Monday, March 31, 2003

Murder in Michigan Church

Neither the victim nor the murderer were members of the church.

From Guardian Unlimited:

The priest at St. Paul's Albanian Church was preparing to distribute the sacrament when the attacker stood up, yelled, ``Yes, I am here'' and shot the victim in the back of the head and several more times after that, said witness Luigi Gjokaj, 42. He then fired into the air and yelled, ``I done what I was supposed to do.''

Some of the approximately 1,000 churchgoers fled after the shots, most running for the doors while a few leapt through windows, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. The suspect was wrestled to the ground by nearby worshippers, one of whom was injured as he sought to subdue him.


Update (4/1/03):

From The Detroit News:

St. Paul's Rev. Anton Kqira said Monday he had spent the last 24 hours talking to police, parishioners and relatives of the men involved who called from as far away as Europe to offer apologies for what happened Sunday.

"We can't have any services until (Cardinal Adam) Maida or someone blesses the church," said Kqira. "Blood has been spilled inside it."

Kqira had finished his sermon when witnesses said Pepaj shouted "I am here behind you" at the surprised Isufaj. Eight shots rang out in the pews, and enraged parishioners disarmed Pepaj and pummeled him to the floor. At least seven of 1,400 worshippers suffered minor injuries diving through plate glass windows to escape.

"We were fortunate no one else was injured," said Kqira.

The church opened its Rochester Hills doors in September after more than 20 years at Twelve Mile Road in Warren, where it had similar problems with serious gunplay.


Pope Speaks About Eucharist Encyclical

From Zenit News:

I wished to dedicate, precisely to the subject of the Eucharist, the encyclical that, God willing, next Holy Thursday, I will sign during the Mass of the Lord's Supper. I will hand it symbolically to the priests instead of the Letter that I usually address to them and, through them, to all the People of God on that occasion.

From this moment I entrust to Mary this important document, which is centered on the intrinsic value and importance for the Church of the sacrament that Jesus left us as a living memorial of his death and resurrection.

We also turn to Mary, to pray for the victims of the conflicts that are taking place. With afflicted and trusting insistence, we invoke her intercession for peace in Iraq and in every region of the world.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Pope Continues to Call for Peace

From Ananova:

Saying that God's love reaches every person, John Paul said that "human beings, aware of such a great love, cannot not open themselves up to an attitude of fraternal welcome" toward others.

Praying to the Virgin Mary for the victims of conflict, he said: "Let's invoke with grief-stricken and confident insistence her intercession for peace in Iraq and in every other region of the world."




The Unpleasant Life of an American Soldier in Iraq

Lest we glorify the life of a soldier too much, Ron Martz paints a stark picture of what its like in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

[this] was not nearly as dramatic or dangerous as the situation in which Sgt. 1st Class Brett Waterhouse, 37, of Gainesville, Fla., found himself that morning.

Waterhouse was using one of the fighting positions around the intersection as a toilet when a man approached and began screaming at him in Arabic. Waterhouse tried, with his limited Arabic, to tell the man to go away, but the intruder continued to scream and throw rocks.

Waterhouse was hastily completing his business when the man launched one final, sizable rock that was going straight for his head. Waterhouse fended off the rock with one hand, cutting a finger.

"That could have killed me if it had hit me in the head," Waterhouse groused.

When the man continued to approach, Waterhouse and several other soldiers pulled their weapons and shot the man.




Saturday, March 29, 2003

Pope Says War Must Not Become "Religious Catastrophe"

From UK News Yahoo:

"Let us not permit a human tragedy to become a religious catastrophe," he said on Saturday.

The Pope is against the war in Iraq and led the Vatican in a diplomatic campaign to try to avert it.

The Iraq conflict has put the Vatican on a collision course with Washington because the Pope has refused to bless the conflict as a "just war".

The Vatican is very concerned that the war could lead to worsening situations for Christians living in predominantly Muslim countries, such as Iraq and Indonesia.
Supporters Hopeful of Sheen's Canonization

I plan on supporting his cause in all that I do.

From Pantagraph.com - News:

Catholic investigators are looking into reported miracles attributed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, and supporters hope those will lead to Sheen's canonization within a few years.

The El Paso-based Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation is receiving hundreds of letters attesting to the famous television evangelist's virtues and even crediting him with miraculous intervention in people's lives.

The Diocese of Peoria, where Sheen was ordained, opened the case for Sheen's sainthood last fall, and investigators need to prove two miracles before the pope will canonize the El Paso native.

Suicide Bomber Kills Five US Soldiers at Checkpoint

Sad, sad news. Everytime deaths are announced I think of my fellow coworkers who have sons serving in Iraq. This war has brought the tragedy of 9/11 to the heartland. We may not have been in New York, Washington, or Pennsylvania on September 11th but now the tragedies of that day are being felt personally by the rest of us throughout the country.

From the Washington Post:

Capt. Andrew Wallace said slain Army soldiers were part of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, manning a checkpoint on a highway north of Najaf. A taxi stopped near the checkpoint, the driver waved for help, and the car exploded as five soldiers approached, Wallace told Associated Press Television News.

At U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, officers confirmed the incident, but said they had no details.

Is the Pope a Pacifist?

A good reflection on the Pope and the Vatican's position on the Iraq war and war in general.

From William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal:

In short, what we have lost here is a tremendous teaching opportunity. And if the Vatican's problem is, as Archbishop Martino suggests and the pope's own words at times imply, not simply Iraq but a larger discomfort with just war in a modern world, it raises even more questions. Namely, how President Bush can be held in breach of moral criteria that (a) are in the process of being radically revised and (b) really can't be met anyhow.

In another remark on Vatican Radio made on the eve of war, Archbishop Martino characterized the American response to Iraq as replying with "bombs to a people that has been asking for bread for the last 12 years." The Vatican role, by contrast, would be to play the "the Good Samaritan who kneels to tend the wounds of an injured, weak nation."

Which begs a question: If the biblical Good Samaritan had arrived on the scene a little earlier and stumbled on the robbers instead of their victim, what would have been his obligation?


Given the current situation it is really more a case of the latter. In this case if the fallen towers of the World Trade Center and the innocents who died there are in fact the "man fallen by robbers."

At this point in the war wouldn't it be a great idea to ignore Baghdag as a target and set up the rest of the country as an American run regime where food, clothing and a better life are a part of the lives of the inhabitants. Wouldn't this lead to the fall of Baghdag?

Friday, March 28, 2003

Flying Pacifist Arrested for Violating Italian Airspace

From Reuters:

An Austrian man flying a motorized paraglider trailing a peace banner swooped into St Peter's Square on Friday to protest against the U.S-led war in Iraq.

He may have expected officials at the Vatican, where Pope John Paul has led a vigorous anti-war campaign, to greet him with open arms, but instead he was met by police.

The flying pacifist and a group of supporters waiting to help him with the landing were taken to the Vatican police station for questioning, a police spokesman said.

"A total of eight people were taken in, six Austrians and two Germans," he said.

Police accused the group of holding a demonstration without permission and said the paraglider, who took off from a park west of Rome's city center, could be charged with violating Italy's airspace.
Saddam Once Received the Key to the City of Detroit

Plus donated almost half a million to a Chaldean Catholic Rite church there....

From Excite News:

Saddam Hussein donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Detroit church and received a key to the city more than two decades ago, soon after he became president of Iraq.

The events contrast sharply with the attack Saddam's regime is now facing from a U.S.-led coalition, reflecting his changed relationship with the United States since Washington helped Saddam covertly in his 1980-88 war with Iran.

Saddam's bond with Detroit started in 1979, when the Rev. Jacob Yasso of Chaldean Sacred Heart congratulated Saddam on his presidency. In return, Yasso said, his church received $250,000.

"He was very kind person, very generous, very cooperative with the West. Lately, what's happened, I don't know," Yasso, 70, said Wednesday. "Money and power changed the person."


If you read on you'll discover that the group visited Hussein in Iraq and was given another $200,000 during their visit.
Front Pages of the World's Newspapers

Here is a very interesting sight that I stumbed upon today. You can view the front pages of papers from around the world (including a wide range of cities in the United States). Interesting to see what images various papers put on their front pages. Some emphasize the suffering of the Iraqi people because of the war, some the suffering because of Saddam Hussein, some the trouble of the troops, some the heroic effort of the troops even carrying their fellow soldiers on their backs.

Check it out yourself atthe Newseum
A Very Sad Image and a Frightening One

Nancy Nall has two pictures posted on her web page today. One of a small girl, a casualty of the war in Bashra another of a Pakistani wearing a head band with a message to kill people of a particular semitic tribe. A picture is worth a thousand words and both of these speak volumes.
A Great Teaching on Christian Prayer

The section below is from yesterday's Office of Readings and is one of the most intriguing explanations of the difference in prayer both before Christ and after His appearance on this earth.. One of the tensions that Christians live with is the quandary of how to interpret the Old Testament in light of the new. What the early church father Tertullian does here is to point us in a manner that is consistent with what Christ has revealed to us as the will of God.

