Saturday, July 31, 2004

On the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world

The full document, in English, can be found at this link.

A sample:

12. “For all of you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ... there is neither male nor female”, writes Saint Paul to the Galatians (3:27-28). The Apostle Paul does not say that the distinction between man and woman, which in other places is referred to the plan of God, has been erased. He means rather that in Christ the rivalry, enmity and violence which disfigured the relationship between men and women can be overcome and have been overcome. In this sense, the distinction between man and woman is reaffirmed more than ever; indeed, it is present in biblical revelation up to the very end. In the final hour of present history, the Book of Revelation of Saint John, speaking of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1), presents the vision of a feminine Jerusalem “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). Revelation concludes with the words of the Bride and the Spirit who beseech the coming of the Bridegroom, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev22:20).

Male and female are thus revealed as belonging ontologically to creation and destined therefore to outlast the present time, evidently in a transfigured form. In this way, they characterize the “love that never ends” (1Cor 13:8), although the temporal and earthly expression of sexuality is transient and ordered to a phase of life marked by procreation and death. Celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom seeks to be the prophecy of this form of future existence of male and female. For those who live it, it is an anticipation of the reality of a life which, while remaining that of a man and a woman, will no longer be subject to the present limitations of the marriage relationship (cf. Mt22:30). For those in married life, celibacy becomes the reminder and prophecy of the completion which their own relationship will find in the face-to-face encounter with God.

From the first moment of their creation, man and woman are distinct, and will remain so for all eternity. Placed within Christ's Paschal mystery, they no longer see their difference as a source of discord to be overcome by denial or eradication, but rather as the possibility for collaboration, to be cultivated with mutual respect for their difference. From here, new perspectives open up for a deeper understanding of the dignity of women and their role in human society and in the Church.

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Friday, July 30, 2004

A backbone of steel: more from the Tablet

Again from the Tablet, an interview with the Archbishop of Bulawayo, +Pius Ncube, who has accepted the mission to speak Truth to power, in the form of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
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The Council said religious communities should return to the charisms of their founders

and the Christian Brothers in Australia are doing it. Over the years, the community had gone from the religiouis and secular education of mostly needy Catholic youth to operating prep schools for mostly the well-to-do; now, according to the Tablet, they are allowing their lay associates to take over the Australian prep schools, and going to more needy parts of Asia to evangelize and educate. An interesting article.
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Musings on Reconciliation and twelve steps

I want to talk about a fact of life: I sin. I do dumb things I know I shouldn't do. I avoid doing smart stuff that I know I ought to do. And I am not alone in this. And I need help (we need help).

Gloriously and graciously, the Lord has given us help in the great sacrament of Reconciliation, where we are assured of forgiveness and reconciliation with God, and we receive the grace to keep from sinning and to live the life we are called to.

There are five things we have to have or do in order to make a decent confession, which are (1) a searching and honest examination of conscience, (2) complete acknowledgement of our sins without excuses, (3) contrition, which is the fancy theology word for being sorrowful about our sins, (4) firm purpose of amendment, a determination not to sin again, and (5) restitution, when possible, and penance. In return for our decent confession, we are absolved, assured by the Lord's priest that our sins are truly forgiven, according to the promise of Christ.

For me, the greatest gift and secret of this sacrament is that it makes me be totally honest about myself. Dishonesty and deception does no good. God already knows it all in any case. Since the cost of becoming at one with God is being honest about my dumbest sinning, then let me be embarrassed. Embarrassment, even the public kind, does not kill; in fact it liberates in the long term. But secrets will bind and kill the spirit, and sometimes even the body.

As usual, it seems, those humble, battered, but wise 12-steppers have found that same gift and secret in the school of hard knocks. The fourth through tenth of their infamous steps are awfully (and awe-filled-ly) familiar.
(4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
(5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
(6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
(7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
(8) Make a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
(9) Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
(10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

The 12-steppers have drawn a map even those of us who have somehow avoided the addictions can follow. For, you see, I know I am firmly addicted to sinning, as firmly as any addict. To stay free, I need all the help I can get.

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and my sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in the deeds that I have done
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask the blessed Mary, ever-virgin,
all the angels and the saints,
and you, my brothers and my sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"Domine, ad quem ibimus?"

"Lord, to whom can we go?" (John 6:67-69)

My Lord, my Love:
You are impossible sometimes.
Elusive, incomprehensible, outrageous.

I do not comprehend.
I even, sometimes, do not even sense Your presence.
Are You playing hide-and seek?
Or maybe tag?

You've a reputation for asking outrageous things:
to give everything away and follow,
to accept and take up the instrument of my own execution,
to gnaw on Your flesh and drink Your blood for food.

You still command audatious things,
frightening confusing things,
things never before conceived of;
then ask one question:

Will you also go away?

