Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Russ Rentler Hammer Dulcimer

We're to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Do you think about playing with Rich Mullins before our Lord someday? Maybe you could play dueling dulcimers with his brother, David, someday? Just a thought. Thanks, Russ! It's beautiful, a little haunting, (maybe because it reminds me of Rich) and joyful all together.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Angel Rays

Too late? by Mark Mallett

Found on Mark's blog.

WHAT about those who aren’t Catholic or Christian? Are they damned?

How often have I heard people say that some of the nicest folk they know are "atheists" or "don’t go to church." It’s true, there are many "good" people out there.

But no one is good enough to get to Heaven on his own.


Jesus said,

Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

Thus, as Jesus shows us by His example at the Jordan, Baptism is necessary for salvation. It is a Sacrament, or symbol, which reveals to us a deeper reality: the washing away of one’s sins in the blood of Jesus, and the consecration of the soul to truth. That is, the person now accepts the truth of God and commits himself to follow that truth, which is revealed fully through the Catholic Church.

But not everyone has the privilege of hearing the Gospel due to geography, education, or other factors. Is such a person then, who has not heard the Gospel nor been baptized, condemned?

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life…" Jesus is the truth. Whenever anyone follows the truth in his or her heart, they are, in a sense, following Jesus.

Since Christ died for all… Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity. —1260, Catechism of the Catholic Church

Perhaps Christ himself gave us a glimmer of this possibility when He said of those men who were casting out demons in His name, but yet were not following him:

Whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:40)

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. —847, CCC


One might be tempted to say, "Then why bother preaching the Gospel. Why try to convert anyone?"

Aside from the fact that Jesus commanded us to…

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… (Mt 28:19-20)

…He also said,

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. (Mt 7:13-14)

According to Christ’s own words, "those who find it are few." So while the possibility of salvation exists for those not explicitly Christian, one could say the odds go down for those who live outside the power and life and transforming grace of the Sacraments which Jesus Himself established—particularly Baptism, the Eucharist, and Confession—for our sanctification and salvation. This does not mean non-Catholics are unsaved. It just means the ordinary and powerful means of grace which Jesus clearly established to distribute through the Church, built upon Peter, are not being availed. How can this not leave a soul disadvantaged?

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever. (John 6:51)

Or hungry?

There have been cases where the parachute of a sky diver has failed and the person has fallen straight to the ground, and yet survived! It is rare, but possible. But how foolish—no, how irresponsible it would be for a sky diving instructor to say to his trainees as they enter the plane, "It’s up to you whether you pull the rip cord or not. Some people have made it without the parachute opening. I really don’t want to impose on you…"

No, the instructor, by telling the students the truth—how with the parachute open, one has support, can ride the wind, direct one’s descent, and land safely at home-base—has given them the greatest opportunity to avoid death.

Baptism is the rip cord, the Sacraments are our support, the Spirit is the wind, the Word of God our direction, and Heaven our home-base.

The Church is the instructor, and Jesus is the parachute.

Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary. —851, CCC


On the Catholic Church as the "sacrament of salvation": Mountains, Foothills, and Plains

On accepting the Catholic Church as the imperfect sacrament, and, the consequences of rejecting it: You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

Seven Secrets of the Eucharist...

Pope John Paul II referred to the Holy Eucharist as "the greatest treasure of the Church," and yet even many devoted Catholics have a very limited understanding of this powerful sacrament. This book will change all that. The reader will come away with a completely new awareness that the Eucharist is not just about receiving Communion; it's about transforming your daily life.

Deeply based on the Scriptures, the writings of the Saints, and the teachings of our two most recent Popes, this profound and remarkably readable book will introduce you to some of the "hidden" truths of the Eucharist — truths that have always been embraced by theologians, saints, and mystics, but have rarely been passed on to the average person in a meaningful way. In 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, these truths are finally made accessible to all, as author Vinny Flynn shows how each reception of Holy Communion can be a life-changing experience.

No matter how much or how little you already know about the Eucharist, the "secrets" revealed here will bring you to a new, personal "Emmaus" experience, again and again. Perfect for personal devotion, catechesis, study groups, book clubs, and theological studies, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist will rekindle the "Eucharistic amazement" called for by Pope John Paul II.

Why a worldly life doen't lead to happiness...

A video by Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Making music...

This man's music needs to be heard. I hope to help get out the word here.

Please visit his website. I consider him a dear Catholic brother. His blog is a blessing in my life and I know it will be the same for you.

Thanks for your friendship and inspiration TJ.


Douglas Gresham...

I will always treasure the e-mail replies from Douglas that he wrote me, critiquing my first short story attempt I wrote in 1998. He was so kind, and his advice so informative. I've not worked on the project at all since, but keep thinking about it. I sometimes have to fight off some strange insecurities and fears about tackling it... knowing the rejections would be hard. I guess I should do it just for 'me' huh? At any rate, his two replies are still in a notebook with some of my poetry and the short vignette of a woman Saint very dear to my heart. Anyone out there that can help me with this, please let me know. I'd even gladly give the idea to someone, who's perhaps much more proficient at writing - even a real published author. I've not seen a work on this topic, though I'm sure there's some out there that I've just not come across. There are actually 2 short story ideas that have been waiting to break free out of my mind so I'd be glad to know where in this vast blogosphere I can find a kindred spirit for some assistance. I found this interview most enjoyable with this most generous, kind and creative soul. God bless you, Mr. Gresham, and thank you for 'keeping the wonder' of Narnia alive for us!


The segments included in this interview excerpt were recorded during September, 2000 in Carlow County, Ireland as part of THE MAGIC NEVER ENDS, a documentary on the life and work of C.S. Lewis. The documentary is a co-production with Crouse Entertainment Group and WTTW-Chicago. The video, book, and compact disc are available for purchase at our company store.

Douglas Gresham is one of two stepsons of C.S. Lewis from Lewis's marriage to Gresham's mother, Joy Davidman. He is also the author of LENTEN LANDS: My Childhood with Joy Davidman & C.S. Lewis. The book was the inspiration for the Richard Attenborough film SHADOWLANDS starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

(* This transcript has been edited due to length.)

Who was C.S. Lewis?

That's a very complicated question, actually, who was C.S. Lewis. I think first and foremost, he was a Christian, secondly he was a scholar. And he was probably the most intelligent man I have ever met in my life. And secondly, probably the most widely read man I have ever met in my life. … He had an uncanny ability to take what seemed to be the most complex of issues and reduce them to such simple language that anyone could understand what he was talking about. He was also a man who although conscious of his own sinfulness, was at the same time equally conscious of his own forgiveness. And this gave him a great sense of joy in life. He was a very humorous man, a great wit, great fun to be with. A conversation with Jack was mostly laughter. He was warm, compassionate extraordinarily humorous and a good companion. Who was C.S. Lewis, that's a very big question, we could probably go on for days.

What do you consider most important about Lewis the man and his work?
His work is far more important. I think Jack probably would far rather we remember Jesus Christ through the work, than remember C.S. Lewis for the work. So, I think the work is far more important than Lewis the man. People are very interested in Jack as a man and rightfully so. But, of course always beware of the personal heresy as Jack put it. It's far more important to remember the Christ whom Jack was pointing to all the time in his works, even his works of fiction. And then to get too tied up in Jack the man.

Can you talk about his relationship with his brother?

Jack and Warnie had a very close fraternal relationship. Warnie was his best friend throughout his whole life, as well as his only brother. I don't think in all the time I knew them I ever heard a cross word between them. They knew each other extremely well and spent most of their lives together except for periods when one or the other was away at war or college or somewhere. They were really great friends, inter-reliant on each other. Their friendship, and their brotherly love for each other could have been a model for any two siblings in the world. Warnie was one of the world's greatest English gentlemen of the old school. Of course he did have a binge alcoholism problem, but when he was sober, he was the most delightful character. And he and Jack were firm friends right up to Jack's death.

Warnie was a burden whenever he started drinking. And I think in a sense, Jack was a burden on Warnie in a way, because Jack's life took these strange twists of looking after, in an honor bound commitment, looking after Mrs. Moore and Maureen Moore and so forth. And Warnie had to stand and watch that even though he didn't really understand it, didn't really accept it, in any case. And then of course my mother came into the scene. And although Warnie loved my mother as much as Jack did, though in a different way, the burden of what happened with her death, what happened to Jack because of her death, was very difficult for Warnie to take.

You lived with him, what made him a colorful person?

