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Friday, November 29, 2013


Pope Francis thanked the religious for their 'testimony' (AP)

Pope Francis has announced that 2015 will be a year dedicated to the promotion of consecrated life.

He made the announcement today in an address to the heads of men's religious orders, who were taking part in the 82nd general assembly of the Union of Superiors General in Rome.

During the three-hour meeting the Pope held an impromptu question-and-answer session.

He later thanked the religious, saying: "Thank you, for what you do and for your spirit of faith and your quest for service. Thanks for your testimony, and also for the humiliations you have to endure."

Jesus Christ the King !

Christ the King, Solemnity: November 23, 2013

Jesus Blessing His Creation

Worship God firmly despite apostasy/persecution

Pope: faith is not 'private,' worship God firmly despite apostasy and persecution

2013-11-28 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) There are worldly powers that want religion to be simply a private matter and today's persecuted Christians are a sign of the trials that precede Jesus' final coming – that's the message Pope Francis imparted to the faithful gathered for early morning mass Thursday at the Santa Marta Guest house inside the Vatican. Tracey McClure has more:
In the final battle between God and evil that we read in the liturgy in these days, there's a trap which Pope Francis calls "universal temptation." It's the temptation to give in to the deceitful ways of those against God. But those with true faith can look to Jesus for the strength to withstand the insidiousness of evil. Jesus, who endured insults and lies in his public life and the trials of evil in the desert, bore them to his death on the Cross. But, as Prince of Peace, Jesus triumphed over the prince of the world through the Resurrection.
In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to these events in Christ's life because, he said, as we hear the Gospel recount the tumultuous time of the end of the world, we become aware that the victory of the prince of the world over God would be more disasterous than a devastating natural disaster.
"When Jesus speaks of this calamity in another passage, he tells us that it will be a profanation of the temple, a profanation of the faith, of the people: it will be an abomination; it will be desolation and abomination. What does this mean? It will be like the victory of the prince of this world: the defeat of God."
Today, the Pope observed, people are discouraged from speaking of religion in public. "It's (considered) something private, no?" It's something you don't talk about in public, he said, pointing to the fact that religious objects have become tabu'. "One has to obey the orders that come from worldly powers. One can do many things, nice things, but not adore God. It's forbidden to worship. This is at the heart of the "end of times." It is when this pagan attitude reaches its height, that's when the end times will come, the Pope stressed. This is when the Son of man will return in glory.
"Christians who suffer times of persecution, times forbidding worship," are a prophetic sign, the Pope said, of "what will happen to everyone."
"This week it will do us good to think about this general apostasy which is called a ban on worship and ask ourselves: 'Do I worship the Lord? Do I adore Jesus Christ the Lord? Do I in some measure play the game of the prince of this world?' Worship to the end with trust and fidelity," the Pope said, "this is the grace that we must ask for this week."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Criminal King

Criminal KingI marvel at the choice of the Gospel reading for the Feast of Christ the King. To finalize the Year of Faith, the Church spotlights not the triumphant Jesus but the One sneered as 'King of the Jews', punctured by spears and jeers (LK 23: 35-43).

Jesus the criminal King, turning man's justice on its ear. The blows He took broke the barrier between us; the blood shed rescues us from death, the shattered body makes us whole. The vehicle for our empowerment is His utter weakness.

I celebrated the Mass of Christ the King with 30,000 Philippinos reeling from the worst typhoon on record. We heard of seasoned relief workers returning from the mess traumatized, disoriented. The Archbishop of Manila invoked the power of the Love that descends into devastated lives and heals them.

At the conference where I had the privilege to speak, I met many who had been ravaged by sexual brokenness: the deadly combination of family breakdown and poverty in which kids become subject to sexual violations and gender confusion. Many testified to me personally of early homosexual identification from which Jesus was freeing them. Still others bore the deep brand of brokenness and wondered if God's Kingdom applied to their affliction. In one workshop, a group of male teens strutting about in women's wear, tragic objects of western tourists.

Attending this workshop were the Sisters of Charity who minister to the poorest of the poor on the streets of Manila. They beseeched me: 'How does Jesus help these ones? Help us help them! We love and include these boys but we do not how to free them from their affliction!'