Enjoy!


From Universalis-the Online Liturgy of the Hours:

In the past prayer was able to bring down punishment, rout armies, withhold the blessing of rain. Now, however, the prayer of the just turns aside the whole anger of God, keeps vigil for its enemies, pleads for persecutors. Is it any wonder that it can call down water from heaven when it could obtain fire from heaven as well? Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. But Christ has willed that it should work no evil, and has given it all power over good.

Its only art is to call back the souls of the dead from the very journey into death, to give strength to the weak, to heal the sick, to exorcise the possessed, to open prison cells, to free the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travellers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm.

All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look out to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer. What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To him be honour and power for ever and ever. Amen.
Sad News

Infant Son Of Bucs' Jurevicius Dies - from Tampa Bay Online:

The infant son of Tampa Bay receiver Joe Jurevicius has died nearly 10 weeks after being born prematurely during the Buccaneers' run to the Super Bowl.

Michael William Jurevicius, born on Jan. 14, died Monday night at St. Louis Children's Hospital.


Most sports fans will remember the dramatic catch that Jerevicius made in the conference championship game in Philadelphia and the tie-in with his worry about his prematurely born son. Very sad ending to what at the time seemed hopeful.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Not Good News

From Crosswalk.com:

Syrian President Bashar Assad is calling on Arab states to defend Iraq while Syria's top religious authority has called for suicide attacks against U.S. and British troops fighting to topple the regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Assad, an outspoken opponent of the allied war against Iraq, said he hopes the Americans will fail, according to an interview published in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir on Thursday.

Assad called on the Arab states to invoke the joint Arab defense treaty, which calls on them to defend any Arab country that is being invaded, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Tony Blair's Plane Hit by Lightning

From Salon.com:

The plane carrying British Prime Minister Tony Blair to a meeting with President Bush was struck by lightning as it approached the United States on Wednesday, a reporter on board said. No injuries or damage were reported.

Britain's Press Association news agency said Blair's chartered British Airways Boeing 777 was struck by a lightning bolt as it approached Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland at about 10,000 feet. It landed 20 minutes later, at 5:05 p.m.
Pope Pleads for Faithful to Pray the Rosary for Peace

I'm doing it, are you? Like Archbishop O'Brien the military ordianariate said the best way to support the troops is to pray for peace.

John Paul II will also make a pilgrimage to marian shrine to pray for peace.

From Zenit News:

John Paul II plans to go on pilgrimage this year to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii, near Naples, Italy, to pray for world peace.

Before bidding farewell to the thousands of pilgrims who attended today's general audience, the Pope said that he, and all believers, are living "with our heart oppressed by the news coming from Iraq which is in war, without forgetting the other conflicts that rage on earth."

"How important it is that during this Year of the Rosary we persevere in praying the rosary to implore peace!" he added. "I ask that you continue to do so, especially in Marian shrines."

He added: "To Mary, Queen of the Rosary, I now entrust my intention to go to her shrine in Pompeii next Oct. 7 on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. May Mary's maternal intercession obtain justice and peace for the entire world."

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The Allah Factor

I told Amy the other evening that the sandstorm would be seen by the Iraqi's and indeed much of the Moslem world as a sign from God that he was fighting for them. Indeed that is now being reported as the story below shows.

Nothing surprising about this, it is an expression of faith that nothing happens that God does not allow or ordain. In fact in the end when the coalition forces take over the country that too will be seen as an act of God.

How many Christians in the west still have this type of faith? Do we see the hand of God in the events of our life or do we blame them on "bad luck" "poor planning" or our enemies? How we see the world and God's place in it forms our view of how we should act within it.

From Washingtonpost.com:

To Mohammed, the relentless sandstorm was foreboding, a portent of divine will.

"The storm is from God," he said, looking out his trembling window. "Until the aggression started, never in my life did I see a storm like this. We all believe in God, we all have faith in God. And God is setting obstacles against the Americans."
Amen!

From theBruderhof Communities:

I have great respect for every person who has recently attended a vigil, protest march, or peace rally. I myself have participated in dozens over the last four decades. But I am also concerned about the tensions, the divisiveness, and even open violence that is sometimes a part of these gatherings.

Yes, war is wrong; yes, killing is wrong. I will never waver from that. At the crucifixion of Jesus, after one of his disciples struck off the ear of a soldier, Jesus told him to put away his weapon, saying, “He that takes the sword shall perish by the sword.” Jesus was clearly no advocate of armed force. But neither did he condemn those who used it—even against him. On the contrary, he prayed for them, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

How timely Christ’s words are for us who claim to follow him! He spoke them as a sinless man. What about us, who contribute to war in so many ways, every day of our lives—with our greed and materialism, our backbiting and gossip, our unfaithfulness and family feuds, our arrogance, our general selfishness and our disregard for others? How do we stand before God, we who stand on the sidelines and condemn those who have planned this war, and those who are now fighting it?

The war in Iraq calls each of us who oppose it to make a choice. We can criticize the White House and the Pentagon. We can antagonize those we disagree with. We can rub salt into the wounds of families who have lost loved ones (or who fear losing them). We can look on soldiers and sailors and airmen as evil-doers.

Or we can show them love, as we have never shown love before. We can listen to those who are angry with us. We can encourage those who are hurt or bitter. We can take time for the children around us. Many of them will go to bed tonight with the images of a war that is thousands of miles away, but still scares and confuses them. And we can support the troops on both sides of the battle by praying for their safe return, and for a speedy end to hostilities.


Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Happy New Year!

To you traditionalists!

This used to be new year's day. Makes sense since today's feast celebrates the conception of Christ and Christians believe that life begins at conception. So up until 1753 this was it.

This is from Catholic Nexus:

Roman Church historian Dionysius Exiguus, in calculating his history of the Christian Church, took this day as the supposed date of the Annunciation. March 25th afterward became the first day of the calendar year, until the Gregorian Calendar Reform of 1753 changed the day to January 1st.
Where Soldiers Pretend to Be Civilians and Civilians Pretend to Be Soldiers

Civilians are surrendering claiming to be soldiers so they can be fed as POW's.

From Reuters:

Who wants to be an Iraqi prisoner of war?

Plenty of people in southern Iraq it seems, as it is about the only way to get a square meal in this swathe of territory now controlled by U.S. and British forces.

With over 3,000 prisoners of war held in an enclosure on the outskirts of Umm Qasr, civilians in the battle-scarred port town are trying to "surrender" as a means of getting food and water.
"I am a deserter and I am trying to surrender," one Iraqi told Reuters on Monday at the gates of an ever-growing transit camp for genuine POWs.

But with no uniform or army identity tags or papers, the sentries guarding the facility turned him away.
Pope Lauds Peace Movement

From online.ie :

The anti-war movement around the world shows that a "large part of humanity" has rejected war as a means of solving conflicts between nations, Pope John Paul said today.

The Pope, a staunch opponent of the US-led war in Iraq, sent the message to Roman Catholic military chaplains attending a Vatican-organised course on humanitarian law.

He said the course was being held "at a difficult moment in history, when the world once again is listening to the din of arms" and that thoughts about the victims, the destruction and the suffering produce "deep worry and pain".

By now, he said, "it should be clear" that except for self-defence against an aggressor, a "large part of humanity" has repudiated war as an instrument of resolving conflicts between nations.

He cited the "vast contemporary movement in favour of peace" around the world and said he took "comfort and hope" from the efforts for peace by various religions.
Renovation of Detroit's Cathedral

I have been in this church before it was renovated and it had to be one of the darkest church's I've ever been in and coldest. There are pictures at the bottom of the page linked below and I would say that the architect has tried to bring some light into the building. Overall it looks nice.

I don't care much for the Blessed Sacrament chapel (it looks like the chairs are facing away from the tabernacle but maybe that is for the choir stall effect?).

I definitely do not understand why the pipes for the organ have been thrust up in front of the windows--this has to be some attempt by musicians to exert their superiority in the post Vatican II church. But other than that the Baptismal font seems nice (Easter Candle is too small for the size of the church).

Check it out at The Official Web Site for the Archdiocese of Detroit
Are U.S. Catholics, "more Catholic than the Pope"?

I include a snipet of this article reflecting the British Catholic view of Catholics in the U.S. I encourage you to go to the link and read the entire very well thought out piece that does a great job explaining Catholics in the U.S. Whether you are conservative or liberal there is a truth to grapple with here in the way we evangelize and catechize in this country.

