Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Is Sunday The Christian Sabbath ?

Pope John Paul II

The Jews by divine mandate rested and worshipped on the seventh day of the week since this is the day on which God "rested" and ceased creating the universe.

When Christ, the King of Creation died and rose on Sunday, He instituted a "new creation." By rising on the day after the seventh day Sabbath, He fulfilled the promise of the eighth day which had been mystically represented in the Old Testament sacrament of circumcision (Jewish boys were circumcised on the eighth day). So then, this eighth day mystically stands outside the weekly cycle. Moreover, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Church on a Sunday and this gave even more significance to Sunday worship.

The Apostles and early Christians celebrated the Holy Eucharist daily, but the obligation of attending the Eucharistic liturgy on Sunday was required since the moral precepts of Ten Commandments were not abrogated by Christ. Christians continued to worship and rest one day out of seven days - but Sunday was the now the "Sabbath day" of the New Testament.

Take for example the words of Saint Ignatius (died ca. AD 108) to the Magnesians:

We have seen how former adherents of the ancient customs have since attained to a new hope; so that they have given up keeping the sabbath, and now order their lives by the Lord's Day instead, the day when life first dawned for us, thanks to Him and His death.

I could cite literally hundreds of passages from the Church Fathers on this topic. Let it suffice that Sunday was universally the day of obligatory worship and rest.

Regrettably, Catholics have forgotten the obligation to rest from labor on Sundays. Rest on Sunday is still taught by the Catholic magisterium. For example, Blessed John Paul II's apostolic letter Dies Domini (On keeping the Lord's day holy) teaches Catholics the moral obligation of keeping Sunday holy through rest, recreation, and attendance at Holy Mass. He also urges Catholics to resist the "weekend mentality" in which Sunday becomes blended into a time of either labor or frivolous amusements.

Many of the great saints and many of Our Lady's messages have stressed the necessity of resting on Sunday and attending Mass on Sunday. As has always been taught, to purposefully miss Holy Mass is a mortal sin because it is very grave. Why is it http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifgrave? It is grave because we need grace more than we need food, water, and even air. Sanctifying grace is needed if we are to attain to our divinely ordered end - beatific communion with God forever.

Source: Canterbury Tales

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Mother Teresa Of Calcutta

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the future Mother Teresa, was born on 26 August 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, to Albanian heritage. Her father, a well-respected local businessman, died when she was eight years old, leaving her mother, a devoutly religious woman, to open an embroidery and cloth business to support the family. After spending her adolescence deeply involved in parish activities, Agnes left home in September 1928, for the Loreto Convent in Rathfarnam (Dublin), Ireland, where she was admitted as a postulant on October 12 and received the name of Teresa, after her patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux.

Agnes was sent by the Loreto order to India and arrived in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. Upon her arrival, she joined the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling. She made her final profession as a Loreto nun on 24 May 1937, and hereafter was called Mother Teresa. While living in Calcutta during the 1930s and '40s, she taught in St. Mary's Bengali Medium School.

On 10 September 1946, on a train journey from Calcutta to Darjeeling, Mother Teresa received what she termed the "call within a call," which was to give rise to the Missionaries of Charity family of Sisters, Brothers, Fathers, and Co-Workers. The content of this inspiration is revealed in the aim and mission she would give to her new institute: "to quench the infinite thirst of Jesus on the cross for love and souls" by "labouring at the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor." On October 7, 1950, the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially erected as a religious institute for the Archdiocese of Calcutta.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Mother Teresa expanded the work of the Missionaries of Charity both within Calcutta and throughout India. On 1 February 1965, Pope Paul VI granted the Decree of Praise to the Congregation, raising it to pontifical right. The first foundation outside India opened in Cocorote, Venezuela, in 1965. The Society expanded to Europe (the Tor Fiscale suburb of Rome) and Africa (Tabora, Tanzania) in 1968.

From the late 1960s until 1980, the Missionaries of Charity expanded both in their reach across the globe and in their number of members. Mother Teresa opened houses in Australia, the Middle East, and North America, and the first novitiate outside Calcutta in London. In 1979 Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. By that same year there were 158 Missionaries of Charity foundations.

The Missionaries of Charity reached Communist countries in 1979 with a house in Zagreb, Craotia, and in 1980 with a house in East Berlin, and continued to expand through the 1980s and 1990s with houses in almost all Communist nations, including 15 foundations in the former Soviet Union. Despite repeated efforts, however, Mother Teresa was never able to open a foundation in China.

Mother Teresa spoke at the fortieth anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly in October 1985. On Christmas Eve of that year, Mother Teresa opened "Gift of Love" in New York, her first house for AIDS patients. In the coming years, this home would be followed by others, in the United States and elsewhere, devoted specifically for those with AIDS.

From the late 1980s through the 1990s, despite increasing health problems, Mother Teresa travelled across the world for the profession of novices, opening of new houses, and service to the poor and disaster-stricken. New communities were founded in South Africa, Albania, Cuba, and war-torn Iraq. By 1997, the Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members, and were established in almost 600 foundations in 123 countries of the world.

After a summer of travelling to Rome, New York, and Washington, in a weak state of health, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta in July 1997. At 9:30 PM, on 5 September, Mother Teresa died at the Motherhouse. Her body was transferred to St Thomas's Church, next to the Loreto convent where she had first arrived nearly 69 years earlier. Hundreds of thousands of people from all classes and all religions, from India and abroad, paid their respects. She received a state funeral on 13 September, her body being taken in procession - on a gun carriage that had also borne the bodies of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru - through the streets of Calcutta. Presidents, prime ministers, queens, and special envoys were present on behalf of countries from all over the world.

Source: Catholic Online

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Are Catholics Born Again?

“Have you been born again?” the Fundamentalist at the door asks the unsuspecting Catholic.

Yes, they believe in Jesus. And yes, they try to live Christian lives. They probably have some vague awareness that Fundamentalists think being “born again” involves a religious experience or “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.” Many cradle Catholics, too, have had their moments of closeness to God, even of joy over God's love and mercy. They may even have had “conversion experiences” of sorts, committing themselves to take their faith seriously and to live more faithfully as disciples of Jesus. But the cradle Catholic probably cannot pinpoint any particular moment in his life when he dropped to his knees and “accepted Jesus” for the first time. As far back as he can recall, he has believed, trusted and loved Jesus as Savior and Lord. Does that prove he has never been “born again”?

Not “the Bible way,” says the Fundamentalist. But the Fundamentalist is wrong there. He misunderstands what the Bible says about being “born again.” Unfortunately, few Catholics understand the biblical use of the term, either. As a result, pastors, deacons, catechists, parents and others responsible for religious education have their work cut out for them. It would be helpful, then, to review the biblical — and Catholic — meaning of the term “born again.”

