Saturday, July 26, 2014

Quarter of a Century In Prison Because He Was a Christian

The father of a family I know from my spiritual adventures passed away this week after a long illness.  I knew his children but I didn't know him, or so I thought.  It turns out I had seen him many times, a quiet, humble and unassuming little man who was a daily communicant.

I was not entirely surprised to learn that prior to emigrating to America, he spent 26 years in prison because he refused to renounce Christ.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his family.

Friday, July 25, 2014

St. Madeline Of Nagasaki, Pray for Persecuted Christians Everywhere

Last night I had dinner with a friend who recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land.  In Jerusalem, she was cursed and screamed at for quietly praying her Rosary at the Wailing Wall.  She was asked to leave a restaurant when the host spotted her bag, which is adorned with a beautiful Marian image, and told to go the dining room upstairs.  She was also told to return the cup of coffee she got at the counter before leaving and was advised not to return.  This was starkly different than the trips she had taken previously.

While making the Stations of the Cross, she saw that an ad for jeans had been disrespectfully posted right above the 9th station - Christ's third fall beneath the weight of the cross.  She was dismayed but wondered who she could complain to about such a blatant disregard. 

We talked at length about the events happening in our world and how everything, even the Holy Land, now feels different.  We may be at the point of no return.

My friend had not heard of St. Madeline of Nagasaki before, so I gave her a brief history, which you can find elsewhere on this blog.  Madeline was only 24 years old when she was put to death for the crime of being a Christian.  She was hung upside down over a pit of animal entrails and other garbage for two weeks before she finally died.  I pray but don't know that I would demonstrate similar conviction of my faith should the same choice be posed to me.

 I pray to St. Madeline each day for Christians who are persecuted everywhere, but especially in the Middle East.  The lovely jihadists at ISIS apparently blew up Jonah's tomb.  They've been on a destructive rampage that, in the end, will make the Taliban look like choir boys.  Apparently, alQaeda isn't radical enough for these folks.  Boko Haram, ISIS, al Qaeda - all spawned by the same father.

The gates of Hell will not prevail, but the trials are coming just the same and we can't say we don't deserve it.  Some folks are wearing or posting the Arabic symbol for N in solidarity with Christians in Mosul, who have been told to get out or die by the sword.   ISIS terrorists have marked Christian homes with the N symbol to stand for Nazarene.  Chilling, isn't it?

We cling to the Cross.  

We each carry our own, and one day, it will carry us.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Prayers for Gaza and Malayasia Crash Victims (and everyone else who needs it)

The priest who offers the Saturday morning Mass I regularly attend has been preaching for some weeks his belief that we are in the end times. According to Father Gene, we are at the foothills of the great trial many of us Catholics anticipate.  He said he is finding it increasingly difficult to offer words of hope to those experiencing economic ruin.  The only thing we can do at this point he says is stay close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  I agree with him.

Father cited the speed with which events are happening as indicators that we are in for some very difficult times. I try to make it a habit to pray for those about to die each day, either suddenly or from illness.  One minute you're kicking around a ball in the beach with your pals and the next, you are gone, your young life stolen by a trigger-happy apartheid government.  One minute you're on a jet, flying to a conference with other researchers committed to ending HIV, the next you're gone, your life and promise stolen by thugs funded by a former KGB agent who can't change his stripes.

Meanwhile,  the Folly of the Neo-cons who thought a war in Iraq was a good idea is manifesting itself in a group called Isis, who have a penchant for crucifixion.  There has been no mention of this in the media but I have heard about it in at least 2 homilies this past week.

I saw on the news today that the bodies of the dead are being held for ransom by the terrorists who shot down their plane. Over 100 Palestinians lost their lives today.  The Israeli propaganda machine was hard at work spinning its usual lies on the Sunday talk shows.  Repeating the same garbage does not lend truth where none existed in the first place.

Despite what the "death to all Arabs" crowd believes, not all Palestinians are Muslim.  Israeli bombs do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians,  just as they don't discriminate against women and children.  The extremists who burned a Palestinian teenager while he was still alive are becoming more of the norm in Israel.  Moderates are realizing there is no longer a place for them.

The death toll in Gaza has already surpassed that of the plane crash. And incidentall it is reported that pro-Russia separatists didn't mean to target a passenger jet but mistakenly thought they were aiming for a military jet.  As if that excuses their wanton disregard for life.  How about they don't shoot anything down that will result in the loss of human life.

At any rate, please pray for all the innocent life taken this week and offer your Rosary that the suffering of the oppressed everywhere will be eased.

I saw a very fitting quote today.  We are not all guilty, but we are all responsible.