From The Tablet

American Catholicism is ethnic, not dogmatic. The descendants of Irish and Italian and Polish immigrants, long bereft of the old country’s language, maintain their ancestors’ religious identification, which does for them what Catholic nationalism did for Ireland and Poland in the days of British and Soviet rule. It makes a people where there would otherwise not be a people. Yet in this land of voluntarist and intensely subjective Protestants, Catholics who are, in the sense of ethnic identity, “more Catholic than the Pope”, still share the radical Protestant “fundamental belief” that, to quote Pelosi, “God gave us all a free will and we are accountable for that”. Each believer stands alone with his God, and no Pope intervenes on that solitude.

And here is another facet of the paradox of America’s martial Catholicism. Bush is, like Clinton and Gore and Carter, and almost half of their compatriots, an evangelical Protestant. The Bush family being what it is, young George W. was naturally an altar boy in the Episcopalian Church, America’s only socially distinguished faith; he married into Methodism, as his brother, the governor of Florida, married into Hispanic Catholicism; but George W. was nonetheless brought to evangelical conversion in 1985, by Billy Graham himself. Bush’s evangelical faith is overt in his speeches; yet he seems perfectly congenial to America’s “more Catholic than the Pope” Catholics.
Bush returns thecompliment. He has successfully courted the traditionally Democratic Catholic vote, winning half of it in 2000; he has twice carefully visited the papal court; he sincerely abhors teenage sex and abortion; he visibly defers to the Catholic faith. Over the Iraq crisis,

Bush has paid Rome the compliment of strenuous contradiction. The President received Cardinal Laghi and argued with him, and the administration launched a remarkable theological offensive against the Vatican – with the 1994 winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, Michael Novak, carrying the debate to the enemy’s Roman citadel. By contrast, Bush has simply ignored all the Protestant Churches, including his own, which have denounced the war.

For America’s right-wing Protestants are in the same dilemma as America’s Catholics. And they too find it a non-dilemma. They are not ecclesial Christians: their faith is a private matter, founded on vivid and therapeutic experience of God. Their greatest religious loyalty beyond themselves is not to any denomination, but to what they conceive to be the Christian and democratic cause; and of that cause Bush, not Karol Wojtyla, is both sultan and caliph.

Let's Hope He's Wrong

From Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

Retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, commander of the 24th Infantry Division 12 years ago, said the U.S.-led force faced "a very dicey two to three day battle" as it pushes north toward the Iraqi capital.

"We ought to be able to do it (take Baghdad)," he told the Newsnight Program on Britain's BBC Television late on Monday.

"In the process if they (the Iraqis) actually fight, and that's one of the assumptions, clearly it's going to be brutal, dangerous work and we could take, bluntly, a couple to 3,000 casualties," said McCaffrey who became one of the most senior ranking members of the U.S. military following the 1991 war.

"So if they (the Americans and British) are unwilling to face up to that, we may have a difficult time of it taking down Baghdad and Tikrit up to the north west."


Monday, March 24, 2003

Captured Chemical Plant Turns Out Not to Be

From datek/Dow Jones Newswires - Story:

U.S. officials said Monday that no chemical weapons were found at a suspected site at Najaf in central Iraq, U.S. television networks reported.

NBC News reported from the Pentagon that no chemicals at all were found at the site. CNN, also reporting from the Pentagon, said officials now believe the plant there was abandoned long ago by the Iraqis.
Peace Protests?

The Diocese Report has a good collection of photos of peace protests from around the world that show the protestors to be anything but peaceful.
Fictitious Celebrities

Note to Michael Moore the fictitious president is Martin Sheen.

Leave it to an event in Hollywood for someone to lecture the country about fiction. Art imitates life. Sometimes those making the art forget that and get it back-wards--they think that they are the reality and that what is going on in the world is fiction. Sort of an eastern view of the world gone awry where everything that exists is an illusion.

But reality is different and in the real world Michael Moore is not a celebrity. In fact the average person waking up this morning and reading the newspapers account of Moore's comments last night at the Academy Awards won't even have a clue as to who the hell he is. In fact in most cases the actors who people do recognize are only known by the roles they play not their real selves. Like I said this is the world of fiction.

I am for peace but I am not for the spokespeople who carry the torch for peace in this country. Most of them make peace sound like one more partisan take on reality. I was against Clinton bombing medieval villages and I'm against Bush bombing the same. Unlike most I will not join a peace rally, but I will get down on my knees and pray both for those who have been sent to fight against the Iraqi's and for the innocents who stand in harm's way. I firmly believe that if people really believed in God and poured out their desire for peace in the world in prayer with the same passion that we hurdle hatred around that the world would be changed--miraculously.

But most of us are caught up in our own fiction of voicing peace but expressing it with anger and hatred in our hearts for each other. As Barry McQuire sang many years ago in "Eve of Destruction," "don't believe in war, ah what's that gun your toting?" The real fiction is that those who yell the loudest for peace are usually those who are most at war with their fellow human beings.
Florida Gets Creamed by Michigan State

But thanks to Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel there is plenty to laugh about. Here is a snipet but go to the column for an example of great writing and it is even better if you are familiar with all the local Tampa references that he ties into it.

OrlandoSentinel.com: Sports Columnists Mike Bianchi:

Donovan actually said after the embarrassing loss that his Gators "overachieved" this season. That's a little like the captain of the Titanic sitting in the lifeboat afterward and saying, "Yeah, but what about that seafood buffet?"

The Gators may have overachieved during the regular season, but they have flamed out in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season. The Gators are Pavarotti in the dress rehearsal, but they turn into Carrot Top when the lights go on. If Donovan keeps this up, we may have to start calling him Coach February.

Where was the fight in his team? Where was the grit? Florida was so concerned about being down by 10 points to the Spartans at halftime that they came out and reeled off four points in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Four lousy points.
War Updates

Amy provided me with this one that does seem to be timely and complete: The Agonist--by Sean Paul Kelley
Interesting Tale of About the Pope

Peter Vere relates an incident that he heard while attending a prolife conference in Canada some years ago that relates to the Pope and gives him a good reason to feel confident in trusting the Holy Father's view of things.

From the Envoy Magazine Blog:

One of the speakers worked in the Vatican, and he told us the following story of an incident he witnessed between the Holy Father and a bishop from East Germany. Basically, the bishop snuck through the iron curtain on a semi-regular basis to update the Holy Father on what was going on back in East Germany while still under communist rule. As the Holy Father listened to this bishop's report, his fingers were making their way through the mysteries of the Rosary.

As soon as the East German bishop finished his report, the Holy Father paused for a moment to collect his thoughts, then informed the bishop he was being named the new bishop of a see in West Germany.

"But Your Holiness," the bishop protested, "I could never take this appointment. I have spent my entire priesthood strengthening the faith of my flock in the face of communist persecution, encouraging them to persevere despite the dangerous conditions. To accept this transfer now would only bring more discouragement, as my people would feel that I abandonned them."

"Do not worry," the Holy Father replied, "it is all coming down."

"What is?" the bishop asked.

"All of it," Pope John Paul II answered.

"How do you know? Who told you?"

The Holy Father paused for a second, lifted his Rosary toward the sky, the said: "She told me."

Less than six months later, the Berlin wall fell.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

First Casualty of War--Truth

Surveying the major news networks one is struck with how inaccurate and varied the news can be reported during a war. Add to that an international news channel (thanks to satelite television) and you really get the picture. What is even more distressful though is that most of the news networks seem to have scripted around the clock guest experts and often these "experts" just get in the way of real news being reported. One network reports that Donald Rumsfeld has said something, the other says that the military has denied such a claim and the international news network presents the Iraqi news coference that refers to reports by the "Zionist Rumsfield."

All in all it is a reminder that the first casualty of war is the truth. One recalls the initial news reports of the Oklahoma City bombing as the work of Arab terrorists, and the initial planes crashing into the World Trade Centers as some problem with air traffic control in New York. The current glut of news coverage is filled with misreports and untruths. In the end who will remember what really has happened?
British Paper Reports Saddam is Still Alive

From the UK Telegraph:

A British official said: "Saddam Hussein was badly injured. He was so badly injured he needed a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, he was not critically injured. We think he is still alive. We also think his son Uday was killed or badly injured."

First Incident of Fragging in Iraqi War

FRAG: common term for any grenade

FRAGGING: assassination of an officer by his own troops, usually by means of a grenade


Talk to any Vietnam vet and they'll tell you that this happened more than a few times in Vietnam. Arming people even soldiers is not child's play. If a soldier gets fed up with the command of his unit and he has a weapon the temptation of murdering an officer under the cover of war may be too much for some individuals.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Vatican Proposes Intense Praying of Rosary for Peace

From Zenit.org:

The L'Osservatore Romano newspaper highlighted an invitation for believers worldwide to pray the Rosary in the next 24 hours for peace in Iraq.