"Born again " The Bible way

The only biblical use of the term “born again” occurs in John 3:3-5 — although, as we shall see, similar and related expressions such as “new birth” and ,regeneration” occur elsewhere in Scripture (Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3, 23). In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The Greek expression translated “born again” (gennathei anothen) also means “born from above.” Jesus, it seems, makes a play on words with Nicodemus, contrasting earthly life, or what theologians would later dub natural life (“what is born of flesh”), with the new life of heaven, or what they would later call supernatural life (“what is born of Spirit”).

Nicodemus' reply: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” (John 3:4). Does he simply mistake Jesus to be speaking literally or is Nicodemus himself answering figuratively, meaning, “How can an old man learn new ways as if he were a child again?” We cannot say for sure, but in any case Jesus answers, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born again.”' (John 3:5-7).

Here Jesus equates “born again” or “born from above” with “born of water and the Spirit.” If, as the Catholic Church has always held, being “born of water and the Spirit” refers to baptism, then it follows that being “born again” or “born from above” means being baptized.

Clearly, the context implies that born of “water and the Spirit” refers to baptism. The Evangelist tells us that immediately after talking with Nicodemus, Jesus took his disciples into the wilderness where they baptized people (John 3:22). Furthermore, water is closely linked to the Spirit throughout John's Gospel (for instance, in Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:9-13) and in the Johannine tradition (cf. 1 John 5:7). It seems reasonable, then, to conclude that John the Evangelist understands Jesus' words about being “born again” and “born of water and the Spirit” to have a sacramental, baptismal meaning.

Other views of "born of water and the spirit"

Fundamentalists who reject baptismal regeneration usually deny that “born of water and the Spirit” in John 3:5 refers to baptism. Some argue that “water” refers to the “water of childbirth.” On this view, Jesus means that unless one is born of water (at his physical birth) and again of the Spirit (in a spiritual birth), he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

A major problem with this argument, however, is that while Jesus does contrast physical and spiritual life, he clearly uses the term “flesh” for the former, in contrast to “Spirit” for the latter. Jesus might say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of flesh and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” — though it would be obvious and absurdly redundant to say that one must be born (i.e., born of flesh) in order to be born again (i.e., born of the Spirit). But using “born of water and the Spirit” to mean “born of the flesh and then of the Spirit” would only confuse things by introducing the term “water” from out of nowhere, without any obvious link to the term “flesh.” Moreover, while the flesh is clearly opposed to the Spirit and the Spirit clearly opposed to the flesh in this passage, the expression “born of water and the Spirit” implies no such opposition. It is not “water” vs. “the Spirit,” but “water and the Spirit.”

Furthermore, the Greek of the text suggests that “born of water and the Spirit” (literally “born of water and spirit”) refers to a single, supernatural birth over against natural birth (“born of the flesh”). The phrase “of water and the Spirit” (Greek, ek hudatos kai pneumatos) is a single linguistical unit. It refers to being “born of water and the Spirit,” not “born of water” on the one hand and “born of the Spirit” on the other.

Another argument used by opponents of baptismal regeneration: “born of water and the Spirit” refers, correspondingly, to the baptism of John (being “born of water”) and the baptism of the Spirit (being “born of ... the Spirit”), which John promised the coming Messiah would effect. Thus, on this view, Jesus says, “Unless a man is born of water through John's baptism and of the Spirit through my baptism, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

We have already seen that, according to the Greek, “born of water and the Spirit” refers to a single thing, a single spiritual birth. Thus, the first half of the phrase cannot apply to one thing (John's baptism) and the second half to something else entirely (Jesus' baptism). But even apart from the linguistical argument, if “born of water” refers to John's baptism, then Jesus is saying that in order to be “born again” or “born from above” one must receive John's baptism of water (“born of water ...”) and the Messiah's baptism of the Spirit (“. . . and Spirit”). That would mean only those who have been baptized by John could enter the kingdom of God—which would drastically reduce the population of heaven. In fact, no one holds that people must receive John's baptism in order to enter the Kingdom — something now impossible. Therefore being “born of water . . .” cannot refer to John's baptism.

The most reasonable explanation for “born of water and the Spirit,” then, is that it refers to baptism. This is reinforced by many New Testament texts linking baptism, the Holy Spirit and regeneration. At Jesus' baptism, the Holy Spirit descends upon him as He comes up out of the water (cf. John 1:25-34; Matt 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). Furthermore, what distinguishes John's baptism of repentance in anticipation of the Messiah from Christian baptism, is that the latter is a baptism with the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:31; Acts 1:4-5).

Consequently, on Pentecost, Peter calls the Jews to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” and promises that they will “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38), thus fulfilling the promise of John. Peter clearly teaches here that the “water baptism,” to which he directs the soon-to-be converts, forgives sins and bestows the Holy Spirit. Christian baptism, then, is no mere external, repentance-ritual with water, but entails an inner transformation or regeneration by the Holy Spirit of the New Covenant; it is a “new birth,” a being “born again” or “born from above.”

In Romans 6:3, Paul says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (RNAB). Baptism, says Paul, effects union with the death and resurrection of Christ, so that through it we die and rise to new life, a form of “regeneration.”

According to Titus 3:5, God “saved us through the washing of regeneration (paliggenesias) and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Opponents of baptismal regeneration argue that the text refers only to the “washing (loutrou) of regeneration” rather than the “baptism of regeneration.” But baptism is certainly a form of washing and elsewhere in the New Testament it is described as a “washing away of sin.” For example, in Acts 22:16, Ananias tells Paul, “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling upon his name.” The Greek word used for the “washing away of sins” in baptism here is apolousai, essentially the same term used in Titus 3:5. Furthermore, since “washing” and “regeneration” are not ordinarily related terms, a specific kind of washing — one that regenerates — must be in view. The most obvious kind of washing which the reader would understand would be baptism, a point even many Baptist scholars, such as G.R. Beasley-Murray, admit. (See his book Baptism in the New Testament.)

In 1 Peter 1:3, it is stated that God has given Christians “a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The term “new birth” (Gk, anagennasas, “having regenerated”) appears synonymous with “born again” or “regeneration.” According to 1 Peter 1:23, Christians “have been born anew (Gk, anagegennamenoi, “having been regenerated”) not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God.” From the word of the Gospel, in other words.

Opponents of baptismal regeneration argue that since the “new birth” mentioned in 1 Peter 1:3 and 23 is said to come about through the Word of God, being “born again” means accepting the Gospel message, not being baptized. This argument overlooks the fact that elsewhere in the New Testament accepting the gospel message and being baptized are seen as two parts of the one act of commitment to Christ.

In Mark 16:16, for instance, Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” “Believing”, i.e., accepting the Gospel, entails accepting baptism, which is the means by which one “puts on Christ” (Gal. 3:27) and is buried and raised with him to new life (Rom 6:3-5; Gal 2:12). Acts 2:41 says of the Jewish crowd on Pentecost, “Those who accepted his message were baptized . . .” It seems reasonable to conclude that those whom 1 Peter 1:23 describes as “having been born anew” or regenerated through the “living and abiding word of God” were also those who had been baptized. Thus, being “born of water and the Spirit” and being “born anew” through “the living and abiding word of God” describe different aspects of one thing — being regenerated in Christ. Being “born again” (or “from above”) in “water and the Spirit” refers to the external act of receiving baptism, while being “born anew” refers to the internal reception in faith of the Gospel (being “born anew” through “the living and abiding word of God”).

