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Date: Monday, 03 Dec 2012 12:10
Have you ever heard this?  "It doesn't matter what you believe, it's what you do that counts." 

It is such a pity that people forget that the former directs the latter.

Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "CatholicsKnowThe AnswerOfficialPage, Her..."
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Date: Thursday, 15 Nov 2012 19:55

Human nature has always acted in the same way. Let us go back to Shakespeare. In his great tragedy,  Macbeth, Shakespeare, long before we had any of the profound findings of psychiatry, described a perfect case of psychosis and a perfect case of neurosis. It was Macbeth who had the psychosis; Lady Macbeth, his wife, had the neurosis. 
Do you remember the story? In order to obtain the throne they had Banquo, the King, murdered. Conscience bothered Macbeth so much that he developed a psychosis, and began seeing the ghost of Banquo. He imagined he saw him seated at a table. The dagger that killed the king was constantly before him.
 “What is this dagger before my eyes?”Imagination was the projection of his inner guilt. Note the great wisdom in Shakespeare in pointing out that wherever there is a revolution against conscience, then skepticism, doubt, atheism, and complete negation of the philosophy of life follows. Macbeth reached a stage where to him life was just a candle and had no meaning:

        Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And to all our yesterdays have lighted folls
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!            

Skepticism, agnosticism, and atheism do not have rational foundations. Their foundations are in the moral order with a revolt against conscience.
Look at Lady Macbeth; her guilt was manifested in a neurosis.
The maid said of Lady Macbeth that she washed her hands every quarter of an hour.
 There was a sense of guilt in her and instead of 
washing her soul, as she should have done, she projected it to her 
hands. She said, “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”

Notes for my class:
Wherever there is a revolution against conscience, then skepticism, doubt, atheism, and complete negation of the philosophy of life follows.
Q “What was the dagger before his eyes?”
A  Sin

Q "What is the dagger before our eyes?"
A  Same answer

And, on a lighter note:

Source: Your Life is Worth Living, by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Graphic source

Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Quotes, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Guilt, ..."
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Date: Monday, 12 Nov 2012 22:03
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Archbishop Fulton Sheen"
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Date: Saturday, 10 Nov 2012 18:03
  From Dr. Peter Kreeft:

To win any war, the three most necessary things to know are: (1) that you are at war, (2) who your enemy is, and (3) what weapons or strategies can defeat him.

You cannot win a war (1) if you simply sew peace banners on a battlefield, (2) if you fight civil wars against your allies, or (3) if you use the wrong weapons.

Here is a three point checklist for the culture wars.

1. We Are at War

If you don’t know that our entire civilization is in crisis, I hope you had a nice vacation on the moon.

Many minds do seem moonstruck, however, blissfully unaware of the crisis—especially the “intellectuals,” who are supposed to be the most on top of current events. I was dumbfounded to read a cover article in Time devoted to the question: Why is everything getting better? Why is life so good today? Why does everybody feel so satisfied about the quality of life? Time never questioned the assumption, it just wondered why the music on the Titanic sounded so nice.

It turned out, on reading the article, that every single aspect of life that was mentioned, every single reason for life getting better, was economic. People are richer. End of discussion.

Perhaps Time Magazine is just Playboy with clothes on. For one kind of playboy, the world is one great big whorehouse. For another kind, it’s one great big piggy bank. For both, things are getting better and

There is a scientific refutation of the Pig Philosophy: the statistical fact that suicide, the most in-your-face index of unhappiness, is directly proportionate to wealth. The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains apart.

Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000% since the “happy days” of the ’50s. If suicide, especially among the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, nothing is.

Night is falling. What Chuck Colson has labeled “a new Dark Ages” is looming. And its Brave New World proved to be only a Cowardly Old Dream. We can see this now, at the end of “the century of genocide”
that was christened “the Christian century” at its birth.

We’ve had prophets who warned us: Kierkegaard, 150 years ago, in The Present Age; and Spengler, 100 years ago, in The Decline of the West; and Aldous Huxley, seventy years ago, in Brave New World; and C. S. Lewis, forty years ago, in The Abolition of Man; and above all our popes: Leo XIII and Pius IX and Pius X and above all John Paul the Great, the greatest man in the world, the greatest man of the worst century. He had even more chutzpah than Ronald Reagan, who dared to call Them “the evil empire”: He called Us “the culture of death.” That’s our culture, and his, including Italy, with the lowest birth rate in the world, and Poland, which now wants to share in the rest of the West’s abortion holocaust.

If the God of life does not respond to this culture of death with judgment, God is not God. If God does not honor the blood of the hundreds of millions of innocent victims then the God of the Bible,
the God of Israel, the God of orphans and widows, the Defender of the defenseless, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale.

But is not God forgiving?

He is, but the unrepentant refuse forgiveness. How can forgiveness be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive except a lack of self-esteem, nothing to judge but
“judgmentalism?” How can a Pharisee or a pop psychologist be saved?

But is not God compassionate?

He is not compassionate to Moloch and Baal and Ashtaroth, and to Caananites who do their work, who “cause their children to walk through the fire.” Perhaps your God is—the God of your dreams, the God
of your “religious preference”—but not the God revealed in the Bible.

But is not the God of the Bible revealed most fully and finally in the New Testament rather than the Old? In sweet and gentle Jesus rather than wrathful and warlike Jehovah?

The opposition is heretical: the old Gnostic-Manichaean- Marcionite heresy, as immortal as the demons who inspired it. For “I and the Father are one.” The opposition between nice Jesus and nasty Jehovah denies the very essence of Christianity: Christ’s identity as the Son of God. Let’s remember our theology and our biology: like Father, like Son.

But is not God a lover rather than a warrior?

No, God is a lover who is a warrior. The question fails to understand what love is, what the love that God is, is. Love is at war with hate, betrayal, selfishness, and all love’s enemies. Love fights. Ask any
parent. Yuppie-love, like puppy-love, may be merely “compassion” (the fashionable word today), but father-love and mother-love are war.

In fact, every page of the Bible bristles with spears, from Genesis 3 through Revelation 20. The road from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained is soaked in blood. At the very center of the story is a
cross, a symbol of conflict if there ever was one. The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in scripture, and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is never present in
the religious education of any of my “Catholic” students at Boston College. Whenever I speak of it, they are stunned and silent, as if they have suddenly entered another world. They have. They have gone
past the warm fuzzies, the fur coats of psychology-disguised-as-religion, into a world where they meet Christ the King, not Christ the Kitten.

Welcome back from the moon, kids.

Where is the culture of death coming from? Here. America is the center of the culture of death. America is the world’s one and only cultural superpower.

If I haven’t shocked you yet, I will now. Do you know what Muslims call us (Americans)? They call us “The Great Satan.” And do you know what I call them? I call them right.

But America has the most just, and moral, and wise, and biblical historical and constitutional foundation in all the world. America is one of the most religious countries in the world. The Church is big and rich and free in America.

Yes. Just like ancient Israel. And if God still loves his Church in America, he will soon make it small and poor and persecuted, as he did to ancient Israel, so that he can keep it alive. If he loves us, he will prune us, and we will bleed, and the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the Church again, and a second spring will come—but not without blood. It never happens without blood, sacrifice, and suffering. The continuation of Christ’s work—if it is really Christ’s work and not a comfortable counterfeit—can never happen without the Cross.

I don’t mean merely that Western civilization will die. That’s a piece of trivia. I mean eternal souls will die. Billions of Ramons and Vladamirs and Janes and Tiffanies will go to Hell. That’s what’s at
stake in this war: not just whether America will become a banana republic, or whether we’ll forget Shakespeare, or even whether some nuclear terrorist will incinerate half of humanity, but whether our
children and our children’s children will see God forever. That’s what’s at stake in “Hollywood versus America.” That’s why we must wake up and smell the rotting souls. Knowing we are at war is the first
requirement for winning it.

The next thing we must do to win a war is to know our enemy.

2. Our Enemy

Who is our enemy?

Not Protestants. For almost half a millennium, many of us thought our enemies were Protestant heretics, and addressed that problem by consigning their bodies to battlefields and their souls to Hell.
(Echoes of this strategy can still be heard in Northern Ireland.) Gradually, the light dawned: Protestants are not our enemies, they are our “separated brethren.” They will fight with us.

Not Jews. For almost two millennia many of us thought that, and did such Christless things to our “fathers in the faith” that we made it almost impossible for the Jews to see their God—the true God—in us.

Not Muslims, who are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ, who often live more godly lives following their fallible scriptures and their fallible prophet than we do
following our infallible scriptures and our infallible prophet.

The same is true of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Quakers.

Our enemies are not “the liberals.” For one thing, the term is almost meaninglessly flexible. For another, it’s a political term, not a religious one. Whatever is good or bad about political liberalism,
it’s neither the cause nor the cure of our present spiritual decay. Spiritual wars are not decided by whether welfare checks increase or decrease.

Our enemies are not anti-Catholic bigots who want to crucify us. They are the ones we’re trying to save. They are our patients, not our disease. Our word for them is Christ’s: “Father, forgive them, for
they know not what they do.” We say this of the Chinese communist totalitarians who imprison and persecute Catholics, and to the Sudanese Muslim terrorists who enslave and murder Catholics. They are not our enemies, they are our patients. We are Christ’s nurses. The patients think the nurses are their enemies, but the nurses know better.