Certainly he was respected in our community, in the area in which we lived, despite the fact that the people in the area were working class people for the most part. He was a man who would walk for miles at great speeds, and people found that a bit strange perhaps. I was only e-mailed by somebody the other day who found it extraordinary to think that someone would walk from The Kilns down to Magdalen and back, every day. Which isn't a great distance, but people just don't do it anymore. … Jack's colorful characteristics would have been mostly exhibited in his friendships. He was, I suppose, to a certain extent what one would describe as a bon vivant, a man with a great joy in life. That might have been regarded by some as being colorful. But, he wasn't your eccentric or weird professor by any stretch of the imagination. He was able to walk into a workingman's bar and discuss anything. And to find that plumbers, electricians, builders, laborers, farm laborers whatever, found him just as agreeable as academics. I don't think he was seen as being in any way eccentric.

More of a populist?

Not deliberately. He wasn't deliberately a populist, he was interested in what people had to say, genuinely. I always regard a populist as someone who feigns that interest in order to be popular. But Jack didn't do that at all, he was genuinely interested in people. And he found that people with no education often had as much to say and as much worthwhile things to say as people who had a great deal of education. So he was genuinely interested in people. He was accepted by everybody.

Who were the Inklings, what did their name mean, why did they exist?
The Inklings were a sort of unofficial and loose grouping of people … people who shared common interests, interests in literature, interests in words and languages and so on, who just started to meet together in order to discuss these things and have a few pints of beer and smoke a few pipes of tobacco and generally have a good time. What came of it later, of course, because, I suppose, of Jack's enormous intellectual ability and the people who were naturally attracted to that, it became a loose formation of some of the greatest writers of our century. The names that stand out are the people like Neville Coghill, J.R.R. Tolkien … they were men who first and foremost shared interests in literature and all kind of other things, and would get together to talk about not only literature and language, but also the works that they themselves were writing. It was a normal practice in a one of these informal meetings either in a pub or in Jack's room, for whoever was working on something at the time to read passages of it aloud to the rest of he group. And invite criticism. I'm not sure that I would have the courage to read my work aloud to people like C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien and invite criticism. But they did. And I think that the process of honing their words with great minds of equal interest in literature is one of the things that characterizes the finished works of these men on such a high level. They had great minds to bounce their ideas and their word usage off and benefited from each other's criticism all the time. So, the Inklings became this kind of loose grouping together of literary minds. And as I said, they argued about practically everything under the sun, and yet remained friends.

Was C.S. Lewis a genius?
Oh, absolutely, there's no doubt about that. He was a complete genius. He also was a very fast reader, but he had honed the talent and perfected the strange memory that resulted in never forgetting anything he had read. Now he could, he could ask you to pick any book off of his shelves, and you would pick a page and read him a line and he would quote the rest of the page; in fact, quote the rest of the book until you told him to stop. He had this enormous capacity to remember everything he'd ever read.

A photographic memory?
I'm not sure, photographic perhaps or phonographic, one or the other. It might have been the sounds that stayed with him, I just don't know. I'd rather feel it would have been the sounds … Because he enjoyed the sounds of words and the sounds of word structures. So I feel it was probably the sounds that stayed with him, and the meanings that stayed with him. But the result of this of course, was that he had read enormously widely, all the great classics of literature before he was 25 or 26 years old and mostly in their own languages. And it stayed with him, so he could just draw on this huge morass, if you like, of knowledge of literature at any given second.

He not only remembered the words and the sounds of the words, and particularly in poetry the structure of the poetry and the rhythms of the poetry. But, he also remembered the personalities of the characters, the involvement in the text. That was important to him, how literature was constructed, how the emotions transmitted through the literary works were constructed, how they were transmitted. All of that was important to him, and he did retain it, yes.

Didn't your mother have the same ability?
Yes, she had the same kind of ability. I think actually hers was probably even more acute than Jack's. She was the only person I ever knew, who I ever saw able to catch Jack out in a slightly incorrect quotation. Which he loved, he found it delightful when he was called out. But, um, yes, her memory was extraordinary.

What were Lewis' early views of Christianity and how did they change over time?
Jack's views on Christianity began with him being a fairly fervent Christian child, when he was a little boy. He was the son of two devoted Christians, his mother particularly. And as a little boy he went to church and believed in God and believed in Jesus Christ. But his mother's death, I think, was the first wedge that was driven into that masonry, into that structure. And then his subsequent upbringing by people other than his parents, influences of people other than his parents began to shatter the structure of the Christian faith. And eventually at one of his schools, he lost it completely. Being a man with an intensely powerful intellect and rational mind, he soon began to try to rationalize everything around him, and rationalize God out of his life. That, of course, is in itself a sort of cyclic procedure, because, if you continue to do it, once you've rationalized God out of your life, and go further in the search for truth an rationality, you have to rationalize him back in again later on. And that's more or less what happened to Jack. His tutor W.T. Kirkpatrick was a rationalist and a humanist, and he had the influence on Jack of making him think and search for truth much more deeply than he had before. The end result of this being that he began to ask, what could be described by an atheist, which Jack was at the time, awkward questions. Then when he went to Oxford, he found much to his initial surprise, the people he liked the most and began to admire the most and began to associate with, were mostly Christians. The people whose minds he admired most, were mostly Christians. The people whose behavior he admired most were all Christians. And so you did really have to begin to look at this topic of Christianity and try to figure out what there was in it, if there was anything in it at all. In the end of course, people like Hugo Dyson and (J.R.R.) Ron Tolkien held enormously lengthy discussions with him. All night on occasions about such matters. And Jack, of course, being a rational mind and being a powerful intellect, began to realize that God, of course, did exist. And it's interesting to note that he really began to believe in God as existent almighty force, after a discussion with Hugo Dyson and (J.R.R.) Ron Tolkien at Addison's Walk that lasted almost all night. And he then found himself suddenly realizing that God was real.

Can you talk about why Lewis' work is accepted throughout Christendom and all of its denominations?

The fact that Jack's work as a Christian apologist and a Christian writer is so well accepted across all the denominational spectrum, is because it doesn't deal with anything denominational. He avoided denominational issues because he found them to be trivial. He found that what we all share in common is so much more important than the differences that separate us. I personally have no denominational affiliation at all, I am a non-denominational Christian because I do believe that one of the greatest problems with the denominational churches is that they tend to concentrate on the trivial at the cost of the essential. I think this is a sadness in Christendom. Jack obviously felt much the same way, it's reflected in his writings. He doesn't deal with the denominational issues at all. He works with Mere Christianity and that's the important part. That's what's important about life and about Christianity in general. The reason he's acceptable to all denominations is simply that he is not denominational in his writing. He is Christian. And I think the sooner we all wake up to the fact that we should be Christian rather than denominational, rather than Baptist or Presbyterian or Roman Catholic or whatever, the better off the world will be. We need to dispense with the trivialities and get back to Jesus Christ and I think that's the direction Jack was moving. Lots of people have tried to say, of course, if Jack had lived longer he would have become a roman Catholic or a Presbyterian or a this or a that or the other thing. I think the Mormons have probably baptized him in absentia since his death. But the truth of the matter is that toward the end of his life Jack was moving closer to Christ and further from any denominational lines at all. And I think that's the direction we should all be going.

Did he pray?

All the time.

Can you talk about that?
I don't know what he prayed, but it was not uncommon for me to walk into a room to find Jack praying. And I would say, "I'm so sorry Jack." And he would say, "Don't worry I was only praying." You know, it was, the interruption was not something he found irritating, when I'd walk in and interrupt him in prayer. He prayed while walking, he prayed while sitting in his chair, he would pray at, throughout the day. I think, for a man like Jack, prayer eventually becomes a matter of conversation with Christ, more than supplication. For many of us, in when we start in our Christian lives, regarding prayer is a matter of supplication first and foremost. And then a bit later on we get mature enough to include some thanksgiving and some praise in our prayer life. Eventually I think one should achieve a state where one's prayer is conversation with Christ, which includes thanksgiving, and praise and supplication as well.

When did your mother fall in love with C.S. Lewis?
Fairly enough, I think it happened after he fell in love with her. She loved, there's no doubt about that, with a sense of agape, philia, and storge. Right up to the point where she was dying. But there was one moment in their experience together at that point when he was looking after her when she realized that she had fallen head over heels in love with him. And I think it took place while he was being attentive and taking care of her as a sort of auxiliary nurse by that stage. She had been brought home to die at the Kilns. She was thought, at the time, only likely to live a few days maybe a matter of hours. And Jack was constantly nursing her, in conjunction with professional nurses. And it was at that point that she fell head over heels in love with him, emotionally.

And he with her?

I think he already had by that time. I think he'd already fallen and realized his love for her when she was in the hospital, before she was sent home to die. And they were actually married in the hospital. A lot of people have sort of postulated, or some people have postulated the idea that my mother set out to entrap Jack into marriage. But they forget that it was actually Jack's decision making process that brought the marriage about, not hers. She was dying. It was Jack who said I am going to marry you. And he set up and did it.