Moreover, baptism involves a proclamation of the Word, which is part of what constitutes it (i.e., “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”). To accept baptism is to accept the Word of God. There is no need, then, to see the operation of the Word of God in regeneration as something opposed to or separated from baptism.

Some Fundamentalists also object that being “born again” through baptismal regeneration contradicts the Pauline doctrine of justification by grace through faith. Implicit here is the idea that Christian baptism is a mere “human work” done to earn favor before God. In fact, Christian baptism is something that is done to one (one is baptized — passive), not something one does for oneself. The one who baptizes, according to the Bible, is Jesus Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 1:33). It makes no more sense to oppose baptism and faith in Christ to one another as means of regeneration than it does to oppose faith in Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit to one another. There is no either/or here; it is both/and.

The Catholic view of being "born again"

Following the New Testament use of the term, the Catholic Church links regeneration or being “born again” in the life of the Spirit to the sacrament of baptism (CCC, nos. 1215,1265-1266). Baptism is not a mere human “work” one does to “earn” regeneration and divine sonship; it is the work of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, which, by grace, washes away sin and makes us children of God. It is central to the Catholic understanding of justification by grace. For justification is, as the Council of Trent taught, “a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ” (Session 6, chapter 4). Baptism is an instrumental means by which God graciously justifies — that is, regenerates — sinners through faith in Jesus Christ and makes them children of God.

Catholic teaching is not opposed to a “religious experience” of conversion accompanying baptism (of adults) — far from it. But such an “experience” is not required. What is required for baptism to be fruitful (for an adult) is repentance from sin and faith in Christ, of which baptism is the sacrament (CCC, no. 1253). These are grace-enabled acts of the will that are not necessarily accompanied by feelings of being “born again.” Regeneration rests on the divinely established fact of incorporation and regeneration in Christ, not on feelings one way or the other.

This point can be driven home to Evangelicals by drawing on a point they often emphasize in a related context. Evangelicals often say that the act of having accepted Christ as “personal Savior and Lord” is the important thing, not whether feelings accompany that act. It is, they say, faith that matters, not feelings. Believe by faith that Christ is the Savior and the appropriate feelings, they say, will eventually follow. But even if they do not, what counts is the fact of having taken Christ as Savior.

Catholics can say something similar regarding baptism. The man who is baptized may not “feel” any different after baptism than before. But once he is baptized, he has received the Holy Spirit in a special way. He has been regenerated and made a child of God through the divine sonship of Jesus Christ in which he shares. He has been buried with Christ and raised to new life with Him. He has objectively and publicly identified himself with Jesus' death and resurrection. If the newly baptized man meditates on these things, he may or may not “feel” them, in the sense of some subjective religious experience. Nevertheless, he will believe them to be true by faith. And he will have the benefits of baptism into Christ nonetheless.

A "born again" Christian?

When Fundamentalists call themselves “born again Christians,” they want to stress an experience of having entered into a genuine spiritual relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord, in contradistinction to unbelief or a mere nominal Christianity. As we have seen, though, the term “born again” and its parallel terms “new birth” and “regeneration” are used by Jesus and the New Testament writers to refer to the forgiveness of sins and inner renewal of the Holy Spirit signified and brought about by Christ through baptism.

How, then, should a Catholic answer the question, “Have you been born again?” An accurate answer would be, “Yes, I was born again in baptism.” Yet leaving it at that may generate even more confusion. Most Fundamentalists would probably understand the Catholic to mean, “I'm going to heaven simply because I'm baptized.” In other words, the Fundamentalist would think the Catholic is “trusting in his baptism” rather than Christ, whereas the informed Catholic knows it means trusting in Christ with whom he is united in baptism.

The Catholic, then, should do more than simply point to his baptism; he should discuss his living faith, trust and love of Christ; his desire to grow in sanctity and conformity to Christ; and his total dependence on Christ for salvation. These are integral to the new life of the Holy Spirit that baptism bestows. When the Fundamentalist sees the link between baptism and the Holy Spirit in the life of his Catholic neighbor, he may begin to see that St. Paul was more than figurative when he wrote, “You were buried with Christ in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12).

This article is written by Mark Brumley. He is the President of Ignatius Press. A former staff apologist with Catholic Answers, Mark is the author of How Not To Share Your Faith (Catholic Answers) and contributor to The Five Issues That Matter Most. He is a regular contributor to the InsightScoop web log.

Source: Catholic Education Resource Centre

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

World Youth Day 2011 Madrid

WYD 2011 Madrid 16th - 21st August Official Website

The official numbers for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid have been released. Around 2 million people participated in the event, ranking Madrid as the third most attended World Youth Day. The events with the most people were in Manila, in the Philipines in 1995 and Rome in 2000.

This year there were 193 nations represented. The countries with the most particpants were Italy, Spain, and France.

Church organizers say the event cost around 50 million euros, close to 72 million dollars. This came from the registration fee paid by the participants as well as donations from corporate sponsors.

To help with crowd control, over 18,000 police and civil servants were present. As well as 30,000 volunteers, placed throughout the city, who were handing out bottles of water.

Also 14,000 priests and 800 bishops concelebrated the closing Mass with Benedict XVI in the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome. This was the size of 48 soccer fields.

The event also accredited more than 5,000 journalists from around the world to cover the twenty-sixth World Youth Day, the third such event presided over by Benedict XVI.

Source: Rome Reports

According to the organizing committee of World Youth Day in Madrid, 50 million euros were spent in organizing the event. This is around 72 million dollars. Seventy percent was funded by the pilgrims themselves and the other thirty percent by the sponsoring companies. The budget was approximately 20% lower than the last World Youth Day in Sydney.

The two million pilgrims that came to Madrid gave a boost to the city's economy of 230 million dollars according to estimates by the Confederation of Employers of Madrid.

In dining costs alone, around 32 million was spent according to Juan José Blardony, the director general of Madrid's hospitality association.

Hotels reported an occupancy level of 70%, which is usually around 40% in August.

The City Council estimates the event brought the Spanish capital 2% of country's revenue for the entire year.

The money generated from World Youth Day was three times larger than that brought by the Champions League final in 2010, which was around 70 million dollars.

The organizers of World Youth Day originally believed the event would only bring in 140 million dollars, much lower than the 230 million they now calculate. These numbers will now be checked again my an external auditor to give the final numbers.

Source: Rome Reports

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Friday, August 19, 2011

The Third Crusade: Saladin & Richard The Lionheart

The 3rd Crusade (1189–1192), also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin (Salāh ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb). It was partially successful, but fell short of its ultimate goal—the reconquest of Jerusalem.

This crusade is led by the English contingent under the command of King Richard Lionheart against Saladin (Salāh ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb). It was partially successful, but fell short of its ultimate goal—the reconquest of Jerusalem.