Our enemies are not even the media of the culture of death, not even Ted Turner or Larry Flynt or Howard Stern or Disney or Time-Warner. They too are victims, patients, though on a rampage against the hospital, poisoning other patients. But the poisoners are our patients too. So are homosexual activists, feminist witches, and abortionists. We go into gutters and pick up the spiritually dying and kiss those who spit at us, if we are cells in our Lord’s Body. If we do not physically go into gutters, we go into spiritual gutters, for we go where the need is.

Our enemies are not heretics within the Church, “cafeteria Catholics,” “Kennedy Catholics,” “I Did It My Way” Catholics. They are also our patients, though they are Quislings. They are the victims of our enemy, not our enemy.

Our enemies are not theologians in so-called Catholic theology departments who have sold their souls for thirty pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of God. They are
also our patients.

Our enemy is not even the few really bad priests and bishops, candidates for Christ’s Millstone of the Month Award, the modern Pharisees. They too are victims, in need of healing.

Who, then, is our enemy?

There are two answers. All the saints and popes throughout the Church’s history have given the same two answers, for these answers come from the Word of God on paper in the New Testament and the Word of God in flesh in Jesus Christ.

Yet they are not well known. In fact, the first answer is almost never mentioned today. Not once in my life have I ever heard a homily on it, or a lecture by a Catholic theologian.

Our enemies are demons. Fallen angels. Evil spirits.

So says Jesus Christ: “Do not fear those who can kill the body and then has no more power over you. I will tell you whom to fear. Fear him who has power to destroy both body and soul in Hell.”

So says St. Peter, the first pope: “The Devil, like a roaring lion, is going through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”

So says St. Paul: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of wickedness in high places.”

So said Pope Leo the XIII, who received a vision of the 20th century that history has proved terrifyingly true. He saw Satan, at the beginning of time, allowed one century in which to do his worst work,
and he chose the 20th. This pope with the name and heart of a lion was so overcome by the terror of this vision that he fell into a trance. When he awoke, he composed a prayer for the whole Church to use to get it through the 20th century. The prayer was widely known and prayed after every Mass—until the ’60s: exactly when the Church was struck with that incomparably swift disaster that we have not yet named (but which future historians will), the disaster that has destroyed a third of our priests, two-thirds of our nuns, and nine-tenths of our children’s theological knowledge; the disaster that has turned the faith of our fathers into the doubts of our dissenters, the wine of the Gospel into the water of psychobabble.

The restoration of the Church, and thus the world, might well begin with the restoration of the Lion’s prayer and the Lion’s vision, because this is the vision of all the popes and all the saints and our
Lord himself: the vision of a real Hell, a real Satan, and real spiritual warfare.

I said there were two enemies. The second is even more terrifying than the first. There is one nightmare even more terrible than being chased and caught and tortured by the Devil. That is the nightmare of becoming a devil. The horror outside your soul is terrible enough; how can you bear to face the horror inside your soul?

What is the horror inside your soul? Sin. All sin is the Devil’s work, though he usually uses the flesh and the world as his instruments. Sin means inviting the Devil in. And we do it. That’s the
only reason why he can do his awful work; God won’t let him do it without our free consent. And that’s why the Church is weak and the world is dying: because we are not saints.

3. The Weapon

And thus we have our third Necessary Thing: the weapon that will win the war and defeat our enemy.

All it takes is saints.

Can you imagine what twelve more Mother Teresas would do for the world? Can you imagine what would happen if just twelve readers of this article offered Christ 100% of their hearts and held back
nothing, absolutely nothing?

No, you can’t imagine it, any more than anyone could imagine how twelve nice Jewish boys could conquer the Roman Empire. You can’t imagine it, but you can do it. You can become a saint. Absolutely no one and nothing can stop you. It is your free choice. Here is one of the truest and most terrifying sentences I have ever read (from William Law’s Serious Call): “If you will look into your own heart in complete honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not a saint: you do not wholly want to be.”

That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment. But it is also thrillingly hopeful because it is an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can.

What holds us back? Fear of paying the price.

What is the price? The answer is simple. T.S. Eliot defines the Christian life as: “A condition of complete simplicity/Costing not less than/Everything.” The price is everything: 100%. A worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake: the martyrdom of dying daily, dying to all your desires and plans, including your plans about how to become a saint. A blank check to God. Complete submission, “islam,”
“fiat”—Mary’s thing. Look what that simple Mary-thing did 2000 years ago: It brought God down and saved the world.

It was meant to continue.

If we do that Mary-thing—and only if we do that—then all our apostolates will “work”: our missioning and catechizing and fathering and mothering and teaching and studying and nursing and businessing
and priesting and bishoping—everything .

A bishop asked one of the priests of his diocese for recommendations on ways to increase vocations. The priest replied: The best way to attract men in this diocese to the priesthood, Your Excellency, would be your canonization.

Why not yours?
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "War, Culture War, Civilization in Crisis..."
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Date: Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 23:56

Top Row (left to right): Angel 1, Angel 2, Archangel Michael, Lord Jesus Christ, Blessed Virgin Mary, Archangel Gabriel, Archangel Raphael, Angel 3

Row 2 from top (left to right): St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Rose of Lima, St. Maria Goretti, St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Lawrence of Rome, St. Philomena, St. Vincent De Paul

Row 3 from top (left to right): St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Monica, St. Augustine, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. John Vianney, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis De Sales

Row 4 from top (left to right): St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Faustina Kowaslka, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Thérèse of Lisieux , St. Pio of Pietrelcina 

Row 5 from top (left to right): St. Francis Xavier, St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Dominic of Guzman

Row 6 from top (left to right): Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Alphonsus Liguori, Blessed Pope John Paul II, St. Benedict of Nursia

Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Saints"
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Oct 2012 23:30

A Controversial Holiday:

Every year, a debate rages among Catholics and other Christians: Is Halloween a satanic holiday or merely a secular one? Should Catholic children dress up like ghosts and goblins? Is it good for children to be scared? Lost in the debate is the history of Halloween, which, far from being a pagan religious event, is actually a Christian celebration that's almost 1,300 years old.

The Christian Origins of Halloween:

"Halloween" is a name that means nothing by itself. It is a contraction of "All Hallows Eve," and it designates the vigil of All Hallows Day, more commonly known today as All Saints Day. ("Hallow," as a noun, is an old English word for saint. As a verb, it means to make something holy or to honor it as holy.) All Saints Day, November 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation, and both the feast and the vigil have been celebrated since the early eighth century, when they were instituted by Pope Gregory III in Rome. (A century later, they were extended to the Church at large by Pope Gregory IV.)

The Pagan Origins of Halloween:

Despite concerns among some Catholics and other Christians in recent years about the "pagan origins" of Halloween, there really are none. The first attempts to show some connection between the vigil of All Saints and the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain came over a thousand years after All Saints Day became a universal feast, and there's no evidence whatsoever that Gregory III or Gregory IV was even aware of Samhain.
In Celtic peasant culture, however, elements of the harvest festival survived, even among Christians, just as the Christmas tree owes its origins to pre-Christian Germanic traditions without being a pagan ritual.

Combining the Pagan and the Christian:

The Celtic elements included lighting bonfires, carving turnips (and, in America, pumpkins), and going from house to house, collecting treats, as carolers do at Christmas. But the "occult" aspects of Halloween—ghosts and demons—actually have their roots in Catholic belief. Christians believed that, at certain times of the year (Christmas is another), the veil separating earth from Purgatory, heaven, and even hell becomes more thin, and the souls in Purgatory (ghosts) and demons can be more readily seen. Thus the tradition of Halloween costumes owes as much, if not more, to Christian belief as to Celtic tradition.

The (First) Anti-Catholic Attack on Halloween:

The current attacks on Halloween aren't the first. In post-Reformation England, All Saints Day and its vigil were suppressed, and the Celtic peasant customs associated with Halloween were outlawed. Christmas and the traditions surrounding it were similarly attacked, and the Puritan Parliament banned Christmas outright in 1647. In America, Puritans outlawed the celebration of both Christmas and Halloween, which were revived largely by German Catholic (in the case of Christmas) and Irish Catholic (in the case of Halloween) immigrants in the 19th century.

The Commercialization of Halloween:

Continued opposition to Halloween was largely an expression of anti-Catholicism (as well as anti-Irish prejudice). But by the early 20th century, Halloween, like Christmas, was becoming highly commercialized. Pre-made costumes, decorations, and special candy all became widely available, and the Christian origins of the holiday were downplayed.
The rise of horror films, and especially the slasher films of the late 70's and 80's, contributed to Halloween's bad reputation, as did the claims of putative Satanists and Wiccans, who created a mythology in which Halloween had been their festival, co-opted later by Christians.

The (Second) Anti-Catholic Attack on Halloween:

A new backlash against Halloween by non-Catholic Christians began in the 1980's, in part because of claims that Halloween was the "Devil's Night"; in part because of urban legends about poisons and razor blades in Halloween candy; and in part because of an explicit opposition to Catholicism. Jack Chick, a rabidly anti-Catholic fundamentalist who distributes Bible tracts in the form of small comic books, helped lead the charge. (For more on Chick's rabid anti-Catholicism and his attack on Halloween, see Halloween, Jack Chick, and Anti-Catholicism.)
By the late 1990's, many Catholic parents, unaware of the anti-Catholic origins of the attack on Halloween, had begun to question Halloween as well, and alternative celebrations became popular.