But there was romantic love between them?

Oh yes, enormously. But again this is something that grew larger and greater after they were married. They were married in the hospital, she came home to die, but she went into remission. And they had the happiest four years of their lives. And I don't think I have ever seen two people more in love. I mean there are some times when you see a young couple head over heels in love with each other in every sense of the word love. And they almost carry an aura of it with them. Well Jack and my mother in-in middle age developed this immensely powerful love for each other. And it was visible, you could actually see it. I remember one occasion I was being packed off to school in South Wales, mid-Wales, and they came to see me off at the railway station. And as the train pulled out; it was a weird experience, rather like one of those ancient Greek mythological experiences; I looked back and saw Jack and my mother standing in a glow of their own making. And it was a glow not only of great love and affection, a visible aura, but also had a tinge of doom about it. And I wept all the way from Oxford to South Wales, I couldn't stop.

The doom coming from?
That she was to die. It was evident to me at that, at that time that my mother was soon going to die. This was after they had lived together as husband and wife for three years. And she did die while I was at that school, within a year.

When she died, you then had three or four year where you were raised by C.S. Lewis,

I now want to try something with you. I will call out some of the titles of Lewis' book and you tell me what you think. Lets start with the Chronicles of Narnia…
The Chronicles of Narnia are today and will be forever, perhaps the greatest classics of children's literature of the 20th century. I think the reason for that, one of the reasons for that is that they deal with truth, inescapable truth. They dealt with reconciliation, forgiveness, things of that nature which are essential for children to learn at some point in their development. One of the greatest problems in western society today is that we've given up the search for forgiveness and reconciliation in favor of revenge. And that of course destroys any society quite quickly. You see a great deal of it in today's television programming, everyone looking for revenge and uh, it washes through the whole society. And this is one of the most destructive things in our society. Truth, truth telling, all of these things are dealt with in the Chronicles of Narnia.

They're also, of course, very beautiful stories, beautifully crafted in terms of the actual, the sculpture of the words formations, the sculpture of the book. They're beautifully done. They are, I think, exceptionally valuable books, and I don't care whether you're an atheist or a Buddhist or whatever, your children should still read the Chronicles of Narnia because of the moral teaching they get from them, and the great fun they will have reading them. Very enjoyable books, great books, great books.

Can you talk about the reaction to the Chronicles of Narnia when it was first created? I know Tolkien didn't like it.
Tolkien didn't like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because Tolkien was a purist in mythological terms. The idea of mixing mythologies was an anathema to him. He didn't like it at all. Couldn't understand it, I don't think. I don't think he had the depth of perception to understand what Jack was doing with it. It's fair to say that among the Inklings Hugo Dyson couldn't stand The Lord of the Rings. Jack on the other hand thought The Lord of the Rings was a great masterpiece of literature and was constantly encouraging Tolkien to carry on with it and finish it and publish it. Tolkien got very discouraged over that for a while. Tollers on the other hand didn't like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or the Narnian Chronicles at all. And I think it's largely because Jack did mix in so many different cultures and mythologies. Wh-which, mixing them all together to Tolkien would be rather like putting coffee and tea in the same cup. He liked to keep them separate and pure, he was very much a purist. So, the overall reaction to, I think, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when it was first introduced was greatly enthusiastic. And of course the reaction ever since has been greatly enthusiastic.

Why have they lasted for so long?
I think the question as to why the Narnian Chronicles have lasted as long as they have is probably somewhat short sighted. We look at it that way, I think the question should rather be, why will the Narnia Chronicles be eternal? As long as literature lasts they will last. And I think the answer is because they're true. They contain so much truth. All the greatest literature we have is truth, based on truth, based on the eternal truth of the war between good and evil. One of the greatest fictional pieces, Christian fictional pieces written for adults in current times is The Lord of the Rings. One of the most powerful Christian books ever written. Because it contains the essential truth, which is also contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The works of Dickens show the truth about society as it was at the time, and so on. And those sorts of things with these essential truths contained in them, as a sort of, almost like a-a flavoring, if you like, will go on forever.

The Screwtape Letters?

Ah, "The Screwtape Letters" is one, again one of the greatest books, I think, ever written. I love "The Screwtape Letters". For me it's a book of instruction a book of interest, amusement, delight. There's so much in it, so many depths in it. Interestingly, Jack found it one of the easiest books to write, but one of the most unpleasant to write. He had to do a, sort of, mental gear change; to change sides, to think like the enemy. And he found it a grubby, dirtying process. But the frightening thing to him was that as soon as he'd done so the ability to tempt seemed to be so, so good so easy so-so run so quickly from his mind, I think it rather disconcerted him. But yet it, I think it's a great book, it's a wonderful book, I think everybody should read The Screwtape Letters. Every Christian needs to have a copy close at hand at all times and probably re-read it once a year. It's only a small, short book it doesn't take long. There's a recording of it done by the English actor John Cleese, which I think is brilliant. Wonderful book, wonderful book.

Mere Christianity?
Mere Christianity is a classic of Christian apologetics. I don't think it's ever been, certainly never been bettered and it probably never will be. It cuts through all of the denominational rubbish, all the dross that we've added to what Christ did, and what Christ taught. Cut through right to the nitty-gritty of the matter and makes it so very simple for people to understand what Jesus was really all about. Once you start waving the incense burners and putting on the golden robes and the great jeweled hats and the processionals and the icons ad all of these bits and pieces we add to it, get rid of all that stuff. Underneath is one of the most beautiful truths, the most beautiful truth, the world has ever seen. Mere Christianity reveals it. Mere Christianity draws back that dark curtain of religion that people try to draw across the blinding face of God. It's an all-time classic.

What were some of Jack's favorite things?

Some of Jack's favorite things; good tobacco, good beer, good tea, strong Darjeeling or Ceylon tea, good friendships good, conversation, good literature, good food, a good fast walk in the countryside, preferably, anything of beauty, anything finely crafted well constructed. I think that Jack enjoyed what was well done. Everything God does is well done. So he enjoyed all of nature, because God did it well. I don't think he much time for shoddy things, for planned obsolescence, things of that nature. Jack enjoyed good quality anything, in a sense, those things that display the beauties of God's creation to the best of their advantage, whether they be the artisanship of man bringing those out, like finely crafted woodwork, furniture and so on, or whether they simply be a beautiful oak tree.

Was he one of those kinds of people, a genius that only needed four hours of sleep a night?
Well Jack usually was up till, probably 11 or 12 at night and he was up in the morning around 5 or 6.

And when did he do most of his writing?
The correspondence would be done in the mornings. He would be up early, he would say his morning prayers, he would read the Bible, at least a chapter of the Bible a day every day. First he would answer his letters right after breakfast. All of them for the day, unless there was one that was particularly difficult to where he'd have to look into it, research it or something. And then he would write after lunch until tea time. And he would write after tea until dinnertime, 7 o'clock in the evening. And then after dinner he would read or talk or play Scrabble with mother or something. But he wrote mostly during the afternoons. He'd also take a walk during the afternoons he'd take time off to go for a walk for exercise. But most of his time, if he finished his correspondence early, he'd start writing before lunch. But usually it was after lunch, he'd begin writing, after he'd had his walk, and then he would continue writing until-until dinnertime.

Is there anything that you would like to talk about that my questions have not covered?

I think the only thing we haven't discussed is Jack's personal courage. Jack was a very brave man in many ways, many types of courage. He was very physically brave; he was a very brave soldier in the First World War. He was very brave in the fact that he married a woman that he knew to be dying and accepted the burden of loving wholeheartedly a woman he knew to be dying. He accepted two stepsons, the responsibility there. He was immensely courageous, he was courageous in his work, in his writings, the fact that people mightn't be prepared to accept what he wrote didn't worry him, he knew it had to be written and he wrote it. If it was true he wrote it. I think this is, this is one of the things that does get missed is Jack's immense personal courage on a lot of different levels. I think it's important that people know that he was a very brave man.

Pro Sanctity...

Here is Pro Sanctity, Omaha NE website. We know Teresa Monaghan and are so delighted to have met her last Fall. She has been a big blessing to us, and is praying diligently for RECON. Please visit and see if there's a PSM near you!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thank your Mom...

If you were born after 1973, (as were my two sons) you may want to thank your Mom for choosing to let you live. There is an entire generation of souls that never had the chance to meet 1/3 of their generation - those who didn't get the opportunity to live beyond the womb and had their lives cut short by abortion. We, too, should pray for the moms and dads and support the Rachel's Vineyard/Abortion Recovery ministries. What will that day be like, when we see their 50, 60 80 100 million+ eyes looking into ours? What will we have to say to them? We don't just die and not exist you know, or at least I hope you know that. What will you say? What will I say? Abortion helped your mom?????? Doubt it.