Watch this documentary:

Related posts:

The Crusades: Crescent and the Cross (a video documentary)

The Crusades

The Real History Of The Crusades

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Healing Touch Of God

One of the charisms which the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has restored to the Church is the healing ministry. Just as Jesus healed the sick in his own day as a sign of the breaking in of the kingdom of God into our broken world and a sign that one day there would be no more sick or suffering, so Jesus continues his work through the body of Christ and his presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

Michael Davidson tells how he was healed through Jesus in the Blesssed Sacrament at his local prayer group in Basingstoke

I had a trapped sciatic nerve and was in agony. The waiting list for a hospital physiotherapist was 16 weeks and I couldn’t wait that long so I went to see an osteopath privately. His gentle manipulations helped a lot and I began to limp less, but the night time pains disturbed my sleep as much as ever. I still shrieked so loudly when I moved that I was afraid that I would wake the children.

Eventually after several weeks’ treatment I decided to ask for prayer for healing from the group at the convent where I attend on Friday evenings. Strange how we tend to delay turning to the Lord for the ministrations of his gifts, but instead rely solely on medical people! We knelt in the chapel before the exposed Blessed Sacrament. A couple of people laid hands on me and prayed for healing through the goodness and power of the Holy Spirit. That night I slept through the night for the first time since my back trouble had started!

When I told the osteopath about the prayer, he wasn’t surprised as he was a Christian too. “Most of the problems I see have spiritual and emotional elements and are not just physical,” he remarked. I didn’t mind how he explained it. All I knew was that I had got a lot better. I now had pins and needles in my foot, however. The osteopath explained that I had a damaged nerve and it would take many weeks, maybe months to mend properly.

Two days later, however, it was the regular special first Friday Mass in honour of the Sacred Heart, followed by prayer for healing in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Our priest Fr Joe, put the monstrance on the altar, we sang a few hymns, listened to a couple of meditations and had a time of silent adoration. Then we all queued up for a blessing, which Fr Joe gave by holding up a consecrated host in front of each person. As he did this, he said, “In this way the living Jesus is present “standing there” before your eyes.”

As he did this, I felt inspired to say inwardly, “My heart is Yours”. It reminded me of the last line of the carol, “In the bleak midwinter” when it says, “What can I give Him? Give my heart.” Well, in the Eucharist He gives us His heart, His Sacred Heart. So I gave Him mine.

Afterwards I realised I could feel my toes again, no pins and needles, no numbness, no pain, not the slightest discomfort. We have heard of other greater healings. But this was fantastic for me. I was healed suddenly, immediately, completely and permanently!

I realise that I was very privileged to receive this supernatural cure, but it did not happen because I am in anyway special. Healing and all kinds of blessings great and small for daily life are freely available to anyone, anywhere who turns to Jesus. He has promised it. His power is just the same here in Basingstoke as when He walked the roads of the Holy Land 2000 years ago, except today He is only visible through the sacraments and the power of the Holy Spirit working through each Christian.


Angela Jordan tells how she was healed this year at the New Dawn Conference of a painful skin complaint, and received an inner healing too.

I went to the New Dawn Conference looking for answers from the Lord to practical difficulties I’d struggled with for two years. When I was prayed with, my cupped hands filled with tears. At the healing service, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed but I remember thinking that, unlike in previous years, I felt no joy. Suddenly the Lord gave me and three other people the gift of laughter and we laughed uncontrollably for about 20 minutes. Then the Lord told the priest leading the evening of healings that were taking place. These included a lady near me whose arthritis of the feet was healed. He also spoke of cancers, skin complaints and deafness.

I went happily to bed. My finger was bandaged up because of eczema which had been bleeding so badly that I was worried about getting blood on the sheets. I intended to change the dressing and cream it but I remembered that it had been one of the ailments the Lord had healed. I know that healing can take time to become visible and that you have to claim the Lord’s promises, so I told the Lord that I claimed the healing. I felt a bit selfish, thinking there must have been people there with worse skin complaints than one finger’s worth, but I reasoned that the Lord could heal them too. I left the dressing on because my finger was particularly sore that night.

In the middle of the night, I woke up giggling and staggered about from side to side as if I were on board ship. In the morning, when I removed the dressing, I saw that the two slits in my finger and the knuckle, which was split across, were full of dried blood. I thanked the Lord that it had stopped bleeding and left the dressing off. By the time I arrived at the conference an hour later, every trace of splits in the skin had gone. No scars, or white lines, nothing. I told the healing team and gave witness to the conference.

I was delighted that the eczema had gone because, through that, the Lord reassured me that He does care about my concerns and really can do anything, including sort out my impossible situation. Later, in the loo, I met the old lady who had arthritis in her feet. I asked her how her feet were. She said she wasn’t sure, but I noticed that, before, she had been bent right over, and now she was standing up straight. I told her and she looked in the mirror, astonished. “So I am. Ooh, my daughter will be pleased!”

Towards the end of the conference, the Lord led me to various people through whom He released me from the spiritual and emotional effects of my heavy burden. The practical problems remained but the spiritual chains that had bound me were broken and, in a prophecy given moments before I left, the Lord showed me the way forward.
Thanks be to God!


Cath Lennon from Birmingham was healed of a severe chronic back condition at the London Day of Renewal at the Friends Meeting House in June this year. Below she tells her story.

My back went in 1996 and I was off work for several months. I have had a weakness with it ever since and as time went on it got worse and worse and I was taking more and more pain killers till I ended up on the maximum I could take a day. But nothing helped and I got stiffer and stiffer in my lower back. It got so bad that I couldn’t walk for more than 7 minutes without sitting down and my life was very restricted. I couldn’t stand for long periods, I found it hard to sit, and things like going shopping which I loved and other simple things, I couldn’t do.

Finally I went to see a consultant at the end of 2005 and he recommended an operation because he found I had a restriction on the spinal column and the nerve endings were bouncing off each other. Unfortunately for a number of reasons it didn’t work and I got worse. As a result I had to be redeployed in my work at the hospital where I worked as a domestic and I also had problems in my other job as a play worker. I was offered the chance of another operation, but I just felt I couldn’t go through it all again.

At the same time I didn’t want to become bitter and twisted, which, when you are in constant pain, can sometimes happen, as it can really affect your spirits. So I just kept praying and crying out to the Lord. “You are a God of mercy,” I told him. “I refuse to believe that you are not going to heal me. I know you can heal me. When are you going to do it?”

Then in June this year I went to the London Day of Renewal. At the end of the day we were all called forward as the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament was deployed. I was just singing and praising God at the top of my voice. I looked down and I noticed that my hands were shaking. I realised that God had changed something in my spirit and I felt different inside. It was only a few days later that I suddenly realised that the pain wasn’t there anymore and that I was standing for longer periods of time. At first I thought I was just having another good day, but eventually it dawned on me that this was not just a good day, but it was a permanent thing. The healing is still to some extent ongoing and I still do get the occasional twinge and stiffness but the difference in my quality of life now and before is amazing. I know God has worked a miracle in my life and healed my back and I just can’t thank and praise him enough.

