Friday, October 21, 2011

Catholic Vs Protestant Debate

Watch these videos. It summarises the ongoing differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Miracle Of The Sun 94 Years Later

Father Andrew Apostoli says Our Lady of Fatima's message is needed more than ever in increasingly secular society.


NEW YORK CITY (EWTN News)—The author of an exhaustive study on the Virgin Mary’s 1917 appearances in Portugal says her words are being fulfilled by the rise of aggressive secularism and loss of religious freedom in the West.

“Mary, as I see it, pointed out at Fatima that these things were going to happen,” said Father Andrew Apostoli, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal and the author of Fatima for Today (Ignatius Press, $19.95), in an interview one day before the 94th anniversary of the last apparition in the Portuguese city.

“She said that an evil will begin in Russia and will spread its errors around the world,” Father Apostoli noted, recalling Mary’s words in 1917.

“Those errors, an atheistic form of government, life and society, have come upon us now, in the form of secularism, and the attack on life, the family and religious freedom.”

Mary’s appearance on Oct. 13, 1917, included one of the most dramatic public miracles of modern times, a well-documented event known today as the “Miracle of the Sun.” On that day, 70,000 people watched as the sun appeared to make three circles and “dance” in the sky in a zig-zag pattern.

Five months before, the Mother of Christ had first appeared to three children to make a series of requests and predictions about prayer, penance, war and peace. The solar miracle accompanied her last appearance, for the benefit of those in doubt.

The Virgin also spoke of suffering for the Church and an assault on the Pope. Blessed John Paul II, who was wounded by an assassin in 1981, later performed a public consecration of the world that many people, including Father Apostoli, say fulfilled Mary’s request for the Pope to consecrate Russia to her.

Father Apostoli told EWTN News that Blessed John Paul II repeatedly stressed the importance of the message of Fatima, a call to conversion, prayer and penance, during his pontificate, as he saw the Church entering a “life-and-death struggle” involving billions of souls.

“In 1976, even before he became the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II stated that the Catholic Church is involved in the greatest spiritual struggle of her 2,000-year history,” Father Apostoli recalled.

“And he said that what’s at stake is not one nation, or one facet of life, but the entire Christian culture is at stake in this struggle. It’s a struggle between the Gospel and the anti-Gospel, between the Church and the anti-Church.”

The Franciscan priest noted that the recently beatified Pope continued to speak of this struggle between “truth and anti-truth” after his election, particularly after the attempt on his life, which came on the May 13 anniversary of Mary’s first appearance in Fatima.

“Before he made the consecration in 1984,” Father Apostoli recalled, “he made the statement that Fatima is more important today than it was in 1917.”

In the time since that papal pronouncement, virtually every historically Catholic country in Western Europe has embraced an attitude of indifference or hostility to religion. Today, several of those traditional Catholic homelands, including Portugal, appear headed for financial and demographic ruin.

“I was talking about somebody who’s into finances when I was over in Europe,” Father Apostoli recalled. “He told me it’s unavoidable: There’s going to be a great crisis, financially.”

Father Apostoli recently returned from Ireland, where a million people waited to see Blessed John Paul II during his visit there in 1979: “One lady there even told me that Ireland’s probably the most anti-Catholic country in the world now.”

In Europe, and increasingly the U.S., the Fatima expert sees a spread of the “errors” that seized Russia in 1917, especially atheism.

Even the anti-Christian French Revolution had publicly acknowledged a “Supreme Being,” whereas Russian communism went further by making atheism state policy.

The United States, Father Apostoli said, “would never have accepted communism if it had that label on it, directly. America would have opposed that.

“But that’s being broken down, and we’re gradually getting many things that were a part of communism.”

“Pope Benedict has said that a wind has come over Western Europe, over North America, and has brought a darkness which prevents people from being able to tell right from wrong, truth from distortions,” he observed.

“We don’t have the secret police coming into our houses and arresting us for saying the Rosary; we don’t have that. But, gradually, all of our religious rights are being taken away. Things that we support as part of the moral teaching of Christ are being suppressed, and things are being forced upon us.