Today's daily edition of the Vatican newspaper stated that the beginning of military operations in Iraq is "the time to intensify prayer to the Queen of Peace so that she will intercede before her Son, the Prince of Peace."

The proposal comes on the day that Iraqi Catholics and Christians are preparing to consecrate their country to the Blessed Virgin, "Queen of Peace," in St. Joseph's Cathedral, Baghdad.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Witnesses Saw Saddam Being Wheeled Away After Attack

From ABCNEWS.com : U.S. Officials: Saddam Seen on Gurney:

U.S. intelligence sources say Saddam Hussein was seen being wheeled out of a Baghdad residential complex on a stretcher Wednesday night (U.S. time) after the complex was struck in "decapitation attacks" by the United States.

Eyewitnesses saw the Iraqi leader being taken from the complex on a "gurney, with an oxygen mask over his face," the officials told ABCNEWS.
Sources say there was clearly a U.S. observer nearby, watching the complex.

Intelligence sources also said there has been a significant lack of communications between Saddam and his military structure since the airstrike.

They are optimistic that Saddam received injuries in the attack, though they are cautious about the extent of possible injuries.


The Continued Musings of an Iraqi Citizen in Baghdag

From Where is Raed ?:

The most disturbing news today has come from Al-Jazeera, they said that nine B52 bombers have left the airfield in Britain and flying “presumably” towards Iraq, as if they would be doing a spin around the block. Anyway they have 6 hours to get here.
Last night was very quiet in Baghdad. Today in the morning I went out to get bread and groceries. There were no Ba’ath party people stopping us from leaving the area where we live, this apparently happens after the evening prayers. But they are still everywhere. The streets are empty only bakeries are open and some grocery shops charging 4 times the normal prices, while I was buying bread a police car stopped in front of the bakery and asked the baker if they had enough flour and asked when they opened; the baker told me that they have been informed that they must open their shops and they get flour delivered to them daily. Groceries, meat and dairy products are a different story. One dairy product company seems to be still operating, not state owned, and their cars were going around the city distributing butter, cheese and yoghurt to any open markets. Meat is not safe to buy because you wouldn’t know from where and how it got to the shops. Anyway we bought fresh tomatoes and zucchini for 1000 dinar a kilo which would normally be 250. and most amazingly the garbage car came around.
A Recommendation

It has been interesting to me in my survey of various "Christian" blogs to see the diversity of opinion when it comes to the "Christian's" stance toward war. No doubt the divergence of opinion would exist if the topic were greed, sex, or any of the other areas dealing with the seven deadly sins. Perhaps it is just a matter of how seriously we really take Our Lord Jesus Christ and how much we really believe in God.

When I was reviewing a book on the Algerian Trappist monks who were killed, I was struck by one incident in the early life of the abbot of the monastery. His name was "Christian" and he was serving as a soldier in the French military in North Africa. During his service he befriended a local man who was a devout moslem. At some point during their friendship they discussed prayer and the moslem friend commented to Christian that he was amazed at how "Christians" found it so difficult to pray. "Didn't they believe in God?" the man wondered. Later when Christian came under attack his moslem friend defended him and later was killed for having done so. The experience never left Christian who later became a Trappist monk and in the end gave his life for the love of the Algerians.

The question bears repeating, "Do we believe in God?"

Do we believe that He is all powerful or do we think that it all really depends upon us? Let me recommend a book to anyone who reads this blog. My guess it will upset the majority of people but being upset is not always a bad thing. The book deals with the forces of evil and how they seek to "dominate" in this world both us and others. As much as we seek to dominate others rather accept the dominion of God in our lives we participate in these evil powers. Anyway for those interested the book is by a Walter Wink (he's actually written a series of books on this topic). He is not Catholic but is a Christian and where you might not agree with everything he says I think you will find that it will put the demands of the gospel into focus for you and why we must pray always that "thy kingdom come, thy will be done."


cover

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Is Saddam Dead?

From CBS News:

In Washington, President Bush huddled with his advisers to decide whether to begin the full-out assault on Iraq. The initial strikes on Baghdad were launched because intelligence detected a chance to kill Saddam. Those strikes were not the massive aerial bombardment planned to open the war.

Intelligence officers, meanwhile, were analyzing a television appearance by a person purported to be Saddam. The appearance came after the bombing, but it was possible the man on camera was not the Iraqi president, but a double.


If you go to the CBS site where they have pictures of Saddam and "Saddam" in the video it is pretty clear it is not the same person.
Administration Phones Vatican

From Zenit News Agency:

"We understand the Holy Father's concern," Powell told the archbishop. "But sometimes issues come before us that cannot be avoided, but because we are peace-loving, we hope they'll go away, and we believe firmly this is one such issue."

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

International Dominican Information "Are we less than animals ?" Iraqi Dominican Sisters Appeal to President Bush, American People

A sobering letter addressed to President Bush and the American people from Dominican sisters living in Iraq. Most won't like their message but it is worth reading before you sit down in front of CNN and start watching video of bombs raining down upon the Iraqi people.

Hopefully that will not happen. Hopefully special forces can go in and take Saddam Hussein prisoner and take over the country without a bomb dropping...hopefully.
Tariq Aziz is on Live Television Refuting Claims that He Has Fled Iraq


Lot of rumors floating around.
Rome vs. Washington

Interesting piece. I'm including the part of the article where he gives Rome's view of the just war criteria, but the article is about much more than just this. From the The Spectator.co.uk:

The Thomist definition of the necessary conditions for a just war (Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.40) is, like all his writing, admirably straightforward. War must be declared by a competent authority; the US president and Congress fulfil this requirement constitutionally in terms of self-defence, but not to cast America in the role of international policeman. There must be just cause, i.e. attack by an aggressor or a need to restore rights lost under aggression; this validated the 1991 Gulf war, provoked by the invasion of Kuwait. There must also be proportionality — the likely suffering and destruction caused by war must be outweighed by the just cause. Most of the world disputes this in the context of Iraq. The remaining stipulation is the right intention, meaning that the belligerent must intend to re-establish justice and a lasting peace. America clearly has the intention of affording Iraqis an opportunity to live under a more just regime; but the acute hazard of destabilising the Middle East, with the possibility of other governments falling to militant Islam and a massive resurgence of terrorism, could be held to cancel that out.

We'll See You Tomorrow if God Keeps Us Alive

From Where is Raed ?:

A couple of hours earlier we were at a shop and a woman said as she was leaving, and this is a very common sentence, “we’ll see you tomorrow if god keeps us alive” – itha allah khalana taibeen – and the whole place just freezes. She laughed nervously and said she didn’t mean that, and we all laughed but these things start having a meaning beyond being figures of speech.

"Where is Raed?" is an Iraqi blog. No matter where you stand on the war issue this is fascinating reading of someone living in Iraq right now.
Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!

He is a powerful friend to have on your side. I have often entrusted many cares that I have had into his hands and he has never let me down. God entrusted him with the care of His Son!

Here is a link to Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal and here is a prayer that you might wish to recite today...

Glorious Saint Joseph

As you have the power to make the most difficult matters work out well
Please come to my aid at this difficult and distressful moment.
Please take care of these important and difficult matters
that I bring to your attention
in order that they result in a happy ending.

My dearly beloved Father
I put all my trust in you:
May it not be said that I trusted you in vain.
As you are all powerful with Jesus and Mary
Please show me that your kindness is equal to your power!


Happy Feast Day to my son Joseph!

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

This During a State of Heightened Security!

From
Washingtonpost.com:

I hate to be giving advice to Saddam Hussein at this moment, but clearly, the most effective path for any enemy of America is to put on a helmet that makes him look like Franz Liebkind, the unreconstructed Nazi in Mel Brooks' "The Producers," get himself a John Deere tractor and drive it into a shallow decorative pond. That'll shut down any American city but good.

For more than 24 hours now, a lone farmer from Whitakers, N.C., has held the capital of the free world hostage, causing the authorities to shut down several major thoroughfares and paralyzing much of the city. The tobacco farmer, Dwight Watson, 50, supposedly questions the wisdom of U.S. tobacco farming policies.
Catholic Eastern Rite Bishop Condemns Any Participation in Possible War with Iraq

Ohio Romanian Catholic Bishop John Michael Botean:

Because such a moment of moral crisis has arisen for us, beloved Romanian Catholics, I must now speak to you as your bishop. Please be aware that I am not speaking to you as a theologian or as a private Christian voicing his opinion, nor by any means am I speaking to you as a political partisan. I am speaking to you solely as your bishop with the authority and responsibility I, though a sinner, have been given as a successor to the apostles on your behalf. I am speaking to you from the deepest chambers of my conscience as your bishop, appointed by Jesus Christ in his Body, the Church, to help shepherd you to sanctity and to heaven. Never before have I spoken to you in this manner, explicitly exercising the fullness of authority Jesus Christ has given his Apostles "to bind and to loose," (cf. John 20:23), but now "the love of Christ compels" me to do so (2 Corinthians 5:14). My love for you makes it a moral imperative that I not allow you, by my silence, to fall into grave evil and its incalculable temporal and eternal consequences.