Some Perspective:
Since the start of the Iraq War, 4,991,335 American children have died from abortion. That's in America, not the world - the ones on record. That's just the last 5 years! I kinda doubt they were all the result of rape or incest. These are the ones accounted for by abortion records. What about those aborted the last 40+ years by the pill? Horrific? Yeah, damn right it is! I never knew that the pill was an abortafacient, did you? It is. It's printed right there in the folded little paper that informs one of the 'side effects.' Well, Margaret Sanger, patroness of eugenics, seems your dream of killing off the 'unwanted' and 'not superior enough humans' is being realized daily. Wake up America! Abortion hurts women!

"Being unwanted is the worst disease that a human being can ever experience." Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."

{Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta}

Protestants find room in faith for Mary

I found this on Steve Ray's blog under: Catagories Mary/Saints. I know it's no longer Christmas season, but Mary is welcome here any time or day of the year! ~ susie

This Christmas, growing numbers of Protestants are looking at the Virgin Mary in a new light.

Growing up in a Lutheran church, the Rev. Roger Prehn rarely heard about the Virgin Mary, except during Christmas.

Now a pastor in Orlando, Prehn preaches in a sanctuary with a nearly life-size bronze statue of Mary and the baby Jesus. During advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, he leads his congregation in singing the Magnificat — a prayer Mary sings in the Gospel of Luke.

Until fairly recently, devotion to Mary would have caused a scandal in most Protestant churches. Many Protestants still reject Mary's exalted status within Catholicism and worry that honoring her will put her on par with Jesus. But in recent years a growing number of mainline Protestants and evangelicals have started to rethink their centuries-old opposition to revering Mary.

''We've ignored Mary, and now we're recovering her place in salvation history,'' said Prehn, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church.

This Christmas, many Protestants are looking at Mary in a new light, inspired in part by growing dialogue with Catholics, the influence of Latin American immigrants who bring strong religious traditions of honoring Mary and a recent explosion of Mary-themed books, websites, popular songs and movies such as The Passion of the Christ and The Nativity Story.

''Protestants and Catholics can agree that Mary was a great woman, a woman of faith and that she was the God bearer,'' said theologian Scot McKnight, author of The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus. “You can talk about Mary for a long time before you have to ask whether she was immaculately conceived, sinless and perpetually a virgin.''

While Catholics and Protestants still clash over Mary's role as a mediator between humanity and God, the devotion gap appears to be closing, said Timothy Matovina, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. Growing numbers of Hispanic converts to Protestantism have a strong connection to Mary that they carry over into their new denominations, Matovina said.

At the Church of the Redeemer, an Episcopal Church in Sarasota, congregants have celebrated the Virgin of Guadalupe's feast day as part of their Hispanic outreach for the past three years. Earlier this month, parishioners honored the patron saint of Mexico with a special Mass, an altar adorned with candles and an image of Guadalupe and a festival, said the Rev. Dick Lampert.

Bringing icons of Mary into Protestant settings has stirred controversy elsewhere. In Chicago, some members of a United Methodist Church caused an uproar when they placed a statue of Guadalupe in its sanctuary.

Mary's recent emergence as a pop culture icon has helped boost her appeal among Protestants, pastors and scholars say. This December, dozens of churches around the country held discussion groups about Mary tied to The Nativity Story, a New Line Cinema film that chronicles Jesus and Mary's journey to Bethlehem, and McKnight's book The Real Mary. Several South Florida congregations, including Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach and New Birth Baptist Church in Miami, attended advanced screenings for The Nativity Story.

Rick Reynolds, executive producer for the Active Word television programs at Calvary Chapel, said the film's version of Mary departed from earlier cultural images of her as meek and passive. ''Here's a young woman who loved God and was willing to say, God, you chose me,'' he said.

Leaders of local Catholic organizations dedicated to Mary say they've seen growing devotion to the Virgin among both lay Catholics and Protestants.

Monique Telson, who lives in Davie and attends St. Bernadette's Catholic Church, said she hopes to help correct misconceptions about Mary. As a volunteer with the Legion of Mary, Telson visits retirement homes and prisons to talk to people about the benefits of praying to Mary. She said not only Catholics but Protestants, Jews and Muslims responded positively to her message. Muslims also honor Mary, who has an entire chapter in the Koran named after her.

''In following Mary, we learn to know Jesus more,'' Telson said.

Sister Juana Maria of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a Catholic religious community in Miami, said many non-Catholics — including Baptists and Pentecostals — attend their weekly prayer services. Sometimes, newcomers express reservations about worshiping Mary, she said.

'There are those who will come with the question, `What's the basis of your faith to Mary? How is it that you can love Mary and not be unfaithful to God?' '' she said.

That question has vexed Protestants for centuries. Mary's hallowed place in Christian theology became official doctrine in the 5th century, when a church council pronounced her ''Theotokos,'' or Mother of God. But as Marian devotion grew more elaborate in the Middle Ages, some Christians began to worry that she was replacing Jesus. After the 16th century Protestant Reformation, Marian worship was shunned by non-Catholics and treated as a threat to Jesus' place as mankind's sole redeemer.

The theological gap between Protestant and Catholic views of Mary deepened in the 19th century, when the Catholic Church formally established the doctrine of Mary's immaculate conception — the belief that Mary herself, unlike other humans, was conceived without original sin. In 1950, the Catholic Church further elevated Mary when Pope Pius XII approved the doctrine of Mary's Assumption, or bodily ascent into heaven.

Most Protestants reject these beliefs, arguing that they confer a divine status on Mary that has no foundation in scripture. But at the same time, many Protestants have dismissed what the scriptures do say about Mary, says Beverly Gaventa, professor of New Testament literature at Princeton Theological Seminary and co-editor of Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary.

While Mary's part in the nativity story comes up at Christmas, few Protestants discuss her appearances in the Gospel of John, which describes how Mary urged Jesus to perform the miracle of turning water into wine, her triumphant song in the Gospel of Luke, or her place at the foot of the cross. There are more than 20 references to Mary in the New Testament, but these rarely come up in Protestant sermons, prayer circles or Bible studies, Gaventa said.

''Protestants who place such a high value on scripture have largely ignored them, except at Christmas time,'' she said. “Any interest in Mary was perceived to be kind of scandalous because Mary was Catholic.''

Now many prominent theologians are now making the case for a Protestant ''reappropriation'' of Mary. Protestant publications and news organizations such as Christianity Today, the Associated Baptist Press and The Lutheran have all featured articles in recent months calling for Mary's restoration.

Some pastors and theologians have warned that elevating Mary too much could provoke another backlash among evangelicals who still hold deep reservations about worshiping Mary [Steve's note: Catholics do NOT worship Mary; we venerate her. Veneration and worship are NOT the same thing. We can venerate saints but we worship God alone]. But Notre Dame's Timothy Matovina argues that honoring Christ's mother has always been central to Christianity.

''By leaving her out,'' he said, “we're missing something that's integral to the faith.''

More on Rich Mullins...

This from Terry Mattingly's website.

Rich Mullins -- Enigmatic, restless, Catholic

Father Matt McGinness had never heard the song playing on his car radio, even though "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" was one of superstar Amy Grant's biggest hits.

"Gosh, I really like that song," the priest told a musician friend that night back in 1995. "Well, thanks," responded Rich Mullins. This mystified the priest, who asked what he meant. "I wrote that," said Mullins.

McGinness hadn't realized that Mullins was that famous. The priest simply knew him as another seeker who kept asking questions about doctrine, history and art and was developing a unique spiritual bond with St. Francis of Assisi. At the time of his death in a Sept. 19 car crash Mullins was taking the final steps to enter Catholicism.

"Rich had made up his mind and he wasn't hiding anymore," said McGinness, chaplain of the Newman Center at Wichita State University. "But I really don't think it's fair to make him the poster child for Catholic converts. ...The key to Rich is that he was searching for a deep, lasting unity with God. He was such a reflective man and that quality brought him both peace and a great deal of anxiety."

Even friends described Mullins as "enigmatic" and "eccentric" and there was much more to him than hit songs, led by the youth-rally anthem "Awesome God." Grant summed up his legacy during last month's Dove Awards in Nashville, in which Mullins received his first "artist of the year" award.

"Rich Mullins was the uneasy conscience of Christian music," she said. "He didn't live like a star. He'd taken a vow of poverty so that what he earned could be used to help others."