But, there is only one answer.

In the confusion, in the incomprehension,
even in the apparent abandonment.
There is only one place to be.
I know Who has saved me
and from Whence comes my help.
Even in the darkness.

Lord, to whom can we go?
You have the word of life;
everywhere else is death.
You are the Holy One of God,
my Kinsman-Redeemer.

I am staying.
I cannot accept any lover but You,
the all-good, the all-deserving,
no matter what may be.

I have to trust You,
that in time You will make it all make sense.
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New Christian Carnival's up!

The Christian Carnival is up and ready for your perusal at Fringe and Elena's "My Domestic Church" made the cut! Enjoy!
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Monday, July 26, 2004

Disaster! Christian Carnival needs your help!

Due to a server problem, the entire Christian Carnival listserv mailing list has been lost, according to Nick Queen of Patriot Paradox, the founder and ringmaster. So, my dear blogging readers, betake yourselves posthaste to this link:

http://patriot-paradox.com/mailman/listinfo/christiancarnival_patriot-paradox.com

and register for the Carnival mailing list, so the fun may continue, and the bridges between St. Blog's Parish, the First Christian Fellowship of Greater Bloggsville, and the Holy Fools for Christ Geek Orthodox Mission remain often traversed.

Thank you much!
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Holiness is for everybody: a desert story

Once when Abba Macarius was praying in his cell, he heard a voice which said, "Macarius, you have not yet reached the standard of two women in the city." On his arrival in the city, he found the house and knocked at the door. A woman opened it, and welcomed him to her house. He sat down, and called them to sit down with him. Then he said to them, "It is for you that I have taken this long journey. Tell me how you live a religious life." They said, "Indeed, how can we lead a religious life? We were with our husbands last night." But the old man persuaded them to tell him their way of life.

Then they said, "We are both foreigners, in the world's eyes. But we accepted in marriage two brothers. Today we have been sharing this house for fifteen years. We do not know whether we have quarreled or said rude words to each other; but the whole of this time we have lived peaceably together. We thought we would enter a convent, and asked our husbands for permission, but they refused it. So since we could not get this permission, we have made a covenant between ourselves and God that a worldly word shall not pass our lips during the rest of our lives."

When Macarius heard this, he said, "Truly, it is not whether you are a virgin or a married woman, a monk or a man in the world: God gives His Holy Spirit to everyone, according to their earnestness of purpose."
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Sunday, July 25, 2004

Some food for thought

Nathan of the Tower nudges me to ponder in his The Nathan Manifesto, where he lays out for himself, in front of us all, just where he stands right now. Agree or disagree, but how many Catholics, especially outside the blogosphere, have even given this a serious ponder for themselves, even privately? I know I catch myself coasting sometimes, going along to get along without a whole lot of thought. But if things are never thought through, and made thoroughly one's own, how will they stand when the doubts and trials inevitably come? And, how can ideas grow and improve if no thought is even given to where they start?
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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Is He maybe calling?

Via Conjectures of a Guilty Seminarian, this article on the nurturing of religious vocations at Texas A&M (though I think they mangled one poor community's name!)
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Friday, July 23, 2004

Sant'Egidio, the U.N. of the Trastevere ---- the life and work of an intentional community

In John Allen's The Word From Rome this week: the life and work of one of the most controversial of the new communities in the Church, noted for putting their bodies where their words and their prayers are.

Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.  The icon of the Community of Sant'Egidio

The Community's icon is also worthy of perusal, even more than John Allen's article and interview.
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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Tabernacles are wonderful

Today I've found this wonderful article (it's a pdf file --- Adobe reader required) by the bishop of St. Petersberg on the worship of the Holy Eucharist outside of Mass.

Many of us live in places where our churches can be left open at least during the day, and some of us where there are churches or hospital chapels open even at night. Please, take advantage of this privilege, and go to be in the Presence of the Lord. He's waiting always.
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Make room for Christ

from the Imitation of Christ and today's Office of Readings.

Turn to the Lord with your whole heart and leave behind this wretched world. Then your soul shall find rest. For the kingdom of God is the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. If you prepare within your heart a fitting dwelling place, Christ will come to you and console you.

His glory and beauty are within you, and he delights in dwelling there. The Lord frequently visits the heart of man. There he shares with man pleasant conversations; welcome consolation, abundant peace and a wonderful intimacy.

So come, faithful soul. Prepare your heart for your spouse to dwell within you. For he says: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and we shall come to him and make our dwelling within him.

Make room for Christ. When you possess Christ you are a rich man, for he is sufficient for you. He himself, shall provide for you and faithfully administer all your cares. You will not have to place your hope in men. Put all your trust in God; let him be both your fear and your love. He will respond on your behalf and will do whatever is in your best interest.