Humanly speaking, I would much prefer to keep silent. It would be far, far easier for me and my family simply to let events unfold as they will, without commentary or warning on my part. But what kind of shepherd would I be if I, seeing the approach of the wolf, ran away from the sheep (cf. John 10:12-14)? My silence would be cowardly and, indeed, sinful. I believe that Christ, whose flock you are, expects more than silence from me on behalf of the souls committed to my protection and guidance.

Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory.

Thus, any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion. For the Catholics of the Eparchy of St. George, I hereby authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden.


Check out a Canon Lawyer's reflection on the statement at In Light of the Law under the heading Bishop Botean's Lenten Message

It is also interesting that the Vatican has released a very strong statement on the possible war:

As a US-led war loomed in Iraq, the Vatican today declared that anyone who decides that peaceful means under international law are exhausted assumes "grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history".

The statement reflected the Vatican’s firm stance against war in Iraq and came hours after US President George Bush gave Iraqi President Saddam Hussein until Wednesday to leave his country or face military attack.

"Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history," said the one-line statement by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.


Pope Urged to be a Human Shield to Stop War
By the French

From
Reuters AlertNet:

The only way left to avoid war in Iraq is for Pope John Paul to rush to Baghdad to be "the protector of humanity's values," a French parliamentary deputy said on Monday.

Didier Julia, a maverick conservative who has visited Iraq twice in the past six months, noted the pope would be a suitable "human shield" because he has spoken out forcefully against war.

"Right now, only one thing seems useful to me now, and that's that the pope goes at the last minute to block aggression against Iraq," he told France's i-television.

"I would really like the pope to serve as the protector of humanity's values," he said.

The pope issued a passionate plea for peace on Sunday, saying he had lived through World War Two and felt obliged to tell the world: "Never again war."
Perhaps Saddam Will Flee

From Yahoo:

Saddam Hussein's personal jeweller has been in Thailand on a secret mission to buy millions of dollars' worth of diamonds, according to a report in The Sunday Times. The trip has prompted speculation that the Iraqi leader may be planning to flee or to send his family into hiding.

Quoting "sources with knowledge of the trip", the report says the jeweller travelled to Bangkok via Jordan and bought the diamonds in the Thai capital in a pre-arranged deal. This was his second trip, Saddam's son Uday having sent him there three months ago to buy a ring from an American dealer for 750,000 dollars, the report adds.
"Ecclesia de Eucharistia" ("The Church of the Eucharist") Encyclical will be Published on Holy Thursday This Year!

From Zenit News Agency:


It will be the 14th encyclical written by the Holy Father in his close to 25-year pontificate.

The real presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist brings together all of the writings of John Paul II's pontificate, which began with the March 1979 encyclical on Jesus Christ, entitled "Redemptor Hominis," the Vatican sources explained.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Dick Vitale Picks Kentucky-Florida Final!

From ESPN.Com:


Dickie V's Final Four Picks
Oklahoma
Kentucky
Florida
Arizona

Championship Game -- Kentucky-Florida
National Champion -- Kentucky


If Florida actually makes it to the final game (which I seriously doubt) they will beat Kentucky this time!
Happy Saint Patrick Day!

Here is a prayer written by Saint Patrick to recite today:

I bind myself
to
God's power to guide me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to teach me,
God's eye to watch over me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to give me speech,
God's hand to guide me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to shelter me,
God's host to secure me.
Amen.
President to Address Nation Tonight

To Tell "Saddam to Go!"

From the Washingtonpost.com:

President Bush planned to address the nation Monday night to give Saddam Hussein a final ultimatum. "He will say that to avoid military conflict Saddam Hussein must leave the country," spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

The White House scheduled the address after U.S. and British diplomats announced at the United Nations that there would not be a vote on their resolution to give Saddam an ultimatum or face war. On Sunday, the president and his allies from Britain and Spain announced that they would give the U.N. one day to resolve the diplomatic dispute.
Sopranos Taping Likely to Start on Schedule

From New York News Daily:

"The Sopranos" star James Gandolfini and HBO are considering a deal to drop their dueling lawsuits and proceed with contract negotiations, according to published reports. If the deal goes through, production on the show's new season could start next week as originally scheduled.

According to HBO sources, Gandolfini is seeking $25 million for a fifth season which would be a record for an actor in a TV drama. Others, however, have said Gandolfini's asking price was closer to $16 million.
Some Believe Book of Revelation Predicts War

From the HoustonChronicle:

Referring to Revelation 9:11

Then comes the clincher. In Chapter 9, Verse 11 -- yes, that's 9:11 -- John says the leader of an army of locusts released to fight humankind is named Abaddon in Hebrew, Apollyon in Greek. Both words mean Destroyer, one of several meanings for the name "Saddam."
Pope Renews His Appeal For Peace

From Catholic News:

"The next days will be decisive for the outcome of the Iraq crisis," said the Pope, who prayed that "leaders on all sides be inspired with courage and long-range vision."

"Certainly, the leaders of Baghdad have the urgent duty to collaborate fully with the international community, to eliminate any reason for an armed intervention," the Pope said.

"To them I direct my pressing appeal: the fate of your fellow citizens always has priority!"

John Paul also said he wanted to remind UN member countries, and especially those which make up the Security Council, that "the use of force represents the last resort, after having exhausted every other peaceful solution, according to the well-known principles of the UN Charter."

"That is why, in the face of the tremendous consequences that an international military operation would have for the population of Iraq and for the equilibrium of the entire Middle East reason, already so tried, as well as for the extremism which could stem from it, I say to all: There is still time to negotiate; there is still room for peace."

The pontiff continued: "It is never too late to understand one another and to continue to deal with each other."
I'm On the Radio This Morning

Catholic Connection. You can listen in on the Internet (8 A.M-9 A.M. EST) or if you live in Detroit you can listen in on WDEO.

I'm talking about Fulton Sheen, peace and St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Best Way to Support Troops--Pray for Peace!

As someone who has served this country as a member of the Armed Forces I agree!

From the Chicago Catholic New World:

The best thing American Catholics can do to support the men and women in the armed forces is pray for peace, said Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of the Archdiocese for the Military Services of the United States.

“The only way we’re going to get away without a war at this point is to pray,” said Archbishop O’Brien, as he prepared for a March 14 visit to St. Barnabas Parish on the South Side for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Family Liturgy. “That’s the first step. I think all our troops would benefit by not going to war.”

Parishes and individuals should also do everything they can to support the families, especially the children, of soldiers and sailors who have been deployed, he said. Having a parent—perhaps someone who serves in the National Guard or reserves—suddenly gone for a lengthy and indefinite time creates huge stresses on families.

And in the meantime and especially if we do invade, parishes can help by remembering their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and friends who are in uniform during the prayers of the faithful and as intentions at Mass, he said.


New York Carp Shouts Out in Hebrew:
"Everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is near"


From The Observer:

According to two fish-cutters at the New Square Fish Market, the carp was about to be slaughtered and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner when it suddenly began shouting apocalyptic warnings in Hebrew.

Many believe the carp was channelling the troubled soul of a revered community elder who recently died; others say it was God. The only witnesses to the mystical show were Zalmen Rosen, a 57-year-old Hasid with 11 children, and his co-worker, Luis Nivelo. They say that on 28 January at 4pm they were about to club the carp on the head when it began yelling.

Nivelo, a Gentile who does not understand Hebrew, was so shocked at the sight of a fish talking in any language that he fell over. He ran into the front of the store screaming: 'It's the Devil! The Devil is here!' Then the shop owner heard it shouting warnings and commands too.

'It said "Tzaruch shemirah" and "Hasof bah",' he told the New York Times, 'which essentially means that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is near.'

The animated carp commanded Rosen to pray and study the Torah. Rosen tried to kill the fish but injured himself. It was finally butchered by Nivelo and sold.


The most amazing thing about this story isn't that the fish spoke Hebrew its that they killed the prophet before he could appear on Larry King!

Saturday, March 15, 2003

"Love Your Enemies, Pray for Those who Persecute You"

Words of some radical peacenik, or some famous musician or actor?

No. Words of Jesus Christ.

They crucified Him because there were some who found his message way too much. But He rose from the dead and gave proof that His message is the Truth!

Unfortunately, many of us who are His followers do nothing. We don't pray actively for peace in the world--in fact we usually pick fights with our neighbors creating more unrest.