McGinness said Mullins often said he felt called to a life of chastity and service, while staying active in music. It was hard to predict his future. His final recordings are slated for release on June 30 as "The Jesus Record."

"Rich didn't know for sure if he was called to ministry, which in the Catholic context would be the priesthood," said McGinness. "He also feared that converting to Catholicism could mean losing his audience. ... He knew there might be rough days ahead."

It's crucial to remember that Mullins grew up surrounded by fiercely independent brands of Protestantism such as the Quakers and the Churches of Christ, said his brother David Mullins, minister at the Oak Grove Christian Church in Beckley, W. Va. This taught him to fear formality and hierarchies, while also yearning for a faith that united people in all times and places - - with no labels.

"Rich had a very low view of church structures, but he had very high ideals about what the church could be," said his brother. "He was sincerely drawn to Catholicism, but he also wondered where he would fit in the Roman Catholic Church."

Nevertheless, Mullins' recent music was steeped in Catholicism, from his autobiographical album "A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band" to his "Canticle of the Plains" musical about a Kansas cowboy he called St. Frank. His greatest-hits set was filled with photos of Celtic churches, crucifixes, nuns and statues of Mary. He quoted G.K. Chesterton and Flannery O'Connor, defended the pope and told one interviewer: "I think that a lot of Protestants think that Pentecost happened and then the church disappeared until the Reformation. So there is this long span of time when there was no church. That can't be if Jesus was telling the truth."

After playing telephone tag for a week, McGinness and Mullins talked one last time the night before the fatal accident. Mullins was going to Mass weekly, if not more often. He was ready to say his first confession and be confirmed. They set a meeting in two days. Others said Mullins was aiming for Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis.

"There was a sense of urgency," said the priest. "He told me, 'This may sound strange, but I HAVE to receive the body and blood of Christ.' I told him, 'That doesn't sound strange at all. That sounds wonderful.' ... Of course, I'll always remember that conversation. Rich finally sounded like he was at peace with his decision."

One Mother's love...

Re: this slide show. It's as beautiful and poignant as she was. Some don't see her as beautiful, but I do. Yes, she was wrinkled and worn, but much like a cherished book, she still has so much to say, even if yellowed crumpled and torn.

She's now shining bright in resplendent glory and has found her place for all eternity, nestled against the loving Sacred Heart of Christ.

Thank God she was allowed to be born, and graced the suffering poor as she did, and spoke the Truth in love to a world craving it. And some hating it. A few in the elite journalism world don't think she was anything special and for them, I feel nothing but pity, for they're too selfish to see past their noses.

I've even read some things so disparaging about Mother Teresa it leaves me cold. Only someone with scleroses of the heart could write such hateful things about this woman who gave her life for others. She lived and loved the culture where she was planted...to minister to the lepers, the poor and dying. She could not build extravagant hospitals to put them in, even with monies she was sent, as she respected the poor, the lepers and the dying of India. They themselves would not have ever wanted that, it would have been unthinkable for them, due to the class structure and their religious beliefs. She honored those beliefs in each and every soul. She talked to plenty of them in her years there, (more than any snooty reporter I'm sure) and knew that was how it was on the streets of Calcutta.

Mother Teresa ministered to them as they needed to be ministered to, and respected their dying wishes. The 'elites of this world' and a few snooty journalists, who will go un-named here, are simply arrogant blather spouting know-it-alls, who blasted her in articles saying things such as: "She could have done so much more for them, with all her wealth..." (blah blah blah ad nauseum) Believe me, they know not what they do or write. They're by far more poor in spirit than any dying soul in India. And I'm sure she's praying for all of the cruelest of her critics as diligently now as she did on earth. For she knew who was in greatest poverty...we spoiled, whiny Americans, doing "anything we darn well please," with eyes firmly focused on our navels, while we lie dying in materialism, as our families crumble by the wayside. I hope and pray the hardened hearts of all of us will soften and receive the Lord's Divine Mercy extended, because there will come a day when the justice of God will come. That same Mercy is what she so generously lavished upon the souls of the downcast and diseased, without complaining, on the cobbled streets of Calcutta.

God rest her precious soul.


What Catholics Really Believe...

A quick time video:

Meet the "Patron Saint" of RECON, Father Kevin Fete, (Dec. 2006) as he discusses faith/works with Dr. Ray Guarendi.

To read my posts about Father Kevin, scroll down December 2006 posts about 2/3 and you'll find them under the RECON meeting post.

REST IN PEACE, FATHER KEVIN. Thank you for your intercession for RECON and all who will join us as we learn to live, love and grow in our blessed Catholic Faith.

Rich & Susie

Israel pilgrimage with Jeff Cavins...

Check out this video. Jeff and other pilgrims are over in Israel now and visited the birthplace of our Lord.

Schoenstatt Shrine in Minnesota...

Rich and I visited this Shrine last Fall. We didn't know anything about Schoenstatt at the time, but it was so picturesque as we drove up the long road and saw it in the distance. There is a convent/retreat center also all nestled serenely near a lake.
When Father Mitch Pacwa interviewed Sr. Jessica on Jan. 10, 2006, on EWTN LIVE we were thrilled to see this Shrine (of which there are many in various countries) and so happy to learn about the Rosary campaign and to learn more about this wonderful Movement.

Here is a write up of this Holy place located at Sleepy Eye, Minnesota:

Located on the shores of Sleepy Eye Lake, this exact replica of the original shrine in Schoenstatt, Germany has seen many visitors and guests since it was built and dedicated in 1976. In the autumn of 1973, the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary and the Schoenstatt Movement turned to the Blessed Mother in their helplessness and longing to find a location to build a replica shrine. The decision was made to entrust the petition to find the "perfect place" for the Shrine into the intercessory power of the Blessed Mother. The Movement and the Sisters made plans to crown the picture that had already been purchased by the Schoenstatt Girls for the future Shrine. The date of the Coronation was set for Saturday, December 7, 1974, in the parish church St. Peter and Paul in Ivanhoe, MN. Bishop Alphonse Schladweiler was the main celebrant, and he performed the actual coronation. Priests from the area as well as about 250 people participated in the Mass and ceremony. One of the petitions expressed the longing in everyone's hearts: "Blessed Mother, we ask you to show us where you want your Shrine in Minnesota. Show us the place...but please do it NOW!" Apparently the Blessed Mother heard this prayer, for less than three hours later, one of the priests in attendance, Fr. Robert Goblirsch, told the Sisters that the Diocese of New Ulm had land that had been donated for a religious purpose. There was a farm, known as the Anna M. Hillesheim Memorial, along Sleepy Eye Lake, on the west edge of the town of Sleepy Eye. Truly, the Blessed Mother showed them the spot where she wanted the Schoenstatt Shrine to be built.

Five years after the dedication of the Shrine, on June 28, 1981, an educational retreat center, Schoenstatt on the Lake, was dedicated. It is to be a place of prayer and encounter with God and Mary, a "home away from home" for the Schoenstatt Movement, and also wishes to serve the needs of the local Church and community.

The Shrine in Sleepy Eye is one of the more than 160 exact replicas of the original shrine and welcomes more than 5000 people each year.

Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign...

What a lovely way to spread the Father's Love...and the Mercy of our Divine Savior, Jesus Christ, than through His precious Mother. Please visit this Schoenstatt site and read about this wonderful Movement for bringing our Blessed Mother into the homes of others so that they can love her and we all can love her more. If we love and honor Jesus and follow him, then we should do as he and love His Mother. For if Jesus is our Brother, then surely, Mary, is our Mother, too. Isn't it just like God, our loving Abba Father, to know how much a Mother would be needed by his adopted children?

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Why Prophets Aren't Popular...

by: Marcellino D'Ambrosio, PhD

“In polite conversation, never bring up politics or religion.” That’s the advice I was given as a child. And it’s good advice, too, if your main goal is to make sure everybody likes you. Politics and religion are risky because they involve deeplyheld convictions, and if you happen to challenge these convictions, you get the same reaction that a dentist gets when his probe hits a nerve.

But politeness at any cost is not God’s style. The reason for this is that God is love, and love is more concerned about the welfare of others than with one’s own image. So if someone is on a seemingly pleasant canoe ride down a lazy river, love cares enough to warn the passengers that Niagara Falls is up ahead. “But everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.” Opinions don’t change the fact that going over the falls in a canoe will kill you.

Religious and moral choices are like this. They set one on a course that leads either to a safe harbor or over the falls. Sex outside of marriage, intoxication with drugs and alcohol, honoring Jesus but rejecting the authority of His Church, all these choices have very unpleasant, even deadly, consequences.