So we follow the Criminal king, descending into the mess to reclaim the dignity of afflicted ones: always working to offer better, more effectual help.

On the way home I pondered how such help has become a scandal in the west. Wealthy nations now criminalize those of us who offer help to the gender broken. I am surrounded by reports of colleagues subject to the most ugly, irrational slams on their good service. These powerbrokers demonize the healers and champion the demonized.

In this we follow our Criminal King: happy to be afflicted on behalf of the afflicted. If we do not stand with our humiliated King, we will not stand at all.

'Jesus is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in Him but by God's power we will live with Him to serve you.' (2Cor 13: 3, 4)

Real stability of the monk

Benedictine Constitutions:

The real stability of the monk is both inward and ecclesial, insofar as it is fixed in the Sacred Host, that is, in Jesus Christ truly present as Priest and Victim upon the altars of the Church, whence He offers Himself to the Father as a pure oblation from the rising of the sun to its setting. Ubi Hostia, ibi Ecclesia.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

 Monday, 15 April 2013 18:10

A Pilgrim
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, born on March 26, 1748 in northern France, exemplifies a very particular kind of holiness found in both East and West. He was a wanderer who prayed ceaselessly, a pilgrim walking from one holy place to another, a fool for Christ.
A Misfit
As a young man, Benedict Joseph made a number of unsuccessful attempts at monastic life. He tried his vocation with the Trappists, with the Cistercians, and with the Carthusians, but, in every instance, after a few months or a few weeks, he was rejected as being unsuitable. Benedict Joseph was endearing in his own way. He was a gentle young man, tortured by scruples of conscience, and sensitive. He was completely honest, humble, candid, and open. He was cheerful. But, for all of that, he was a misfit. There was an oddness about him. He was drawn irresistibly to monastic life and, at the same time, rejected from every monastery in which he tried his vocation.
The Road
When he was twenty-two years old, Benedict Joseph left the Abbey of Sept-Fons, still wearing his Cistercian novice's habit, with a rosary around his neck, and a knapsack on his back. His only possessions, apart from the clothes he wore, were his two precious rosaries, a New Testament, a Breviary for reciting the Divine Office, and The Imitation of Christ.
The Divine Office
I have always found Benedict Joseph's attachment to the Divine Office wonderfully compelling. Deprived of choir and choir-stall, of sonorous abbey bells calling to prayer at regular intervals, and of the support of chanting in unison with others, Saint Benedict Joseph carried the Hours into the highways and byways of Europe, into the shadows of the Roman Colosseum, into humble parish churches, and into the occasional barns where he rested upon the hay. His love for the Divine Office made him a worthy namesake of the great Patriarch who ordered, "that nothing be put before the Work of God."

Saint Benedict Joseph visited 

the shrine of Our Lady of Hermits,

at Einsieldeln in Switzerland.

Bound to God Alone
Walking all the way to Rome, begging as he went, Saint Benedict Joseph became a vagabond bound to God alone, a pilgrim vowed to ceaseless prayer. He walked from one shrine to another, visiting the Holy House of Loreto, Assisi, Naples, and Bari in Italy. He made his way to Einsiedeln in Switzerland, to Paray-le-Monial in France, and to Compostela in Spain. Saint Benedict Joseph lived on whatever people would give him, and readily shared what little pittance he had. He observed silence, praying constantly. He was mocked, abused, and treated like a madman. Cruel children pelted him with garbage and stones.
After 1774, apart from an annual pilgrimage to the Madonna at the Holy House of Loreto, Benedict Joseph remained in the Eternal City. At night he would sleep in the Colosseum. During the day he would seek out those churches where the Forty Hours Devotion was being held, so as to be able to adore the Blessed Sacrament exposed. So striking was his love for the Blessed Sacrament that the Romans came to call him "the beggar of Perpetual Adoration." He was graced with a profound recollection in church. More than once he was observed in ecstasy, ravished into the love of God and shining with an unearthly light. It was on one of these occasions that the artist Antonio Cavallucci painted the beautiful portrait of Saint Benedict Joseph that allows us, even today, to see his handsome face illumined by union with God.
The Death of a Saint
On April 16, 1783 Benedict Joseph collapsed on the steps of the Church of Santa Maria dei Monti. It was the Wednesday of Holy Week. He was carried to a neighbouring house where he received the last sacraments, and died. He was thirty-five years old. No sooner did news of his death reach the streets than a huge throng gathered crying, "È morto il santo! — The saint is dead!" Benedict Joseph was buried beneath the altar in a side chapel of Santa Maria dei Monti. I have gone there to pray, and knelt before the life-sized sculpture in marble that depicts him in the repose of a holy death.
Benedict Joseph Labre was dead but a few months when more than 136 miraculous healings were attributed to his intercession. Present in Rome at the time of his funeral was an American Protestant clergyman from Boston, The Reverend John Thayer. The experience of Benedict Joseph's holy death converted Thayer. He was received into the Catholic Church, ordained to the priesthood, and died in Limerick, Ireland in 1815.