I offer this excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1879 and here translated by Constance Garnett for your lenten meditation:

"He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone recognised Him. That might be one of the best passages in the poem. I mean, why they recognised Him. The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they surround Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart, and power shine from His eyes, and their radiance, shed on the people, stirs their hearts with responsive love. He holds out His hands to them, blesses them, and a healing virtue comes from contact with Him, even with His garments. An old man in the crowd, blind from childhood, cries out, 'O Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee!' and, as it were, scales fall from his eyes and the blind man sees Him. The crowd weeps and kisses the earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before Him, sing, and cry hosannah. 'It is He- it is He!' repeat. 'It must be He, it can be no one but Him!' He stops at the steps of the Seville cathedral at the moment when the weeping mourners are bringing in a little open white coffin. In it lies a child of seven, the only daughter of a prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in flowers. 'He will raise your child,' the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The priest, coming to meet the coffin, looks perplexed, and frowns, but the mother of the dead child throws herself at His feet with a wail. 'If it is Thou, raise my child!' she cries, holding out her hands to Him. The procession halts, the coffin is laid on the steps at His feet. He looks with compassion, and His lips once more softly pronounce, 'Maiden, arise!' and the maiden arises. The little girl sits up in the coffin and looks round, smiling with wide-open wondering eyes, holding a bunch of white roses they had put in her hand.

"There are cries, sobs, confusion among the people, and at that moment the cardinal himself, the Grand Inquisitor, passes by the cathedral. He is an old man, almost ninety, tall and erect, with a withered face and sunken eyes, in which there is still a gleam of light. He is not dressed in his gorgeous cardinal's robes, as he was the day before, when he was burning the enemies of the Roman Church -- at this moment he is wearing his coarse, old, monk's cassock. At a distance behind him come his gloomy assistants and slaves and the 'holy guard.' He stops at the sight of the crowd and watches it from a distance. He sees everything; he sees them set the coffin down at His feet, sees the child rise up, and his face darkens. He knits his thick grey brows and his eyes gleam with a sinister fire. He holds out his finger and bids the guards take Him. And such is his power, so completely are the people cowed into submission and trembling obedience to him, that the crowd immediately makes way for the guards, and in the midst of deathlike silence they lay hands on Him and lead him away. The crowd instantly bows down to the earth, like one man, before the old Inquisitor. He blesses the people in silence and passes on' The guards lead their prisoner to the close, gloomy vaulted prison- in the ancient palace of the Holy, inquisition and shut him in it. The day passes and is followed by the dark, burning, 'breathless' night of Seville. The air is 'fragrant with laurel and lemon.' In the pitch darkness the iron door of the prison is suddenly opened and the Grand Inquisitor himself comes in with a light in his hand. He is alone; the door is closed at once behind him. He stands in the doorway and for a minute or two gazes into His face. At last he goes up slowly, sets the light on the table and speaks.

"'Is it Thou? Thou?' but receiving no answer, he adds at once. 'Don't answer, be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well what Thou wouldst say. And Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst said of old. Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us? For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest that. But dost thou know what will be to-morrow? I know not who Thou art and care not to know whether it is Thou or only a semblance of Him, but to-morrow I shall condemn Thee and burn Thee at the stake as the worst of heretics. And the very people who have to-day kissed Thy feet, to-morrow at the faintest sign from me will rush to heap up the embers of Thy fire. Knowest Thou that? Yes, maybe Thou knowest it,' he added with thoughtful penetration, never for a moment taking his eyes off the Prisoner."


After a long speech the Inquisitor awaits the prisoner's response:

When the Inquisitor ceased speaking he waited some time for his Prisoner to answer him. His silence weighed down upon him. He saw that the Prisoner had listened intently all the time, looking gently in his face and evidently not wishing to reply. The old man longed for him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But He suddenly approached the old man in silence and softly kissed him on his bloodless aged lips. That was all his answer. The old man shuddered. His lips moved. He went to the door, opened it, and said to Him: 'Go, and come no more... come not at all, never, never!' And he let Him out into the dark alleys of the town. The Prisoner went away."

What of us? Will we accept Christ or send Him away this holy season? Do we find him too much?

I think of the publicity of the last few days and the return of Elizabeth Smart to her parents. It reminds me of the raising of the daughter in the story above. An answered prayer the parents claim. Does it move us to pray for the great needs we have?

Thanks to Pat Madrid!

Pat sings my praises over at the Envoy blog. Actually, I shouldn't take too much credit for what I said--most of it was a quote from the Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen and one of the entries where I commented upon Dorothy Day's reason for active prayer as the armament of the Christian.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Interesting Night in Toledo Catholic Bookstore

Amy and I plus our entourage arrived home early this morning after a quick trip to Toledo for a "catholic authors" night sponsored by Drouillard's in Maumee (a suburb of Toledo). On hand were Pat Madrid who gave a talk on "search and rescue" of fallen away Catholics, Marcus Grodi, Dave Armstrong, Steve Ray, Amy and myself and a few others. There was good crowd on hand, the owner set the figure at 999 but there were actually around 97 (I stood in the back during Pat's talk and counted).

I liked Pat's talk and the discussion afterwards. These kind of productions are a good way to touch base not only with other authors but also to hear what readers of Catholic books are thinking about. War, abuses at retreat centers, renovations of historic churches made the top of the list.

Speaking of war, I had the opportunity to answer a question about what we should do and I thought that I answered it rather well saying that what we should do is pray for peace. I think most of us focus way to much on what the president or our military should do and not enough on what moi can do. In fact one of the attendees turned the "What Would Jesus Do?"-WWJD around and said it really should be WWID-"What Will I Do?" One of the other presenters took off on my comments and said he was sick of hearing all the "peace talk" and he fully supported the war. I would have liked to have told him to go down to the local military recruiting office and sign up then--but in fairness he claimed that he was on his way to Iraq to film a biblical video--so I guess he'll have the opportunity to "put his money where his mouth is" soon enough. Personally I don't plan on going to Iraq any time soon, nor do I plan on being activated back into military service (I proudly served in the US Army from 1977-1980 spending one year of that time at a small base in Turkey where five of the 100 people I was stationed with were killed by terrorists in two separate incidents), so I'll do what I can do from here in northern Indiana--pray.

Overall not a lot of books seemed to be sold by anyone but it was an enjoyable outing even if it has left all of us a little wiped out today.
Will Iraq Strike U.S. First?

From ABC News:


U.S. officials fear that once President Bush signals the U.S. is headed to war, Saddam Hussein will strike pre-emptively, administration sources told ABCNEWS.


I would only add that if he does, it will certainly clarify for a lot of people whether us attacking them is "just" or not.
Future Leaders?

Democratic presidential hopefuls Kerry and Edwards were absent from partial birth abortion ban vote. Are they afraid to take a stand? What kind of leaders would either of them make if that is the case?

From the New York Times:

Two Democratic presidential candidates, Senators John Edwards of North Carolina and John Kerry of Massachusetts, who have voted against the ban in the past, were absent today and did not vote.


Thursday, March 13, 2003

All Things French...

What I don't understand is why if we are going to call fries and toast something other than "French"--"fat" shouldn't be the obvious replacement. I haven't eaten a "fat" fry since the beginning of this year!
Booksigning Tonight in Toledo

Amy and I will be signing our books tonight at:

Drouillard's Catholic Bookstore, Maumee, OH
at 7:00 p.m. for Info: 419-891-1166

Pat Madrid will be speaking and there will be a host of other Catholic Authors signing their books as well.

Conyers Mulls Presenting Articles of Impeachment Against President Bush

From MATT DRUDGE // DRUDGE REPORT 2003®:

House Judiciary ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) assembled more than two-dozen prominent liberal attorneys and legal scholars on Tuesday to mull over articles of impeachment drafted against President Bush by activists seeking to block military action against Saddam Hussein. ROLL CALL is reporting on Thursday.
Martyrs' shrine awaits miracle

From - timesunion.com:

The priests at Our Lady of Martyrs' Shrine in Auriesville are waiting for a miracle.

That's what it will take to get the blessed martyr herself, Kateri Tekakwitha, made a saint by the Vatican, say those who run the popular shrine that sits above the Mohawk River six miles west of Amsterdam.

If the Vatican hears of a sick person who prays to the martyr and is cured -- such a cure must be investigated by Vatican doctors to make sure medical science is not the reason -- the Pope might make her a saint, said the Rev. John Marzolf, a Jesuit priest who is director of the shrine.


I have made a retreat at Auriesville and visited the Shrine of Blessed Kateri many times while there. Amy and I also prayed at Blessed Kateri's tomb near Montreal several summer's ago. I encourage anyone in need of a miracle to ask for Blessed Kateri's intercession!
Donna Steichen Positively Reviews "Confusion in the Pews" by Cecilia Martin

The author sent me a copy of the book that Amy is currently reading.