“They’ll say, ‘Oh, you can worship any way you want, but don’t bring it into the public square. Leave it in church on Sunday, and don’t bring it to work on Monday. Don’t bring it into society.’”

U.S. bishops’ conference president Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the local bishop of Father Apostoli’s own community, agrees with the friar about the spread of aggressive secularism.

The archbishop and the rest of the bishops’ conference recently established a national committee to monitor threats to religious freedom, saying it was “increasingly and in unprecedented ways under assault in America.”

Archbishop Dolan cited several alarming cases in his letter establishing the committee, including the proposed federal contraception mandate, the Obama administration’s moves toward redefining marriage, and a Justice Department attack on churches’ self-government in the Supreme Court.

“In some countries, even to speak against homosexuality will become a ‘hate crime,’” Father Apostoli predicted. “It’s not a hate crime; it’s speaking about what we believe is right and wrong. But we’re going to be muzzled by that.”

Father Apostoli noted that as official atheism grows, so does the importance of Our Lady of Fatima’s message: which involves daily prayer of the Rosary, personal sanctification, reparation for offenses against God, and the practice of attending Mass on the first Saturday of five consecutive months.

“This message is not over,” Father Apostoli stated. “Our Lady said that the Rosary can stop wars and can bring world peace. We have to do what she said and live good lives.”

“There’s no other plan from heaven that’s so specific for what we’re going through now. She spelled it out. Prayer, penance, the ‘First Five Saturdays’ devotion and live a good, holy life. That’s the answer.”

Source: National Catholic Register

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Priests And Gardaí Mystified By Theft Of Relics From Holy Cross Abbey

A gold and bronze crucifix, containing what is believed to be a piece of the True Cross

GARDAÍ AND priests are baffled by the theft from a historic abbey of three relics of the “true cross” on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The priceless artefacts were stolen by a gang of three men on Tuesday evening from Holy Cross Abbey near Cashel in Co Tipperary.

One of the relics, authenticated by the Vatican as a piece of the crucifix used in Christ’s crucifixion, was handed over to the abbey in the 12th century by King Donal Mór O’Brien, while the other two were presented by St Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 1977.

It appears that the gang deliberately targeted the relics. Neither local priests nor investigating gardaí are aware of any market for such items. The 12th-century relic was contained in a silver monstrance (elaborate cross), which itself dates from the 14th century, while the other two pieces are in a cruciform container.

They were locked away in a steel cabinet used to display the items within the abbey, which has itself been a national monument since 1880.

A set of keys for the cabinet was stolen about three weeks ago and, while the locks were changed in the meantime, the men who took the relics used an angle-grinder, hammer and screwdriver to forcibly open the display cabinet.

Parish priest of Holy Cross Fr Tom Breen said the local clergy and parishioners were “devastated”. “People worship or pray before relics for different intentions and, over the centuries, it became a tremendous source of devotion and pilgrimage,” Fr Breen said yesterday. “Even three weeks ago, we had the novena here and there was a great sense of devotion to it.”

He described the theft as “baffling” and appealed to the thieves to return the artefacts. “Maybe they’re under a misapprehension that it was of great commercial value but my plea would be not to damage it and to bring it back.

“It’s very upsetting. I can understand a poor box being rifled but when you take the relic, it’s gone . . . it’s just terrible.”

A garda said the theft was difficult to understand. “They’re not something that could be brought down any day of the week to a car-boot sale, but they obviously knew what they were looking for.”

The theft took place at about 5pm on Tuesday when three men arrived at the abbey in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Two of the men, whose faces were covered, entered the building.

They remained at the scene for a few minutes and were then seen getting into their vehicle, believed to be a wine or red Volkswagen Touareg with an 06 OY or 06 LK registration number. The car was driven towards Yellow Lough near Thurles, where it was set on fire.

Witnesses reported seeing a dark-coloured saloon car being driven at speed near Yellow Lough at about the time the four-wheel drive was burned out.