This is the prayer to which The Reverend John Thayer attributed his conversion to Catholicism:

Almighty and eternal God, Father of mercy, Saviour of mankind, I humbly intreat thee by thy sovereign goodness, to enlighten my mind, and to touch my heart, that by true faith, hope and charity I may live and die in the true Religion of Jesus Christ. I am sure that as there is but one true God; so there can be but one faith, one religion, one way of salvation, and that every other way which is opposite to this, can only lead to endless misery. It is this faith, O my God, which I earnestly desire to embrace, in order to save my soul. I protest therefore before thy divine Majesty, and I declare by all thy divine attributes, that I will follow that Religion which thou shalt shew me to be true; and that I will abandon, at whatever cost, that in which I shall discover error and falsehood : I do not deserve, it is true, this favour on account of the greatness of my sins, for which I have a profound sorrow because they offend a God so good, so great, so holy and worthy of my love; but what I do not deserve, I hope 'to obtain from thy infinite mercy, and I conjure thee to grant through the merits of the precious blood which was shed for us poor sinners by thy only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Father John Thayer's remarkable conversion and the witness of countless other miracles and graces attributed to Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, make me bold in presenting to him my own list of intentions and needs. And I invite you, dear reader, to add your intentions and needs to mine.
I, first of all, recommend to the intercession of Saint Benedict Joseph, our beloved Holy Father emeritus, who bears both his names: Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, eighty-six years ago today.
I ask the powerful intercession of Saint Benedict Joseph for all who suffer from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other forms of emotional and mental illness.
I ask his intercession for a revival of liturgical prayer among ordinary Catholic laity, and for the world-wide extension of silent adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
I present to Saint Benedict Joseph Silverstream Priory. Were he to knock at our door, I would probably, after a few weeks or months, be obliged to suggest, as did so many others, that his place might be elsewhere. He would, however, take comfort, I think, as do I, in this excerpt from our Constitutions:

The real stability of the monk is both inward and ecclesial, insofar as it is fixed in the Sacred Host, that is, in Jesus Christ truly present as Priest and Victim upon the altars of the Church, whence He offers Himself to the Father as a pure oblation from the rising of the sun to its setting. Ubi Hostia, ibi Ecclesia.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us, that like you we may pass through this life as pilgrims, and as perpetual adorers, magnetized by the wondrous mystery of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pope Francis: Vision for an evangelical church

In document, pope lays out his vision for an evangelical church

Pope Francis, shown here leaving a general audience last month in St. Peter's Square, says in a new document on "The Joy of the Gospel," that an "evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!" (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his first extensive piece of writing as pope, Pope Francis lays out a vision of the Catholic Church dedicated to evangelization in a positive key, with a focus on society's poorest and most vulnerable, including the aged and the unborn.

"Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"), released by the Vatican Nov. 26, is an apostolic exhortation, one of the most authoritative categories of papal document. (Pope Francis' first encyclical, "Lumen Fidei," published in July, was mostly the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.)

The pope wrote the new document in response to the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, but declined to work from a draft provided by synod officials.

