Saturday, 28 February 2009

You CAN Change!

Posted: 27 Feb 2009 11:00 PM PST (Catholic Exchanged)
Gn 9:8-15 / 1Pt 3:18-22 / Mk 1:12-15
A Hindu priest, a Jewish rabbi, and a fairly disreputable TV evangelist were caught in a terrific thunderstorm and sought shelter in a farmhouse. “You can stay for the night,” said the farmer, “but there’s only room for two of you. The third will have to sleep in the barn.”
“I’ll be the one,” said the Hindu and he headed for the barn. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. It was the Hindu. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but there’s a cow in the barn and according to my religion cows are sacred and one mustn’t intrude on their space.”
“No problem,” said the rabbi, “I’ll sleep in the barn.” But a few minutes later there was a knock at the door. It was the rabbi. “I’m terribly sorry, but there’s a pig in the barn. In my religion pigs are unclean and I couldn’t possible sleep in the place with a pig.”
“Oh, all right,” said the TV evangelist, “I’ll go sleep in the barn.” A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. It was the cow and the pig!
+ + +

There are parts of us all that could make even the cows and pigs run for cover. There are parts of us that need re-thinking, re-forming, and re-shaping, as Jesus says. How much happier and more satisfying our lives could be if we did change, but for some reason, more often than not we don’t. Why is this so? What’s standing in our way?

Partly it’s our blindness. There’s a lot we don’t see because we don’t take the time to look. But there’s a lot more we don’t see because we’ve closed our eyes — to avoid looking.
Now what could scare us so badly that we’d risk walking around with our eyes closed? Just this: the fear that whatever’s wrong with us is just too big and too bad to be fixed. “You can’t fix that,” whispers the little voice inside us, “so don’t even try.”

That little voice could be right. If we listen to Jesus calling out to us in the Gospel, “Re-form your lives — now!” and if we imagine him looming over us as a judge with arms folded or finger wagging, then you can be sure, that little voice is right: the serious business of changing is utterly beyond us.
But that’s not where Jesus stands as he calls us to re-think, re-form and re-shape. He stands at our side and he says, “You can do it, because I’m going to help you. It won’t be easy and it won’t happen fast, but if you stick with me, it will happen. We’ll do it together, one piece at a time.”

As Lent begins and we ponder what is unfinished in us, this is our Lord’s offer and his promise. “Take courage,” he says, “and dare to hope. You can change. Life is within your reach and I’ll walk with you all the way.”

Friday, 27 February 2009

Loving Grows Hearts

Posted: 26 Feb 2009 11:00 PM PST (Catholic Exchanged)
Is 58:1-9 / Mt 9:14-15
Until the mid-1960s, the time of Vatican Council II, we Catholics fasted six days out of seven for the whole six weeks of Lent. How we looked forward to Sundays! And then the discipline of the Church changed to what is now the practice: fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstaining from meat on the Fridays of Lent.

Has the Church gotten soft? Is that what’s going on? I don’t think so. I think there was something more subtle and wise behind the decision to change, and that is the recognition that we can get so caught up in the externals that we can miss or bypass the real point. It’s so easy to say something like, “I’ve had a very successful Lent because I’ve kept the fasting rule perfectly every single day without exception.” To think or say that would, of course, be a joke. But the speaker might well not know it.

Today’s Old Testament reading tells us what the Lord wants us to accomplish in Lent. “The fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, setting free the oppressed, sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”

God is summoning us to do more than play at being Christian. He wants to help us change our hearts, and only the works of love can do that.
Love in deed, and your heart will change and grow very full indeed!

Muslim-Catholic Meeting Statement

"A Culture of Peace Should Permeate All Aspects of Life"
ROME, FEB. 26, 2009 ( Here is the final statement from the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Cairo-based Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue Among the Monotheistic Religions. The group had their annual meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.* * *[…]

The participants listened to the presentation of the theme "The Promotion of a Pedagogy and Culture of Peace with Particular Reference to the Role of Religions" from the point of view of Catholics, by Dr. Bernard Sabella, and from the Islamic point of view by Cheikh Ali Shahata.The discussions took place in a spirit of mutual respect, openness, and friendship. They were inspired by the conviction of the importance of good relations between Christians and Muslims and of their specific contribution to peace in the world.The participants agreed on the following:

1. Peace and security are much needed in our present world marked by many conflicts and a feeling of insecurity.
2. Both Christians and Muslims consider peace a gift from God and, at the same time, the fruit of human endeavor. No true and lasting peace can be achieved without justice and equality among persons and communities.
3. Religious leaders, especially Muslims and Christians, have the duty to promote a culture of peace, each within his respective community, especially through teaching and preaching.
4. A culture of peace should permeate all aspects of life: religious formation, education, interpersonal relations and the arts in their diverse forms. To this end, scholastic books should be revised in order not to contain material which may offend the religious sentiments of other believers, at times through the erroneous presentation of dogmas, morals or history of other religions.
5. The media have a major role and responsibility in the promotion of positive and respectful relations among the faithful of various religions.
6. Recognizing the strong link between peace and human rights, special attention was given to the defense of the dignity of the human person and his/her rights, especially regarding freedom of conscience and of religion.
7. Youth, the future of all religions and of humanity itself, need special care in order to be protected from fanaticism and violence, and to become peace builders for a better world.
8. Mindful of the suffering endured by the peoples of the Middle East due to non-resolved conflicts, the participants, in respect of the competence of the political leaders, ask to make use, through dialogue, of the resources of international law to solve the problems at stake in truth and justice.
Grateful to Almighty God for the abundant fruits of this meeting, the participants agreed to have the next meeting of the Committee in Cairo, from Tuesday, Feb. 23 to Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010
Cheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata
Head of al-Azhar Delegation
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Head of the Catholic Delegation

The word Allah is already in the Bible

The word Allah is already in the Bible.
It is exactly the same word that the Jews, in Hebrew, use for God (eloh), the word that Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God. In Hebrew, Huwa el Elah or HUWA 'L LAH means HE IS ALLAH in the verse QUL HUWAL LAH HU AHAD."My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” said Jesus on the cross. In Aramaic this is: "Eli, Eli, l'mana Sabachtani?"The words El, Elah and Elohim are not three distinctly different words.

They all represent the single Arabic word, Allah, which is also the same in Hebrew.No, Islam does not have monopoly over the use of the word Allah. The Christians and Jews too use this same word. In fact, the biggest ‘selling point’ for Islam is that the Quran recognises all the Prophets of the Jews and Christians and that we all pray to the same ONE God, Allah. If the God of the Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same one God, would not then the name of this God also be the same? How can the name of the Muslim God be different from that of the Jews and Christians if we all pray to the same one God?

Some Malays, PKR and PAS Malays included, are very narrow-minded and ignorant. And this is because they recite the Quran like parrots without understanding what they are reciting -- mainly because they do not speak the language of the Quran. And, for sure, they do not read any of the Holy Books of the other religions because they are of the opinion that it is forbidden (haram) to do so. It is said that even Prophet Muhammad sought advice from his wife’s, Khatijah’s cousin, Warakah, a learned Christian scholar of his time, though some scholars refute this (but they do admit that Warakah was a Christian who attended Prophet Muhammad’s and Khatijah’s wedding).