You have here no lasting city. For wherever you find yourself, you will always be a pilgrim from another city. Until you are united intimately with Christ, you will never find your true rest.

Let your thoughts be with the Most High and direct your prayers continually to Christ. If you do not know how to contemplate the glory of heaven, take comfort in the passion of Christ, and dwell willingly in his sacred wounds.




Endure with Christ, suffer for him, if you wish to reign with him.

Once you have entered completely into the depths of Jesus, and have a taste of his powerful love, then you will not care about your own convenience or inconvenience. Rather you will rejoice all the more in insults and injuries, for the love of Jesus makes a man scorn his own needs.

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Monday, July 19, 2004

Calling all bloggers!

The deadline to get into the 27th Christian Carnival is Tuesday evening at midnight Eastern Time.  Send the information about your best post this week concerning things Christian to Mister Standfast at rspencer@gmail.com for the Carnival he's posting on Wednesday.  The anchor hold dweller from St. Blog's doesn't have to be hosting for all the St. Blog's bloggers to be quite welcome.
 
Let's maintain the bridges between St. Blog's Parish, the First Christian Fellowship of Greater Bloggsville, and the Holy Fools for Christ Orthodox Christian Bloggerhood!  Participate in the Carnival.!
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Excommunicating U.S. politicians: wouldn't be the first time

Right now, this election season, we wait and watch as matters of faith, morals, and ethics that have political implications have center stage. Whether pursuing unjust warfare, or allowing procured abortion, or suspending civil and human rights for some, or promoting the exploitation of embryos or the suicides of the ill and handicapped, or oppressing fatherless children and women alone, disqualifies a person for elective office. Whether and when Communion ought to be denied, and how publicly, and whether or not to invoke the greatest penalty the Church has in this life ---- the isolation ward, excommunication.

This isn't new, however, and it wouldn't be the first time, or the last, that these issues have been front and center. Here is an article about one such time, when the Archbishop of New Orleans had to face down some Catholic politicians who denied his right to teach the equality of all the people of God, and to act in accordance to that teaching.

So, when a pastor teaches about disqualifying moral stances, or a priest says that "sorry, you persist in public manifest grave sin so I can't give you the Eucharist, It'll hurt you", or a bishop has to rule on whether one or another moral error sinks to the level of rank heresy calling for public discipline, know that we've been there many a time before, and that the Church will endure longer than any political system or oddball moral theory. The very gates of hell will not prevail against Her, so of course the current unjust-warrior or pro-choice-to-kill legislator or orphan-oppressor doesn't have a chance against the Lord's Church.
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Sunday, July 18, 2004

When Fr. Corapi speaks, people listen.

submitted to the Rosary Army Forums today.
 
Spent this weekend at Fr. Corapi's mission at Our Lady of Good Hope Church. Took plenty of strings and knotted every time there was waiting to be done. Lots of people were interested, and even though Rosary Evangelization Apostolate was there distributing also (hundreds, from a booth, some of which were beaded ones of mine!) I gave away about a dozen myself to people curious about what I was doing ---- "it's going to be a rosary. I have some finished ones with me too, would you like one?" was my gambit. [wink icon]
 
In addition, on Friday night one lady was so very thrilled with her rosary and so enthralled with watching me knot them that overnight I put together a "beginner's kit" and caught her during the Saturday sessions. During a break between talks, we adjourned outside and I gave her a quick lesson on how to tie the rosary knot. I think we have a recruit!
 
What was in the "beginner's kit":
---- an index card with the web addresses of Rosary Army, FNT, and Autom.
---- one OLRM cord tool (which she saw me using)
---- one plastic crochet hook, size G (I have lots, craft mag publishers like to put them in their junk mail)
---- eight inches 1/4 inch inside diameter plumbing tubing (Thursday I was at hardware store and bought a yard, I told her how she could make a bigger cord tool with it for the #36 twine .... and I haven't even made my own yet! [blushing icon] )
---- one generous handful of long trimmings of twine in a 4x6 baggie for practice knots
---- eight 20-ft. lengths of #36 twine (This is an excellent reason for not skimping on cutting lengths even after lots of practice, you may want to give strings to a newbie.... [smile icon] )
---- eight assorted crucifixes
---- all the above in a quart slide-lock freezer bag.
 
That should keep her happy and busy till she can come read the RA website and order her own twine and crucifixes. [big-grin icon]
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Make them, pray them, give them away!
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By the way, the conference was great and I had lots of fun ---- though I skipped Legion meeting and Open Door Cafe this morning because I was exhausted and have a sore spot on my tush from sitting too long ---- but it was worth it!
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Friday, July 16, 2004

Howdy, gang, I'm o.k.