Pope Francis' voice is unmistakable in the 50,000-word document's relatively relaxed style -- he writes that an "evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!" -- and its emphasis on some of his signature themes, including the dangers of economic globalization and "spiritual worldliness."

The church's message "has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary," he writes. "In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead."

Inspired by Jesus' poverty and concern for the dispossessed during his earthly ministry, Pope Francis calls for a "church which is poor and for the poor."

The poor "have much to teach us," he writes. "We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voices to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them."

Charity is more than mere handouts, "it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor," the pope writes. "This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free creative, participatory and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives."

Yet he adds that the "worst discrimination which the poor suffer is the lack of spiritual care. ... They need God and we must not fail to offer them his friendship, his blessing, his word, the celebration of the sacraments and a journey of growth and maturity in the faith."

Pope Francis reiterates his earlier criticisms of "ideologies that defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation," which he blames for the current financial crisis and attributes to an "idolatry of money."

He emphasizes that the church's concern for the vulnerable extends to "unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us," whose defense is "closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right."

"A human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development," the pope writes, in his strongest statement to date on the subject of abortion. "Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be."

The pope writes that evangelization entails peacemaking, among other ways through ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. He "humbly" calls on Muslim majority countries to grant religious freedom to Christians, and enjoins Catholics to "avoid hateful generalizations" based on "disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism," since "authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence."

Pope Francis characteristically directs some of his strongest criticism at his fellow clergy, among other reasons, for what he describes as largely inadequate preaching.

The faithful and "their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies," he writes: "the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them!"

The pope devotes several pages to suggestions for better homilies, based on careful study of the Scriptures and respect for the principle of brevity.

Pope Francis reaffirms church teaching that only men can be priests, but notes that their "sacramental power" must not be "too closely identified with power in general," nor "understood as domination"; and he allows for the "possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the church's life."

As he has done in a number of his homilies and public statements, the pope stresses the importance of mercy, particularly with regard to the church's moral teaching. While lamenting "moral relativism" that paints the church's teaching on sexuality as unjustly discriminatory, he also warns against overemphasizing certain teachings out of the context of more essential Christian truths. 

In words very close to those he used in an oft-quoted interview with a Jesuit journalist in August, Pope Francis writes that "pastoral ministry in a missionary style is not obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed," lest they distract from the Gospel's primary invitation to "respond to the God of love who saves us."

Returning to a theme of earlier statements, the pope also warns against "spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the church, (but) consists in seeking not the Lord's glory but human glory and personal well-being," either through embrace of a "purely subjective faith" or a "narcissistic and authoritarian elitism" that overemphasizes certain rules or a "particular Catholic style from the past."

Despite his censures and warnings, the pope ends on a hopeful note true to his well-attested devotion to Mary, whom he invokes as the mother of evangelization and "wellspring of happiness for God's little ones."

MARGARET SOMERVILLE - Judge my ideas, not my faith

Judge me by my ideas, not my religion

MARGARET SOMERVILLE Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Nov. 24 2013, 9:11 AM EST

In the last few weeks, I've received several e-mails in which the senders – some in Canada, others in Australia – told me they were at some event or meeting and when my name came up as a possible speaker, I was dismissed as being of no interest, because I was "simply a mouth piece for the Roman Catholic Church". Although, some activists, who adamantly disagree with my views and arguments about ethics, have sometimes used this "label as religious and dismiss on that basis" kind of ad hominem attack against me, I was puzzled that its use seemed to have recently increased and extended beyond them.

All that said, I've been a participant in the public square for more than thirty years and have never argued from a religious base in presenting ethical and legal analyses of the issues with which I deal. So why was this seeming expansion of labelling me as Roman Catholic occurring now?For the record, my family is Roman Catholic – although, when I was young, my father was a card carrying atheist-communist, who refused to set foot in a church – and I was educated in Roman Catholic schools, for which I am deeply grateful. I also both have great respect for religion and regard its misuse as abhorrent.

A few days ago, a message from a well-known Montreal journalist was passed on to me and gave me a clue. She asked whether I was aware of the current content of the Wikipedia entry under my name. I looked and saw it had recently been modified to include many statements that can be summarized as: "Margaret Somerville is a Roman Catholic apologist; …she just parrots the "Catholic line"; …she's instructed by the Vatican", and so on.