And Prophet Muhammad never prohibited the Jews and Christians from using the word Allah. But then Malays think they are better Muslims and more learned than the Arabs even though Malays recite the Quran without understanding what they are reciting -- unlike the Chinese Muslims in China. And what are 16 million Malay Muslims compared to the more than 100 million in China, the mualaps, as the Malays would call them, who have been Muslims since 1,300 years ago when Malays were still praying to trees and whatnot.

By No Holds Bar
Response to Conditional Use of “Allah”

The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) welcomes the confirmation by the Government of Malaysia that the word “Allah” may be used by a religion other than Islam. This is implicit in the Internal Security (Prohibition On Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009, (“Order”) made pursuant to Section 22(1)(c) of the Internal Security Act 1960 which reads as follows:-

“2.(1) The printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words “Allah”, “Kaabah”, “Baitullah” and “Solat” are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written with the words “FOR CHRISTIANITY”.

(2) The words “FOR CHRISTIANITY” referred to in subparagraph (1) shall be written clearly in font type Arial of size 16 in bold.

This Order, which is dated 21 January 2009, came into operation on 16 February 2009.

However the wording of the order causes great concern and gives rise to several questions. Firstly, why is there a specific Order in relation only to the Christian religion? The Sikh religion, for example, also refers to “Allah” in their sacred texts. By virtue of the wording of this Order, they will still be prohibited from using the word “Allah”.

Secondly, all of a sudden, people in possession of such documents and publications are now in a position of being in possession of a prohibited document unless they take action to ensure that the words “UNTUK AGAMA KRISTIAN” or “FOR CHRISTIANITY” in font type Arial of size 16 in bold are placed on its front cover. This is an unfair imposition and an unwarranted restriction on the practice of the Christian religion in this country. By making prohibited something which was hitherto not prohibited, the Order constitutes retrospective penal legislation that violates Article 7 of the Federal Constitution. Under Section 44A of the Internal Security Act 1960,

“Any person guilty of an offence against this Part for which no special penalty is provided shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.”

Thirdly, the introduction of conditions as a pre-requisite to the use of the aforementioned words still constitutes a limitation on the freedom of religion as guaranteed by Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. This situation is unacceptable.

We regret that the Government of Malaysia did not see fit to engage with us before introducing this Order.

We call on the Government of Malaysia to accept that the use of the term “Allah” is a heritage that belongs not just to one religion. We further urge the Government of Malaysia not to attempt to regulate or circumscribe its use through the introduction of pre-conditions and by punitive criminal legislation.

The Ways of the Desert

Biblical Reflection for 1st Sunday of Lent 2009
By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
TORONTO, Canada, FEB. 25, 2009 ( Does anyone really look forward to Lent? What is it about Lent that excites us? What aspects of the Lenten journey test us? The Scriptural readings for this season are carefully chosen so as to replay salvation history before our very eyes.Let us begin with Jesus in the desert -- the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent.

The desert sun and the pangs of hunger and thirst conjured up the demon for him. Mark presents Jesus wrestling with the power of Satan, alone and silent in the desert wastes. Mark’s version of the temptations of Jesus does not mention three temptations, nor does it say that Jesus fasted. Mark's whole focus is on presenting the temptations of Jesus as part of the great struggle between good and evil, between God and Satan. Jesus' desert experience raises important questions for us. What are some of the "desert" experiences I have experienced in my life? What desert experience am I living through right now?

When and how do I find moments of contemplation in the midst of a busy life? How have I lived in the midst of my own deserts? Have I been courageous and persistent in fighting with the demons? How have I resisted transforming my own deserts into places of abundant life? In Matthew and Luke there is an ongoing conversation, as the prince of evil attempts to turn Jesus aside from the faith and integrity at the heart of his messianic mission. But if Israel had failed in the desert, Jesus would not. His bond with his Father was too strong for even the demons of the desert to break.In the first temptation in the desert, Jesus responds to the evil one, not by denying human dependence on sustenance (food), but rather by putting human life and the human journey in perspective. Those who follow Jesus cannot become dependent on the things of this world. When we are so dependent on material things, and not on God, we give in to temptation and sin.

God's in charge

The second temptation deals with the adoration of the devil rather than God. Jesus once again reminds the evil one that God is in control. This is important for us to hear and believe, especially when our own temptations seem to overpower us, when everything around us might indicate failure, shadows, darkness and evil. It is God who is ultimately in charge of our destiny.In the third temptation, the devil asks for a revelation or manifestation of God’s love in favor of Jesus. Jesus answers the evil one by saying that he doesn’t have to prove to anyone that God loves him.Temptation is everything that makes us small, ugly, and mean. Temptation uses the trickiest moves that the evil one can think up.

The more the devil has control of us, the less we want to acknowledge that he is fighting for every millimeter of this earth. Jesus didn’t let him get away with that. At the very beginning of his campaign for this world and for each one of us, Jesus openly confronted the enemy. He began his fight using the power of Scripture during a night of doubt, confusion and temptation. We must never forget Jesus’ example, so that we won’t be seduced by the devil's deception.From Jesus we learn that God is present and sustaining us in the midst of test, temptation and even sinfulness. We realize that we must have some spiritual space in our lives where we can strip away the false things that cling to us and breathe new life into our dreams and begin again. We come to believe that God can take the parched surface of our hope and make it bloom. These are the lessons of the desert.

That is why we need – even in the activity of our daily lives and work, moments of prayer, of stillness, of listening to the voice of God.We meet God in the midst of our deserts of sinfulness, selfishness, jealousy, efficiency, isolation, cynicism and despair. And in the midst of the desert we hear what God will do if we open our hearts to him and allow him to make our own deserts bloom. The ways of the desert were deep within the heart of Jesus, and it must be the same for all who would follow him.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow,

not some more convenient season.

It is today that our best work can be done

and not some future day or future year.

It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow.

Today is the seed time,

now are the hours of work,

and tomorrow comes the harvest

and the playtime."

-- W.E.B. Du Bois

Ecumenical Group Concurs About Spiritual Desert

Urges Fostering a Mentality of Stewardship
ESZTERGOM, Hungary, FEB. 24, 2009 ( Christians of many confessions are united in affirming that the ecological crisis is itself a reflection of a deeper spiritual crisis.This was one of the conclusions from the meeting of the Joint Committee of the Conference of European Churches and the Council of Bishops' Conferences of Europe, which was held last Thursday through Sunday in Hungary.

The committee considered the issue of creation as the main point on its agenda this year. "In the discussion, the committee noted that the ecological crisis is itself a reflection of a deeper spiritual crisis," a final statement reported. "There was shared agreement on the words of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI that the external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts have become so vast."The Christian leaders recognized that human beings need to come to see themselves as stewards, not exploiters, of creation."A concern for effective stewardship of creation is closely linked with a concern for justice in our world," they contended. "

[The] members recognized that as Europeans we need to share a sense of solidarity with the poorest in the world, who are the primary victims of our lack of responsibility toward creation."The Christian leaders resolved to use the time from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4 as especially dedicated to "contemplate, care for and celebrate God's goodness in creation."Finally, it recognized that churches throughout Europe need to play their part in influencing the U.N. Climate Conference to take place in Copenhagen this December.

The next session of the committee will be held in March 2010 and focus on migration.