Source: Irish Times


Latest news:

The ancient medieval relic of the True Cross was hidden and protected by the Butler Family during the sacking and supression of the Abbey by King Henry.

It is understood that Gardai uncovered the relics during a planned search of property in the Midlands in mid January 2012 and came across the relics in an open field.

The relic was stolen sometime in October 2011, along with another relic, a 14th century silver cross containing two crosses and two dark stones, given to the Abbey by Pope Paul VI.

Both relics were returned to the Abbey.


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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Monastery Revisited

This is the sequel of The Monastery, a BBC documentary about five laymen on a spiritual journey in Worth Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the UK.

In this 4 part documentary, The Monastery Revisited, the five men return to Worth Abbey after almost 18 months since they left.

It is recommended that you watch The Monastery first before proceeding to watch this sequel.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Of Rosaries And Wars

On October 7th 1571 the Catholic Holy League of Europe met the invading naval power of the Ottoman Empire, and over 400 ships and 100,000 men fought on seas of western Greece. In what some historians describe as the most significant naval battle since the birth of Christ, a politically fractured Europe – led by the illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V, Don John of Austria – stood as the last line of hope against a full-scale Ottoman invasion of southern Europe.

The great British rhetorician and apologist G.K. Chesterton penned the poem of Lepanto in honor of the decisive victory. In part:

Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain–hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Victory won and Europe preserved, the Crusaders lost 7,500 men and 17 ships. The Ottomans suffered their greatest naval loss in over a century with 17-50 ships sunk, 137-177 ships captured, and over 20,000 either wounded or captured. Don John of Austria was able to free an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves.

Though the rosary finds its origin in St. Dominic’s struggles against the Albigensians and is even credited with the victory against them at the Battle of Muret – it was not until the victory at Lepanto that Pope Pius V instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. As Don John fought upon the seas of Greece, Pope Pius V had called the Church together to recite the rosary in hopes that Europe would be saved from an Islamic invasion.

The feast was localized primarily to Spain until two military victories in the 18th century convinced Pope Clement XI to declare a universal celebration. The Church saw something undeniable when Catholics were willing to both stand for what was good and just, and humble themselves in prayer and meditation to the mysteries of Christ through the eyes of Mary.

We are all aware of the beauty and grace the Rosary can bring to our personal lives, but often we forget about its power to change human society. As Catholics, our liturgical rythym is shaped by holy days that call us to remember events that memorialize God’s love and action in human history. Remembering these events has a profound effect not only on our own spiritual formation, but also upon our vocation to shape society.

We – like our brave and holy forefathers – must be people of bravery and of the rosary. Financial hardships, global uncertainties, and military conflicts have presented us with a world in constant need of the spiritual and corporeal acts of mercy. And on the defensive, many are aware that the USCCB has created an ad hoc committee for Religious Freedom to combat the deterioration as observed in new HHS mandate and abandonment of DOMA.

To dig deeper into the treasury of the Church’s light on Mary Fr. Peter Cameron’s Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living Our Lady’s Graces is an excellent resource. Fr. Cameron’s book is not a theological or historical treatise, but rather a devotional guide that the Catholic reader can turn to throughout the year to understand and meditate on Marian events. Meditating upon Our Lady’s life and saying her rosary,can produce significant change extending far beyond individual hearts and even into the events of nations.

Fr. Cameron will be appearing on EWTN’s literary program Bookmark
on October 16th to discuss the implications of the mysteries of Mary’s life.

Catholics are people of action and prayer. Looking back over the history of the Church we see our fellow brothers and sisters who have acted bravely and prayed piously. Their actions shaped our world. Now we must shape ours.

Source: Catholic Spiritual Direction

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Image Of The Virgin Mary Appears To New Catholic Convert

Yesterday, 3 days after the Feast of the Holy Rosary, new Catholic convert, Ralph Abraham, claimed that the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on his bedroom door.

Ralph Abraham, an entrepreneur from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was babtised a Catholic early this year. He has many testimonies on how his relationship with Jesus Christ has transformed his life and let to his conversion to Catholicism.