I corrected the entry, but then it was changed again – in a completely outrageous, much more extreme way than before. The important point to understand, however, is why the person or persons responsible for these statements would label me in this way.

It's a "label and dismiss" strategy. People, who cannot tolerate religion – indeed, they despise and are hostile to it – try to suppress the voices of people they perceive as religious, and their arguments and views with which they disagree, by using a "derogatorily label the person and dismiss them on the basis of that label" approach. For them, calling a person religious is highly derogatory. This strategy allows them to eliminate their opponents' arguments, without needing to deal with the substance of those arguments.

It's a common tactic. I published an article in the online Globe and Mail arguing for the importance of children's biological ties to their parents and doing the least damage possible to these. This was extremely unpopular with same-sex marriage supporters, who believe that what constitutes a family is simply a matter of adults' personal preferences. Here's one response to that article: "Any chance that Dr. Somerville is a Catholic? If so, she should at least state it in her opinion pieces and not hide behind her ivory tower."

In light of such attacks, the decision of the editors of some of the world's leading medical journals to require that authors reveal their religious affiliations in their conflict of interest disclosures, which are published with the authors' articles, can be seen as surprising and probably not wise. I happen to be against infant male circumcision and regard it as unethical, but I do not agree with the articles of Jewish medical researchers supporting this practice being dismissed simply on the basis that the authors have a religious reason for their support.

Some people's religious and moral beliefs conflict with some politically correct positions. Again, a "label and dismiss" strategy is used. Those challenging a politically correct stance are often automatically branded as intolerant, bigots or hatemongers and, yet again, the substance of their arguments against the politically correct stance is not addressed. Rather, they are dismissed as being intolerant and hateful just for making those arguments. In short, political correctness can be used to shut down non-politically correct people's freedom of speech and also, sometimes, to suppress freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

This leads me to the charter of Quebec values. The title of Bill 60 begins,Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality…. The problem is that State secularism, properly understood, and religious neutrality are in direct conflict; they are entirely incompatible.

Secularism is a belief form and ideology, much like a religion, a principal edict of which is the active exclusion of religion, religious people or religious views and values from having any influence or role in the public square, in particular, any input into social or public policy, or law. That is not "religious neutrality".

Moreover, if religious people are disqualified on the basis of their lack of neutrality, adherents of other belief systems, such as secularism, should be dealt with likewise. Clearly, that would be an unworkable situation as everyone would be excluded, because we all have beliefs that guide us. The answer to this dilemma is that all voices have a right to be included and heard in the democratic public square. This liberty right is the correct understanding of the nature of a secular state and respecting it is at its heart. Importantly, as this demonstrates, such a state is the polar opposite of one that espouses secularism.

I began by describing the allegations that my views are informed by religion and it's wrong on my part not to disclose that. In contrast, the Quebec values charter would eliminate religious symbols from the public square, that is, it specifically seeks to hide people's religious affiliations. But the people in question, who comply with the "un-dress code", will continue to hold their beliefs. Quite apart from the human rights and ethics breaches the charter would perpetrate, would we be better or worse off not knowing what these people's beliefs are? Or could the promoters of the Charter be hoping that people with particular religious beliefs will no longer be found in certain positions of authority, because they will not seek positions in which they would be prohibited from wearing symbols of their beliefs?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Elijah the Prophet

St Elijah the Prophet, spiritual father and leader of Carmelites

Holy Prophet of God Elijah, Leader and Father of Carmelites, intercede for us and for the salvation of all.


1 Kings 19

New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

Elijah Flees from Jezebel

19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

Elijah Meets God at Horeb

11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lordwas not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for theLord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 17 Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Elisha Becomes Elijah’s Disciple

19 So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. 20 He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah[a] said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” 21 He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.