NOTE: Thanks to all for your prayers.  My mother, thank God, does not have a serious illness. Just a painful rheumatoid condition that will take some time to get under control.  In your charity, please pray for my youngest.  We were at the cardiologist on Friday and while it is not immediately going to happen, surgery is inevitable.  We're hoping we can get through the school year without having to get it done.  Thanks and God bless you.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Still Standing

Sorry once again for the dearth of posts but life is busy these days.  My mother has been debilitated by an as yet unidentified illness and I've been running back and forth after work and on weekends to look in on her and my dad.  We're seeing a specialist on Tuesday who will hopefully get us on the right track.  My mother is unable to sleep at night because of the pain but she doesn't complain very much at all.

The Rosary I carry with me is one she gave me.  The beads are white pearls and the medallion contains a black and white photo of St Therese.  It occurred to me that if my bag is ever stolen the Rosary will go with it so I traded it out with the one I keep on my night table which is a Carmelite Rosary with brown beads.  I bought if because it reminded me of the kind a nun might carry.  Anyway that simple little  St Therese Rosary was always very dear to me but even more so now as the reality that my mother will not always be with me on this earth sinks in with a sudden closeness. 

Complicating the matter is the fact that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia pulled the rug out from under my parents' parish.  Despite the fact that theirs is a thriving parish in very good financial standing, Archbishop Chaput is reducing it to a worship site.  That church was my mother's life and with no warning it will cease to be as she knew it. The pastor was also caught off guard by the news and went so far as to say that the decision "cries out to Heaven for justice."  The appeal to the Archbishop was denied. 

I know  Bishop Chaput was left with a financial mess but it is nonetheless disheartening to see politics rear its ugly head in the Catholic Church.  I can understand why people become disillusioned and lose their religion. 

The deterioration at my own Novus Ordo parish could also make one lose their religion.  Our reverent and holy pastor was replaced last summer with a pot-stirring priest whose Masses have struck some who are less orthodox than me as invalid.  His sermons never mention the Sacraments and they end with a rock and roll trivia question. He turned the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into a free-for-all by substituting his homily with a gripe session about previous pastors and their spending habits.  The recently restored pipe organ sits idle, the rubrics are ignored and anyone who questions or criticizes is mocked to scorn. He has turned the parish bulletin into a battleground for warring factions - those who favor a secular Mass where the people are the center of attention and those who want an orthodox Mass with music appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice.  The latter are ridiculed and even challenged to meet on the steps of the church for a fight. 

While this priest works very hard to keep the financial aspect of the parish afloat, he has deprived the faithful of much-needed graces.  Many of them are too ignorant of their own faith to know it. I do not want to see a Catholic Church close but what's happening at this parish is anything but Catholic.  I can only thank God I also belong to a TLM parish. 

I placed a matter of practical importance entirely in God's hands.  It was something I very much wanted and was lead to believe was going to be mine with just a little inconvenience and perseverance.  Imagine my bitter disappointment when the person who strung me along delivered the blow on Monday.  I asked God to let His Will be done and when He did, I was still bitterly disappointed.  He gave me two gifts - the sadness of being refused and the humiliation that comes with being betrayed. After I got over the sting, the graces of these gifts started to sink in and brought with them even more graces.  

The priest who celebrates the Mass I attend on Saturday mornings is entirely devoted to the Blessed Mother. He gives long sermons and I love them. Today I swore he must have been reading my mind. 

I have little to discuss with the people I work with and am often patronized by them because of my faith.   Yesterday I thought I would lose my mind listening to a never-ending stream of chatter about clothes, shoes, cars, restaurants and vacation destinations.  Father said during his homily that these topics are all some people care about and that preoccupation with such materialistic interests are devoid of God.  I wish he gave some advice on what to do when one is held captive in such situations. 

Last week my nighttime reading was a little booklet I got at the Carmel written by St Alphonse Liguori.  I knew from Our Lady's words to Sister Lucia that St Joseph practiced an austere life of personal poverty. What I learned from St Liguori is that the Virgin Mary did as well. He wrote that all she had at the time of her dormition were two old gowns that she left to the woman who became her care-taker.  She saw poverty as a necessary means to keep God as the center of attention and the focus of devotion.   So between her embrace of poverty and humility and the example of St Therese in making every aspect of her life a sacrifice, I feel I can't go wrong if I try with all of my will to emulate them. Like everything else in my spiritual life this is a work in progress. 

On a more shallow note, I really got into the World Cup. I love that the finale has papal overtones. Truth be told, while I wish B16 was still Christ's Vicar on earth. I will be rooting for Argentina.  Sorry Germany!  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Night Litany for a City

I found this on the website of Philadelphia's Carmel.  I can't reproduce it as beautifully here so click on the link.  This is very timely.