From CruxNews.com: Confusion In the Pews

Confusion in the Pews concludes with an invaluable appendix describing the four constitutions of the Second Vatican Council as well as the Decree on Lay Apostolate (Apostolicam actuositem), and summarizing common misinterpretations employed by those who rely on lay ignorance to promote a subversive "spirit of Vatican II." Everyone engaged in the coming restoration of the Church will need to know the documents of Vatican II, just as they need to know the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Andrew Sullivan Takes on New Oxford Review Ads

Go to his blog and scroll down a bit: www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Rumors Abound...

In the past few minutes, I've read that the Israelies are reporting the war will start on March 18th (given that one of the resolutions introduced by Britian had a March 17th deadline this hardly seems like news) and also that Osmama Bin Laden has been captured but news of his capture is being kept secret until either March 17 or 18th to coincide with the commencement of war with Iraq--this last tidbit is coming from the AP in Iran.
Sophia Press Releasing Fulton J. Sheen Wartime Prayerbook

From the Publisher John Barger:

Recently, a friend sent us his only copy of The Armor of God, a sixty-year-old, pocket-sized prayer book, its scuffed leather cover worn from hard use in rough circumstances.

Written for soldiers by Msgr. Fulton Sheen in the darkest moments of World War II, this small prayer book has been proven in combat and hallowed by the suffering, prayers, and sacrifices of thousands of Catholic fighting men and women on ships, submarines, and aircraft, in fortresses and foxholes, and even in hellish prisoner of war camps across Europe and the Pacific.

Peacetime led those soldiers and sailors to put aside this powerful wartime prayer book as they entered a world rendered more secure because of their sacrifices.

New enemies have shattered the security those good soldiers won sixty years ago. Terrorism now takes as its battlefield our homes, our schools, and our workplaces, threatening even those of us who are not in the military.

Duct tape may protect us from chemical and biological weapons, but it surely wont protect us from the corrosive, soul-destroying impact of fear, anger, uncertainty, and despair, which daily life on this battlefield is causing already.

Now is the time to draft The Armor of God back into Gods service.

We are publishing it April 1st as Fulton Sheens Wartime Prayer Book, in a pocket-sized leatherette edition similar to the original that you can carry with you in your car or on the subway, and that soldiers and sailors can carry in their uniforms as they face the enemy.

Prepublication orders are surging already and well fill them on a first-come, first-served basis, so place your order today so you wont be left empty-handed if war breaks out in Iraq or the first-printing runs out.


I might add that my Fulton Sheen book includes a special appendix on Sheen's teaching both on War and Peace including a forgotten teaching that views "war as punishment from God."
Archbishop Rigalli of St. Louis has Cancer

From News Tribune - St. Louis archbishop has prostate cancer:

St. Louis Roman Catholic Archbishop Justin Rigali will undergo surgery next week for prostate cancer, officials at the Archdiocese of St. Louis said Tuesday.

Rigali, 67, informed St. Louis area priests of the cancer in a letter on Tuesday. Surgery is scheduled for March 19 at St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis.

"So often people ask me for my prayers. At this time I count so much on theirs. " Rigali wrote. "I ask also for a renewed remembrance in prayer for all those who suffer from cancer and various illnesses."


Please remember him in your prayers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

What Difference Does Christ Make?

"Men, women, children, deeply divided as to race, nation, language, way of life, work, education, status, wealth . . . -- all are restored by the Church in the Spirit . . . All receive from her one nature which is beyond corruption -- the nature that is not affected by the numerous and profound differences by which people differ from one another . . . In her, no one is at all separated from the common, as everyone is as if dissolved in one another by the simple and indivisible power of faith" (St. Maxim the Confessor).

During this season of Lent it might be a good time to think about what a difference Christ makes in our lives. Are we any different from unbelievers? What is it that we truly trust in? Do we believe that no matter what God ultimately is Lord of Lords?

It strikes me that Christians have always taken one passage of Scripture and gone in two directions with it. When Jesus faces Pontius Pilate He tells Pilate that Pilate has no power over Him that was not given to Him by God.

One view of this is to stand by and to see whoever is in power in any particular country as God-ordained. The other and this has often been expressed in the Catholic Church is to see that the Church has a role in determining who is in power because the church has a divine mandate here on earth.

So it is natural for Catholics to stand back and criticize political powers and unnatural for Christians of other ilks. In the end though both sides will view whatever the outcome is as some form of judgment of God.

The same Jesus who said "let him who does not have a sword go out and buy one," and was told by the apostles that they had two swords--later told Peter when he pulled out the sword to put it away, "for those who 'live' by the sword die by the sword." What do we live by?

Only you and I can answer these questions individually and honestly. Only we can decide during this Lenten season to Christ as the answer to all of the ills that plague society and the world. We can make a choice to pray for the coming of God's Kingdom or to try to build our own kingdoms without God. It is our choice, it is the choice of everyone on the face of the earth regardless of what situation they find themselves in.

St. Paul tells us that "in Christ there is neither east or west, Greek or Jew, male or female," that all believers make up one body of Christ--the Church. We live in the days of a separated body of Christ and our world is the sadder for this. The body of Christ does not act with uniformity, in fact it often punishes itself. Let us seek to be a unified member of Christ's body this Lent!


Testing of Largest Conventional Bomb Ever Today in Florida

From Tampa Bay Online:

A conventional bomb so big that it's first name is "massive" is set to be tested for the first time at this Florida Panhandle base Tuesday.

Air Force officials Monday warned residents of communities surrounding the western half Eglin's 724-square-mile military reservation to be prepared to hear an explosion that sounds like thunder or a slamming door between noon and 5 p.m. CST although the blast will be miles away.


The U.S. hopes this will put the fear of God into the Iraqis and convince them to overthrow Saddam Hussein or even to convince him to go into exile. Hopefully it will do just that, because I doubt it will have any positive affect on the current world oppinion of the United States on waging war against a country that has "weapons of mass destruction." This weapon is supposed capable of mass destruction at a level only seen in the use of a nuclear weapon.
Bobby Knight Won't Take Salary

From iWon - Sports News:

Bob Knight's income tax return next year is bound to look a little odd.

He told Texas Tech to keep his salary - all $250,000 of it - because he didn't do a very good job, and neither did his team.

"I'm just not at all satisfied with what transpired with our team in terms of our fundamental execution. I don't think it's anybody's fault but mine," the Red Raiders coach told The Dallas Morning News for Tuesday's editions.


He probably can live pretty well without it but still it is refreshing to see that he's not resting on his laurels.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Pope Suspends All Audiences to Pray for Peace

From Zenit News Agency:

John Paul II will suspend his audiences this week to go on retreat and dedicate himself especially to prayer for peace in Iraq and the Holy Land.

The Pope made this announcement today when greeting several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the midday Angelus.

The Holy Father asked the faithful to pray for him and his closest aides in the Roman Curia, who will be on retreat until next Saturday.

"During this week of silence and prayer, I will have present the needs of the Church and the concern of the whole of humanity, especially in regard to peace in Iraq and the Holy Land," he said.

Talk About Threats!

From smh.com.au: Pyongyang: We'll put a torch to New York -

North Korea would launch a ballistic missile attack on the United States if Washington made a pre-emptive strike against the communist state's nuclear facility, the man described as Pyongyang's "unofficial spokesman" claimed yesterday.

Kim Myong-chol, who has links to the Stalinist regime, told reporters in Tokyo that a US strike on the nuclear facility at Yongbyon "means nuclear war".

"If American forces carry out a pre-emptive strike on the Yongbyon facility, North Korea will immediately target, carry the war to the US mainland," he said, adding that New York, Washington and Chicago would be "aflame".

Sunday, March 09, 2003

The Humanitarian Costs of War

From Zenit:

A leaked U.N. report calculated up to a half-million people could require medical attention in case of a military conflict, the British daily Guardian reported Jan. 29. The World Health Organization estimated that about 100,000 civilians could be wounded, and another 400,000 would be hit by disease due to the bombing of water and sanitation services and the lack of food.

The U.N. Children's Fund calculated that around 3 million people, 80% of them children under age 5, would be in a dire situation regarding a lack of food. The U.N. report noted that some 16 million Iraqis depend on the monthly food basket of basic goods supplied by the government. In the event of war these supplies likely would be disrupted.

On Jan. 28 a group of U.K. aid organizations -- Oxfam, CAFOD, Christian Aid, ActionAid and Save the Children -- published a joint press release warning that military action could trigger a major humanitarian disaster. "Military action against Iraq could devastate the lives of millions of people," Oxfam director Barbara Stocking was quoted as saying. "The humanitarian situation in Iraq is now more fragile than it was on the eve of the 1991 Gulf War."