Alternatives to Halloween Activities:

Ironically, one of the most popular Christian alternatives to celebrating Halloween is a secular "Harvest Festival," which has more in common with the Celtic Samhain than it does with the Catholic All Saints Day. There's nothing wrong with celebrating the harvest, but there's no need to strip such a celebration of connections with the Christian liturgical calendar.
Another popular Catholic alternative is an All Saints Party, usually held on Halloween and featuring costumes (of saints rather than ghouls) and candy. At best, though, this is an attempt to Christianize an already Christian holiday.

Safety Concerns and the Fear Factor:

Parents are in the best position to decide whether their children can participate safely in Halloween activities, and, in today's world, it's understandable that many choose to err on the side of caution. One concern that's often overblown, however, is the effect that fright might have on children. Some children, of course, are very sensitive, but most love scaring others and being scared themselves (within limits, of course). Any parent knows that the "Boo!" is usually followed by laughter, not only from the child doing the scaring, but from the one being scared. Halloween provides a structured environment for fear.

Making Your Decision:

In the end, the choice is yours to make as a parent. If you choose, as my wife and I do, to let your children participate in Halloween, simply stress the need for physical safety (including checking over their candy when they return home), and explain the Christian origins of Halloween to your children. Before you send them off trick-or-treating, recite together the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and explain that, as Catholics, we believe in the reality of evil. Tie the vigil explicitly to the Feast of All Saints, and explain to your children why we celebrate that feast, so that they won't view All Saints Day as "the boring day when we have to go to church before we can eat some more candy."
Let's reclaim Halloween for Christians, by returning to its roots in the Catholic Church!
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Halloween"
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Oct 2012 23:25

by Page McKean Zyromski
from AmericanCatholic.org

Halloween has grown into a major secular holiday in American culture. But for those who don't value devotion to the saints, the Eve has become "hollow" instead of "hallow." The purpose behind it has been lost'like celebrating New Year's Eve without a New Year's Day. Take away the saints and our beliefs about the dignity and destiny of human beings, and the only thing left is pre-Christian superstition regarding the dead.
Among many Christians, there has been concern that things have gotten out of hand. After all, doesn't Halloween glorify evil? Is it right to send our children out as devils and vampires, or is it better to emphasize the saints, whose nearly forgotten feast day is the reason for Halloween? Hallow is the same word for "holy" that we find in the Lord's Prayer, and e'en is a contraction of "evening." The word Halloween itself is a shortened form of "All Hallows Eve," the day before All Saints Day.

Let's consider how Catholics can "redeem" Halloween. 
This holiday, properly understood and celebrated with all of its fun trappings, can be a way for us to deepen our understanding of our faith. The key to this understanding is close at hand for Catholics in our love of the communion of saints.

Martyr means 'witness'
Until the ninth century the Church celebrated the popular feast of All Saints on May 13th, during the season of joy after the Resurrection. This is the light in which we see all the faithful who have died, especially those whose witness to Christ is an inspiration. In 835 the date was deliberately changed to November 1 to Christianize the existing pagan time for remembering the dead'to bring light to the darkness, and hope to the most basic of human fears.
Before canonization was ever thought of, before the New Testament books even took shape, the human desire to remember deceased loved ones surfaced. And these were no ordinary loved ones, these were brothers and sisters who had died in Christ, as witnesses to Christ. (The Greek word martyr simply means "witness.") Their death was victory, not defeat; celebration, not mourning.
The same way people gather today at the site of a tragedy on its anniversary to talk to each other and to reporters, the first Christians gathered on the anniversary of a martyr's death to remember it the way they knew best: with the "breaking of the bread." They retold the stories to inspire each other at a time when faith meant persecution and more martyrdom. Not even death could break the unity in Jesus which Paul had named "the Body of Christ."
Anniversaries of local and well-known martyrs peppered the calendar. Then a pragmatic question arose: What honor should be given to martyrs whose names were unknown? Many Christians were thrown to the lions for witnessing to their faith, not all of them known to the community. By the mid-fourth century a feast of "All Martyrs" appeared on local calendars. As persecutions grew less frequent, the feast was extended to include non-martyr "witnesses," Christians whose lives were "the gospel in action," as St. Francis de Sales would later call the saints.

One vigil, two feasts
Meanwhile those who were not so saintly were also being remembered after death. The first Christians were heirs to the Jewish custom of praying for the dead and offering sacrifice for them as part of emerging Jewish belief in the resurrection of the dead.
Today's Christians sometimes forget that by the time of Christ many Jews, especially the Pharisees, had a well-developed belief in the resurrection of the dead, which included trust that the prayer of the living could benefit the dead. It was with this understanding that, 160 years before Jesus was born, Judah the Maccabee prayed and offered sacrifice for dead comrades who had sinned: "For if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death" (2 Maccabees 12:44).
For the first 1,000 years of Christianity there was no collective memorial for All Souls. Relatives and loved ones were remembered at Mass on the anniversary of their death, or until they passed out of living memory. But by the seventh century monasteries were celebrating an annual Mass for all the deceased of their order, an idea which spread to the laity. About 1048, an influential abbot chose November 2 to commemorate All Souls because it was an obvious companion date and extension of the Feast of All Saints. Both days are reminders that all of us, living and dead, are united in a living communion with Christ and one another.
In effect, Halloween became one vigil for two feasts celebrated by the whole Church. In the 16th century at the time of the Reformation, most Protestants discarded both the doctrine of the communion of saints and the practice of praying for the dead. All Hallows Eve became "hollow" for them, the vigil of an empty feast day.

Redeeming Halloween
How can we keep the religious connection and curb pre-Christian trappings? Many parishes invite the kids to dress up for an All Saints procession at the vigil Mass. A boy wearing a crown and a velour bathrobe is St. Louis, the King of France. A girl with an armful of silk roses is the Little Flower. These cute processions are certainly a wonderful way for young Catholics to learn about the communion of saints.
But many kids are more likely to excitedly put on ghoulish makeup to get ready for parties or trick or treat. Their instincts are right: Skeletons and jack-o'-lanterns and shocking costumes are very much a part of All Hallows Eve. It's the adults who shy away from eyeballing their own mortality.
The kids are right. Death is not cute. Halloween began with martyrs, after all, so strange makeup and skull masks are not out of line. Picture, if you will, an All Saints procession led by St. Thomas More with his head tucked under his arm. Next comes St. Lawrence, still attached to the skewer that couldn't keep him from joking at the very moment he was being roasted alive. Kateri Tekakwitha is there, her face scarred by smallpox, the white man's disease which decimated native American tribes.
Our tradition teems with stories of people who endured terrible things' but never let it interfere with an underlying joy and trust in God. (Of course, even the saints who weren't martyred deserve our recognition and imitation!)

Lessons and limits
At Halloween we need to use discernment to separate the symbols, to protect our children from very real dangers, to cut through the customs that contradict our relationship with God, including occult practices (see box below).
At this time of year violent movies with Halloween settings flood television and video stores; warped personalities copy malicious acts "for fun"; young people experiment with the occult because of publicity given to witches and warlocks.
It's precisely because Catholics do believe in the reality of evil that we promise to turn away from "Satan and all his works" in the baptismal rite. Here's a chance for parents (and godparents) to make good on that promise: Be vigilant about television and video games, don't give warped personalities the publicity they crave, choose carefully if and where your child will trick or treat.
Most of all, be free from fear. We who are in Christ have nothing to fear, and we should be ready with an answer to those who act as if the devil were the equal and opposite of God. There is no "equal and opposite" of God. Catholic tradition tells us that Satan is a created being, a fallen angel; if he had any "equal and opposite" it would be Michael the Archangel. Still, there would be no "equality" between Satan and any angel. Christ has conquered sin and Satan once and for all. All of us, saints and angels, people of faith living and dead, share in that victory. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church #391, 395.)

Separating the symbols
So how do we separate the symbols of Halloween? Do we stop serving cider and doughnuts because apples were sacred to the Roman goddess Pomona, and doughnuts were once set out as "food" for the souls of the dead (their circular shape indicating eternity)? Of course not. Our gratitude for God's bounty eclipses all that.
What about trick or treat? In the Middle Ages there was a superstition that those who had died the previous year without being reconciled to you might rise to haunt you, appearing as will-o'-the-wisps or ghosts. The apparition jarred you so you would release them by prayer and forgiveness. You might also appease them with "soul cakes"'cookies, fried cakes, "treats"'so they wouldn't do you any mischief with their "tricks." Soon those who were living began to use the occasion for reconciliation. To wipe the slate clean for the coming year, they came, masked and unrecognizable, and boldly bargained for treats.
The connection between trick or treat and forgiveness deserves to be reclaimed, don't you think? While we wait for an imaginative catechist to draw up a format, we can allow our kids to enjoy the costumes, the goodies, the excitement of traipsing around after dark if we exercise prudence. Most communities now impose a curfew for trick or treat, and most parents select the houses of friends they know. Sometimes the PTA will sponsor a party. Avoiding costumes and decorations that glorify witches and devils goes without saying, but there's no reason to fear skeletons, skulls or Thomas More with his head tucked under his arm. After all, can't skulls and skeletons be healthy reminders of human mortality? Can't witches and devils symbolize the evil Christ has overcome?