Just a little note to let those who use this blog to check on my welfare know that I am still alive.  I have just been extremely busy.  First with the Carnival ---- I can hardly believe the turnout ---- then Thursday I rolled to the hardware store and obtained fans and window screens enough to open every window, and I just got home from the first night of a conference with Fr. John Corapi.  Of course I had to re-learn submission to authority and offering up, since the paratransit driver was there to take me home long ahead of schedule, while Father was still in mid-teaching.  The way of all things, I guess.
 
More Father Corapi tomorrow, then Sunday at Mass, Legion of Mary, and serving at the Open Door Cafe, and then net control for the Public Service Net Sunday evening.  Then I would not be at all surprised if I crashed till noon Monday!
 
Hang in there, all!
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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The 26th Christian Carnival is here!

Come one, come all!

Welcome to the 26th weekly Christian Carnival. Thanks to every one of the 37 blogs which submitted posts this week; I have been reading and re-reading every one of this fine collection of Christian thought.

First of all, there are some excellent Scriptural meditations and Scripture studies this week.

The study group that sits in A Dusty, Sunny Corner has begun a study of Mark P. Shea's "Making Senses out of Scripture" and have submitted their comments for part one.

At Deo Omnis Gloria, Joe probes: Was Matthias Really an Apostle? Matthias was given the seat of Judas early in the book of Acts. But was Matthias really an apostle? Did Peter make a mistake in deciding to hand down Judas' seat to another? Joe examines the Biblical evidence.

Andy, at Musings of a Catholic Convert, reflects on John 3:1-21, which post he also calls "the pain and beauty of conversion." [unfortunately, he doesn't have working permalinks, so you'll have to scroll a little, to July 12th; the Scripture address is the post title] The post is a glimpse into Andy's own conversion to the Catholic faith, but it's much broader than that. The passage's application is global, calling us all to continual conversion and sanctification.

Then, there are several fine posts having to do with Church polity or governance, and with specific doctrines.

Father Shane Tharp of the Catholic Ragemonkey wrote about who really owns the church he pastors, brought on by a piece of junk mail, in Priceless.

Joe Missionary asks: What Is a Missionary? Are you a missionary who hates it when "common" people call THEMSELVES missionaries? Do you consider yourself a missionary, even though you don't work overseas in full-time ministry? Just what defines "being a missionary" anyway? He wants to explore the issue with us.

Original Sin? is the topic proposed for discussion by Intolerant Elle, and she says she wants lots of imput, so let's not disappoint her. By the way, she equates Original Sin with Total Depravity --- and that's a new one for me!

Jerry at Truth Be told thinks the church ought to be Building a New Foundation. Jerry believes the church needs to rebuild it's foundation based on the word of God from the beginning, meaning that the church has to begin to proclaim the historicity of the bible, Genesis in particular. He contends that the compromising of the accuracy and historical meaning of scripture, particularly in regards to evolution and secular reasoning, has caused the church to not only compromise on the truth of scripture but to justify immoral behavior, and even the dependance on government by many churches to do the work of the Lord.

Replying to an article from last week's Carnival, Rebecca Writes about Hebrews 6's warnings against committing apostacy in relation to the doctrine of Monergistic Regeneration --- which is, if I'm understanding her correctly, the belief that someone truly born again cannot backslide or fall away --- in her submission, Doesn't Hebrews 6 Negate The Doctrine of Monergistic Regeneration?

Lots of folk had lots to say about politics, and they do not all agree.

Mark, who yawps the Vociferous Yawpings, ponders how a Catholic (or any believer, for that matter) is to decide who to vote for, with some discussion on forming a conscience that does not lie, in Our Obligation in the Public Realm.

Robert Reich, who once was the Secretary of Labor, recently wrote that the greatest danger to our society, rather than being terrorism, is the belief in God and timeless realities, and two submissions address this article. Mark D. Roberts takes Mr. Reich on in The Greatest Danger We Face? Eric Jay the Neophyte Pundit also takes Reich on in his Greatest Evil Facing Mankind.

The proposed Federal Marriage Amendment gets its share of pondering this week also. At LaShawn Barber's Corner, she argues that, though we do need laws to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, a constitutional amendment isn't the way to do it, in the post The Nationalization of Marriage. Bob Sacamento at between a rock and a hard place, however, thinks the proposed amendment is a really good idea, and encourages his readers to support it in his submission, This Week the U.S. Senate Votes...... And in his post American Politics and the Unjust Christian, Neil at Digitus, Finger, & Co. has been reading other bloggers' writing about the amendment, and has come to be very uncomfortable with any efforts to restore or preserve the United States as a supposedly Christian nation.

Michael of Christian Conservative says that the Christian right should not presume that God is on the side of the Republican Party, or on the side of the United States, in his offering, Don't assume God is on our side. Jesus is not a conservative. Jesus is not a liberal. Jesus is God. The question is not "is God on our side?" the question is, "are we on God's side?"