Source: God New Magazine

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The True Beauty Of The Liturgy

It was expected that Pope Benedict XVI would be a pope of liturgical reform, and he has not disappointed. Catholic conservatives eagerly awaited these reforms, anticipating a return to the “glory days” of pre-Vatican II Catholicism. At the same time, some progressive-leaning Catholics saw liturgical reform as a distraction from the many social and cultural problems the Church faces today. But the message that the Holy Father continues to promote is that his pontificate is not about isolating anyone or returning to the past. It has nothing to do with politics, about “taking the Mass back to the Latin of the more rigid and remote Tridentine tradition,” as Tim Padgett wrote in Time, and has everything to do with the truth of worship and the human person.

The Third Edition of the Roman Missal, set to be implemented November 27, will seek to renew the meaning of the liturgy and to remind the Church of who she is and what her role will be in the third millennium.

Throughout scripture, a change of name signified a new identity. A significant role or responsibility was being assigned. Abram became Abraham when the Lord promised to make him the “father of a host of nations.” After contending with a divine being, Jacob was given the new name Israel. And, of course, Jesus designated Simon as Cephas (Peter) upon their first encounter, later entrusting him with the keys to the kingdom of heaven. In each instance, a subtle change of just one word signifies a deeper change in identity, while also calling for a change of heart.

How fitting that, 2,000 years later, the successor of that very same Peter seeks to transform in a similar way the manner in which the Roman Catholic Church worships.

With seemingly small changes in diction, Benedict reminds the Church not only of its role in the modern world but also of the role liturgy plays in the Church’s own ministerial outreach.

Many critics of the new missal claim it imprudent of the Holy Father to focus time and energy on something as menial as a few word changes. As Padgett wrote, “It’s sad when Rome’s cassocked scholars subordinate their intellectual gifts to church expediency.” But what Benedict attempts to underscore with the new missal — and, in a larger sense, with his entire pontificate — is that the Church cannot step into the world as missionary until it understands its essence as being the presence of Christ in the world, and understands liturgy as the foundation of its identity and its first and most potent source of Christ.

According to Benedict’s Light of the World, the Eucharist is “the most intimate heart of the Church…. It is not just another social ritual where people meet in an amicable way; rather, it is the expression of being in the center of the Church.” And if the Eucharist truly is the heart of the Church and its “entire expression of being,” then this means that the source of life for the Church is none other than Christ Himself. No missionary apostolate can be undertaken unless the Church recognizes this and roots itself in the Eucharist.

If the liturgy is “the place where the Church is actually experienced most of all,” then the emphasis the Holy Father places on it is both prudent and necessary, since it is meant to be not only the inspiration and life source of all missionary activity but also the primary and most pure ministry. If we truly understand lex orandi, lex credendi, then lex vivendi must follow. The way we worship should reflect what we believe about the human person and his creator. Liturgy, then, invites us into an intimate moment with He who gave us everything, and consequently sends us forth to carry Him into the world as His disciples.

That is why Benedict’s reforms of the Roman Catholic liturgy could have an impact that reaches far beyond the Catholic Church. The Church is described in Light of the World as “giving expression to God’s message, which raises man to his highest dignity, goodness, and beauty.” This is and always has been the mission of the Church — to transform and to elevate man by creating a culture that fosters human flourishing. With his attention to liturgy, Benedict reminds us of the truth of our existence: that we are pilgrims on this earth, and we were created to live for more than the temporal.

The true beauty of liturgy is that it raises our eyes and our hearts toward Heaven, reminding us of the eschaton, the day when we pass from the temporal into the eternal. The Church exists to transform the world, to prepare it for the coming of Christ’s kingdom. Because liturgy is the primary place where this transformation occurs, Benedict is right to put it at the top of his agenda. If what we pray is what we believe, then the way we pray will determine the way we will live.

Source: Crisis Magazine

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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Monastery

The Monastery is a BBC documentary following five laymen on a spiritual journey in a Benedictine monastery to discover if the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition has anything to offer a new generation.

Although from very different backgrounds, all five participants share a desire to see if life holds any greater meaning. They will be expected to abide by the monastery’s rules, with a strict timetable of instruction, study, prayer, reflection and routine work duties.

The Monastery, filmed at Worth Abbey in West Sussex, follows them on their remarkable journey to see if the lessons learnt have the power to transform their everyday lives.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Related post: The Monastery Revisited (the sequel video documentary of this documentary)

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Comparing Christianity & Hinduism

Kreeft outlines the main theological and practical differences, as well as the important common elements, between Christianity and Hinduism.

There are two basic kinds of religions in the world: Eastern and Western.

The main differences between Hinduism and Christianity are typical of the differences between Eastern and Western religions in general. Here are some examples:

Hinduism is pantheistic, not theistic. The doctrine that God created the world out of nothing rather than emanating it out of His own substance or merely shaping some pre-existing material is an idea that simply never occurred to anyone but the Jews and those who learned it from them. Everyone else either thought of the gods as part of the world (paganism) or the world as part of God (pantheism).

If God is in everything, God is in both good and evil. But then there is no absolute morality, no divine law, no divine will discriminating good and evil. In Hinduism, morality is practical; its end is to purify the soul from desires so that it can attain mystical consciousness. Again, the Jews are unique in identifying the source of morality with the object of religion. Everyone has two innate senses: the religious sense to worship, and the moral sense of conscience; but only the Jewish God is the focus of both. Only the God of the Bible is absolutely righteous.

Eastern religions come from private mystical experiences; Western religions come from public revelations recorded in a book and summarized in a creed. In the East, human experience validates the Scriptures; in the West, Scripture judges experience.

Eastern religions are esoteric, understandable only from within by the few who share the experience. Western religions are exoteric, public, democratic, open to all. In Hinduism there are many levels of truth: polytheism, sacred cows and reincarnation for the masses; monotheism (or monism) for the mystics, who declare the individual soul one with Brahman (God) and beyond reincarnation (“Brahman is the only reincarnator”). Truth is relative to the level of experience.

Individuality is illusion according to Eastern mysticism. Not that we're not real, but that we are not distinct from God or each other. Christianity tells you to love your neighbors; Hinduism tells you you are your neighbors. The word spoken by God Himself as His own essential name, the word “I,” is the ultimate illusion, not the ultimate reality, according to the East. There Is no separate ego. All is one.

Since individuality is illusion, so is free will. If free will is illusion, so is sin. And if sin is illusion, so is hell. Perhaps the strongest attraction of Eastern religions is in their denial of sin, guilt and hell.

Thus the two essential points of Christianity — sin and salvation — are both missing in the East. If there is no sin, no salvation is needed, only enlightenment. We need not be born again; rather, we must merely wake up to our innate divinity. If I am part of God. I can never really be alienated from God by sin.

