excited sightings across the planet. Then — over the following few days — its brightness multiplied by a million times, making it not only visible to the unaided eye but also one of the most prominent objects in the night sky.

The comet also appears much bigger than it normally does, vaulting from imperceptible at first to the same size as Jupiter. In recent days, it's surpassed the giant planet, too, giving night observers in the local area something totally unexpected to see.


OF INTEREST: The significance of why Comet Holmes has appeared in the Perseus constellation has also raised many questions. In Greek mythology Perseus was the first of the mythic heroes and was credited with killing the Gorgon, Medusa. In the constellation, Perseus is said to be holding the head of Medusa in his left hand and many are stating that Comet Holmes has appeared in the area of Medusa’s third eye, signifying an awakening of evil, grief and doom. The comet appeared next to the star Algol, which is considered to be the head of Satan.

To view other monthly publications of Biblical Astronomy go to




In November, Mars Lovers Can Rejoice
Mars At Its Closest And Brightest Until 2016 This December

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

15.  It was said that Silvanus wanted to go away to Syria but his disciple Mark said to him, 'Abba, I don't want to leave this place, nor will I let you leave. Stay here for three days.' On the third day Mark died.

November 7, 2007


Funeral Pall & Incense
Contacting the Dead

Plenary Indulgence- Visit to a Cemetery (Coemeterii visitatio)

An indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the departed.

The indulgence is plenary each day from the 1st to the 8th of November; on other days of the year it is partial.

Reflection by Father Ted – October 29, 2007

My dearest Lord Jesus, as we come to the end of this special month in honor of Your Mother, You remind us that our ultimate goal in life is to be united with her in Your home in heaven.

She is always interceding for us. For, she is our Mother.

You have sent her to be with us many times. And she has been communicating to us how to respond to Your call to holiness for each one of us.

You want us to become saints.

She wants us to become saints.

So do our deceased brothers and sisters who are with You in Your home in heaven.

They pray for us because they love us – their earthly brothers and sisters. They pray that we respond to all the graces that You desire to bestow upon us – just like they did.

But so do our other deceased brothers and sisters - who are not yet with You in Your home in heaven. For they still need to be purified before they can enter into the joy of Your home.

They pray for us because they love us – since we are members of the same Mystical Body.

They pray for us to become more open to all the graces that You desire to give to us to become those holy men, women, boys and girls that You created us to become.

They know what we need – in order to respond to Your graces.

That is why they pray for us.

They also know what they themselves need from us.

They need our prayers.

They can no longer help themselves.

And we can. We can help them to get out of Purgatory – and into Heaven.

In fact they depend upon us to help them – to pray for them.

Moreover, You want us to help them – for they are our brothers and sisters.

Thank You Jesus, for giving us the opportunities for pray for them – to show to them our love.

May we do all that You ask of us to help them to enter into Your heavenly home.

May we do all that You ask of us to become their saintly brothers and sisters.

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

10. Macarius wanted to encourage the brothers so he said, 'A little while ago a mother came here with her son who was vexed by a devil, and he said to his mother, "Get up, let us go away from here." But she said, "my feet are so bad that I can't walk away." So her son said to her, "I will carry you." I am amazed at the cleverness of the devil, how much he wanted them to flee from this place.'

November 6, 2007  

LINK: All are called to be saints, Pope reminds audience

LINK: All Souls: 'It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead'

Our Lady of the Rosary Library: PRAYING FOR THE DEAD

II Maccabees 12:43-46: "And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."

Those who've died in a state of grace are not truly "dead"; they are our beloved in Heaven or in Purgatory (on their way to Heaven) and will forever be, world without end, part of the Communion of Saints -- the Church Triumphant (the Saints in Heaven, whether or not they are beatified or canonized), the Church Suffering (the holy souls in Purgatory), and the Church Militant (the faithful on earth).

Because we can't know, aside from those the Church has beatified or canonized, who is already in Heaven, who is in Purgatory for a time, or who is damned, we pray for the dead for the rest of our lives -- assuming they are in Purgatory, while hoping they are in Heaven and not damned.

We also ask those who've died to pray for us. While those whom the Church has deemed to be of the Church Triumphant (the canonized Saints) are in Heaven for certain and are, therefore, in no need of our prayers for them, we've always asked for them to pray for us. As to the Church Suffering in Purgatory, Aquinas teaches that they are not able to know, by themselves, our prayers; however, it is piously believed, and taught by St. Alphonsus Liguori, that God can make our prayers known to them -- not directly, as they are deprived of the Beatific Vision until they enter Heaven, but by infusing this knowledge into their souls. St. Bellarmine teaches that because the Church Suffering is so close to God -- much closer than we are and having the great consolation of knowing they are saved -- their prayers for us are very effective. So, as you pray for your dead loved ones, ask them to pray for you, too!

As to the damned, there is no hope; no prayer can help them and we can't pray formally for those in Hell. The problem, of course, is that we can't know who is damned, and so we pray generally for "all the faithful departed." For those who've died outside of visible Communion with Christ's Church or for those Catholics who've died seemingly without repentance and in scandal, public prayer cannot be offered, but we can most certainly still pray privately with the hope that they've died in a state of grace (i.e., those who are denied a Catholic funeral can't be prayed for liturgically, publicly, but they can most definitely be prayed for -- and should be prayed for -- privately). Priests can even offer Masses for such people privately, without naming them.

LINK: Historical and Practical Overview of the Purgatorian Archconfraternity

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

1. A brother went to the cell of Arsenius in Scetis, and looked in through the window, and saw him like fire from head to foot. (He was a brother worthy to see such sights.) When he knocked, Arsenius came out, and saw the brother standing there amazed, and said to him, 'Have you been knocking long? Did you see anything?' He answered, 'No.' After talking with him, Arsenius sent him on his way.

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