Just as the USCCB has been brainstorming about what to say about things that, though they are religious and moral, touch on politics, so has the National Association of Evangelicals been hard at work. The Parableman in his submission Evangelicals and Politics reviews what has been leaked about the National Association of Evangelicals' draft statement about evangelicals and politics.

And others had excellent ideas about culture.

T.S.O'Rama gives us a rambling meditation on the nature of human work in his Of Human Bondage at his site, Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor, otherwise known as "the blog with the really long Latin name".

At Beyond the Rim, William is inspired by the increasing argument between science and the Christian faith to question the true mandate and presuppositions of science in his submission, Science and God

Aaron's Message takes us down The Narrow Road in a discussion of conservatism and Christianity among Black Americans.

The Barna Group recently released a study about the beliefs of Christian teenagers, with some very, shall we say, interesting, results. Jared discusses those rather disturbing results at Exultate Justi in his post In, But Not Of --- How? He tries to draw a line in the sand about what it actually means to be a Christian, quite ambitiously.

At Baggas' Blog, Paul is reading about cosmology, and he couldn't help but see God behind what was written about the origins of the universe and Big Bang theories.

Douglas at Belief Seeking Understanding recalls that his hometown newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, had a Bible verse for its masthead motto. He ponders this, and wonders if any other larger-city papers do the same, in What the Motto with Your Newspaper?

What is the best way for Christian young people to find their spouses? Kris of Sculpting Souls proposes the concept of courtship as a superior model to that of dating in Can courtship work?

Growth in the Faith and sanctification remain popular this week.

Ray Pritchard's Crosswalk Blog writes in Broken, then Blessed about how we must be broken by God before we can be blessed by God, for this is how He moves us from where we are to where He wants us to be.

In Perspective, the fine Mr. Standfast reminds us to keep our Godly perspective when we endure various trials. It's also a fine critique of the good old worm theology.

Jin at What If I Stumble reminds us that God is Greater Than Mobster Bosses & Presidents. If even mob bosses and corrupt presidents take care of their own, how much more will God take care of us, who are His own dear children?

At the Wanderings of a Post-Modern Pilgrim, the Pilgrim finds that his inquisitiveness, or nosiness, about another person was used by God to get his attention and challenge him to prayer, in the post A Challenge to Pray.

Bryan of Spare Change writes of a conversation about God with his very young son (out of the mouths of babes!) in More Questions for Heaven.

Anachronisms, Depression and Interpersonal Conflict is the offering from Pruitt Communications. King Saul meets Judas the Betrayerin this piece of readers' theatre written for an adult (college-age) Sunday School class whose major problem was interpersonal relationships, and not necessarily the romantic kind.

Grace is a gift from God. Tom of Effortless Grace points out to us; is it not quite Dangerous Grace? If grace is a free gift, then why is it we think we have to try real hard, then, to become more like Jesus. The post talks about the truth that when Jesus prayed to His Father for our sanctification, His prayer was answered, yes! What does it mean for us today? Throw away the checklists, urges Tom.

Steve Bogner at Catholicism, Holiness and Spirituality is reading a collection of writings by the martyred archbishop Oscar Romero and contemplates the violence, the wild untamedness and intensity, of true love in his submission, The Violence of Love.

The King of Fools shares with us a eulogy, and we watch with him as his children mourn the death of their beloved dog, in Frodo's Last Day.

Has it ever happened that you were going right along, doing God's work, when suddenly stuff happens? And the work comes to an impasse? How can you discern whether this is God shutting doors, or the work of the evil one, or just remnants of the world being fallen? Reynaldo of The Bible Archive discusses this in his offering, Knowing God's Will in the Work.

Mercy and forgivemess are not the same thing, John da Fiesole of Disputations reminds us, and he contemplates the depths of that difference in Mercy and forgiveness.

Alicia the Midwife is also pondering the depths of the mercy of God, and also of His judgment, in Either or? No, both and on her site, Fructus Ventris

The Curt Jester offers the Carnival Prayer and Punditry, an exposition of the pitfalls abounding in being a christian pundit, and the tensions between being incisive and funny and being truthful and charitable.

And one fine gentleman, Tim at Mission Safari, tells us of Yet Another (inventive mission-field) Use for Duct Tape, just for fun

And, my own contribution ---- The great mystery of forgiveness, an eyewitness testimony to that most scandalous teaching of the Church, the mercy of God and the command that we forgive, witnessed by a confessor of the faith during the depths of the Soviet era.