@Pontifex 11/23/2013

The Sacraments are Jesus Christ's presence in us. So it is important for us to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


« Maryam ». Cette miniature du XVIIe siècle, conservée à Istanbul, est inspirée d'un modèle occidental. © R. et S. Michaud / akg-images

« Maryam ». Cette miniature du XVIIe siècle, conservée à Istanbul, est inspirée d'un modèle occidental. © R. et S. Michaud / akg-images

On ne le sait que trop peu, mais la mère de Jésus est considérée comme un véritable modèle de pureté et de piété dans l'islam. Les explications de Jean-Claude Basset, chargé de cours, spécialiste de l'islam et des relations interreligieuses à l'UNIL. Texte Anne-Sylvie Sprenger


Pope Francis visits cell of American recluse

Pope Francis visits cell of American recluse

2013-11-22 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) An American recluse and mystic lived within the walls of the Camaldolese monastery, which Pope Francis visited on Thursday to mark the Day for the Contemplative Life, an event of the Year of Faith.
Sr Nazarena of Jesus, nee Julia Crotta on 5 October 1907, in Glastonbury, Connecticut, followed her vocation to Rome to live a hidden life in a cell at the Sant'Antonio Abate Monastery, located at the foot of the Aventine Hill, for 45 years.
Pope Francis visited Sr Nazarena's cell during his time at the monastery. He was also to receive one of her letters during his private meeting with the Camaldolese nuns in their Chapter Room.
Fr. Thomas Matus, an American Camaldolese monk and author of Nazarena: An American anchoress, spoke with Vatican Radio about Sr Nazarena's vocation story, her spiritual writings and the witness she offers today.
Sr Nazarena's journey toward life as an anchoress was not a smooth one and it testifies to her perseverance in her call, he conceded.
After various attempts at religious life over 11 years, she entered the Camaldolese monastery on 21 November 1945, as a laywoman committed to a "desert life", upon permission of Pope Pius XII. She later took religious vows.
Sr Nazarena lived a very strict ascetic rule: she slept on a wooden bed that had a wooden cross overlay, fasted on water and bread, spoke only to her confessor and Mother Superior, and received the Eucharist through a grille. In addition to prayer and reading, she spent her days fashioning crosses from palm leaves. She died on 7 February 1990; she was 82.
Her hiddenness, said Matus, was not a rejection of the world but an embrace of the life she was called to live in love and union with the Trinitarian God.
Matus said, to his knowledge, no cause for canonization has been opened for Sr Nazarena nor is there any initiative to promote a particular devotion to her, as it would contradict her very spirituality.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pope Francis visits Camaldolese hermits

Pope Francis visits Camaldolese Monastery of Sant'Antonio Abate

2013-11-21 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis just concluded a visit to the Camaldolese Monastery of Sant'Antonio Abate at the foot of Rome's Aventine hill. He went to the cloistered convent to celebrate Vespers with the nuns on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple, dedicated by the Church to all cloistered religious. He is not the first Pope to visit the convent on the Aventine – both Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II made the short trip across Rome's Tiber river to visit. The Vespers was solemn, the nuns chanting the office in air filled with incense.
In his homily, based on the readings, Pope Francis spoke about Mary, calling her the mother of Hope. He called on the nuns to be women of hope, saying that hope "nourished by listening , contemplation , patience." Pope Francis said, that while at the foot of the cross, when everything seems really over, all hope might have been cut off.
"[Mary], too, in that moment, might have said if she remembered the promises of the Annunciation : 'It was not true! I was deceived .' But she did not," the Pope said. "Instead, she, who was blessed because she believed, by her faith that sees the new future bloom and waits hopefully for the tomorrow of God."
He went on to say the only lamp on the tomb of Jesus was the hope of the mother, who at that time was the hope of all humanity. He then asked them, is that lamp still burning in the monastery? Do they expect this tomorrow of God? Pope Francis said the mother of hope sustains us in times of doubt and difficulty , discomfort and apparent defeat , and in true human losses.
"Mary, our Hope," concluded Pope Francis. Help us to make our lives an offering pleasing to our Heavenly Father, and a joyful gift for our brothers, an attitude that always looks to tomorrow .

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

I'm Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage


While religion and tradition have led many to their positions on same-sex marriage, it's also possible to oppose same-sex marriage based on reason and experience.