God’s Love-Power Can Change Hearts

Posted: 24 Feb 2009 11:00 PM PST (Catholic Exchanged)
Jl 2:12-18 / 2 Cor 5:20-6:2 / Mt 6:1-6,16-18
The human heart is more complex than any computer, and none of us ever fully understands its reasons and its choices. But we have to try, with God’s help, lest we let our hearts lead us, all unawares, to places whose dangers are invisible to us. That testing of the heart and reorienting of the heart is what Lent is about.

In today’s gospel, Matthew reminds us of one of the hazards that every religious person faces: Practicing our faith and doing good for others just to be seen and admired. It’s a trap that’s so easy to fall into, and it’s such a waste of time and joy. The alternative is ever so much more satisfying because our hearts know that it is true.

Only a heart that sees that it is loved by God will have in it the astonished gratitude that impels it to thank God in word and deed. True thankfulness will blossom into prayer, into sharing with others what God has shared with us, and into striving to reshape our hearts into God’s likeness. The good deeds will come naturally from deep inside, and what others see or don’t see won’t matter.

This Lent, concentrate on God’s goodness and generosity to you, so totally unearned and unmerited. Gratitude will tell your heart where you need to go, and what needs to change. God’s love-power has changed many hearts. Why not let His love-power change yours?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Today's Inspirational Quote:
"The grand essentials of happiness are:
something to do,
something to love,
and something to hope for."
-- Allan K. Chalmers

Argentina Expels Lefebvrite Bishop

Prelate Already Removed as Group's Seminary Superior
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, FEB. 23, 2009 ( The Argentinean government has given Lefebvrite British Bishop Richard Williamson, known for his statements denying the Holocaust, 10 days to leave the country.

Father Christian Bouchacourt, the Society of St. Pius X superior for South America, stated that Bishop Williamson already had a similar order from his superiors, after being removed as head of the Lefebvrite seminary in the country. Argentinean Minister of Interior Florencio Randazzo said that the prelate was instructed Thursday "to leave the country in 10 days time" and was advised of "a decree for his expulsion." The formal reason given by the authorities for revoking the prelate's residence permit is a discrepancy in Bishop Williamson's engagements in the country, since his permission was for an administrative function and he has been carrying out a religious one.

Bishop Williamson's work in Our Lady Coredemptress seminary, in La Reja, came to light when he became notorious after denying historical facts about the Jewish Holocaust on Swedish television.The ministry's communiqué noted: "For these reasons, added to the energetic condemnation of the Argentine government of such manifestations that profoundly attack Argentine society, the Jewish people and the whole of humanity, denying a proven historical truth, the national government has decided to make use of the faculties conferred on it by the law to instruct the Lefebvrite bishop to leave the country or be subject to expulsion." Father Bouchacourt confirmed that Bishop Williamson is preparing for his departure from the country, as the government has ordered.

The bishop, along with three other Society of St. Pius X prelates, had their 20-year excommunication lifted at the end of January, in the framework of Benedict XVI's continuing efforts to heal the schism between the society and the Church.

The Talent that God gave you...

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"When I stand before God at the end of my life,

I would hope that I would not have

a single bit of talent left and could say:

I used everything you gave me."

-- Erma Bombeck

Sunday, 22 February 2009

They Carried Their Friend to Jesus

Posted: 21 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST (Catholic Exchanged)
Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25 / 2 Cor 1:18-22 / Mk 2:1-12
Three men came upon a fiercely raging river which they absolutely had to cross. But they were scared to death and didn’t know what to do. So the first man prayed, “Lord, give me the strength and courage to cross this river.” And poof, God gave him huge arms and strong legs, and he swam across that river in only two hours.

The second man prayed too. “Lord, please give me the courage and ability to cross this river.” Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he rowed across in only three hours.
The third man was so scared that he couldn’t move. So he prayed fervently, “Lord, please give me the strength and ability to cross this river.” Poof! God turned him into a woman, and she walked across the bridge in two minutes!
+ + +
At times we all get paralyzed and just can’t move. Sometimes it’s fear of the unknown that freezes us in place. Sometimes it’s grief that plunges us into darkness so deep that we can’t think. Sometimes it’s the memory of past failures that makes our heart shrink and turn into itself. Sometimes it’s anger or an old grievance that steals life and energy from us and leaves us dead in the water.
Whatever its cause, spiritual paralysis is something everyone experiences at some time in life. And that’s why Sunday’s gospel has such a valuable lesson for us. The paralyzed man needed healing, in body and spirit. But he couldn’t move; he couldn’t get to Jesus. So his friends did for him what he couldn’t do for himself: They carried him to the place where he could be healed. They made an opening in the roof and carefully lowered him into Jesus’ presence! And Jesus did the rest.

It’s a perfect model for what we need to do for one another. When our friends hit a time of paralysis — from grief, fear, or whatever, we can pick them up and, ever so gently, carry them spiritually to a ‘place’ — not a physical but a spiritual place — where healing can happen and their future can be re-imagined. We can help make an opening to a new road.
Finding that opening, or creating it, takes time, and the process of helping our friend move through that opening may be slow. But it’s holy work, God’s work, to carry our brothers and sisters when they can’t walk on their own and when they can see no openings in the blank walls that surround them.

Think how often God has done that for us: Carried and carried us until at last we’re ready to receive his healing. There’s only one way we can ever thank God for that: By carrying one another as he has carried us, helping our friends find the openings through the walls and into grace and healing, helping them see the bridge and walk across it.
What we have received as a gift, let us give as a gift.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Great Delusion: I am God!

Posted: 20 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Gen 11:1-9 / Mk 8:34-9:1
The first eleven chapters of Genesis develop a grand theme, namely, our need for God which is hidden under our illusion that we ourselves can be God. That was the issue in the story of Adam and Eve’s fall, it was the issue in the tower of Babel story, and it’s the issue that keeps resurfacing in our own lives: Pretending and even believing that we can be God.

It’s the ultimate delusion, bordering on madness, but it recurs reliably in every generation in every human being. For some reason, ego irrationally whispers to each of us, just as the snake did to Adam and Eve, ‘You can be god.’ And fools that we are, we believe it. We put ourselves at the center of our own little universe, and we forget whence we came and where we are going. It’s a heady delusion for a while, till reality begins to sink in with our arrival at some crossroad where events are beyond our control. The awakening is inevitably painful and denial almost always persists beyond all reason.

Eventually, the reckoning is too clear to be denied: I am not God! I need the real God! Without him I will perish! It’s the beginning of wisdom and the beginning of our great pilgrimage homeward to that place where we truly belong, in God’s embrace. Why waste another day in the land of fiction. Step into reality and start your trip home now.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Progress involves risk..

Today's Inspirational Quote:
"Progress always involves risks.
You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first."
-- Frederick B. Wilcox

Scholar: Don't restrict "Allah"

17 Feb 09 : 4.55PM
By Shanon
PETALING JAYA, 17 Feb 2009: Use of the word "Allah" among Catholic churches should not be restricted unreasonably, said leading Islamic scholar Prof Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali today.
Hashim Kamali"In Islam, there is one God for all humanity. Therefore, one should not monopolise or personalise 'Allah' as belonging to only one sector of humanity," he said.
He said that restraint should only be applied in accordance with the principle of sadd al-dhara'i (blocking the means to an evil development) in Islamic jurisprudence.

"For example, marriage is a lawful institution. But if a man is going to use marriage as a means of abuse or corruption, then he should be blocked from accessing this lawful institution," said Kamali.
He said this logic extended to the use of the word "Allah" by the Catholic church.
"If there is no abuse of the word, then there should be no restraint on its usage," he said.