So God sends prophets (the Greek word means “spokesmen”) whose role includes warning people that they are headed over the falls. You’d think people would be grateful for the heads up. But often people respond to bad news by killing the messenger.

Why is this? Because the idea that we are basically “good people” whom God ought to appreciate, and that our beliefs and lifestyle are at least as good as all others–these are comforting illusions. When a prophet calls all this into question, we find this threatening and very uncomfortable. If the prophet is right, this demands change, and change always means pain, and we don’t like pain.

Jeremiah and Jesus both are dealing with people who think that they are “good people.” After all, they are God’s chosen people. They offer sacrifices. God is on their side. So they respond to Jeremiah’s warnings by eliminating the source of pain. They throw him into a muddy cistern and he narrowly escapes with his life. Jesus in Lk 4 eludes the Nazarenes when they want to throw him over the hill, but ultimately gives his life for those who cry out “Crucify him!”

So if this is how people are going to respond, why bother to rock the boat? Why stick your neck out? Because people have a right to the truth, whether they end up heeding the truth or not. The prophet’s responsibility is to speak God’s word as clearly and convincingly as possible. What people will do with that word is not under his control. Mother Teresa was fond of saying that God does not require us to have success; he requires us to be faithful.

At first glance, Jeremiah did not have much “success.” His listeners totally ignored him, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, and Israel was taken into exile. On Good Friday, it did not look like Jesus had been successful either. But 300 years later the Romans who crucified him were now worshiping him, and the lives that had been forever changed were too numerous to count.

We who have been confirmed have been given a share in Christ’s prophetic anointing. If our goal is to be everybody’s buddy, we are going to have a hard time being faithful. The word that God commands us to share is sometimes comforting, sometimes disturbing. We must get over our fear of offending people and love them enough to tell them the truth. Of course, there is always the question of the right place and time. But if no place is the right place and the right time never comes, we can be sure that we are allowing fear of other’s opinion to get in the way of love. Love is not about being sentimental. The love of God, spoken about in 1 Cor 13, is tough love.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Upcoming Radio Interview


Rich and I will be interviewed on KVSS Spirit Mornings in the not too distant future. It may be before Lent, or during Lent. I will post the day/time so check back often. We invite you to listen on line or on the radio and I just want to thank you in advance for your support. May we continue to gather in person and on line in the 'blogosphere' in ONE mind, ONE heart, ONE faith, ONE baptism to help put the misconceptions to rest about the Catholic Church! That's what RECONnecting to the Truth is part of - Pope John Paul II's new Evangelization! He prayed us home and we are forever grateful! We pray for countless souls, for wanderers and pilgrims like us, seekers of Truth, to come Home and return Home with all the Saints and our Blessed Mother, our Lady, the Queen of Heaven. Please keep this upcoming interview in prayer. Thank you all so very much for being such good friends, and helping us help others learn, live and LOVE the ONE TRUE CHURCH JESUS FOUNDED! Let us join together to dispel what so many think the Catholic Church to be. As John Martignoni says, and I paraphrase: "If you disagree with me, that's fine, but disagree with what it is I REALLY BELIEVE, not what you think it is I believe." Amen.


Monday, January 22, 2007

I Am A Voice (Crying for Mercy)
Bob Dylan - Gotta Serve Somebody 1980

I remember when Bob Dylan became a Christian. I was so excited. I had all his gospel albums (still do somewhere) I know he's wandered as we all are sometimes wont to do.... I hope and pray he comes Home to Rome. These two songs were my two favorites of his Christian music. I did get to see him in November 1996 just about 6 months after his heart attack. I don't recall him singing either of these, but I myself was 'far from God.' Anyway, 'thanks Bob' for the songs. They're still poetically prophetic. We all serve somebody. Many serve themselves at the cost of others. I have. I pray to stop being selfish. It's a long hard road, but being in the Church Jesus established,with all the Saints cheering me on, I'm hopeful I'll make it to the end, serving the One who came to save me.

Bob Dylan - Precious Angel 1980 (7 of 16)

On this horrible anniversary day....

Thank you Pope John Paul the Great for your prayer to the blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the unborn. I also ask that those who are paralyzed by fear, those precious young girls, women and even older women being forced to abort the babies in their wombs that they would fly to your protection, and seek your intercession and find peace, rest and a place for their fear-ridden souls, churning with anxiety. For all those who have aborted a baby, please KNOW this...God LOVES YOU and is extending his Divine Mercy to you always. He will not leave you, or forsake you. Even if you've ended the life of your baby for plain selfish reasons, or in ignorance, trust in Him. Find a Crisis Pregnancy Center in your area and call them or find a way to get there for help, from women who truly care for you. If you're still thinking about aborting your baby, please don't do it. Please listen to Mary's plea for your baby and you. She is your Mother who loves you. Run to her and find help from those that love her, too.

This is the anniversary of the worst decision of a court or government ever in the history of the world. Let us pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe and our Beloved Pope John Paul the Great for the lives of unborn babies, and those who've lost their lived at the hand of abortionists. Pray also for those abortionists and all involved in abortuaries that they will see the light, and the Light of Truth will penetrate their darkened minds and souls. Amen.

Eternal Father I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world.

Prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe

Immaculate Virgin
Mother of the true God
and Mother of the Church
from this spot you have manifested
your clemency and your compassion
for all who have recourse to your protection.
Hear the prayer we address to you,
with filial confidence,
and present it to you Son, Jesus,
our only Redeemer.

Mother of Mercy
Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice,
on this day we sinners consecrate to you,
who come to meet us, all our being
and all our love.

We also consecrate to you
our life,
our work,
our joys,
our infirmities,
and our sorrows

Grant to our peoples
peace, justice and prosperity,
so that we may entrust to your care,
our Lady and our Mother,
all that we have and all that we are.

We wish to be completely yours
and to follow together with you the path
of total fidelity to Jesus Christ
in His Church:
hold us ever lovingly by the hand.

O, Virgin of Guadalupe,
Mother of the Americas
we pray to you for all our bishops
that they may lead the faithful along the paths
of a dedicated Christian life
and of love and service for God and souls.

See how great is the harvest,
and intercede with the Lord
that he will imbue the whole people of God
with a hunger for holiness
and bestow abundant vocations
of priests and religious,
who are strong in their faith
and zealous dispensers of the mysteries of God.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving
and respecting life in its beginnings,
with the same love with which you
conceived in your womb
the life of the Son of God.

Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of fair love,
protect our families
so that they may always be united
and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our Hope,
look upon us with pity,
teach us to go continually to Jesus,
and if we fall,
help us to rise again and return to Him
through the confession of our faults
and our sins in the Sacrament of Penance,
which gives peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love
for all the Holy Sacraments,
which are, as it were, the signs
that your Son left us on earth.

Thus Most Holy Mother,
with the peace of God in our consciences,
with our hearts free from evil and hatred,
we will be able to bring to all others
true joy and true peace,
which come to us
from your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
lives and reigns for ever and ever.

John Paul II

Hi everyone...

I'm back. I was gone this past weekend on a discernment retreat. Developing a Discerning Heart, led by Pro Sanctity national director, Teresa Monaghan. Please visit the website and know that I am praying for all of you, and thank you all so much for your encouraging comments and taking time to stop by and 'visit' and post. This internet is so valuable in making the global Church small, intimate and nurturing the faith of so many of us. I don't know where all of you live, but wouldn't it be nice if we could meet someplace sometime this side of Heaven? I used to be a Glenn Beck listener, and huge fan, (now I'm praying for his return to his Catholic heritage/Faith.) In his forums there were so many like-minded fans that they'd find out where they all were and made time to gather for dinner/or even overnight somewhere and meet others fond of his program.

If they can do it, we can, too! We don't have a mere mortal in common, but Jesus and His Eucharist. What say you? Any of you near Omaha or are going to be near Omaha in the next year? Or perhaps we could all make plans to meet at EWTN next year for a pilgrimage and meet one another. Think about it. God Bless you. I'll be back online to visit your blogs, too. I don't get to do that as often as I'd like right now, but I'm glad we all have each other in this battle for souls that daily rages around us. The enemy is devious and crafty. Jesus is LORD of all and has WON our victory. We just need to pick up our crosses and meet a "Simon" now and then to help us on our bloody path. Praise God we're back Home and here for each other.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Ignorance of Scripture is NOT Catholic!

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio - Catholic Online Resources

by: Marcellino D'Ambrosio, PhD

To listen to this article as read by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, CLICK HERE!

Jesus reads Scripture Catholic Bible StudyThere is a myth that we must lay to rest, once and for all--Protestants are all about the Bible, while Catholics are all about the Sacraments. While I can’t speak for my Protestant brethren, I can say this with certainty–the Catholic Church has never tolerated any such either/or. Both Scripture and Sacraments are precious gifts from the Lord, gifts we desperately need and are bound to use.