Body, matter, history and time itself are not independently real, according to Hinduism. Mystical experience lifts the spirit out of time and the world. In contrast, Judaism and Christianity are essentially news, events in time: creation, providence, prophets, Messiah, incarnation, death and, resurrection, ascension, second coming. Incarnation and New Birth are eternity dramatically entering time. Eastern religions are not dramatic.

The ultimate Hindu ideal is not sanctity but mysticism. Sanctity is fundamentally a matter of the will: willing God's will, loving God and neighbor. Mysticism is fundamentally a matter of intellect, intuition, consciousness. This fits the Eastern picture of God as consciousness — not will, not lawgiver.

When C.S. Lewis was converted from atheism, he shopped around in the world's religious supermarket and narrowed his choice down to Hinduism or Christianity. Religions are like soups, he said. Some, like consomme, are thin and clear (Unitarianism, Confucianism, modern Judaism); others, like minestrone, are thick and dark (paganism, “mystery religions”). Only Hinduism and Christianity are both “thin” (philosophical) and “thick” (sacramental and mysterious). But Hinduism is really two religions: “thick” for the masses, “thin” for the sages. Only Christianity is both.

Hinduism claims that all other religions are yogas: ways, deeds, paths. Christianity is a form of bhakti yoga (yoga for emotional types and lovers). There is also jnana yoga (yoga for intellectuals), raja yoga (yoga for experimenters), karma yoga (yoga for workers, practical people) and hatha yoga (the physical preliminary to the other four). For Hindus, religions are human roads up the divine mountain to enlightenment — religion is relative to human need; there is no “one way” or single objective truth.

There is, however, a universal subjective truth about human nature: It has “four wants”: pleasure, power, altruism and enlightenment. Hinduism encourages us to try all four paths, confident that only the fourth brings fulfillment. If there is reincarnation and if there is no hell, Hindus can afford to be patient and to learn the long, hard way: by experience rather than by faith and revelation.

Hindus are hard to dialogue with for the opposite reason Moslems are: Moslems are very intolerant, Hindus are very tolerant. Nothing is false; everything is true in a way.

The summit of Hinduism is the mystical experience, called mukti, or moksha: “liberation” from the illusion of finitude, realization that tat tvam asi, “thou art That (Brahman].” At the center of your being is not individual ego but Atman, universal self which is identical with Brahman, the All.

This sounds like the most absurd and blasphemous thing one could say: that I am God. But it is not that I, John Smith, am God the Father Almighty. Atman is not ego and Brahman is not God the Father. Hinduism identifies not the immanent human self with the transcendent divine self but the transcendent human self with the immanent divine self. It is not Christianity. But neither is it idiocy.

Martin Buber, in “I and Thou,” suggests that Hindu mysticism is the profound experience of the “original pre-biographical unity” of the self, beneath all forms and contents brought to it by experience, but confused with God. Even Aristotle said that “the soul is, in a way, all things.” Hinduism construes this “way” as identity, or inclusion, rather than knowing: being all things substantially rather than mentally. The soul is a mirror for the whole world.

Source: Catholic Education Resource Centre

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Orthodox And Catholics: Similarities And Differences

The differences between the Catholic and Orthodox churches are both doctrinal and non-doctrinal, the latter including traditions that, of themselves, constitute no barrier to unity. The fundamental doctrinal difference is that the Orthodox Church — which includes geographically distinct churches such as the Greek and the Russian — does not acknowledge the pope as the head of the church. While the Orthodox Church is hierarchical in nature, it has no one bishop with authority over the other bishops, as in the case of the pope.

The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople is regarded as first among equals. Nearly as significant is how the Orthodox and Catholic churches understand the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. While this difference may not strike us today as particularly important, historically it carries considerable weight. The Orthodox declare that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father, while Catholicism insists that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

The only other Catholic doctrine that Eastern Orthodoxy does not accept is belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Catholics believe that Mary was full of grace, or without sin, from the moment she was conceived in her mother’s womb, while the Orthodox believe that she became so only after she accepted God’s invitation to become the mother of his Son. Both churches believe in the real presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist.

While this may not be as rigidly interpreted as it once was, Catholicism tends to believe that the real presence occurs when the priest recites the prayer of consecration. The Orthodox, on the other hand, say that the eucharistic prayer in its entirety brings this about, and we can only be certain of the real presence when the people sing the “Great Amen.” Of the non-doctrinal differences between Catholics and Orthodox, the most evident one is that Orthodox priests are allowed to marry.

Catholic priests, with few exceptions — such as the ordination of a married former Protestant minister as a Catholic priest — must embrace the discipline of celibacy. This non-doctrinal tradition is accentuated by the fact that priests in Eastern Catholic churches, such as the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which are in union with Rome, also may marry. Another non-doctrinal difference between the Orthodox and Catholicism is in the two churches’ approaches to liturgy.

Any Catholic who has ever attended an Orthodox liturgy knows how different the eucharistic liturgies are in the two churches, the Orthodox liturgy being far more elaborate. Some other non-doctrinal differences: — Orthodox churches are basically independent of one another by country, while Catholic unity transcends national boundaries. — The Orthodox allow laity more decisionmaking power when it comes to choosing pastors and bishops. — An Orthodox bishop leads a diocese in conjunction with a synod, which includes laity, while a Catholic bishop has a council of priests, which has an advisory role only.

Theologically, the Orthodox reject what Catholic theologians sometimes refer to as the development of doctrine. This means that for Catholicism, the church’s understanding of revealed truth can deepen, develop or “unfold” with history, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary being one example.

Orthodox theologians maintain that Catholicism has distorted the original Christian faith by adding to it. One of the most important similarities is that both churches have a valid claim on apostolic succession. Both churches have the same seven sacraments, although terminology may vary. — By Mitch Finley

Source: Herald Malaysia

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Jaime's Testimony

Healed of Bipolar disorder, here's Jaime's testimony of how when God says he heals, he heals!

If you need assistance in wanting to learn more about Jesus Christ visit this page or contact a group in your area listed in this worldwide directory.

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Cloistered Convent In Rome: Where To Get Relics

In Via in Selci, number 82, you can find this venerable old convent, the Monasterium S. Luciae in Silice. These are the Rome sisters who are in charge of relics.

If you have a letter from a prelate, addressed to the Vicariate of Rome and asking for a specific relic (only to be used for public veneration and not to be horded by lay relic collectors), then you can receive just about any saint relic from here.

Source: Orbis Catholicus Secundus

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Can We Be Good Without God ?

Now the question “Can we be good without God?” may be taken in two different ways. One way focuses on knowledge, the other on action; one takes the question as meaning “Can we ‘know’ what’s good without ‘knowing’ God?”, the other takes it as meaning “Can we ‘do’ what’s good without ‘following’ God?” Let’s consider both.

I’ve been asked to speak today on the question, “Can we be good without God?” To answer, I’m tempted to tell you my own story. Years ago when I rejected God, I also rejected the distinction between good and evil. Then again, I was an extreme case. Someone who asks “Can we be good without God?” isn’t trying to be extreme; he’s looking for a halfway house. So instead of telling you my story, I’ll try to lay out the logic of the matter.