Madrid Youth Prepare to Receive Cross

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2009 (
- Benedict XVI will entrust the World Youth Day cross to a group of pilgrims from Madrid, the hosts of the next youth event to be held in 2011.

Following tradition, the Spanish youth will receive the cross from the Pope on Palm Sunday during Mass in St. Peter's Square.The archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, has organized the pilgrimage to Rome for those youth who "feel called to commit themselves in preparing" the 2011 event.The pilgrimage for the Spanish youth will include Masses in Rome and a penance service to receive the sacrament of confession.The cross travels around the host nation prior to a World Youth Day, at the center of a series of events to prepare the youth celebration.

Stay on Message

Posted: 19 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Gn 9:1-13 / Mk 8:27-33
We seem to have arrived at a point in our history where the political campaigns are continuous and there is barely a pause between one election and preparations for the next. In such a culture, we pick up fragments of consultant-speak which occasionally are quite helpful. A case in point is the injunction, “stay on message.” Don’t get distracted, don’t forget your mission, and don’t let anybody pull you away from what you know you’re about.

It’s very good advice, not just for politicians, but for good Christians everywhere. And we see it in the flesh in today’s gospel. Jesus has just told the group where he’s headed and how his life and ministry are going to end up. Quite understandably, they are appalled. Peter speaks for the whole group when he says, “No, this can’t be!”

Peter loves Jesus, and Jesus knows it, which makes Peter’s opposition all the harder for Jesus to face, but face it he does — sternly. He is frightened and he is agonizing and he needs all the support he can get, but even when that support appears to evaporate he does not falter. He remembers his mission, his vocation, and he stays on message. He stays true. What a remarkable model and source of strength he is for us.
Lord, help us to be faithful as you are faithful, and true as you are true.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Obstacles that stop you...

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks.

I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you.

If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.

Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."

-- Michael Jordan

You’re Not Bad, You’re Just Not Done Yet!

Posted: 18 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Gn 8:6-13, 20-22 / Mk 8:22-26
The tale of Noah and the ark which we read from Genesis contains a curious passage which the ancient writer put into the mouth of God. As the flood subsides, God is depicted as saying to Himself, “Never again shall I doom the earth because of man, since the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start….” It’s a welcome pledge, but the reason isn’t very encouraging!

So how bad off are we? In the story of man’s creation, just a few chapters earlier in Genesis, didn’t the sacred writer have God say at the end of that “day” that what He had made, namely man, was good? And don’t we believe that God who is good simply cannot make anything that is evil? Indeed so! God made us good, no doubt, but He didn’t finish us. That’s our job, with His help. And that’s where the problems arise and evil makes its entry.

Think for a moment about the child who would dine permanently on cake, ice cream, and candy if mom weren’t watching. It wouldn’t be good for him, but how does he know that at such a young age? He has to grow into that understanding, and he has to learn self-restraint if he is to act in accord with what he knows to be true. And that’s not so easy, as all sorts of our overweight and alcoholic friends can tell us. Either our heads are fuzzy or our hearts refuse to follow them.
Growing up into wholeness is a lifetime task and it’s hard work.

So don’t get discouraged. You aren’t supposed to be done yet. God understands mistakes, and if you let Him, He’ll help you make them right.

Doctors Sound Alarm About Obama

Urge Fellow Professionals to Educate Public

ROME, FEB. 17, 2009 ( The World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations is sounding an alarm about new threats to human life under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

In a statement released today on the Obama presidency and the culture of life, the health care professionals note that the new president "has begun his term with actions that will undermine respect for human life, human dignity and religions freedom."

The statement recalls the ominous message already sent during Obama's political career and campaign, including his 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood; his opposition to every limitation on abortion; his support for the Freedom of Choice Act; and "shockingly," his opposition as a senator to "any protections for infants born alive after failed abortion procedures."

The health care officials also noted Obama's promise of support for federal funding for stem cell research that destroys human life.

Now that he is president, the federation statement continued, he has already engaged in "a series of actions that indicate that he is prepared to implement his prior support for abortion."

In this regard, they noted his overturning of the Mexico City policy, which denied federal funding to international agencies that promote or perform abortion as a means of birth control; and his willingness to provide financial support to the United Nations Population Fund, an organization that lost U.S. government funding after it collaborated with the Chinese government's "one child" population policy.

Furthermore, the statement pointed to Obama's choice for pro-abortion staff members, including Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Dawn Johnsen, and many others.

And in a move that particularly touches health care officials, the statement noted the president's opposition to a rule that protects the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care workers.

Thus, the World Federation urged the president to change his support for abortion.

They added: "In addition, we offer our prayers, encouragement and appeals to Catholic physicians in the United States to educate the public and to oppose these efforts to promote abortion.

"Finally, we appeal to all members of [the World Federation] to be vigilant in opposing the new threats to human life and dignity that could now come from the Obama administration officials in foreign policy positions and at the United Nations."

New beginning...

Today's Inspirational Quote:
"Every new beginning comes from
some other beginning's end."
-- Seneca

Am I My Brother’s Keeper

Posted: 16 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Gen 4:1-15, 25 / Mk 8:11-13
Like so many of us, Cain tried to bluff his way out of a tight spot when the Lord himself called him to account. His brazen response to God’s question as to the whereabouts of his brother whom he’d just killed is astonishing: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ He thought he could fool God, but he couldn’t, and neither can we.

Few of us will ever have to face the consequences of fratricide, but all of us will have to give a detailed answer to the question that Cain posed so cynically. The correct answer is that we are indeed our brothers’ keepers — and our sisters’ keepers too.

But what exactly does that mean in the practical order? A massive welfare state in which all the needs of everyone are fully provided for but nobody works? Not quite! Being one another’s keepers means doing our best to see to it that everyone has the chance to build a decent life and to develop their talents. It’s about opening up opportunities for people to thrive.

Even the poorest and humblest of us have the chance to do that for one another many times every day, opening doors instead of closing them. They may be doors to new ideas or insights, doors to a warm meal, doors to a little rest or comfort. So many doors that need opening for so many people, and we have the keys to more of them than we’d suspect.
Don’t hide those keys or keep them locked away. Use them regularly. As you do, you’ll find yourself looking more and more like Jesus every day.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Our earth-one in a billions?

Galaxy has 'billions of Earths' (BBC World News)

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard.
Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.
So far, telescopes have been able to detect just over 300 planets outside our Solar System.
Very few of these would be capable of supporting life, however. Most are gas giants like our Jupiter; and many orbit so close to their parent stars that any microbes would have to survive roasting temperatures.
But, based on the limited numbers of planets found so far, Dr Boss has estimated that each Sun-like star has on average one "Earth-like" planet.
This simple calculation means there would be huge numbers capable of supporting life.

Reflection: Science allow us to wonder and appreciate more of God's creation....