Pumpkins as well as halos
Jack-o'-lanterns have a special place for Catholics on Halloween when we're able to tell the story. The saints in their costumes remind us of the great heights we can reach. Skeletons, skulls and trick or treaters remind us of our own mortality and the need to pray for the dead. Jack stands in between as a one-man morality play.
The folktale of "Jack o' the Lantern" arrived with early Irish Catholic colonists in Maryland. It quickly grew in popularity because of the independent spirit admired in this country. Jack has the cleverness to outwit the devil himself, but it isn't enough to get him into heaven (see box below). He must roam forever between heaven and earth, holding his pumpkin lantern high. (Originally the lantern was cut from a turnip; after the story crossed the ocean, colonists changed it to the colorful vegetable they found here, the pumpkin.)
As you carve your pumpkin (or roast the oiled seeds at 325 degrees for 25 minutes), tell others the tale behind jack-o'-lanterns. Talk about what it means to be a saint and why Jack didn't make the grade. Don't be afraid to point out the "moral of the story" (which is why it was told in the first place). Jack was so self-centered he never helped another human being. He was given a good set of brains, but he used this gift only for himself. He knew about faith and the power of the cross, but he used it like a piece of magic instead of as the way of Jesus (see Luke 9:23). The cross is indeed strong enough to vanquish the devil. But embracing the cross is what brings eternal life.

Halloween's positive messages
Halloween and its back-to-back feast days mean more than talking about our favorite saints who lived in another time, another place. It's also an opportunity to talk about what's needed for holiness now (perhaps even martyrdom now, sad to say).
In addition we have a chance to face up to differences that still divide Catholics and Protestants, maybe even a chance to evangelize. "I believe...in the communion of saints," we say every Sunday in the Creed. How many of us know what this doctrine really means?
Do we "worship" or "adore" our beloved saints, as some non-Catholics think? Not at all. We honor them and learn from their example; adoration belongs to God alone. We ask the saints to pray for us the same way we might ask a good friend to pray. A favorite quotation about prayer begins, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name" (Matthew 18:20). The "two or three" aren't necessarily limited to the living. It's comforting to have friends always available to pray with you, a whole "cloud of witnesses," in fact! (see Hebrews 12:1).
Halloween also invites us to talk openly about death in a culture that labors mightily to deny it. Seventy-five percent of Americans do not have a valid will, much less a Living Will or an organ donor card. "If I die..." people say, instead of, "when I die." Do we think death is optional? Death is a fact of life. When St. Francis of Assisi lay dying he said, "Welcome, Sister Death," recognizing that death was just another creaturely thing in a world that would one day pass away.
Occasionally we must push the "pause" button in our busy lives to consider our own mortality with all its spiritual and practical consequences. The Church gives us two feasts and the whole month of November to do this.
Halloween is like our Mardi Gras before a very serious Lent. We should be able to laugh at the dark side and dress up in costumes and have parties. Let's reclaim our heritage with all the story power, creativity and joyous good fun that we can. Let's use it to help us become the saints we are each called to be.
Halloween is a victory celebration, after all!
Page McKean Zyromski is a free-lance writer and contributing editor ofCatechist magazine who lives in Painesville, Ohio. Her forthcoming book on biblical prayer will be published by St. Anthony Messenger Press.
Next: Day-by-Day Advent Program (by Elizabeth Bookser Barkley) 

The Communion of Saints
"In the communion of saints, a 'perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.' In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others....
"We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury....In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission of the Father entrusted to them." (Catechism, #1475-77)

The Tale of Jack O'Lantern
A Read-aloud Story
Jack, the Irish say, grew up in a simple village where he earned a reputation for cleverness as well as laziness. He applied his fine intelligence to wiggling out of any work that was asked of him, preferring to lie under a solitary oak endlessly whittling. In order to earn money to spend at the local pub, he looked for an "easy shilling" from gambling, a pastime at which he excelled. In his whole life he never made a single enemy, never made a single friend and never performed a selfless act for anyone.
One Halloween, as it happened, the time came for him to die. When the devil arrived to take his soul, Jack was lazily drinking at the pub and asked permission to finish his ale. The devil agreed, and Jack thought fast. "If you really have any power," he said slyly, "you could transform yourself into a shilling."
The devil snorted at such child's play and instantly changed himself into a shilling. Jack grabbed the coin. He held it tight in his hand, which bore a cross-shaped scar. The power of the cross kept the devil imprisoned there, for everyone knows the devil is powerless when faced with the cross. Jack would not let the devil free until he granted him another year of life. Jack figured that would be plenty of time to repent. The devil left Jack at the pub.
The year rolled around to the next Halloween, but Jack never got around to repenting. Again the devil appeared to claim his soul, and again Jack bargained, this time challenging him to a game of dice, an offer Satan could never resist, but a game that Jack excelled at. The devil threw snake eyes'two ones'and was about to haul him off, but Jack used a pair of dice he himself had whittled. When they landed as two threes, forming the T-shape of a cross, once again the devil was powerless. Jack bargained for more time to repent.
He kept thinking he'd get around to repentance later, at the last possible minute. But the agreed-upon day arrived and death took him by surprise. The devil hadn't showed up and Jack soon found out why not. Before he knew it Jack was in front of the pearly gates. St. Peter shook his head sadly and could not admit him, because in his whole life Jack had never performed a single selfless act. Then Jack presented himself before the gates of hell, but the devil was still seething. Satan refused to have anything to do with him.
"Where can I go?" cried Jack. "How can I see in the darkness?"
The devil tossed a burning coal into a hollow pumpkin and ordered him to wander forever with only the pumpkin to light his path. From that day to this he has been called "Jack o' the Lantern." Sometimes he appears on Halloween!

Why Christians Reject the Occult
"All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone." (Catechism, #2116)
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Halloween"
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Oct 2012 21:22
Excerpts BELOW are from: "The Sinner's Guide" edited by Soutenus (additions in RED
 "The Sinner's Guide" by Venerable Louis of Granada, OP 

General Remedies
We have already called the deadly or capital sins the sources of all iniquity. They are the roots of the mighty tree of vice, and if we can destroy them the trunk and branches must soon decay. With them, therefore, we shall begin, following the example of Cassian and other spiritual writers, who were so firmly convinced that if they could only rout these enemies the defeat of the others would be an easy task.

St. Thomas gives us a profound reason for this. All sin, he says, proceeds from self-love, for we never commit sin without coveting some gratification for self. From self-love spring those three branches of sin mentioned by St. John: "the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1Jn. 2:16), which are love of pleasure, love of riches, and love of honors. Three of the deadly sins, lust, gluttony, and sloth, spring from love of pleasure, pride springs from love of honors, and covetousness from love of riches. The remaining two, anger and envy, serve all these unlawful loves. Anger is aroused by any obstacle which prevents us from attaining what we desire, and envy is excited when we behold anyone possessing what our self-love claims. These are the three roots of the seven deadly sins, and consequently of all the others. Let these chiefs be destroyed and the whole army will soon be routed. Hence we must vigorously attack these mighty giants who dispute our entrance to the promised land. 
“Pride is an admission of weakness; it secretly fears all competition and dreads all rivals.” ~ Fulton J. Sheen

The first and most formidable of these enemies is pride, that inordinate desire of our own excellence, which spiritual writers universally regard as the father and king of all other vices. hence Tobias, among the numerous good counsels which he gave his son, particularly warns him against pride:
"Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind or in thy words, for from it all perdition took its beginning." (Job 4:14). 
Whenever, therefore you are attacked by this vice, which may justly be called a pestilence, defend yourself with the following considerations:

~~~> First reflect on the terrible punishment which the angels brought upon themselves by one sin of pride. They were instantly cast from Heaven into the lowest depths of Hell. Consider how this fall transformed Lucifer, the prince of the angelic hosts, and the bright and beautiful star surpassing in splendor the sun itself. In one moment he lost all his glory, and became not only a demon but the chief of demons. If pure spirits received such punishment, what can you expect, who are but dust and ashes? God is ever the same, and there is no distinction of persons before His justice.

Pride is as odious to Him in a man as in an angel, while humility is equally pleasing to Him in both. Hence St. Augustine says, 
"Humility makes men angels, and pride makes angels devils." 
And St. Bernard tells us, 
"Pride precipitates man from the highest elevation to the lowest abyss, but humility raises him from the lowest abyss to the highest elevation. Through pride the angels fell from Heaven to Hell, and through humility man is raised from earth to Heaven."
~~~> After this, reflect on that astonishing example of humility given us by the Son of God, who for love of us took upon Himself a nature so infinitely beneath His own, and "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:8). Let the example of your God teach you, O man, to be obedient. Learn, O dust, to humble yourself. Learn, O clay, to appreciate your baseness. Learn from your God, O Christian, to be "meek and humble of heart." (Matt. 11:29). If you disdain to walk in the footsteps of men, will you refuse to follow your God, who died not only to redeem us but to teach us humility? Look upon yourself and you will find sufficient motives for humility.

(-) If you are proud of your riches and worldly position, remember that a few years more and death will make us all equal. We are all equal at birth with regard to our natural condition; and as to the necessity of dying, we shall all be equal at death, with this important exception: that those who possessed most during life will have most to account for in the day of reckoning.
"Examine," says St. Chrysostom, "the graves of the rich and powerful of this world, and find, if you can, some trace of the luxury in which they lived, of the pleasures they so eagerly sought and so abundantly enjoyed. What remains of their magnificent retinues and costly adornments? What remains of those ingenious devices destined to gratify their senses and banish the weariness of life? What has become of that brilliant society by which they were surrounded?  Where are the numerous attendants who awaited their commands? Nothing remains of their sumptuous banquets. The sounds of laughter and mirth are no longer heard; a somber silence reigns in these homes of the dead. But draw nearer and see what remains of their earthly tenements, their bodies which they loved too much. Naught but dust and ashes, worms and corruption."