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!” insisted St. Jerome, an Early Church Father and Doctor of the Catholic Church from the 5th century AD. Because of this, every liturgical service of the Catholic Church is full of Scripture. Take Sunday Mass for instance. First there are significant chunks of Scripture read aloud, just as we see in Nehemiah 8 or in Luke 4 when Jesus serves as lector at the synagogue of Nazareth. But don’t forget the prayers and acclamations that are full of Scripture like the Holy Holy (a combo of Is 6 and Ps 118:26), the Our Father (Mat 6:9), and the Gloria (Lk 2:14). Ironically, many “Bible churches” that accuse Catholics of being non-scriptural don’t actually read any Scripture aloud in their Sunday service at all!

So is hearing Scripture on Sunday enough? Not by a long-shot. Scripture, says the Second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum 21), is “food for the soul.” Who eats just once a week? To survive and thrive, you need daily nourishment. You can have a steady diet of Scripture by attending Mass daily, participating in the liturgy of the hours with its daily readings and psalms, or reading Scripture in daily personal prayer. Actually, all three make an unbeatable combination.

Catholic Scripture Study Bible Time line, Jeff Cavins,

Frequently, though, when Catholics start reading the bible, they quickly run into trouble–usually in the first chapters of Leviticus! Yes, sometimes it is hard to know where to begin, to fit it all together, and to interpret correctly some rather obscure passages, words, and names. My father, who first attached the Bible at age 63, discovered the book of Malachi. Thinking the name was pronounced “ma-LA-chee”, he rejoiced that there was an Italian among the prophets.

There are great Catholic bible studies on books, tapes, videos, and the web. Some are book-by-book commentaries. Others are big-picture overviews of salvation history so that you can fit each book, character, and theme into the overall story of God’s dealings with his people. Most are conveniently designed so that busy people with no background in the Bible can learn a lot without a huge time commitment.

Many of us spend 16 or more years of our life preparing for our secular career, then take continuing ed courses on nights and weekends. In contrast, how much have we invested in our education in the Word of God, essential for our heavenly career?

Holy Spirit - Confirmation - Catholic Bible Study

The study of the Bible, is for one purpose, however. So that, praying with Scripture, we may be better able to hear what God is saying to us here and now. The writers of Sacred Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit. But it is equally true that the Scriptures themselves are inspired. The Holy Spirit has been “breathed into them” and resides within their words as in a temple. When we approach the Scriptures prayerfully, aided by the same Spirit who dwells in them, reading Scripture becomes an experience of being filled and empowered by God’s Spirit, and we are changed.

Sometimes the Words of Scripture are encouraging. Like when 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that no matter how insignificant we may feel, we each have an essential role to play as members of the Body of Christ. But other times Scripture holds a mirror up to our face and we don’t like what we see. In Nehemiah 8, the people wept at the reading of the word, because it made them realize their sin. The Word is truth, and sometime the truth is painful. But so is antiseptic on a wound. Scripture challenges us only to heal us and call us to growth. No pain, no gain.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

How Pius XII Protected Jews

By Jimmy Akin

The twentieth century was marked by genocides on an monstrous scale. One of the most terrible was the Holocaust wrought by Nazi Germany, which killed an estimated six million European Jews and almost as many other victims.

During this dark time, the Catholic Church was shepherded by Pope Pius XII, who proved himself an untiring foe of the Nazis, determined to save as many Jewish lives as he could. Yet today Pius XII gets almost no credit for his actions before or during the war.

Anti-Catholic author Dave Hunt writes, "The Vatican had no excuse for its Nazi partnership or for its continued commendation of Hitler on the one hand and its thunderous silence regarding the Jewish question on the other hand. . . . [The popes] continued in the alliance with Hitler until the end of the war, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from the Nazi government to the Vatican."[1]

Jack Chick, infamous for his anti-Catholic comic books, tells us in Smokescreens, "When World War II ended, the Vatican had egg all over its face. Pope Pius XII, after building the Nazi war machine, saw Hitler losing his battle against Russia, and he immediately jumped to the other side when he saw the handwriting on the wall. . . . Pope Pius XII should have stood before the judges in Nuremberg. His war crimes were worthy of death."[2]

One is tempted simply to dismiss these accusations, so wildly out of touch with reality, as the deluded ravings of persons with no sense of historical truth. This would underestimate the power of such erroneous charges to influence people: Many take these writers at their word.

Stepping out of the nightmare fantasyland of Hunt and Chick and back into sunlight of the real world, we discover that, not only was Pius XII no friend of the Nazis, but that his opposition to them began years before the War, before he was elected to the papacy, when he was still Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican Secretary of State.

On April 28, 1935, four years before the War even started, Pacelli gave a speech that aroused the attention of the world press. Speaking to an audience of 250,000 pilgrims in Lourdes, France, the future Pius XII stated that the Nazis "are in reality only miserable plagiarists who dress up old errors with new tinsel. It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of social revolution, whether they are guided by a false concept of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult."[3] It was talks like this, in addition to private remarks and numerous notes of protest that Pacelli sent to Berlin in his capacity as Vatican Secretary of State, that earned him a reputation as an enemy of the Nazi party.

The Germans were likewise displeased with the reigning pontiff, Pius XI, who showed himself to be a unrelenting opponent of the new German "ideals"—even writing an entire encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge (1937), to condemn them. When Pius XI died in 1939, the Nazis abhorred the prospect that Pacelli might be elected his successor.

Dr. Joseph Lichten, a Polish Jew who served as a diplomat and later an official of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, writes: "Pacelli had obviously established his position clearly, for the Fascist governments of both Italy and Germany spoke out vigorously against the possibility of his election to succeed Pius XI in March of 1939, though the cardinal secretary of state had served as papal nuncio in Germany from 1917 to 1929. . . . The day after his election, the Berlin Morgenpost said: ‘The election of cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he was always opposed to Nazism and practically determined the policies of the Vatican under his predecessor.’ "[4]

Former Israeli diplomat and now Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide states that Pius XI "had good reason to make Pacelli the architect of his anti-Nazi policy. Of the forty-four speeches which the Nuncio Pacelli had made on German soil between 1917 and 1929, at least forty contained attacks on Nazism or condemnations of Hitler’s doctrines. . . . Pacelli, who never met the Führer, called it ‘neo-Paganism.’ "[5]

A few weeks after Pacelli was elected pope, the German Reich’s Chief Security Service issued a then-secret report on the new Pope. Rabbi Lapide provides an excerpt:

"Pacelli has already made himself prominent by his attacks on National Socialism during his tenure as Cardinal Secretary of State, a fact which earned him the hearty approval of the Democratic States during the papal elections. . . . How much Pacelli is celebrated as an ally of the Democracies is especially emphasized in the French Press."[6]

Unfortunately, joy in the election of a strong pope who would continue Pius XI’s defiance of the Nazis was darkened by the ominous political developments in Europe. War finally came on September 1, 1939, when German troops overran Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany.

Early in 1940, Hitler made an attempt to prevent the new Pope from maintaining the anti-Nazi stance he had taken before his election. He sent his underling, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to try to dissuade Pius XII from following his predecessor’s policies. "Von Ribbentrop, granted a formal audience on March 11, 1940, went into a lengthy harangue on the invincibility of the Third Reich, the inevitability of a Nazi victory, and the futility of papal alignment with the enemies of the Führer. Pius XII heard von Ribbentrop out politely and impassively. Then he opened an enormous ledger on his desk and, in his perfect German, began to recite a catalogue of the persecutions inflicted by the Third Reich in Poland, listing the date, place, and precise details of each crime. The audience was terminated; the Pope’s position was clearly unshakable."[7]

The Pope secretly worked to save as many Jewish lives as possible from the Nazis, whose extermination campaign began its most intense phase only after the War had started. It is here that the anti-Catholics try to make their hay: Pius XII is charged either with cowardly silence or with outright support of the Nazi extermination of millions of Jews.

Much of the impetus to smear the Vatican regarding World War II came, appropriately enough, from a work of fiction—a stage play called The Deputy, written after the War by a little-known German Protestant playwright named Rolf Hochhuth.