Now the question “Can we be good without God?” may be taken in two different ways. One way focuses on knowledge, the other on action; one takes the question as meaning “Can we ‘know’ what’s good without ‘knowing’ God?”, the other takes it as meaning “Can we ‘do’ what’s good without ‘following’ God?” Let’s consider both.

Can We Know What’s Good?

As to the first — whether we can know what’s good without knowing God — you may think I’m going to say that unless we study the Bible we can’t know anything at all about right or wrong. I’m not, for the Bible itself makes the opposite claim: it says God has written a law on the hearts of all. Everyone has a conscience, and although the outer ring of our conscience may be influenced by culture, the inner core is universal and unchanging.

For instance there isn’t a human being alive who doesn’t know the good and right of love, and there isn’t a human being alive who doesn’t know the evil and wrong of murder. In the Biblical view, if we are confused about such things as sex, selfishness, abortion and euthanasia, the problem isn’t so much that we don’t know about right and wrong, but that we “suppress what we do” know about them. For we can’t not know the basic outlines of right and wrong.

Perhaps you think, then, that the answer to the question “Can we know good without knowing God?” is “Sure. Didn’t you just say we can?” Not so fast. I’ve said we all “know” something — but I’ve also said we “suppress” that knowledge. Let’s dig a little more deeply into this business of suppressing what we really know.

To begin, let’s ask why we do it. Why do we lie to ourselves about what’s right and wrong? We do it for the simple reason that we have a vested interest in doing so. We may want to know the truth, but the desire to know is not the only desire at work in us. The strong desire “not” to know competes with it, for our knowledge of right and wrong is an inconvenience to us. So we moan about how difficult it is to know what’s right even when we know perfectly well what’s right.

Now I propose to you that one of the things about good that we know perfectly well is the reality and goodness of God. When the Bible says, “The fool says in his heart ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1), it doesn’t call him a fool for “thinking” it, but for “saying” it, even though deep down he knows it isn’t true. From the Biblical point of view, the reason it’s so difficult to argue with an atheist — as I once was — is that he’s not being honest with himself. He knows that there is a God; he only tells himself he doesn’t know.

If this Biblical view is true — you are perfectly within your rights to challenge it, and we can take up such matters in the question-and-answer period — but if this daring, preposterous, Biblical view is true, as I think it is, it changes everything. Why? Because that would show that the real meaning of the question “Can I know good without knowing God?” is “Can I admit one part of my moral knowledge while holding down another?”, or “Can I admit to myself that I know about, say, the goodness of love and the evil of murder, while ‘not’ admitting to myself that I know about the goodness of God and the evil of refusing Him?”

My answer is you certainly can do that, but you will never do it well. To hold down part of your moral knowledge is to lie to yourself. So what? Think. We all know from experience that one lie leads to another. If you tell a big enough lie about something, pretty soon you have to tell a second one about something else just to cover it up. After a while you may find yourself lying about lots of things, and then you start losing track of when you’re lying and when you’re not. Before long you can’t tell at all any more. You’re lost in a maze of your making, unable to see the difference between how things are and how you said they are.

Now the same thing is true when you lie to yourself. Here too one lie leads to another. This is especially true with the biggest self-deception of all, when you lie to yourself about God, because that knowledge is connected to the knowledge of everything else. Let me illustrate with something I mentioned earlier — the knowledge of the good of love and the wrong of murder. You may try to hold onto your knowledge of the good of love — but if you lie to yourself about the God whose very being is love, then your understanding of all love will be defective. That’s why we do such awful things in love’s name. Or you may try to hold onto your knowledge of the evil of murdering your neighbor — but if you lie to yourself about the God in whose image your neighbor is made, then you will find it difficult to recognize your neighbor when you see him. That’s why we do such terrible things to those who have the greatest claim on our protection.

Can We Do What’s Good?

I said at the beginning that the question “Can we be good without God?” may be taken in two different ways. We’ve just considered the first way. Can we “know” what’s good without “knowing” God? What we’ve seen is that in a superficial way the answer is “Yes,” but in a deeper the answer is “No.” Now let’s consider the second way. Can we “do” what’s good without “following” God? The answer this time is the same as before: Yes and no, but mostly no.

The “Yes” side is that as everyone knows, a person who doesn’t follow God can sometimes do the right thing. He can sometimes tell the truth, he can sometimes show compassion, he can sometimes set aside his own interests for someone else. The problem is that this isn’t enough. God is absolutely holy. We’re not. When Moses asked to see God face to face, God said no, because it would kill him. When the great prophet Isaiah caught just a glimpse of the glory of God, He said “Woe is me! I am undone.” When the glory of God filled the ancient temple, strong men fell down. These were what we call good people, but as St. Paul says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Once one of my students asked if he could talk about God with me. I said okay. He told me he didn’t see why he couldn’t be good without God. I asked him why he didn’t. He said, “Because I think I’m a decent person.” I replied, “If you think your decency is high enough for God, your idea of God must be pretty low.” At first he was shocked. But then I asked him whether he thought he could go a week without selfishness, without resentment, without lust. I asked whether he thought he could go a day, an hour, ten minutes. He got the point, because he knew he couldn’t. By myself, neither can I.

You see, trying to do without God has ruined us inwardly. Yes, by His mercy, there are still some good things in us, but not one of those good things is in its original healthy state. Not only are we broken, but we can’t repair ourselves. Could you perform surgery on your own eyes, or treat yourself for madness? Suppose you tore off both arms; without your hands, could you sew them back on? Our sin-sickness is something like that. We may long to love purely, but our desires have become idols that control us. We may long to be holy, but our righteousness has become self-righteousness that rules us. We may long to be reconciled with God, but we can’t stop wanting to be the center of the universe ourselves.

Because the law of right and wrong is written on the heart of all, many philosophies and religions teach about right and wrong with pretty fair accuracy. What they can’t do is heal the sin-sickness. However true, no mere doctrine can do that. Our cancer requires more than a doctrine. What it requires is the divine surgeon, God Himself, and the name of His surgery is Jesus Christ.

This article was written by J. Budziszewski (Boojee-shefski). He earned his doctorate from Yale University in 1981. He teaches at the University of Texas in Austin, in the Departments of Government and Philosophy where he specializes in the relations among ethical theory, political theory, and Christian theology. The focus of his current research is natural law and moral self deception. J. Budziszewski is a former atheist, former political radical, former shipyard welder, and former lots of other things, including former young and former thin. He's been married for more than thirty years to his high school sweetheart, Sandra, and has two daughters. He loves teaching. He says he also loves contemporary music, but it turns out that he means "the contemporaries of Johann Sebastian Bach." He deserted his faith during college but returned to Christ a dozen years later and entered the Catholic Church at Easter 2004. Among a number of other books, he is the author of How to Stay Christian in College, What We Can't Not Know: A Guide, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man, and Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law. J. Budziszewski is on the advisory board of the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.