This is the inevitable fate of the human body, however tenderly and delicately nurtured. Ah! Would to God that the evil ended here! But more terrible still is all that follows death: the dread tribunal of God's justice; the sentence passed upon the guilty; the weeping and gnashing of teeth; the tortures of the worm that never dies; and the fire which will never be extinguished.

Consider also the danger of vainglory, the daughter of pride, which as St. Bernard says, enters lightly but wounds deeply. Therefore, when men praise you, think whether you really possess the qualities for which they commend you. If you do not, you have no reason to be proud. But if you have justly merited their praise, remember the gifts of God, and say with the Apostle, 
"By the grace of God I am what I am." (1Cor. 15:10). 
Humble yourself, then, when you hear the song of praise, and refer all to the glory of God. Thus you will render yourself not unworthy of what He bestows upon you. For it is incontestable that the respect men pay you, and the good for which they honor you, are due to God. You rob Him, therefore, of all the merit which you appropriate to yourself. Can any servant be more unfaithful than one who steals his master's glory? Consider, moreover, how unreasonable it is to rate your merit by the inconstant opinion of men who today are for you, and tomorrow against you; who today honor you, and tomorrow revile you. If your merit rests upon so slight a foundation, at one time you will be great, at another base, and again nothing at all, according to the capricious variations of the minds of men.

Oh, no; do not rely upon the vain commendations of others, but upon what you really know of yourself. Though men extol you to the skies, listen to the warnings of your conscience and accept the testimony of this intimate friend rather than the blind opinion of those who can judge you only from a distance and by what they hear. Make no account of the judgments of men, but commit your glory to the care of God, whose wisdom will preserve it for you and whose fidelity will restore it to you in the sight of angels and men.

Be mindful also, O ambitious man, of the dangers to which you expose yourself by seeking to command others, How can you command when you have not yet learned to obey? How can you take upon yourself the care of others when you can hardly account for yourself? Consider what a risk you incur by adding to your own sins those of persons subject to your authority. Holy Scripture tells us that they who govern will be severely judged, and that the mighty shall be mightily tormented. (Cf. Wis. 6:6). Who can express the cares and troubles of one who is placed over many? We read of a certain king who, on the day of his coronation, took the crown in his hands, and, gazing upon it, exclaimed, 
"O crown richer in thorns than in happiness, did one truly know thee he would not stoop to pick thee up even if he found thee lying at his feet."
Again, O proud man, I would ask you to remember that your pride is displeasing to all. [It is displeasing] to God, who resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble (Cf. James 4:6); to the humble, who hold in horror all that savors of arrogance; and to the proud themselves, who naturally hate all who claim to be greater than they. Nor will you be pleasing to yourself. For if it ever be given to you in this world to enter into yourself and recognize the vanity and folly of your life, you will certainly be ashamed of your littleness. And if you do not correct it here, still less satisfaction will it afford you in the next world, where it will bring upon you eternal torments.

St. Bernard tells us that if we truly knew our hearts we would be displeasing to ourselves, which alone would make us pleasing to God; but because we do not know ourselves we are inflated with pride and therefore hateful in His sight. The time will come when 'we shall be odious to God and to ourselves -- to God because of our crimes, and to ourselves because of the punishment they will bring upon us. Our pride pleases the devil only; for as it was pride which changed him from a pure and beautiful angel into a spirit of malice and deformity, he rejoices to find this evil reducing others to his unhappy state.

Particular Remedies

Since humility comes from a knowledge of ourselves, pride necessarily springs from ignorance of ourselves. Whoever, therefore, seriously desires to acquire humility must earnestly labor to know himself. How, in fact, can he be otherwise than humbled who, looking into his heart with the light of truth, finds himself filled with sins; defiled with the stains of sinful pleasures; the sport of a thousand errors, fears, and caprices; the victim of innumerable anxieties and petty cares; oppressed by the weight of a mortal body; so forward in evil and so backward in good? Study yourself, then, with serious attention, and you will find in yourself nothing of which to be proud.

But there are some who, though humbled at the sight of their failings, are nevertheless excited to pride when they examine the lives of others whom they consider less virtuous than themselves. Those who yield to this illusion ought to reflect, though they may excel their neighbors in some virtues, that in others they are inferior to them. Beware, then, lest you esteem yourself and despise your neighbor because you are more abstemious and industrious, when he is probably much more humble, more patient, and more charitable than you. Let your principal labor, therefore, be to discover what you lack, and not what you possess.

Study the virtues which adorn the soul of your neighbor rather than those with which you think yourself endowed. You will thus keep yourself in sentiments of humility, and increase in your soul a desire for perfection. But if you keep your eyes fixed on the virtues, real or imaginary, which you possess, and regard in others only their failings, you will naturally prefer yourself to them, and thus you will become satisfied with your condition and cease to make any efforts to advance.

If you find yourself inclined to take pride in a good action, carefully watch the feelings of your heart, bearing in mind that this satisfaction and vainglory will destroy all the merit of your labor. Attribute no good to yourself, but refer everything to God. Repress all suggestions of pride with the beautiful words of the great Apostle: 
"What hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" (1Cor. 4:7). 
When your good works are practices of supererogation or perfection, unless your position requires you to give an example, do not let your right hand know what your left hand does, for vainglory is more easily excited by good works done in public.

When you feel sentiments of vanity or pride rising in your heart, hasten to apply a remedy immediately. One that is most efficacious consists in recalling to mind all your sins, particularly the most shameful. Like a wise physician, you will thus counteract the effect of one poison by another. Imitate the peacock, and when you feel yourself inflated with pride turn your eyes upon your greatest deformity, and your vanity will soon fall to the ground. The greater your position the greater should be your humility, for there is not much merit in being humble in poverty and obscurity. If you know how to preserve humility in the midst of honors and dignities you will acquire real merit and virtue, for humility in the midst of greatness is the grandest accompaniment of honors, the dignity of dignities, without which there is no true excellence. If you sincerely desire to acquire humility you must courageously enter the path of humiliation, for if you will not endure humiliations you will never become humble. Though many are humbled without diminishing their pride, humiliation, as St. Bernard tells us, is nevertheless the path to humility, as patience is the path to peace, and study to learning. Be not satisfied, therefore, with humbly obeying God, but be subject to all creatures for love of Him. (Cf. 1Pet. 2:13).

In another place St. Bernard speaks of three kinds of fear with which he would have us guard our hearts. 
"Fear," he says, "when you are in possession of grace, lest you may do something unworthy of it; fear when you have lost grace, because you are deprived of a strong protection; and fear when you have recovered grace, lest you should again lose it." 
Thus you will never trust to your own strength; the fear of God which will fill your heart will save you from presumption.

Be patient in bearing persecution, for the patient endurance of affronts is the touchstone of true humility. Never despise the poor and abject, for their misery should move us to compassion rather than contempt. Be not too eager for rich apparel, for humility is incompatible with a love of display. One who is too solicitous about his dress is a slave to the opinions of men, for he certainly would not expend so much labor upon it if he thought he would not be observed. Beware, however, of going to the other extreme and dressing in a manner unsuited to your position. While claiming to despise the approbation or notice of the world, many secretly strive for it by their singularity and exaggerated simplicity. Finally, do not disdain humble and obscure employments. Only the proud seek to avoid these, for the man of true humility deems nothing in the world beneath him.

--Venerable Louis of Granada, OP
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Books, Venerable Louis of Granada, 7 Dea..."
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Date: Sunday, 07 Oct 2012 22:08
One must force oneself to pray, even if one has no spiritual prayer.
In such a case, God, seeing that a man earnestly is striving, pushing himself against the will of his heart (that is, his thoughts), He grants him true prayer.

St. Macarius of Egypt (d.391) quoted by St. Theophan the Recluse

50 Spiritual Homilies of St. Macarius of Egypt 

I LOVE these homilies! They are very simple, but wonderful. St. Theophan wrote these four homilies for some nuns. I originally found them in a book, but I had some reservations about that book (see The Path of Prayer below in this list). Now I have found that the same homilies have been translated into English, and by an Orthodox priest! They have been published on an Orthodox web site. I have no concerns about "chaff" in the "wheat" here, and I heartily recommend these instead of the book, The Path of Prayer:
Theophan the Recluse, On prayer, Homily 1
Theophan the Recluse, On prayer, Homily 2
Theophan the Recluse, On prayer, Homily 3
Theophan the Recluse, On prayer, Homily 4

More books about or including St. Theophan.
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Prayer, Audio Clip, St. Theophan, St. Ma..."
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Date: Sunday, 07 Oct 2012 00:25
A: Papal infallibility refers to the pope's protection from error when speaking "ex cathedra". As proclaimed by the First Vatican Council (emphasis added):

"But since in this very age, in which the salutary efficacy of the apostolic duty is especially required, not a few are found who disparage its authority, We deem it most necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the Only-begotten Son of God deigned to enjoin with the highest pastoral office. 