Yesterday morning was an especially unexpected day for Ralph Abraham - instead of being woken up by his wife, he was awoken by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ralph, lives with his wife and a dog as company. He was at home alone with his dog on Sunday night as his wife, an airline stewardess, was away from the country for work.

He went to bed early that Sunday night as he was feeling physically exhausted. On Saturday the previous day, he assisted in escorting the statue of the Virgin Mary in a procession round his parish church on the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

"I rushed back 150km from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur to attend mass at my local church and to assist in the procession of Mother Mary after mass. I was very determined to reach Kuala Lumpur on time for this event although I was very tired due to the previous days' activities in Malacca," he explained.

On Monday morning, Ralph felt unusually strong rays of the sun shining on his face coming in through his bedroom window. He woke up because the focused heat on his face distracted his sleep.

"When I opened my eyes, I immediately saw the image of Mother Mary reflected on my bedroom door. I felt overwhelmed by a sense of peace and joy", he said.

"After looking around the bedroom and studying the image carefully, I saw no sensible explanation for the image to be reflected on the door. I quickly looked for my handphone and took pictures of it. The image then disappeared a few minutes thereafter", he added excitedly.

Having seen the image, Ralph then spent almost an hour in prayer praising and thanking Jesus and His Mother, Mary, for this wonderful sign of grace.

Believing in divine revelation and providence, Ralph told friends, "I really believe that Mother Mary is wanting to give me a message; it is definitely a good omen for me. It can be taken either as a sign of providence or it may be a warning to be cautious...Whatever the case, I will pray for guidance."

While the cause of the image is not immediately ascertainable, perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena, sometimes called simulacra, have been noted for centuries in many cultures.

These are more than just imaginary images with spiritual or religious themes important to the perceiver, and should not be interpreted frivolously. Some of these phenomena have led to the increase in faith of persons and have assisted in the religious conversion of many.

Although Ralph's bedroom in Kuala Lumpur will unlikely become the next pilgrimage site for the faithful, the image of the Virgin Mary as perceived by him remains a personal religious experience he will always remember as part of his Catholic journey.

“As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary" Saint Thomas Aquinas

Next - Ralph's conversion story.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Medjugorje Miracles

Međugorje or Medjugorje is a town located in western Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Herzegovina region around 25 km southwest of Mostar and close to the border of Croatia. Since 1981, it has become a popular site of religious pilgrimage due to reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local Catholics.

"Our Lady of Međugorje" is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by those who believe that she has been appearing since 24 June 1981 to six children in Međugorje (then part of socialist Yugoslavia).

The visionary Marija Lunetti (Pavlovic) claims to receive messages fom the Virgin Mary on the twenty-fifth of every month, while Mirjana Soldo (Dragicevic) reports receiving messages on the second of the month.

The messages reputed to Our Lady of Međugorje have a strong following among Catholics worldwide. Međugorje has become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Catholics in the world and has turned into Europe's third most important religious place, where each year more than 1 million people visit. It has been estimated that 30 million pilgrims have come to Međugorje since the reputed apparitions began in 1981. Many have reported visual phenomena including the sun spinning in the sky or changing colors and figures such as hearts and crosses around the sun. Some visitors have suffered eye damage while seeking to experience such phenomena.

The phenomenon is not officially approved by the Catholic Church. In March 2010, the Holy See announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was forming an investigative commission, composed of bishops, theologians, and other experts, under the leadership of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's former Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. The Commission is expected to report any findings to the Congregation, which has responsibility for any possible judgment on the case.

Unsolved Mysteries

Part 1

Part 2

Read Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s account of seeing the sun spin at Medjugorje - here.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Dark Ages

The once powerful Rome, rotten to the core by the fifth century lay open to barbarian warriors who came in wave after wave of invasion, slaughtering, stealing, and ultimately, settling. As chaos replaced culture, Europe was beset by famine, plague, persecutions, and a state of war that was so persistent it was only rarely interrupted by peace.

Watch this History Channel documentary about war, religion and European civilization.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

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