"I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life." These words, spoken by Ronald Reagan in 1991, are framed on the wall above my desk. As a gay man, I've adopted them as my own, as I've entered the national discussion on same-sex marriage.

I wholeheartedly support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but I am opposed to same-sex marriage. Because activists have made marriage, rather than civil unions, their goal, I am viewed by many as a self-loathing, traitorous gay. So be it. I prefer to think of myself as a reasoning, intellectually honest human being.

The notion of same-sex marriage is implausible, yet political correctness has made stating the obvious a risky business. Genderless marriage is not marriage at all. It is something else entirely.

Opposition to same-sex marriage is characterized in the media, at best, as clinging to "old-fashioned" religious beliefs and traditions, and at worst, as homophobia and hatred.

I've always been careful to avoid using religion or appeals to tradition as I've approached this topic. And with good reason: Neither religion nor tradition has played a significant role in forming my stance. But reason and experience certainly have.

Learning from Experience

As a young man, I wasn't strongly inclined toward marriage or fatherhood, because I knew only homosexual desire.

I first recognized my strong yearning for men at age eight, when my parents took me to see The Sound of Music. While others marveled at the splendor of the Swiss Alps displayed on the huge Cinerama screen, I marveled at the uniformed, blond-haired Rolfe, who was seventeen going on eighteen. That proclivity, once awakened, never faded.

During college and throughout my twenties, I had many close friends who were handsome, athletic, and intelligent, with terrific personalities. I longed to have an intimate relationship with any and all of them. However, I enjoyed something far greater, something which surpassed carnality in every way: philia (the love between true friends)—a love unappreciated by so many because eros is promoted in its stead.

I wouldn't have traded the quality of my relationships with any of these guys for an opportunity to engage in sex. No regrets. In fact, I always felt like the luckiest man on the planet. Denial didn't diminish or impoverish my life. It made my life experience richer.

Philia love between men is far better, far stronger, and far more fulfilling than erotic love can ever be. But society now promotes the lowest form of love between men while sabotaging the higher forms. Gay culture continues to promote the sexualization of all (viewing one's self and other males primarily as sexual beings), while proving itself nearly bankrupt when it comes to fostering any other aspect of male/male relationships.

When all my friends began to marry, I began to seriously consider marriage for the first time. The motive of avoiding social isolation may not have been the best, but it was the catalyst that changed the trajectory of my life. Even though I had to repress certain sexual desires, I found marriage to be extremely rewarding.

My future bride and I first met while singing in a youth choir. By the time I popped the question, we had become the very best of friends. "Soul mates" is the term we used to describe each other.

After a couple of years of diligently trying to conceive, doctors informed us we were infertile, so we sought to adopt. That became a long, arduous, heartbreaking process. We ultimately gave up. I had mixed emotions—disappointment tempered by relief.

Out of the blue, a couple of years after we resigned ourselves to childlessness, we were given the opportunity to adopt.

A great shock came the day after we brought our son home from the adoption agency. While driving home for lunch, I was suddenly overcome with such emotion that I had to pull the car off to the side of the road. Never in my life had I experienced such pure, distilled joy and sense of purpose. I kept repeating, "I'm a dad," over and over again. Nothing else mattered. I knew exactly where I fit in within this huge universe. When we brought home his brother nearly two years later, I was prepared: I could not wait to take him up in my arms and declare our kinship and my unconditional love and irrevocable responsibility for him.

Neither religion nor tradition turned me into a dedicated father. It was something wonderful from within—a great strength that has only grown with time. A complete surprise of the human spirit. In this way and many others, marriage—my bond with the mother of my children—has made me a much better person, a person I had no idea I had the capacity to become.

Intellectual Honesty and Surprise Conclusions

Unfortunately, a few years later my marriage ended—a pain known too easily by too many. At this point, the divorce allowed me to explore my homosexuality for the first time in my life.

At first, I felt liberated. I dated some great guys, and was in a couple of long-term relationships. Over several years, intellectual honesty led me to some unexpected conclusions: (1) Creating a family with another man is not completely equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

It took some doing, but after ten years of divorce, we began to pull our family back together. We have been under one roof for over two years now. Our kids are happier and better off in so many ways. My ex-wife, our kids, and I recently celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas together and agreed these were the best holidays ever.