And so We, adhering faithfully to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God, our Savior, the elevation of the Catholic religion and the salvation of Christian peoples, with the approbation of the sacred Council, teach and explain that the dogma has been divinely revealed:

 that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when carrying out the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, possesses that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff of themselves, and not from the consensus of the Church, are irreformable.
But if anyone presumes to contradict this definition of Ours, which may God forbid: let him be anathema." (Vatican Council I, 1870 A.D.)

Why is Infallibility Necessary? 

"33,000 Christian Denominations"
If not for papal infallibility, there would be no certainty in matters of faith - all we would have is our fallible private judgment - and it is abundantly clear from the many clashing Protestant sects what a poor guide this is. 
If not for papal infallibility, we would have no means of knowing what is true and what is not. We could have no finality of doctrine and each person would be left to believe whatever he or she "felt" was right. As a result, there would be error, disunity, rejection of truths, adoption of errors, etc. 
We wouldn't even have a Bible since there would be no infallible authority to determine the canon of Scripture. We could never be sure that our beliefs corresponded with truth, and we could never be sure we were on the true path leading to salvation.  

Is Infallibility Scriptural?

Besides being solemnly proclaimed by the First Vatican Council and being consistently maintained by tradition, the dogma of papal infallibility has a biblical basis. For example, In Matthew 16:18, we are told that "the gates of hell shall not prevail" against the Church. Clearly, the One who is Truth itself must have secured a means to preserve truth in His Church against the gates of hell and against the prince of lies. 
We are also told in Matthew 28:20 that Christ will be "with you always, until the end of the age". How could this be if the Church was teaching error? 
And, how could the Church be "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tm. 3:15) if she taught error? And furthermore, the protection of the Holy Spirit is clearly promised in Scripture: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you." (Jn. 14:16-17) 
It is clear from Scripture that Christ's Church will be protected from error; and history proves that papal infallibility - and Christ's promises - have never failed.

What Are Some Limits of Infallibility?

Papal infallibility is a "negative assurance" that protects against formally teaching false doctrine. It does not mean that all utterances of the pope are infallible or that everything a pope says or does is free from error and good for the Church. It also does not mean that a pope is free from sin. Infallibility does not extend to the pope as an individual, but resides in his office as Supreme Pastor.

Papal infallibility is limited in scope and does NOT...
* extend to anything prior to one's being elected pope
* prevent a pope from sinning
* extend to every doctrinal matter (it is limited to instances "when carrying out the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority [the Pope] defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church")
* mean a pope is impeccable (or sinless / faultless)
* extend to every decree issued by a pope
* extend to everything a pope says
* extend to every regulation issued by the Church
* extend to merely pastoral matters
* extend to a pope's actions
* mean all popes are good
* extend to all disciplinary measures, judgments, legal rulings, etc.
* mean a pope is doctrinally perfect
* mean that a pope can create new dogma
* apply to a pope's private decisions or teachings
* mean all pastoral decisions are good or prudent
* extend to others who act in the pope's name
* extend absolutely to a bishop or a council ("bishops may enjoy infallibility of teaching only in certain matters, and only when exercised in union with the pope")
* apply when the pope is not intending to bind the entire Church
* mean that popes will never contradict each other (they may never contradict only in infallible matters when each is speaking ex cathedra)
* apply in areas that are not protected by infallibility (e.g. pastoral matters)
* assure that a pope is holy
* insure that a pope cannot err
* transfer to others (although each succeeding pope will be invested with papal infallibility)
* mean that a pope is infallible in all matters (disciplinary, etc.)
* mean that a pope does not personally hold erroneous views (even in matters of faith or morals)
* etc.

It should also be noted that the pope very rarely speaks infallibly and that infallibility is limited to certain doctrinal matters. Merely pastoral matters - including certain liturgical decisions - are changeable [in contrast with doctrinal matters (which are unchangeable)] and are not subject to infallibility. Pastoral decisions of a pope may be erroneous, and may not be good for the Church. Infallibility may be exercised only under certain conditions and in connection with certain matters (i.e. "when carrying out the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter").

 Has Infallibility Ever Failed?

No ex-cathedra definition of a pope has ever been found to be erroneous. Although it is said that more than 40 popes have preached doctrinal error, none were speaking "ex cathedra". In other words, some popes have personally taught error, but these errors were not taught in an infallible manner, binding the entire Church. These errors of popes were carefully examined by the First Vatican Council which defined the dogma of papal infallibility, and none of them were found to violate the dogma of infallibility.

As indicated above, not everything said or believed or taught by a pope (or bishop/councils) is infallible. Some popes have held erroneous views, some have taught error (though not "ex cathedra"), and some have behaved scandalously.
In fact, the history of the Church shows possible papal participation (or culpability) in:

* wrongful excommunications
* violations of treaties
* imprudent decisions
* poor administration
* failure to condemn heresy
* bad / scandalous decisions
* siding with / defending heretics
* scandals
* etc.
Additionally, popes may have:
* approved of ambiguous creeds
* buckled under persecution
* engaged in secret arrangements
* ordered homicides / torture
* been guilty of simony & nepotism
* reversed / contradicted actions of predecessors (or their own)
* held erroneous views
* etc.

Popes have shown weakness, made inappropriate concessions, made decisions under pressure, etc. One pope was condemned as a heretic. Another exhumed a dead pope and put his body on trial. One approved a five year old as bishop. Some periods saw the papacy controlled by powerful families. Other periods suffered from multiple claimants to the throne.

"When God gave to Blessed Peter the princely power of binding and loosing in heaven and on earth, He made no exception, and withdrew nothing from his power." --Pope Gregory VII, 1081 A.D.
 Despite all of this, however, papal infallibility - and Christ's promise - have never failed the Church. Even certain events in the history of the Church that are considered "close calls" for infallibility have still stopped short of breaching this doctrine. For example, the pope who was declared heretical never taught error "ex cathedra", the ambiguous creed signed by a pope could be taken in an orthodox manner, one pope died before approving a faulty translation of the Bible, and other popes who held doctrinal errors never taught them infallibility. In fact, it is a testament to Christ's promise and proof of the dogma of infallibility that despite faulty and sinful popes, the Church's doctrine has been preserved unsullied for about two thousand years.

"Against an enemy so artful [as the devil] the infallible light of the Church is very necessary."
--Fr. Delaporte

"Oh yes; men are made infallible because Jesus is with and in them! In everything else they are men like ourselves; but the Chair on which they are throned is supported by the arm of God; it is the Chair of Truth upon the earth."
--Dom Guéranger

"The Roman See has never erred, and never will err, because of Christ's promise."
--Pope St. Agatho, 680 A.D.

"Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth, and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them."
--Pope Pius XII, "Munificentissimus Deus", 1950

"Furthermore, [St.] Augustine emphatically asserted that this unity of the universal Church and her absolute inerrancy as a teacher, is derived not only from her invisible Head, Christ Jesus, who from Heaven 'rules His body' and speaks by the lips of His teaching Church, but also for her visible head on earth, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the chair of Peter belongs by the lawful right of succession. For this line of Peter's successors 'is that rock against which the haughty gates of hell do not prevail'. By incontestable right we 'are kept within the bosom of the Church by a succession of priests from the chair of Peter the Apostle, to whom our Lord after His resurrection gave the charge of feeding His sheep, down to the episcopate of today'."
--Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930

by Denise Anne Gill
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Infallibility, Papal Information"
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Date: Sunday, 05 Aug 2012 22:08
                                                       The Ladder of St. Augustine

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
artist: Philippe de Champaigne 17th-century
Saint Augustine!  well hast thou said,
That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame!

All common things, each day’s events,
That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend.

The low desire, the base design,
That makes another’s virtues less;
The revel of the ruddy wine,
And all occasions of excess;

The longing for ignoble things;
The strife for triumph more than truth;
The hardening of the heart, that brings
Irreverence for the dreams of youth;

All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
That have their root in thoughts of ill;
Whatever hinders or impedes
The action of the nobler will; —

All these must first be trampled down
Beneath our feet, if we would gain
In the bright fields of fair renown
The right of eminent domain.

We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.

The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise.

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern — unseen before —
A path to higher destinies,

Nor doom the irrevocable Past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Art, Saints, Poetry"
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Date: Monday, 09 Jul 2012 13:00
A great article by by Linda Harvey  
Consider these facts:
  1. Jesus is never quoted in the New Testament as having directly addressed rape, incest, domestic violence or homosexual behavior. So are we supposed to believe all these practices are okay with Him? Read on. . . . 
  2. Gospel writer and apostle John tells us there are many teachings and deeds of Christ that are not included in their New Testament accounts (John 21:25).
  3. Christ is quoted at one point that God created
    people “in the beginning” as male and female, and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman joined together as “one flesh.” (Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9) Nothing is said about any other type of union.
  4. When He discussed sexual morality, Christ had a very high standard, clearly affirming long-standing Old Testament law. He told the woman caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) He warned people that not only the act of adultery was wrong, but even adulterous thoughts (Matthew 5:28). And he shamed the woman at the well (John 4:18) by pointing out to her that he knew she was living with a man who was not her husband.
  5. Christ used the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as dramatic examples of God’s wrath (Matthew 10:15, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, and Luke 17:29).
    (Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld) Lot & family flee Sodom & Gomorrah

    Throughout the Old Testament, prophets described these cities as being notorious for the practice of homosexuality. (Genesis 18:20, Genesis 19:4-5, Isaiah 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:46-59). Jesus certainly knew that this was how the comparison would be understood.
  6. Most important of all, Christ was God incarnate (in the flesh) here on earth. He was the long-expected Messiah, Emmanuel (which means “God with us”). This was revealed in Matthew 16:13- 20, Matthew 17:5-9, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 4:16-30, Luke 9:18-21,John 4:25-26, John 8:57-59 and elsewhere. As one with God, He was present from the beginning of creation (John 1: 1-13; Colossians 1:15-17; Ephesians 3:9 and elsewhere).
So, Jesus was God as the laws were handed down through Moses to Israel and eventually to the whole world. This Old Testament law clearly prohibited homosexuality (Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:18 and elsewhere). The apostles understood this also (as shown by Paul’s writing in Romans 1:24-27, Peter’s in 2 Peter 2:4-22, and John’s in Revelation 22:15)

So, the apostles, who were taught by Christ, clearly understood that homosexuality was a sin as it has always been. When people say, “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality,” they reveal that they really haven’t understood Scripture, or Who Christ was and is.