Saturday, 14 February 2009

God’s Alarm System

Posted: 14 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST(by Catholic Exchanged)
Lev 13:1-2, 44-46 / 1 Cor 10:31-11:1 / Mk 1:40-45
Some newlyweds had just settled into a beautiful condo filled with expensive wedding gifts, when they received in the mail a pair of theater tickets — orchestra seats — for a hit Broadway show. The enclosed card said simply, ‘Guess who sent these.’
They had no idea, and they still hadn’t figured it out when they went off to the theater for a wonderful evening. But when they got home, they found their condo had been stripped clean — all their beautiful gifts, furniture, clothes and jewelry — all gone! In the middle of their empty living room floor was another note which read: ‘Now you know!’
+ + +

The leper in Sunday’s gospel knew too! He knew what was wrong with him. He knew how to name it, and how to claim it as his problem and not somebody else’s. He also knew that if he ever wanted to get well, he had to let himself feel the full pain and sadness of being a leper and feel how badly he needed healing. And finally, he knew he had to ask for help if he wanted healing. So the leper told himself the whole truth about himself, and then acted on it. That’s how he got healed.

Facing the truth about ourselves isn’t easy, and that’s why we often stay so mired in ways of living that are hurtful, sinful, and devoid of joy. The soul-pain that we call ‘guilt’ is the alarm system that God installed in all of us to warn us when we’re stumbling into hurtful ways. The pain of guilt is a blessing: It can wake us up to what we’re doing; it can motivate us to change. It can help us name our sin, claim it, feel it, and fix it — that is, deal with all its consequences. That’s what guilt is supposed to do for us.

But what often happens is that we try to escape our guilt-pain by pretending it isn’t there, or refusing to look at what’s causing it, or expecting our psychiatrist to just take it away. This temporary anesthetic may seem to work for awhile, but it doesn’t, because it leaves our self-inflicted soul-wounds untouched and unhealed, festering just beneath the surface, waiting to resurface later in an even more toxic form.

False guilt shows up at times, especially in caring hearts. It’s a soul-pain that doesn’t belong to us. After taking a closer look, we have to say, ‘This just isn’t mine,’ and then brush it off.
But most times, when the soul-pain of guilt comes, it’s ours and it’s God’s gift to help us get our lives right. So when guilt rings its alarm we need to do what that leper did: Name the pain and where it’s coming from, and don’t discount any part of it for it has important news for us. Claim that bad news and that guilt as our own, and let ourselves feel it thoroughly. Finally, give it to the Lord for his help and guidance in repairing the soul-damage we’ve done.

Name it, claim it, feel it, fix it. With God’s help we can do that. We can make those soul-pains go away and never come back. The sooner we get started, the sooner we’ll have the happy lives God wants for us.

A Blessed Valentine to You...

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Older and wiser voices can always help you

find the right path,

if you are only willing to listen."

-- Jimmy Buffett

Benedict XVI Prepares Holy Land Visit

Personally Confirms Plan
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2009 ( Benedict XVI's preparations for his trip to the Holy Land are under way, as he himself confirmed today in a meeting with a Jewish delegation from the United States.The Pope was visited today in the Vatican by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.According to sources from both Jerusalem and Rome, the Holy Father's first pilgrimage to Israel and the surrounding region will take place during the second week of May.

He confirmed his intention to make the visit, despite doubts cast on the plan by the conflict in Gaza and the scandal caused by Lefebvrite Bishop Richard Williamson.Rabbi Arthur Schneier of New York told the Pontiff, "The promised land awaits your arrival."And noting that his guests were scheduled to visit the Holy Land after their time in Italy, Benedict XVI said: "I too am preparing to visit Israel, a land which is holy for Christians as well as Jews, since the roots of our faith are to be found there. "

Indeed, the Church draws its sustenance from the root of that good olive tree, the people of Israel, onto which have been grafted the wild olive branches of the Gentiles. From the earliest days of Christianity, our identity and every aspect of our life and worship have been intimately bound up with the ancient religion of our fathers in faith."

How Does Real Healing Happen?

Posted: 13 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST(Catholic Exchanged)
Gn 3:1-8 / Mk 7:31-37
There’s a curious pattern in the gospel accounts of Jesus healing of sick people of their various maladies. As often as not, Jesus will send them on their way with the admonition not to tell anyone about their healing by Jesus. It does seem curious. Why not share such wonderful and, especially for the newly healed person, exciting news? After all, we are social beings, and it’s in our nature to celebrate with our friends.

That’s all true, but Jesus had another deeper concern, which was based upon his unparalleled insight into human nature. He knew that the temptation would be to focus on the ‘magic’ and to get caught up in the ‘bread and circuses’ and to miss entirely the inner dimension which was the root and core of the healing.

Remember how Jesus almost always said to the persons he healed, ‘Your faith has made you whole.’ It wasn’t a magic formula or incantation that healed them. It was their open-hearted connecting through Jesus to God, whose power could then work in them.

And that tells us something crucial about our own lives. If we want our sin-wounds to be healed and if we want to grow whole, we have to give God unlimited access to where those wounds are, inside our hearts. God cannot heal us at arms length.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Have patience...

Today's Inspirational Quote:
"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
Do not lose courage in considering
you own imperfections but instantly set
about remedying them - everyday begin the task anew."
-- Saint Francis de Sales

It Is Good for Man to Be Alone!

Posted: 12 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Gen 2:18-25 / Mk 7:24-30
There are times when the world can close in upon us, and we can feel as if we may suffocate from the sheer numbers of voices competing for our attention and demanding our help. It happens to all of us at times, not just to the mothers of pre-school children. We need to be alone, to regroup, to remember who we are and where we’re going and why. If we are not to lose our way and fritter away our lives, we need time out regularly. We need to be quiet and alone, just as Jesus made certain that he was at regular intervals.

But God says very clearly in today’s reading from Genesis that ‘it is not good for man to be alone.’ Isn’t there something of a contradiction there? Only an apparent one, for our times out, our alone times, are in fact directed toward communion, at oneness with God and God’s big family, which is the whole point and purpose of our lives, our very reason for being.

If we want true communion, either with God or with his family, we simply must invest in time alone, away from the madding crowd. Time alone is part of the price we pay for bringing our best selves to God’s big family. It’s not selfishness; it’s just necessary. So take that time out, whether you think you need it or not (!), and learn to listen through the silence. God has some important things to say to you. And the big family needs for you to hear them.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Darwin Event Aims to Heal Faith, Science Rift

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2009 ( Notre Dame University, Rome's Gregorian University and the Pontifical Council for Culture are teaming up to show that faith and science really are complementary.

A March 3-7 conference in Rome on "Biological Evolution, Facts and Theories" was presented today by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of that pontifical council. The conference will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his "Origin of the Species.""It's not in the least about a celebration in honor of the English scientist; it's simply about analyzing an event that marked for all time the history of science and that has influenced the way of understanding our very humanity," said Jesuit professor Marc Leclerc at the presentation.

During nine sessions, the academics will propose to contribute to the "idea that science, on the one hand, and theology, on the other, represent different fields of analysis and interpretation, though often they are incorrectly overlapped, causing confusion and ideological controversies," the conference Web site explains.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Xt3 Offering Lenten Laughs

SYDNEY, Australia, FEB. 9, 2009 (
- Think you'll need a laugh this Lent? The social networking site Xt3 is planning to offer some comedy relief as part of their Lenten program."Christ in the 3rd millennium," abbreviated Xt3, announced in a press statement today that it will launch its Lent calendar on Ash Wednesday, which falls this year on Feb. 25.

This calendar will include "daily readings, podcasts and music to give inspiration -- and some laughter -- during the 40 days of Lent." It will also broadcast Benedict XVI's handing over of the World Youth Day cross and icon in Rome on Palm Sunday.The report said that "new podcasts for Lent will include 'Does God have a sense of humor?' where comedians will give there take on this mystifying question." The site, similar to secular versions such as MySpace and Facebook, was launched at World Youth Day 2008 by the archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell.