Because of my predilections, we deny our own sexual impulses. Has this led to depressing, claustrophobic repression? No. We enjoy each other's company immensely. It has actually led to psychological health and a flourishing of our family. Did we do this for the sake of tradition? For the sake of religion? No. We did it because reason led us to resist selfish impulses and to seek the best for our children.

And wonderfully, she and I continue to regard each other as "soul mates" now, more than ever.

Over the last couple of years, I've found our decision to rebuild our family ratified time after time. One day as I turned to climb the stairs I saw my sixteen-year-old son walk past his mom as she sat reading in the living room. As he did, he paused and stooped down to kiss her and give her a hug, and then continued on. With two dads in the house, this little moment of warmth and tenderness would never have occurred. My varsity-track-and-football-playing son and I can give each other a bear hug or a pat on the back, but the kiss thing is never going to happen. To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.

There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week. Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold from them someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch "deprivation" on their hearts.

Rich Versus Diminished Lives

Sexuality is fluid for many, and much more complex than many want to acknowledge. Gay and straight activists alike pretend this isn't true in order to fortify their positions. If they fail to maintain that mirage, fundraising for their organizations might dry up, as would the requests for television and radio interviews. Yet the "B" in the middle of "LGBT" acknowledges an important reality concerning our human sexuality.

Here's a very sad fact of life that never gets portrayed on Glee or Modern Family: I find that men I know who have left their wives as they've come out of the closet often lead diminished, and in some cases nearly bankrupt, lives—socially, familially, emotionally, and intellectually. They adjust their entire view of the world and their role within it in order to accommodate what has become the dominant aspect of their lives: their homosexuality. In doing so, they trade rich lives for one-dimensional lives. Yet this is what our post-modern world has taught us to do. I went along with it for a long while, but slowly turned back when I witnessed my life shrinking and not growing.

What Now?

In our day, prejudice against gays is just a very faint shadow of what it once was. But the abolition of prejudice against gays does not necessarily mean that same-sex marriage is inevitable or optimal. There are other avenues available, none of which demands immediate, sweeping, transformational legislation or court judgments.

We are in the middle of a fierce battle that is no longer about rights. It is about a single word, "marriage."

Two men or two women together is, in truth, nothing like a man and a woman creating a life and a family together. Same-sex relationships are certainly very legitimate, rewarding pursuits, leading to happiness for many, but they are wholly different in experience and nature.

Gay and lesbian activists, and more importantly, the progressives urging them on, seek to redefine marriage in order to achieve an ideological agenda that ultimately seeks to undefine families as nothing more than one of an array of equally desirable "social units," and thus open the door to the increase of government's role in our lives.

And while same-sex marriage proponents suggest that the government should perhaps just stay out of their private lives, the fact is, now that children are being engineered for gay and lesbian couples, a process that involves multiple other adults who have potential legal custody claims on these children, the potential for government's involvement in these same-sex marriage households is staggering.

Solomon only had to split the baby in two. In the future, judges may have to decide how to split children into three, four, or five equal pieces. In Florida, a judge recently ordered that the birth certificate of a child must show a total of three parents—a lesbian couple and a gay man (the sperm-providing hairdresser of one of the lesbian moms). Expect much more of this to come.

Statists see great value in slowly chipping away at the bedrock of American culture: faith and family life. The more that traditional families are weakened in our daily experience by our laws, the more that government is able to freely insert itself into our lives in an authoritarian way. And it will.

Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, recentlysaid, "I think you can have social stability without many intact families, but it's going to be really expensive and it's going to look very 'Huxley-Brave New World-ish.' So [the intact family is] not only the optimal scenario … but it's the cheapest. How often in life do you get the best and the cheapest in the same package?"

Marriage is not an elastic term. It is immutable. It offers the very best for children and society. We should not adulterate nor mutilate its definition, thereby denying its riches to current and future generations.

Doug Mainwaring is co-founder of the National Capital Tea Party Patriots.