Maybe some of these points can lead them to a clearer understanding.

Linda Harvey is a former advertising/public relations executive who became a Christian in the early 1990′s. Linda is the founder of Mission:America, a Christian pro-family organization tracking current cultural issues.

Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Homosexuality"
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Date: Friday, 06 Jul 2012 03:31
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Music, Video Clip, Eucharist"
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Date: Thursday, 05 Jul 2012 15:26
Hat Tip to Father Z for posting this!
He noticed this in the newsletter of the USCCB’s Committee for Divine Worship:
Liturgy of the Hours
Among the many liturgical books affected by the implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, none has generated more questions or interest than the Liturgy of the Hours. Numerous inquiries from clergy and religious have prompted the Committee on Divine Worship to begin to develop a plan to produce a revised edition of the Liturgy of the Hours (and related texts such as the one–volume Christian Prayer). This revision would incorporate updated and already–approved translations of many elements, including the Revised Grail Psalms and the orations of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, as well as new additions to the Proper of Saints, some of which still need to be translated and approved. The Committee reviewed the current state of each element of the text, including the Psalter, the orations, antiphons, and Scripture readings, to determine which elements can remain intact, which elements require replacement with updated texts, and which elements require retranslation. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has been consulted regarding its role in producing draft translations of certain elements, including an expanded collection of proper antiphons for the Gospel canticles for Sundays and solemnities, which were added to the Liturgia Horarum, editio typica altera, published between 1985 and 1987. The Committee hopes to present a proposed scope of work to the body of Bishops for their approval in November 2012, and then work can commence to assemble the necessary elements. At this time there is no estimated timeline for this project.
Of course, clerics and religious of the Latin Church obliged to the Office could simply follow what the Second Vatican Council said and just use Latin.
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "USCCB, Prayer, Latin, Father Z, Liturgy ..."
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Date: Sunday, 24 Jun 2012 17:16
To be intelligent does not mean that you manufacture your own moral truth and contradict God's divine and moral law. In fact, real intelligent people should be intelligent to know that humility is the greatest virtue to allow Truth (Jesus) to lead them more into explicating truths in the most simplest of ways. If someone thinks he/she is intelligent by making divine or moral truths complicated to others, then run from that person or else you may be corrupted by their pride and worship their so-called intelligence.
~ Fr. Cassian Sama, OP
I would add, should someone over-simplify a philosophy, and in doing so, contradict or twist God's laws or leaves God out of the mix altogether . . . . beware.
How wonderfully Father Sama's quote goes hand in hand with this New Yorker article.  It is an article well worth reading! Here are snippets with my bolding for personal emphasis:

Why Smart People Are Stupid

Note: The introductory paragraphs of this post appeared in similar form in an October, 2011, column by Jonah Lehrer for the Wall Street Journal. We regret the duplication of material.
Here’s a simple arithmetic question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
The vast majority of people respond quickly and confidently, insisting the ball costs ten cents. This answer is both obvious and wrong. (The correct answer is five cents for the ball and a dollar and five cents for the bat.)

For more than five decades, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton, has been asking questions like this and analyzing our answers. His disarmingly simple experiments have profoundly changed the way we think about thinking. While philosophers, economists, and social scientists had assumed for centuries that human beings are rational agents—reason was our Promethean gift—Kahneman, the late Amos Tversky, and others, including Shane Frederick (who developed the bat-and-ball question), demonstrated that we’re not nearly as rational as we like to believe.

When people face an uncertain situation, they don’t carefully evaluate the information or look up relevant statistics. Instead, their decisions depend on a long list of mental shortcuts, which often lead them to make foolish decisions. These shortcuts aren’t a faster way of doing the math; they’re a way of skipping the math altogether. Asked about the bat and the ball, we forget our arithmetic lessons and instead default to the answer that requires the least mental effort.
A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology led by Richard West at James Madison University and Keith Stanovich at the University of Toronto suggests that, in many instances, smarter people are more vulnerable to these thinking errors. Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias—that’s why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes—it can actually be a subtle curse.
West and his colleagues began by giving four hundred and eighty-two undergraduates a questionnaire featuring a variety of classic bias problems. Here’s a example:
In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?
Your first response is probably to take a shortcut, and to divide the final answer by half. That leads you to twenty-four days. But that’s wrong. The correct solution is forty-seven days.

West also gave a puzzle that measured subjects’ vulnerability to something called “anchoring bias,” which Kahneman and Tversky had demonstrated in the nineteen-seventies. Subjects were first asked if the tallest redwood tree in the world was more than X feet, with X ranging from eighty-five to a thousand feet. Then the students were asked to estimate the height of the tallest redwood tree in the world. Students exposed to a small “anchor”—like eighty-five feet—guessed, on average, that the tallest tree in the world was only a hundred and eighteen feet. Given an anchor of a thousand feet, their estimates increased seven-fold.

But West and colleagues weren’t simply interested in reconfirming the known biases of the human mind. Rather, they wanted to understand how these biases correlated with human intelligence. As a result, they interspersed their tests of bias with various cognitive measurements, including the S.A.T. and the Need for Cognition Scale, which measures “the tendency for an individual to engage in and enjoy thinking.”

The results were quite disturbing. For one thing, self-awareness was not particularly useful: as the scientists note, “people who were aware of their own biases were not better able to overcome them.” This finding wouldn’t surprise Kahneman, who admits in “Thinking, Fast and Slow” that his decades of groundbreaking research have failed to significantly improve his own mental performance. “My intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy”—a tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task—“as it was before I made a study of these issues,” he writes.

Perhaps our most dangerous bias is that we naturally assume that everyone else is more susceptible to thinking errors, a tendency known as the “bias blind spot.” This “meta-bias” is rooted in our ability to spot systematic mistakes in the decisions of others—we excel at noticing the flaws of friends—and inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. Although the bias blind spot itself isn’t a new concept, West’s latest paper demonstrates that it applies to every single bias under consideration, from anchoring to so-called “framing effects.” In each instance, we readily forgive our own minds but look harshly upon the minds of other people. 

And here’s the upsetting punch line: intelligence seems to make things worse. The scientists gave the students four measures of “cognitive sophistication.” As they report in the paper, all four of the measures showed positive correlations, “indicating that more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger bias blind spots.” This trend held for many of the specific biases, indicating that smarter people (at least as measured by S.A.T. scores) and those more likely to engage in deliberation were slightly more vulnerable to common mental mistakes. Education also isn’t a savior; as Kahneman and Shane Frederick first noted many years ago, more than fifty per cent of students at Harvard, Princeton, and M.I.T. gave the incorrect answer to the bat-and-ball question.

What explains this result? One provocative hypothesis is that the bias blind spot arises because of a mismatch between how we evaluate others and how we evaluate ourselves. When considering the irrational choices of a stranger, for instance, we are forced to rely on behavioral information; we see their biases from the outside, which allows us to glimpse their systematic thinking errors. However, when assessing our own bad choices, we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. We scrutinize our motivations and search for relevant reasons; we lament our mistakes to therapists and ruminate on the beliefs that led us astray.

The problem with this introspective approach is that the driving forces behind biases—the root causes of our irrationality—are largely unconscious, which means they remain invisible to self-analysis and impermeable to intelligence. In fact, introspection can actually compound the error, blinding us to those primal processes responsible for many of our everyday failings. We spin eloquent stories, but these stories miss the point. The more we attempt to know ourselves, the less we actually understand.
Drawing by James Stevenson.
Note: This article has been modified to include mention of Shane Frederick.
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bias, The New Yorker, Father Sama, Intel..."
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Date: Sunday, 17 Jun 2012 08:33
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
"This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come."

He said,
"To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
Commentary on Mk 4:26-34

We are given two parables from the Gospel of St. Mark. The first is unique to Mark’s Gospel and follows the parable of the Sower. The mystery of the seed is analogous to Jesus’ own ministry which starts as a seed but grows to encompass the world. The parable takes that image to its completion the reference to grain being the completion of the evangelical mission followed by the harvest of the Parousia.

The second parable, the parable of the Mustard Seed, echo’s the vision of the Kingdom of God described in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:23; 31:6) with the image of the Kingdom of God providing a resting place for all as the giant cedars of Lebanon do for the birds.