It aims to answer the Pope's request to youth to "bring the witness of their faith to the digital world."In an unprecedented gesture, the Holy Father used the network to send a personal greeting to all the young people, assuring them that "your pilgrimage of faith fills the Church with life!" currently has over 40,000 members from 200 countries.

Habits: A Blessing or a Curse?

Posted: 10 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST(Catholic Exchanged)
Gen 1:20-2:4 / Mk 7:1-13
Habits can be real blessings. They can get us through the most boring parts of life, like our early morning routines, with barely a thought or a strain. With their help we just plow forward. Habits can carry us along when we’re tired and they can keep us going in the right direction when we could easily wander off. Good habits of living and thinking can do us the favor of setting off alarm bells when we’re tempted to do something stupid. Habits can be real blessings — but only some of them are in fact.

The other side of habits is that they can blind us to the most obvious of evils and the most ridiculous of life patterns. This is especially true when a habit of thinking and acting is a part of the culture we live in. It’s always just been there and we’ve never thought about whether it’s right or makes sense or not.

That’s where the Pharisees in Jesus’ time were caught, inside their own inherited habits of thinking and being. It led them to do and say a lot that made no sense. And it left them floating along on the surface of life, never seeing or finding its real purpose or meaning.

All of this leaves us with a crucial question: What are we taking for granted and just not looking at? Has habit blinded our hearts to the needs of others or to the consequences of our daily choices? Take time to look at the things you take for granted. There are almost certainly some surprises waiting for you!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Father Kearns Regarding Life of Father Maciel

"I Entrust His Soul to God’s Infinite Mercy"
ROME, FEB. 7, 2009 ( Here is the text of a statement from Legionary of Christ Father Owen Kearns, publisher of the U.S.-based newspaper the National Catholic Register, in response to news released this week regarding the congregation's founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel.
* * *

The news about Father Marcial Maciel is particularly poignant for those who knew him. I am saddened and humbled.
I'm saddened first of all for all those hurt by his misdeeds. They need comfort only God can give; they need your prayers.
It's hard to reconcile all of this with the gratitude I still feel for my founder. The Holy Spirit speaks to my soul through Father Maciel's words. I owe my priesthood and my way of being a disciple of Jesus to Father Maciel's guidance and spirituality, and for that I will always be grateful. I entrust his soul to God's infinite mercy.

How to reconcile such contraries? When our spirit is in turmoil, we need to know where to turn. In prayer, and close to the Heart of Christ, is where we find peace.
As I said to a fellow Legionary, "It's not what we would have planned, is it?" But it is what God has allowed, and we know that "for those who love God, all things work together for good." All things, including these things.

At a recent meeting with superiors from various religious communities, I had to introduce myself. I hadn't planned on saying this, but the words just came tumbling out: "I'm Father Owen Kearns. I'm from the Legionaries of Christ. As you probably know, our founder died in disgrace about a year ago. So, we are not the untouchables. But we are comforted by the encouragement the Holy Father has given our superiors. And Cardinal Rodé [who is in charge of religious life] has told us to do two things. The first is to be faithful to our charism. And the second is to grow. And that's what we're trying to do."

I humbly ask for your support of the Legionaries and Regnum Christi members as we strive to do just that.
But pray first for those who have been hurt and for the Church we all love and serve.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Have enough for others?

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"You can have anything you want in life

if you just help enough other people

get what they want."

-- Zig Ziglar

You Have Not Drawn Near to an Untouchable Mountain!

Posted: 06 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST (Catholic Exchanged)
Heb 13:1-8 / Mk 6:14-29
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like trying to get to know God and to give our heart to him if Jesus had never come on this earth as one of us. How would we ever dare to call God our father? How would we be so sure that he would forgive us and give us second chances when inevitably we sin? How would we know what we’re supposed to look like and be like without Jesus as our model? It’s so easy to forget what life without Jesus would be like, because from the very first moment of our lives he HAS been there as our brother and our savior.

St. Paul could remember a time in his life when he’d never even heard of Jesus, and when the weight of facing a fearsome judge-God burdened his soul mightily. So he reassures us in today’s epistle: “You have not drawn near to an untouchable mountain and a blazing fire, and gloomy darkness and storm and trumpet blast, and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that they be not addressed to them.” No, as Paul tells us, we have drawn near “to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…”

Jesus is God’s own special word to us. And that word says, “I love you, and I always will.” Trust that love, and let the peace of Christ, which is beyond all understanding, fill your mind and your heart now and always.

Legion Regrets Founder's Conduct

Congregation Apologizes for Scandal
ROME, FEB. 4, 2009 ( Some aspects of the life of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, were incompatible with the priesthood, according to a spokesman for the congregation."We are pained and grieved for any offenses that Father Maciel's actions have inflicted on the Church and her members. We apologize for the scandal this has caused," Jim Fair said in a statement today to ZENIT.

Jim Fair, the spokesman for the Legionaries of Christ in the United States, told reporters: "We have learned some things about our founder's life that are surprising and difficult for us to understand."Beginning Tuesday, reports in the media affirmed that the Mexican priest, who died last year and was buried in his native Cotija, Mexico, had a relationship with a woman and fathered a daughter.The Legion’s Rome spokesman, Father Paolo Scarafoni, said: "We cannot deny the existence of these facts but we can't go into detail because we have to respect the privacy of people involved."In response to reporters’ questions whether or not the Legion will renounce Father Maciel as its founder, Fair said that there was no intent to rewrite history: "He is the founder and he always will be the founder of the order.

Whatever Father Maciel’s human failings, we remain grateful for the charism we received through him. One of the mysteries that we all see in life is that God does good works with less than perfect human instruments."Pete Vere, canon lawyer and author of several books on the Code of Canon Law, told ZENIT that there is no need for the Legion to leave aside its founder."Being honest about the founder, and saying that the founder made mistakes and that maybe the founder did things for the wrong reasons, and maybe some of the things he did were wrong ... I think that type of openness and transparency will allow [the Legion] to go on," he said. "Obviously given the size and given the effect they've had on the Church, there is something good there."Father Marcial Macial founded the Legionaries of Christi in 1941 and declined re-election as superior-general in 2005. Father Álvaro Corcuera was elected as his successor.In

May 2006, after having investigated accusations against Father Maciel, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "decided -- bearing in mind Father Maciel´s advanced age and his delicate health -- to forgo a canonical hearing and to invite the father to a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry." The Vatican note at that time recognized "the distinguished apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and of Regnum Christi," saying they were "acknowledged with gratitude."

Friday, 6 February 2009

Fighting “For” God or Fighting “Over” Allah

Posted by admin (Malaysia today)
Friday, 06 February 2009 15:51
By Syed Akbar Ali

Firstly there is an interesting opinion written by the Blogger Demi Negara about the fuss over the usage of the word Allah.
There is a link to Demi Negara to the bottom right of my Blog page. Demi Negara does get to the point rather quickly.

It is true that in the Middle East, the Christian Arabs all say ‘Allah’. Its their language. I used to have Maronite Christian Lebanese friends in college. They had names like Musa and Amin. When I greeted them in the Arabic ‘Kaifa hal?’ (How are you?) they would reply ‘Alhamdulillah’ (Praise be to Allah).