Enjoy, the Carnival, you all! It's been fun assembling it for you, and I hope to be allowed to do it again someday. Your host next week will be Mr. Standfast, whom I hope has as good a turnout and as much a good time as I've had.
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Saturday, July 10, 2004

The great mystery of forgiveness

from one of the listservs this morning, where there's a vigorous discussion of torture and persecution going on:

With My Own Eyes
by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

My former fellow-prisoner the Romanian-Orthodox Deacon John Stanescu, suffered in jail for his faith.

Colonel Albon, director of the slave labor camp, was informed that someone had dared to preach in a cell. He entered the cell carrying a cane and demanded to know the culprit. When no one responded, he said, "Well, then all will be flogged."

He commenced at one end of the cell, and there was the usual yelling and rising in tears. When he came to Stanescu, he said, "Not ready yet? Strip this minute!"

Stanescu replied, "There is a God in heaven, and He will judge you."

With this, his fate was sealed. He would surely be beaten to death. But just at that moment, a guard entered the cell and said, "Colonel, you are called urgently to the office. Some generals have come from the Ministry."

Albon left, saying to Stanescu, "We will see each other again soon." However, the generals arrested the colonel (Communists hate and jail each other for no reason), and after an hour Albon was back in the cell, this time as a prisoner.

Many inmates jumped to lynch him. Now Stanescu defended the defeated enemy with his own body, receiving many blows himself as he protected the torturer from the flogged prisoners. Stanescu was a real priest.

Later I asked him, "Where did you get the power to do this?"

He replied, "I live Jesus ardently. I always have Him before my eyes. I also see Him in my enemy. It is Jesus who keeps him from doing even worse things." Beware of a faith without a cross!

When I was in jail I fell very, very sick. I had tuberculosis of the whole surface of both lungs and four vertebra were attacked by tuberculosis. I also had intestinal tuberculosis, diabetes, heart failure, jaundice, and other sicknesses I can't even remember. I was near to death.

At my right hand was an Orthodox priest by the name of Iscu. He was Abbot of a monastery. This man, perhaps in his 40's, had been so tortured he was near to death. But his face was serene. He spoke about his hope of heaven, about his love of Christ, about his faith. He radiated joy.

On my left side was the Communist torturer who had tortured this priest almost to death. He had been arrested by his own comrades.

And so it happened that the Communist torturer who had tortured this priest nearly to death had been tortured nearly to death by his comrades. And he was dying near me. His soul was in agony.

During the night he would awaken me saying, "Pastor, please pray for me. I can't die, I have committed such terrible crimes."

Then I saw a miracle. I saw the agonizing priest calling two other prisoners. And leaning on their shoulders, slowly, slowly he walked past my bed, sat on the bedside of his murderer, and caressed his head --- I will never forget this gesture. I watched a murdered man caressing his murderer! That is love --- he found a caress for him.

The priest said to the man, "You are young; you did not know what you were doing. I love you with all my heart." But he did not just say the words. You can say "love," and it's just a word of four letters. But he really loved. "I love you with all my heart."

Then he went on, "If I who am a sinner can love you so much, imagine Christ, Who is Love incarnate, how much He loves you! And all the Christians whom you have tortured, know that they forgive you, they love you, and Christ loves you. He wishes you to be saved much more than you wish to be saved. You wonder if your sins can be forgiven. He wishes to forgive your sins more than you wish your sins to be forgiven. He desires for you to be with Him in heaven. He is Love. You only need to turn to Him and repent."

In this prison cell in which there was no possibility of privacy, I overheard the confession of the murderer to the murdered. Life is more thrilling than a novel --- no novelist has ever written such a thing. The murdered --- near to death --- received the confession of the murderer. The murdered gave absolution to this murderer.

They prayed together, embraced each other, and the priest went back to his bed. Both men died that same night. It was Christmas Eve. But it was not a Christmas Eve in which we simply remembered that 2000 years ago Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It was a Christmas Eve during which Jesus was born in the heart of a Communist murderer.

These are the things I have seen with my own eyes......

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Friday, July 09, 2004

The Christian Carnival is coming!

Come one, come all! The 26th Christian Carnival will be right here at the Anchor Hold this coming Wednesday, the 14th, and I'd like all my blogging readers to participate. So pray for inspiration, write one really good post, and submit it. Here's a copy of the email with the instructions. Please, join us. It's a wonderful chance to show others the glories of our sites!

The email:

Peace and good!

This coming Wednesday (7-14) is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at From the Anchor Hold. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read, and possibly pick up readers in the process or highlight your favorite post from the past week.

To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Secondly please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. (7-7 or after) Then, do the following:

email Karen Marie at
kmknapp@execpc.com

Please put "Christian Carnival submission" in the subject line --- I don't have a good spam filter and don't want to lose any of you to mass spam deletion!