The Prophet Ezekiel and Jesus in St. Mark’s Gospel use the analogy of the growing tree; Ezekiel uses the giant cedars of Lebanon and St. Mark references the Mustard Tree. In both instances there is reference to the growth of these trees into places where all creation can find life. The analogy is apt for we who find the strength and endurance promised by David in the Psalm. But, today there is a growing blight in the world and it threatens the tree.

While the threat or blight attacking the tree that has become the Universal Church takes many forms, the recurring attack that is most insidious is secularism. The reason secularism is the overarching threat is because it is not overt. Rather it is covert; an often hidden attack that first negatively impacts what in our analogy would be the seeds (our Children). It comes in the form of softening moral values and affects even the most powerful. The President of the United States recently said “I’ve been evolving on this issue…” referring to his stance on same-sex marriage. His moral core has been eroded and with it his leadership. St. Paul tells us “
Yet we are courageous”; courageous as the bark of the tree standing up to infection and parasitic attacks that seek to kill the tree.

Powerful people have adopted the secular cause, even some who would call the great tree of life their home. They confuse morality with inclusion and believe that, in order to love as Christ taught us, we must accept a moral position naturally and morally at odds with our core beliefs. This is analogous to allowing the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer; an insect that bores through the bark of a tree and kills it from the inside. The leave holes in the protective bark and allow disease to help the destruction of the tree.

We are called to be part of Ezekiel’s great cedars and the Lord’s Mustard Tree. We are called to a moral standard that will make the secular world very uncomfortable and will no doubt, as it did for our Lord and Savior, turn the tree into a cross which we must all embrace. May we find the courage St. Paul espouses in ourselves and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, stand against the coming challenge to our liberty and our way of life.

source: Servant of the Word
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Servant of the Word, Reflections on Read..."
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Date: Friday, 08 Jun 2012 02:52

from "A Concord Pastor Comments" A "refresher course" on praying 10 minutes a day..

Praying 10 minutes a day

Sometimes we say or sing aloud our prayer but there's also a kind of prayer that happens only in the silence.  Sure, I sometimes pray on the run and in my car, but there's nothing like slowing down, easing into the silence, to help us find and know the presence of God.

Suppose I set aside 10 minutes a day...

Just 10 minutes
to sit down in a quiet place,
apart from others, 
to breathe deeply,
to be still...
to know that God is near, 
at hand, by my side, in my heart..

What would be the best time of day for me to spend these 10 minutes?  
     in the morning?  midday?  in the evening?

What might be the best place for me to find some peace and quiet?
     at home?  at work?  in a church or chapel?  outdoors?

How will I begin?
     make the sign of the Cross...
     relax and remember that God is with me...
     ask God to help me to pray...
     be at peace with however the 10 minutes might pass
          and remember that tomorrow is another day to pray...

How might I spend these 10 minutes?
     in silence...
     with the scriptures...
     resting in the silence, in the presence of God...
     speaking from my heart to the Lord's heart...

What might I pray?
     tell the Lord what's in my heart and on mind...
     speak to him as I would to my best friend...
     pray by listening...

How might I use the scriptures...
     read the scriptures until I find a verse that hits me...
     read that verse again, and again, and again until I know it...
     speak it aloud or pray it silently, letting it sink in...
     let the verse become part of my prayer...
     ask the Lord to bring that verse back to my attention 
       through the day...
What might I expect?
     peace and quiet...  
     time alone with the Lord...
     the consolation of God's presence... 
     a word, a prayer to carry with me through the day...

How will I end my 10 minutes?
     thank the Lord for this time with him...
     pledge to return tomorrow...
     pray the Our Father...
     make the sign of the Cross...

Just 10 minutes?  That's a good way to begin.  Set a modest goal: 10 minutes out a day of 1,440 minutes is certainly a modest goal.  As you want to spend more time in prayer, spend more time in prayer...

Watch each day for the Cross at the top of this post: a reminder, a nudge, to set apart 10 minutes a day...  to be still...  and to know that God is near...

And if you'd like your own wooden pocket Cross with the inscription from Psalm 46, just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to me at 55 Church Street, Concord, MA 01742 and I'll send you one.  (Not a fund raiser!  No charge!  Please send no cash!)
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Tuesday, 29 May 2012 19:58

The House of Representatives will vote on a proposed ban of sex-selection abortions on Wednesday (TOMORROW). Please, please call your representative (RIGHT NOW) and ask them to vote yes on HR 3541.

Not sure of your congressional district or who your member is?  Go to the government website (link below) and it will assist you by matching your ZIP code to your congressional district.

This website will also be provide you with links to your member's website and contact page.

If you are in District 8 (like The Woodlands) your rep is Kevin Brady: 936 441 5700


Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "A Call to Action, abortion"
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Date: Monday, 21 May 2012 11:50

Here is a link to the complaint filed this morning by the University of Notre Dame, challenging the Administration's "preventive services" mandate.
This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives.
Please note that the red is for my own personal quick reference.

From Washington Examiner,
May 21, 2012
A Message from Father John Jenkins, C.S.C.,

President, University of Notre Dame
Today the University of Notre Dame filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana regarding a recent mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That mandate requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching. The decision to file this lawsuit came after much deliberation, discussion and efforts to find a solution acceptable to the various parties.
Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services. Many of our faculty, staff and students — both Catholic and non-Catholic — have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives. As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs. And we believe that, if the Government wishes to provide such services, means are available that do not compel religious organizations to serve as its agents. We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the Government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings. We have engaged in conversations to find a resolution that respects the consciences of all and we will continue to do so.
This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives. For if we concede that the Government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions. For if one Presidential Administration can override our religious purpose and use religious organizations to advance policies that undercut our values, then surely another Administration will do the same for another very different set of policies, each time invoking some concept of popular will or the public good, with the result these religious organizations become mere tools for the exercise of government power, morally subservient to the state, and not free from its infringements. If that happens, it will be the end of genuinely religious organizations in all but name.
The details of the process that led to the mandate are publicly known. In an Interim Final Ruling issued August 3, 2011, the federal government required employers to provide the objectionable services. A narrow exemption was given to religious institutions that serve and employ primarily members of their own faith, but, departing from a long tradition in federal law, organizations like Notre Dame—schools, universities, hospitals and charitable organizations that serve and employ people of all faiths and none—were granted no exemption, but instead were made subject to the law to the same extent as any secular organization. On September 28, I submitted a formal comment encouraging the Administration to follow precedent and adopt a broader exemption.
Despite some positive indications, the Administration announced on January 20, 2012, that its interim rule would be adopted as final without change. After an outcry from across the political spectrum, President Obama announced on February 10 that his Administration would attempt to accommodate the concerns of religious organizations. We were encouraged by this announcement and have engaged in conversations with Administration officials to find an acceptable resolution. Although I do not question the good intentions and sincerity of all involved in these discussions, progress has not been encouraging and an announcement seeking comments on how to structure any accommodation (HHS Advanced Notification of Proposed Rule Making on preventative services policy, March 16, 2012) provides little in the way of a specific, substantive proposal or a definite timeline for resolution. Moreover, the process laid out in this announcement will last months, making it impossible for us to plan for and implement any changes to our health plans by the government-mandated deadlines. We will continue in earnest our discussions with Administration officials in an effort to find a resolution, but, after much deliberation, we have concluded that we have no option but to appeal to the courts regarding the fundamental issue of religious freedom.
It is for these reasons that we have filed this lawsuit neither lightly nor gladly, but with sober determination.
Read the rest.
Below, a video released by the Archdiocese of Washington.

 Chancellor Jane Belford of the Archdiocese of Washington explains the significance of the lawsuit filed to protect freedom to practice religion. Chancellor Belford details why the suit is necessary in light of the attempt of the government to redefine what is a religious institution. She explains that under the new definition that the work of Mother Teresa no longer would qualify as the work of a religious institution.

Quote from Mirror of Justice:
These latest lawsuits, like the many others that had already been filed, are asking the courts to enforce the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and to protect religious liberty and conscience from a regrettable and burdensome regulatory mandate.  This mandate imposes a serious and unnecessary burden on many religious institutions’ commitments, witness, and mission.  It purports to require many religious schools, health-care providers, and social-welfare agencies to compromise their institutional character and integrity.  In a society that respects and values diversity, as our does, we should protect and accommodate our distinctively religious institutions, and welcome their contributions to the common good.

These lawsuits are not asking the courts to endorse the plaintiffs’ religious views, only to respect and accommodate them.  Religious institutions are not seeking to control what their employees buy, use, or do in private; they are trying to avoid being conscripted by the government into acting in a way that would be inconsistent with their character, mission, and values.  In a pluralistic society, people will often disagree about values and policies, and it will not always be possible to accommodate those who object in good faith to regulatory requirements.  At the same time, a society like ours – with a Constitution and federal religious-freedom protections like ours – will regard it as often both wise and just to accommodate religious believers and institutions by exempting them from requirements that would force them to compromise their integrity. This is such a case.  We Americans do not agree about what religious freedom means, but we have long agreed that it matters, and should be protected through law.  True, there will sometimes be tension and conflict, and trade-offs and compromises.  Given our deep-rooted commitment to religious freedom, though, our goal as a community should always be to strike the balance in a way that honors that commitment.
Here is the statement of John Garvey, the President of Catholic University.

The Archdiocese of Washington
The Washington Examiner
Mirror of Justice

Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "HHS Mandate, Politics"
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Date: Tuesday, 24 Apr 2012 14:48
Author: "Soutenus (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Video Clip"
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