Its no big deal in the Middle East. Someday perhaps it will be so here too. But there is a more obvious reason why the Catholics are insisting on using the word Allah here in Malaysia.

Obviously they want to get through to the Malay Muslims who – under the laws of this land – must remain Muslims if they are also Malays. If you are a Malay you must be a Muslim. This is written in our Federal Constitution. This is also the reason behind the objection. Do read on. We cannot ignore our recent history.

But the Federal Constitution and our written laws came later. And the Constitution and our laws were written by the Mat Sallehs. When the Federal Constitution documented that a Malay must be a Muslim, the Constitution was capturing not just the aspiration or religious persuasion of the Malays, it was actually enumerating something that was a solid fact among the Malay community at that time. The Malays were Muslim, almost down to the last man.

Despite hundreds of years of Portugese, Dutch and English rule the Malays remained Muslim. Very few converted to Christianity. Not just in Malaya but all over the world the conversion of Muslims to Christianity has been in small numbers. Indonesia, Aceh, Minadanao and large swaths of India are evidence to this fact.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Problem in life...

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"The problem in my life and other people's lives

is not the absence of knowing what to do,

but the absence of doing it."

-- Peter Drucker

Are You in the Right Place?

Posted: 05 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST(Catholic exchanged)
Heb 12:18-19, 21-24 / Mk 6:7-13
The ordinariness and repetitiveness of daily life can cause us at times to question whether we are in the right place and doing something that’s worth doing. It’s a natural question, and a good one, because it can start us thinking about changes that really do need to be made. But more important, it can stimulate a process of reflection that can help us remember or see more clearly why we are where we are.

Today’s Gospel story about the Apostles being sent out to preach and teach and heal for the first time, brings to mind an interesting pattern in many of the stories about Jesus’ healing of the sick, blind, and lame. Quite often, the one who has been healed asks if he may join Jesus’ traveling band of Apostles and disciples. And almost always Jesus says “No.” Instead, He tells the person to go home and give his full attentions to what is at hand right there.

Most of us are not called to be nuns, priests, monks, or brothers. But all of us, by virtue of our baptism, have a special calling to build God’s kingdom right where we are. So when those “doubt days” come to you, don’t brush them aside, but seize them as an opportunity to ask the question: Am I really using all the gifts that God gave me to build up His kingdom right here and right now?
That’s a question whose answer can keep you busy for a whole lifetime!

On Jewish-Catholic Relations: Press "Got It Wrong"

Jewish Leader Considers Future If Schism Isn't Healed
NEW YORK, FEB. 4, 2009 ( The full story about Benedict XVI's reconciliation with excommunicated bishops, contrary to the media's portrayal, can reaffirm Jewish-Catholic relations, stated the president of an interreligious foundation.Gary Krupp, founder and president of the Pave the Way Foundation, an organization dedicated to bridging gaps between religions, affirmed that "the full story has not been told […]; the media got it wrong."In a statement today from the foundation, he acknowledged the initial shock of the widely reported news "that Pope Benedict XVI lifted the ban of excommunication with the Society of St. Pius X and its four bishops."Krupp observed: "The media often focuses on one action without researching the details.

This omission has made headlines, fueled a controversy and promoted negativity."He affirmed that the public Holocaust-denial of Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the reconciled prelates, seemed to imply an affront against Jewish-Catholic relations.But, the Jewish founder explained that his organization researched the matter "in depth, and inquired with Vatican officials in Rome and knowledgeable experts in canon law, in order to have a clear picture of what was done and why it was done."Vatican historyKrupp said he found that Vatican actions "typically do not concern themselves with years, but rather with centuries."He continued: "History has shown that past schisms from excommunications and defections from the Catholic Church have spawned new religious communities and faiths."The Pope's lifting the ban of excommunication has effectively only opened a door whereby this radical right wing conservative group -- with an estimated over 1,000,000 devotees in number -- may only just begin to talk to Vatican officials to eventually be brought back to the mainstream Catholic beliefs […]."This also includes the declaration that anti-Semitism is a sin.

If the Pope did not take action to begin to close this schism, our children and grandchildren might one day see a new virulent right wing religion spring up."Krupp observed that Benedict XVI's action is only the first step toward full communion.And he said, "It is important to note that Catholic clergy around the world have universally condemned Bishop Richard Williamson's outrageous statements." Krupp concluded by asking, "Should we allow the bizarre statements and beliefs of this one man, and media omissions, [to] damage Jewish-Catholic dialogue, which has consistently been highlighted as a major focus for the Catholic Church and this papacy?"He answered, "We say no!"

Vatican Clarification on Lefebvrites, Holocaust

"The Holy Father Asks Accompaniment in Prayer"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2009 ( Here is a translation of a note issued today by the Vatican Secretariat of State regarding last month's lifting of the excommunication of four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.* * *

In the wake of the reactions elicited by the recent decree from the Congregation for Bishops, with which the excommunication of four prelates of the Fraternity of St. Pius X were lifted, and in relation to negationist or reductionist declarations on the Shoah from Bishop Williamson of that same fraternity, it is considered opportune to clarify certain aspects of the issue.

1. Remission of the excommunication.As has already been published previously, the decree of the Congregation for Bishops, dated Jan. 21, 2009, was an act by which the Holy Father graciously took in the reiterated petitions from the superior-general of the Fraternity of St. Pius X.His Holiness wished to remove an impediment that adversely affected the opening of a door to dialogue. Now he expects that the same willingness be expressed by the four bishops, in total adhesion to the doctrine and discipline of the Church.The most grave penalty of excommunication latae sententiae, which these bishops incurred June 30, 1988, afterward declared formally on July 1 of the same year, was a consequence of their illegitimate ordination by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.The lifting of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a most grave canonical penalty, but it has not changed in any way the juridical situation of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, which for the moment does not enjoy any canonical recognition in the Catholic Church. Neither do the four bishops, though liberated from the excommunication, have a canonical function in the Church and they do not licitly exercise a ministry in it.

2. Tradition, doctrine and the Second Vatican Council.For a future recognition of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, the full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself is an indispensable condition.As has already been affirmed in the decree of Jan. 21, 2009, the Holy See will not cease, in the ways in which it judges opportune, to go deeper with the interested parties in the questions that remain open, in such a way that a full and satisfactory solution to the problems that have given rise to this painful fracture can be reached.

3. Declaration on the Shoah.The viewpoints of Bishop Williamson on the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father, as he himself noted last Jan. 28, when, referring to that savage genocide, he reaffirmed his full and indisputable solidarity with our brother recipients of the First Covenant, and affirmed that the memory of that terrible genocide should induce "humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the human heart," adding that the Shoah remains "for everyone a warning against forgetting, against negating or reductionism, because violence committed against even one human being is violence against all."Bishop Williamson, to be admitted to episcopal functions in the Church, must also distance himself in an absolutely unmistakable and public way from his position on the Shoah, which was unknown to the Holy Father in the moment of the lifting of the excommunication.