And provide the following:
Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the post

Cut off date is Tuesday 13 July at 9 p.m. Central Daylight (Chicago time)

Don't forget to encourage a friend to contribute, and have them stop by and join the Christian Carnival mailing list at


Thanks,
karen marie
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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

What is the Soul of Worship?

via the 25th Weekly Christian Carnival that Messy Christian is hosting this week, there's an excellent series of articles by a Presbyterian minister on the Soul of Worship which I think we can learn a lot from even though the _real_ soul of worship is the True Presence of the Body of Christ with us. We all know that the liturgical arts in some of our parishes need a lot of help, and those who regularly read Fr. Jeff the New Gasparian, or Catholic Sensibility, or Rex Cledendi, or Reflections in Retirement, or quite a few others from my blogroll know how seriously and diligently some continue to labor in this field.

By the way, I've petitioned to host the Carnival, so I hope to have the Carnival here some Wednesday soon. And I highly recommend that those of my readers who have blogs of their own consider submitting their best weekly post about things Christian to the Carnival. I'm pretty sure you will enjoy it!
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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Reminder about Amateur Excommunication

I've been hanging out a lot this past week in the Catholic Answers Forums. Life is pretty interesting over there, and a little earlier today I posted something over there, in a "is J.F. Kerry a Catholic?" thread, that I think will do nicely over here as a reminder as we enter the messy muddy season called national elections.

Here it is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by [name deleted]
Is John Kerry or is he not a Catholic?[end quote]


The test of Catholicity:

Has he been baptised in a Catholic Church, or has he been received into the Church and chrismated after being baptised elsewhere? Yes, he has been baptised in the Catholic Church.

Has he actually joined a non-Catholic ecclesial community, or has he been initiated into a non-Christian religion? Examples: joined a Protestant fellowship, registered in a SSPV or Spiritus Christi parish, become a Buddhist......? No, he has not separated himself from the Church by a definitive act.

Has he been thrown out by his bishop? No, Archbishop Sean of Boston, his bishop and ordinary, has not thrown him out yet.

Therefore, John Forbes Kerry is a Catholic.

He may be a mistaken Catholic, or an uninstructed Catholic, or a Catholic who is a bad example, but he is still a Catholic.

This does not mean that he is not a prodigal and a problem child and a pain in the posterior, but he is _our_ prodigal and problem and pain. We don't get the easy way out by denying he's our brother, the only ones with the authority to say that are +Sean of Boston, his bishop, or the Holy Father himself, and they haven't yet.

karen marie
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Intimations of Mortality

Today was go-get-bled day. Among my many medications is a miracle drug that both keeps people like me alive and also kills vermin, and every month I have to give blood so my doctor can be certain it's not doing too much of a good thing. I make this necessity an outing, lunching in the hospital cafeteria (any meal I don't have to cook or clean up after is A Good Thing[tm]), buying my month's pills and potions in the lobby pharmacy, enjoying the air conditioning, hitting up the robot teller, and so on.

So I'm sitting in the hospital cafeteria, munching on my cod almondine and broccoli, when alarm squeals started blaring, and every 30 seconds for three or four minutes the loudspeaker repeated: "Code four, west facility, room 668. Code four, west facility, room 668 ...." One lady grabbed the sandwich off her tray and ran.

I've spent so much time in the hospital over the last few years that I used to have all the codes figured out, but I've forgotten just what a Code Four is --- but if the alarms are squealing and the loudspeakers are screaming it all over the complex, it definitely is Not A Good Thing[tm]. So I stopped munching broccoli, opened my hands, and began praying (silently, of course; this was a cafeteria): "Lord, have mercy on 668. Lord, give your grace to 668. Lord, have mercy on 668. Lord, comfort and care for 668 ...."

After the blaring stopped, and I returned to my cod and broccoli with cherries and Diet Dew, something dawned on me. I live alone. I have no kin less than a full day's drive away. I'm chronically ill with a disease that is incurable and fatal. Though I am doing all the things I need to do to collect on the "15 to 20 years of medically manageable symptoms", such as taking all my medicines, doing my physical therapy, using my oxygen, and so on, the fact is that I could easily be Called at any time. And the first notice of my passing, when my body finally stops working entirely, is very likely to be a blaring loudspeaker just like the one in the cafeteria this noontime, at some hospital or skilled nursing facility. I hope that when my time comes, and the loudspeakers start hollering about my room, that there is someone who takes pity on me and prays for me.

It's on that list of the Things Catholics Do, the Works of Mercy: Pray for both the living and the dead.
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Monday, July 05, 2004

Sighing over faction fighters again?

Well, they've been with us forever. Only one generation into Christianity, St. Clement of Rome, who was the third or fourth pope (I don't have my chart in front of me) had to send an apostolic letter to the Church in Corinth, because they had tied their church up in a tangle of faction fighting _again_.