Source: Catholic Education Resource Centre

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Priceless Religious Relic Found In Tenn. Trailer

One of only a handful of paintings based on the cloth used to wipe Jesus' face before his crucifixion was found in a closet in a Tenn. mobile home.

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The Crusades: Crescent and the Cross

The Crusades were expeditions undertaken, in fulfilment of a solemn vow, to deliver the of restoring Christian control Christian Holy places from Mohammedan tyranny.

The origin of the word may be traced to the cross made of cloth and worn as a badge on the outer garment of those who took part in these enterprises. Medieval writers use the terms crux.

The crusaders came from all over western Europe. The main series of Crusades occurred between 1095 and 1291.

Watch this documentary:

Part 1

Part 2

Related posts:

The Third Crusade: Saladin & Richard The Lionheart (a video documentary)

The Crusades

The Real History Of The Crusades

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Catholic Priest Today

The Catholic Priest Today: A Man of Faith A Man of Tradition, and A Man of God is a documentary produced in response to recent questions and doubts about the Catholic priesthood today. The film was produced by Midwest Theological Forum and is being promoted by the St. Josemaria Institute.

Learn more and order the full-length documentary: www.thecatholicpriesttoday.com

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Inspired To Do “The Way”

Shaun Growney passes on advice for those wanting to do the Camino

In December 2007 I went on an Advent Retreat in Pantasaph in North Wales led by Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham. In the course of the weekend, he told us that he had made the pilgrimage from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela (El Camino or The Way) that summer. It was a journey of some 30 days and as he was then a sprightly man of about 67, I, at only 63 was inspired to do the same.

The idea came back to me when, 2 months ago, I went to see a preview of the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez. It was wonderful – great filming and a story that lifts the spirit beautifully. And of course, all my 4 year old enthusiasm returned immediately. I thought – I really must do it. So I started finding out what I would need to do to make it happen – how to get there, how to get back, what I would need to bring. Would I need to book accommodation? What would it cost? How arduous would it be? And so on....

Books and Guides about the Way

I began by looking at the web-site of the movie itself – www.theway-themovie.com/ . It’s well worth exploring this site to find out more about the making of the film, but it also has a long list of very useful links, one of which led me to www.caminodesantiago.me.uk/ . From this site I followed links to a bookshop selling a number of guides and maps and so I treated myself to one of them – Camino de Santiago – Maps by John Brierley (£9.99 from www.deep-books.co.uk/ ). This little pocket size volume is brilliant giving details of everything you would want to know in the form of an itinerary for each stage of the way, including heights to climb or descend, street maps of towns and villages and choices of accommodation at the end of each stage.

Different routes

From this I learned that there are actually a number of different “ways” starting in various parts of France and Spain, but the most popular and the one detailed in the book (and in the film) is the Camino Francés. This starts in France at Saint Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenées and takes the pilgrim into Spain across the mountains and thence to Pamplona (where Bishop Edwin had started from). If you choose to start from Saint Jean de Port there are 33 one day stages each covering some 20 - 30 km each (average about 24km per day) with a further 3 stages if you want to walk beyond Santiago all the way to the sea at Finisterre (literally – the end of the earth).

Having looked at the map, it would seem sensible to miss at least the first stage of the journey unless you are an experienced mountaineer as St Jean Pied de Port is at an altitude of 170 m and you have to climb up to 1280 m. (4160 feet - more than the hike up Snowdon!)

Where do I start from and where do I stay?

Obviously, if you can’t afford 30+ days off to do the walk, or if you think the whole journey would be too much for you, you can always start from a point further still along the route. To qualify for the Compostela certificate you have to walk at least 100km, which means starting from Sarria or before. For example, Peter Moran from the SION Community did The Way in 2009 starting from Burgos which is a mere 508 km (316 miles) from Santiago. He flew Ryan Air from Stanstead to Valladolid, and then got a lift to Burgos with friends who lived in the neighbourhood (but you can get there by bus as well). He then took just over 3 weeks to make his way to Santiago. This works out at 18 to 24 km (11 to 15 miles) per day.

Peter’s plan was to walk about 5 or 6 hours each day with a view to arriving at his overnight stop early in the afternoon. This gave him time to find a bed for the night and to look around for places to go to Mass or Adoration and to eat. Most of the time he stayed in “Refugios” which are quite basic hostels with shared dormitory accommodation at around 7 Euros per night. So ear plugs are recommended to deaden the sound of snoring and other nocturnal noises from fellow pilgrims. You cannot book a bed in these places in advance which is why Peter chose to arrive early - to ensure getting a place. If you prefer a little more luxury, there are many 2 star and 3 star B&B style hotels on the way and Peter did use these occasionally when he needed to rest and take care of his feet.

When you begin the walk you get a pilgrim passport, which is stamped at each place where you stay for the night. At the end of your journey you present this document to prove you have done the walk and your name is then officially recorded in the book of pilgrims and you are given a hadwritten certificate as a souvenir.

What are the travel choices and costs?

Another link from the camino website brings you to www.newex.co.uk/Spain where you can find out about package holiday options or get some clues about organising a DIY pilgrimage. For example, one entry from the web-site is as follows: “If starting in Pamplona, the nearest airport is Zaragoza and travel time from the city centre to Pamplona by direct bus is 2 hours. Almost equidistant is Bilbao. Travel from the city to Pamplona with a change in San Sebastian, is about 2 ½ hours in total. Santander is an option – slightly further away, but long distance buses are limited and require a change taking 4 hours to Pamplona. All three arrival airports have a limited service from London, however Madrid is well served from airports throughout the UK and an excellent long distance bus service operates to all major cities taking 4 ½ hours with one change en route. “

The web-site offers package holidays ranging from £654 (for 7 nights + 2 star hotels) to over £2000 (for 30 nights + 3 star hotels). There are the usual supplements for singles and if you want your heavy luggage taken ahead for you each day, this would cost up to £340 per bag. DIY pilgrimages should be a lot cheaper. If you want to go by train instead of flying (I love long train journeys), you can get an overnight sleeper to Pamplona or to Burgos or even straight to Santiago (and then get a bus back along the route) from Paris. It probably wouldn’t be cheaper than air travel but check the prices at www.raileurope.co.uk .

What to take

Peter Moran advises travelling light. His back pack was around 10-11 kg. This seems wise. Good well broken in boots are essential of course and warm clothes too for the evenings. Then you would need sun protection, your guide book and perhaps a bible and other devotional reading. But, as Peter said, “do remember, it’s a pilgrimage, not a retreat”. For him, surprisingly, the first part of the walk was more about taking care of the body than the soul.

Meeting others

Peter also pointed out (and this was true of the film as well) that the people he met on the journey were from all sorts of backgrounds. Not all were Christians or even believers. Yet, as in the film, all were seekers, willing to share their stories and to listen to his - and ready to give a helping hand when needed.

Enda Devine did 200 miles of the Camino last year in the autumn. His abiding memory was of the presence of God. He comments “Even if you are walking by yourself, you are never alone because you feel the presence of God with you and in the beautiful http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifcreation around you.”

Source: Good News Magazine

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