The Holy Father asks accompaniment in prayer from all the faithful, that the Lord may enlighten the path of the Church. May there be an increase in the determination of the pastors and all the faithful in support of the delicate and heavy mission of the Successor of the Apostle Peter as "guardian of the unity" of the Church.
From the Vatican, February 4, 2009

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Fasting Shouldn't Be Out of Style, Says Pope

Benefits Recognized for Millenniums Still Valid
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2009 ( Fasting is as important as ever and it is a "therapy" to heal obstacles to conforming to God's will, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this is a message for Lent, dated Dec. 11 and released today. Ash Wednesday this year is Feb. 25.The Holy Father recalled that the liturgy proposes three specific practices during Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. And he said that his message this year would focus on the history and importance of fasting.The Pontiff noted how fasting was prominent in both the Old and New Testaments: "Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law and Elijah's fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb, Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared himself for the mission that lay before him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter."

Benedict XVI went on to acknowledge that the meaning of fasting -- "depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance" -- might not be immediately clear.But he explained that "sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. […] ""Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God."

Jesus' teaching
A deeper meaning for fasting is revealed by Christ, the Pope explained."True fasting […] is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who 'sees in secret, and will reward you,'" the papal message notes. "[Christ] himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the 40 days spent in the desert that 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' The true fast is thus directed to eating the 'true food,' which is to do the Father's will.
[T]he believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in his goodness and mercy."The first Christian communities and the fathers of the Church also point to the importance of fasting, the Holy Father continued."Moreover," he said, "fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age."

A rediscovery
Nevertheless, the Pontiff observed, "fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one's body. Fasting certainly brings benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a 'therapy' to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God."Recalling a 1966 document written by Pope Paul VI, "Pænitemini," Benedict XVI said that this Lent could be a "propitious time to present again the norms contained in the apostolic constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor.

"Finally, in addition to the personal benefits of fasting, the Holy Father said, the penance also helps to foster solidarity."Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother," he said. "By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger.""From what I have said thus far," the Bishop of Rome affirmed, "it seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves."

Whom the Lord Loves, He Disciplines

Posted: 04 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Heb 12:4-7, 11-15 / Mk 6:1-6
How often have you thought to yourself, “There’s no justice in this world. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. The evil prosper, and the good are left in outer darkness.” It surely seems that way at times, and the “why” of it all seems a great mystery. Why is that good woman who never did harm to anyone suddenly left alone as the sole support of four tiny children? Why did this freak accident cause permanent damage to the finest young dad in the parish? Why did that good priest have to suffer so much from his tormentors? So many whys and so few answers.

The mystery of evil is exactly that, a mystery. But we can gain some insight and some leverage in dealing with it by attending to a line in today’s epistle: “Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines.” Before we dash into misunderstanding, we need to clarify the meaning of “discipline.” To discipline is to teach, not to punish. What the passage suggests is that the Lord at times ALLOWS certain evils in order to draw forth some larger good — which, unfortunately, may not be immediately visible to us. God’s view is long term, and ours is so short.

If we believe that God is indeed a loving father, then the corollary is that in God’s good time all things will work for the good of those who trust him — even if we never see it clearly in our own lifetime. So make your heart open to being taught and re-formed. In the Lord, we have the greatest and most loving teacher of all.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Value of friend...

Today's Inspirational Quote:
"I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar,
but I cherish the friend who for me
does not consult his calendar."
-- Robert Brault

Keep Your Eyes Fixed on Jesus!

Posted: 03 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST (by Msgr Den)
Heb 12:1-4 / Mk 5:21-43
It’s fascinating to look at aerial photographs of great and ancient rivers like the Mississippi as they meander across a continent, and to observe all the twists and turns and radical changes of course that have occurred across the centuries. Our lifetimes seem short indeed when compared to such epic histories. And yet the changes and shifts that take place even in our short lives can be mind-boggling.

Think about the shifts of our personal opinions and our most intensely defended attitudes that often move up and down with the speed and abandon of the NASDAQ index. And what about the ebb and flow of our special interests and preoccupations and the passions that we’d “die” for? They come and they go. Then there’s the very simple reality of aging, at every stage of which our bodies dictate messages that are often confusing and always hard to ignore.

At every stage we are tugged and pulled in sundry directions and sometimes whipsawed till our brains seem addled. We can lose our way. There is only one secure remedy for that, one secure haven, and St. Paul speaks it so well in today’s epistle: “Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.” Do that and no matter how hard the wind blows or the seas rage, you will know where you are and where you are going.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Learning to see...

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"We come to love not by finding a perfect person,

but by learning to

see an imperfect person perfectly."

-- Sam Keen

Surviving the Etceteras of Life

Posted: 02 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Mal 3:1-4 / Heb 2:14-18 / Lk 2:22-40
In ancient Rome in the days of Nero some poor Christian was being chased around the coliseum by a ferocious lion. The faster he ran, the faster the lion ran. Eventually, it was obvious that the end was near, so the poor fellow fell to his knees and prayed aloud, “Dear Lord, make this lion a Christian!”
With that, the lion fell to his knees and began to pray, “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive….” The end WAS near!
* * *
Recently there appeared in the newspaper a cartoon depicting a prophet of doom with a long beard and flowing robes and a sign that read: “The end is NOT near. You’ll have to learn to cope!”
+ + +

Sometimes the lions really are chasing us. But most of the time what we face are not lions but the numbing etceteras of life, the little things that have to be done, and done well, over and over. Lawns don’t stay mowed. Taxes don’t stay paid. Perfect roofs don’t stay perfect. And as every child knows, homework doesn’t stay done.
“A mother’s work is never done,” goes the old saying. Quite true, but neither is anyone else’s work ever done! And after a while, when the novelty has worn off and year follows upon year, we can get worn down. We can lose heart and be tempted to give up or run away.

So how do we keep going — not just surviving, putting one foot in front of the other? How do we keep moving forward with spirit, glad that we’re alive? The old man Simeon in today’s Gospel gives us a clue. When Mary and Joseph showed up at the temple to present their new baby to the Lord, Simeon took little Jesus tenderly in his arms and whispered, “I knew you’d come! I knew it!”

It was that knowing that kept Simeon alive on the inside across those many years. It was that knowing that gave every day of his life joy and energy. And how had he known? The Gospel says the Holy Spirit had been with him from the beginning. He’d never walked alone, and so he knew from the inside that God could never abandon his people — not even one of them.
The Spirit is knocking softly at our inner door, offering us the same energy, the same quiet joy that carried Simeon all the way to the end of his good life.
The Spirit is knocking. Open the door, and walk alone no more!

Benedict XVI: Euthanasia a "False" Solution

Says the Answer Is Love
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2009 ( Ending a person's life is "false" solution to the problem of suffering, and one not worthy of human dignity, says Benedict XVI.After praying the Angelus today with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said that euthanasia is often a big temptation when one is suffering, but it's not the answer. The answer, he said, is love.

Speaking on the Day for Life being observed in Italy, the Pontiff commented on the theme chosen by the Italian episcopal conference: "The Strength of Life in Suffering.""I wholeheartedly join in their message in which we see the love of pastors for their people, and the courage to proclaim the truth, the courage to state with clarity, for example, that euthanasia is a false solution to the drama of suffering, a solution unworthy of man," he said.

The Holy Father said the answer isn't putting a person out of their misery, however "kindly" they do it, "but to bear witness to the love that helps us to face pain and agony in a human way.""We are certain," Benedict XVI affirmed, "no tear, whether it be of those who suffer or those who stand by them, goes unnoticed before God."The Pope entrusted those who are suffering and their caretakers to the Virgin Mary, who "carried in her mother’s heart the Son’s secret, she shared in the painful moments of the passion and crucifixion, sustained by the hope of the resurrection."