The play appeared in 1963, and it painted a portrait of a pope too timid to speak out publicly against the Nazis. Ironically, even Hochhuth admitted that Pius XII was materially very active in support of the Jews. Historian Robert Graham explains: "Playwright Rolf Hochhuth criticized the Pontiff for his (alleged) silence, but even he admitted that, on the level of action, Pius XII generously aided the Jews to the best of his ability. Today, after a quarter-century of the arbitrary and one-sided presentation offered the public, the word ‘silence’ has taken on a much wider connotation. It stands also for ‘indifference,’ ‘apathy,’ ‘inaction,’ and, implicitly, for anti-Semitism."[8]

Hochhuth’s fictional image of a silent (though active) pope has been transformed by the anti-Catholic rumor mill into the image of a silent and inactive pope—and by some even into an actively pro-Nazi monster. If there were any truth to the charge that Pius XII was silent, the silence would not have been out of moral cowardice in the face of the Nazis, but because the Pope was waging a subversive, clandestine war against them in an attempt to save Jews.

"The need to refrain from provocative public statements at such delicate moments was fully recognized in Jewish circles. It was in fact the basic rule of all those agencies in wartime Europe who keenly felt the duty to do all that was possible for the victims of Nazi atrocities and in particular for the Jews in proximate danger of deportation to ‘an unknown destination.’ "[9] The negative consequences of speaking out strongly were only too well known.

"In one tragic instance, the Archbishop of Utrecht was warned by the Nazis not to protest the deportation of Dutch Jews. He spoke out anyway and in retaliation the Catholic Jews of Holland were sent to their death. One of them was the Carmelite philosopher, Edith Stein."[10]

While the armchair quarterbacks of anti-Catholic circles may have wished the Pope to issue, in Axis territory and during wartime, ringing, propagandistic statements against the Nazis, the Pope realized that such was not an option if he were actually to save Jewish lives rather than simply mug for the cameras.

The desire to keep a low profile was expressed by the people Pius XII helped. A Jewish couple from Berlin who had been held in concentration camps but escaped to Spain with the help of Pius XII, stated: "None of us wanted the Pope to take an open stand. We were all fugitives, and fugitives do not wish to be pointed at. The Gestapo would have become more excited and would have intensified its inquisitions. If the Pope had protested, Rome would have become the center of attention. It was better that the Pope said nothing. We all shared this opinion at the time, and this is still our conviction today."[11]

While the U.S., Great Britain, and other countries often refused to allow Jewish refugees to immigrate during the war, the Vatican was issuing tens of thousands of false documents to allow Jews to pass secretly as Christians so they could escape the Nazis. What is more, the financial aid Pius XII helped provide the Jews was very real. Lichten, Lapide, and other Jewish chroniclers record those funds as being in the millions of dollars—dollars even more valuable then than they are now.

In late 1943, Mussolini, who had been at odds with the papacy all through his tenure, was removed from power by the Italians, but Hitler, fearing Italy would negotiate a separate peace with the Allies, invaded, took control, and set up Mussolini again as a puppet ruler. It was in this hour, when the Jews of Rome themselves were threatened—those whom the Pope had the most direct ability to help—that Pius XII really showed his mettle.

Joseph Lichten records that on September 27, 1943, one of the Nazi commanders demanded of the Jewish community in Rome payment of one hundred pounds of gold within thirty-six hours or three hundred Jews would be taken prisoner. When the Jewish Community Council was only able to gather only seventy pounds of gold, they turned to the Vatican.

"In his memoirs, the then Chief Rabbi Zolli of Rome writes that he was sent to the Vatican, where arrangements had already been made to receive him as an ‘engineer’ called to survey a construction problem so that the Gestapo on watch at the Vatican would not bar his entry. He was met by the Vatican treasurer and secretary of state, who told him that the Holy Father himself had given orders for the deficit to be filled with gold vessels taken from the Treasury."[12]

Pius XII also took a public stance concerning the Jews of Italy: "The Pope spoke out strongly in their defense with the first mass arrests of Jews in 1943, and L’Osservatore Romano carried an article protesting the internment of Jews and the confiscation of their property. The Fascist press came to call the Vatican paper ‘a mouthpiece of the Jews.’ "[13]

Prior to the Nazi invasion, the Pope had been working hard to get Jews out of Italy by emigration; he now was forced to turn his attention to finding them hiding places. "The Pope sent out the order that religious buildings were to give refuge to Jews, even at the price of great personal sacrifice on the part of their occupants; he released monasteries and convents from the cloister rule forbidding entry into these religious houses to all but a few specified outsiders, so that they could be used as hiding places. Thousands of Jews—the figures run from 4,000 to 7,000—were hidden, fed, clothed, and bedded in the 180 known places of refuge in Vatican City, churches and basilicas, Church administrative buildings, and parish houses. Unknown numbers of Jews were sheltered in Castel Gandolfo, the site of the Pope’s summer residence, private homes, hospitals, and nursing institutions; and the Pope took personal responsibility for the care of the children of Jews deported from Italy."[14]

Rabbi Lapide records that "in Rome we saw a list of 155 convents and monasteries—Italian, French, Spanish, English, American, and also German—mostly extraterritorial property of the Vatican . . . which sheltered throughout the German occupation some 5,000 Jews in Rome. No less than 3,000 Jews found refuge at one time at the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo; sixty lived for nine months at the Jesuit Gregorian University, and half a dozen slept in the cellar of the Pontifical Bible Institute."[15]

Notice in particular that the Pope was not merely allowing Jews to be hidden in different church buildings around Rome. He was hiding them in the Vatican itself and in his own summer home, Castel Gandolfo. His success in protecting Italian Jews against the Nazis was remarkable. Lichten records that after the War was over it was determined that only 8,000 Jews were taken from Italy by the Nazis[16] —far less than in other European countries. In June,1944, Pius XII sent a telegram to Admiral Miklos Horthy, the ruler of Hungary, and was able to halt the planned deportation of 800,000 Jews from that country.

The Pope’s efforts did not go unrecognized by Jewish authorities, even during the War. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, sent the Pope a personal message of thanks on February 28, 1944, in which he said: "The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of true civilization, are doing for us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world."[17]

Other Jewish leaders chimed in also. Rabbi Safran of Bucharest, Romania, sent a note of thanks to the papal nuncio on April 7, 1944: "It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the supreme pontiff, who offered a large sum to relieve the sufferings of deported Jews. . . . The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance."[18]

The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, also made a statement of thanks: "What the Vatican did will be indelibly and eternally engraved in our hearts. . . . Priests and even high prelates did things that will forever be an honor to Catholicism."[19]

After the war, Zolli became a Catholic and, to honor the Pope for what he had done for the Jews and the role he had played in Zolli’s conversion, took the name "Eugenio"—the Pope’s given name—as his own baptismal name. Zolli stressed that his conversion was for theological reasons, which was certainly true, but the fact that the Pope had worked so hard on behalf of the Jews no doubt played a role in inspiring him to look at the truths of Christianity.

Lapide writes: "When Zolli accepted baptism in 1945 and adopted Pius’s Christian name of Eugene, most Roman Jews were convinced that his conversion was an act of gratitude for wartime succor to Jewish refugees and, repeated denials not withstanding, many are still of his opinion. Thus, Rabbi Barry Dov Schwartz wrote in the summer issue, 1964, of Conservative Judaism: ‘Many Jews were persuaded to convert after the war, as a sign of gratitude, to that institution which had saved their lives.’ "[20]

In Three Popes and the Jews Lapide estimated the total number of Jews that had been spared as a result of Pius XII’s throwing the Church’s weight into the clandestine struggle to save them. After totaling the numbers of Jews saved in different areas and deducting the numbers saved by other causes, such as the praiseworthy efforts of some European Protestants, "The final number of Jewish lives in whose rescue the Catholic Church had been the instrument is thus at least 700,000 souls, but in all probability it is much closer to . . . 860,000."[21] This is a total larger than all other Jewish relief organizations in Europe, combined, were able to save. Lapide calculated that Pius XII and the Church he headed constituted the most successful Jewish aid organization in all of Europe during the war, dwarfing the Red Cross and all other aid societies.

This fact continued to be recognized when Pius XII died in 1958. Lapide’s book records the eulogies of a number of Jewish leaders concerning the Pope, and far from agreeing with Jack Chick that he deserved death because of his "war crimes," Jewish leaders praised the man highly:[22]

"We share the grief of the world over the death of His Holiness Pius XII. . . . During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people passed through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims" (Golda Meir, Israeli representative to the U.N. and future prime minister of Israel).

"With special gratitude we remember all he has done for the persecuted Jews during one of the darkest periods in their entire history” (Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress).

"More than anyone else, we have had the opportunity to appreciate the great kindness, filled with compassion and magnanimity, that the Pope displayed during the terrible years of persecution and terror" (Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, following Rabbi Zolli’s conversion).

Finally, let us conclude with a quotation from Lapide’s record that was not given at the death of Pius XII, but was given after the War by the most well-known Jewish figure of this century, Albert Einstein: "Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty."[23]