The declaration also commented that under the Geneva Conventions it is against international humanitarian law for "any objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population" to be targeted during military action. In the case of Iraq, these objects include infrastructure such as ports, railways and roads vital for the distribution of food aid across the country as well, as the water and sanitation system, powered by the main electricity supply.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Iraq has Drones?

Again something I've heard nothing about in the American press.

From the Times Online:


A REPORT declassified by the United Nations yesterday contained a hidden bombshell with the revelation that inspectors have recently discovered an undeclared Iraqi drone with a wingspan of 7.45m, suggesting an illegal range that could threaten Iraq’s neighbours with chemical and biological weapons.

US officials were outraged that Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, did not inform the Security Council about the drone, or remotely piloted vehicle, in his oral presentation to Foreign Ministers and tried to bury it in a 173-page single-spaced report distributed later in the day. The omission raised serious questions about Dr Blix’s objectivity.

Miraculous Images?

I've been reading for the past few months about images appearing all over the place. This one of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on a highway in Mexico City. I saw the image on Fox News the other night. There is an image posted at this site and a brief story as well.

Friday, March 07, 2003

John Allen Writes About the LA Congress

This is where I was last week. I actually spoke with John as we were walking from one conference to another. I joked about some of his leading candidates in Conclave dying off. He mentioned that he is under contract to revise the book every two years.

Of the people he mentions hearing, I did hear Father Tony speak at a youth rally. I also heard John speak just before the Native American Liturgy in the Arena, but none of the others.

Here is a sampling of his column:

Go to The Word From Rome for his full report.

The congress is an incredible event, reflecting the energy, the diversity, and the sheer size of Los Angeles itself. A friend who works for the U.S. bishops observed that it's remarkable that so many lay Catholics --somewhere around 22,000 --would give up a beautiful Southern California weekend to sit through what amounted to a series of lectures on ministry, trends in catechesis, and the issues facing John Paul's successor. For three days, the Anaheim Convention Center literally buzzed with Catholicity.
Rankings

Amazon.com: Books: The How-To Book of the Mass

When I'm posting this it is ranked 2,240!
This Site has Info on Online Bookstore Rankings

Marketing Through Amazon - Tentacle Tips (GreenTentacles)

I would have to guess that the Catholic Digest piece has greatly increased the sales of my book on the Mass. For today it has jumped up to around 2,000 on Amazon and I think is still around 1,000 on Barnes and Nobles. From what I can determine if you are in the top 10,000 in sales the rank is updated hourly.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Has Bin Laden Been Captured?

Rumors are rampant in Washington over the President's press conference this evening.
Father Groeschel Responds to Dallas Morning News Story

Read the Entire Response to Brooks Egerton's Article of March 2, 2003 in the Dallas Morning News by Father Groeschel by Clicking Here

A snipet:

The headline of this article claiming that I played down the abuse crisis is an absolute untruth. Anyone reading my books or listening to my talks on this subject knows that this is utterly untrue, that it is a smear.

I must respond carefully to the rest of Egerton's article because of professional confidentiality. I cannot even acknowledge that I spoke to certain people because of their right to privacy.


I'm in the top 1000!

Sales rank #846...not sure what that translates to but it is the highest I've ever been.

Barnes & Noble.com - The how-to Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

Update--now up to #706???
Welcome Back to Northern Indiana!

After an eight day hiatus of 55-71 degree days in California and Kentucky (it was in the 60's there), I awoke to a car covered in snow, snow falling heavily, sixteen degrees, and the sight of two fat racoons waddling down the sidewalk unconcerned.
Pope John Paul II's Ash Wednesday Message

Here is the Pope's comments on Lent overall:

From Scoop: Reflection on Meaning of Prayer and Fasting - Pope:

I also wished to propose again the urgent invitation to conversion, penance and solidarity in the Message for Lent, made known a few days ago, whose theme is the beautiful phrase of the Acts of the Apostles: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (see 20:35).
In fact, only by converting to this logic can a social order be constructed characterized not by a precarious balance of conflicting interests, but by a just and common search for the common good. Christians, as leaven, are called to live and spread a style of generosity in every realm of life, thus promoting the authentic moral and civil development of society. In this connection, I have written: "To deprive oneself not only of the superfluous, but even of something more to distribute it to those in need, contributes to that denial of self without which there is no authentic practice of Christian life" (No. 4: [daily] L'Osservatore Romano, Feb. 7, 2003, p. 5).

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Amy's Lenten Book Blog is Up

Great ideas for spiritual reading for Lent!

Monday, March 03, 2003

Vatican Publishes Pope John Paul II's Lenten Message Online

Read the entire text at the Vatican website. Here is a snipet:

«It is more blessed to give than to receive». When believers respond to the inner impulse to give themselves to others without expecting anything in return, they experience a profound interior satisfaction.

"It is more blessed to give than to receive," is a passage from the Acts of the Apostles that I believe is actually a quote from Jesus that St. Paul mentions there. The Pope is taking this verse as the suggested theme for our observance of Lent this year.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

An Arm and a Leg for Gas?

Gas prices out here hover right around 1.97 for unleaded...about the same price as a bottle of water here.

Check out the Nancy Nall's page for a funny take on gas prices.
Father Groeschel

There is a story about Father Groeschel in a certian metro paper today that I will not link. In many ways the story which ignores much of what Father Groeschel says about the clergy scandal and intimates that his reason for his slant on the crisis is because of his own role in working with such priests.

--One priest featured in the story, I know as an a very holy priest who had been living at the retreat house that Father Groeschel runs for "troubled priests" as well as for priests seeking spiritual renewal. This priest whose story I knew has been living a life of complete penitence since his crime. In many ways he has been imprisoned in the retreat house. How anyone can find anything wrong with that is beyond my grasp.

--A reference is made that Father Groeschel lives in a mansion. In fact Father Groeschel lives in the half of the garage of what once was a large house that is now coverted into a retreat house. I've been there, stayed there and in no way is it palatial or to be confused as a "mansion." It is usually overfilled with retreatants and others who are there for a lengthy period.

--Father does attack the media. And he does. After reading the Dallas piece I would tend to agree with him. What is the purpose of this piece? To question why a priest who has been removed from ministry is living in a retreat house for other priests like himself? Would they rather that he be living in an apartment complex unsupervised? Much is made of Father Groeschel's failures in using pschology to remedy priest who had abused. Guess what he acknowledges this in the book, apologizes for the stupidity of the field of psychology and its past mistakes. He never claims that he was any different than others in the field. So where is the story here?

--Father includes prayers in the book for victims, bishop and perpetrators. He apologizes profusely for those who have been hurt by the church. What he does in Scandal to Hope is calls for reform. How could anyone find fault with that?
MTV Story on Cash Video

From MTV.Com:

The rest of the video is a haunting portrait of a clearly fragile Cash juxtaposed with archival glimpses of a hale and hearty hell-raiser hopping trains, visiting his abandoned childhood home and taking walks with his family. The intercut footage came from several boxes pulled from Cash's private collection and lent to Romanek, who spent weeks combing through hundreds of hours of tape. "I've gotten letter after letter from people saying that the video made them weep and they can't stop watching it," Romanek said. As further proof of its success, the perennially cool but commercially hard-to-pigeonhole Cash is suddenly in rotation on MTV2 and VH1 and the song has crept onto the playlist of Los Angeles alternative rock tastemaker station KROQ-FM.

"I'm most proud of the fact that it's causing this visceral, emotional reaction," Romanek said. "That's the whole reason to make any sort of film. You don't often have the opportunity to do that with a music video because that's not usually what you're being asked to accomplish."

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Pope Sending Envoy to United States

American Catholics have a problem thinking of themselves as the recipient of a papal envoy to urge us to avoid war. The Catholic bloggers on the internet show the angst that Americans feel in the struggle of loyalty to our Country and loyalty to Christ.

As someone who served three years in the United States Army I have often been amazed at how people who have never served in the military nor have children in the military are cavalier in their support of us going to war in any circumstance. Some of those who are pro-war might consider their own willingness to join the battle or have their loved ones risk their life to defend the cause.

We have a congressman who was raised a Menonite, was totally anti-war during the Vietnam era, was a conscientious objector when he was drafted and now regularly speaks out in favor of war. What gives?

I can totally understand those who live in New York and Washington wanting to lash out in anger against someone for the pain that they have personally experienced. But the doesn't the Gospel of Jesus Christ call us to something more than our natural urges? And for those who cannot stand the hypocrisy of politicians who claim to be Catholic but support abortion--are they any different if they call themselves followers of Christ and support the killing of innocents for any reason? I know there are those who equate Saddam Hussein with Hitler and say the Iraqi people are his puppets. Then by all means take him out in the same way that moralists argue that Hitler should have been taken out before his violence and insanity spread--but don't attack the puppets.

From the left coast.