The same thing that it was so important for Pope Clement to teach the fractious Church in Corinth is equally important for us to learn in the fractious Church in the United States of America.

from today's Office of Readings, Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians:

Why are there strife and passion, schisms and even war among you? Do we not possess the same Spirit of grace which was given to us and the same calling in Christ? Why do we tear apart and divide the body of Christ? Why do we revolt against our own body? Why do we reach such a degree of insanity that we forget that we are members of one another? Do not forget the words of Jesus our Lord: Woe to that man; it would be better for him if he had not been born rather than scandalise one of my chosen ones. Indeed it would be better for him to have a great millstone round his neck and to be drowned in the sea than that he lead astray one of my chosen ones. Your division has led many astray, has made many doubt, has made many despair, and has brought grief upon us all. And still your rebellion continues.

Pick up the letter of blessed Paul the apostle. What did he write to you at the beginning of his ministry? Even then you had developed factions. So Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to you concerning himself and Cephas and Apollos. But that division involved you in less sin because you were supporting apostles of high reputation and a person approved by them.

We should put an end to this division immediately. Let us fall down before our master and implore his mercy with our tears. Then he will be reconciled to us and restore us to the practice of brotherly love that befits us. For this is the gate of justice that leads to life, as it is written:
Open to me the gates of justice. When I have entered there, I shall praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the just shall enter through it. There are many gates which stand open, but the gate of justice is the gateway of Christ. All who enter through this gate are blessed, pursuing their way in holiness and justice, performing all their tasks without discord. A person may be faithful; he may have the power to utter hidden mysteries; he may be discriminating in the evaluation of what is said and pure in his actions. But the greater he seems to be, the more humbly he ought to act, and the more zealous he should be for the common good rather than his own interest.
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Sunday, July 04, 2004

How to Repent of My Sins [not Other People's]

from today's Office of Readings (where the Scripture reading was Nathan's confrontation of David and the death of David and Bathsheba's first son), a sermon by St. Augustine that's been haunting me all day:

I acknowledge my transgression, says David. If I admit my fault, then you will pardon it. Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon. But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticise, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others. This was not the way that David showed us how to pray and make amends to God, when he said: I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me. He did not concentrate on others’ sins; he turned his thoughts on himself. He did not merely stroke the surface, but he plunged inside and went deep down within himself. He did not spare himself, and therefore was not impudent in asking to be spared.

Do you want God to be appeased? Learn what you are to do that God may be pleased with you. Consider the psalm again:
If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. Are you then to be without sacrifice? Are you to offer nothing? Will you please God without an offering? Consider what you read in the same psalm: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. But continue to listen, and say with David: A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart. Cast aside your former offerings, for now you have found out what you are to offer. In the days of your fathers you would have made offerings of cattle --- these were the sacrifices. If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it. These then, Lord, you do not want, and yet you do want sacrifice.

You will take no delight in burnt offerings, David says. If you will not take delight in burnt offerings, will you remain without sacrifice? Not at all. A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart.

You now have the offering you are to make. No need to examine the herd, no need to outfit ships and travel to the most remote provinces in search of incense. Search within your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart must be crushed. Are you afraid that it might perish so? You have the reply:
Create a clean heart in me, O God. For a clean heart to be created, the unclean one must be crushed.

We should be displeased with ourselves when we commit sin, for sin is displeasing to God. Sinful though we are, let us at least be like God in this, that we are displeased at what displeases him. In some measure then you will be in harmony with God’s will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator.

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Saturday, July 03, 2004

MeanDean, do programmers still hibernate?

My birthday was a few days ago, and the Eldest Younger Brother Tom sent me a few reminiscences that I wonder might still be so. So, Mean Dean of "Heal Your Church Website", or any other computer professionals who might be reading --- after a fine job of programming, do programmers still hibernate for a few days in recovery? Or are computers kinder to their humans in these latter days?

Here's the memory list:

Hey there, OLDER Sister o’ mine-

Blessings and felicitude on this thy Birthday, in Number of (dare I say it?) eight and forty.

Remember when :

Computers were only good for making Daddy sleep through the weekends??

It was science fantasy (Jetsons) to have carpal tunnel syndrome?
“Oh, my aching finger! I had to push that button EIGHT TIMES today! That Spacely is a slavedriver!”

It was a status symbol to have a portable phone the size of a briefcase?

Ditto for a business calculator?

We thought it was funny that small children could operate and program VCRs before they could talk?

Oh, for the good old days…

Your ever-loving Brother on the Left Coast


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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Back in the olden days when I was a little girl

today was the feast of the Precious Blood. That feast disappeared from the general calendar in the great calendar reform, but I'd bet it's still on local and community calendars, so to Father Jeff the New Gasparian, a happy and holy feast day!
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