St. John the Baptist, pray for us

How curious it is to read Pia de Solenni's article about James Foley on the memorial of the beheading of St. John the Baptist. There will be countless white-robed martyrs in heaven. Most of them will come from our own century.

I found this at CatholicCulture:

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch:
There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: "I am the truth"? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
Was James Foley beheaded so that he should keep silent about the truth?


Cor ad cor loquitur

"Come to my house, enter my heart. 
My heart welcomes you. 
It wants to hear you."
-Pope Francis, August 17, 2014 

Authentic dialogue

"We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity. We can’t dialogue, we can’t start dialoguing from nothing, from zero, from a foggy sense of who we are. Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak. In other words, an attentiveness in which the Holy Spirit is our guide. A clear sense of one’s own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue. If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us. And if our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures. Fearlessly, for fear is the enemy of this kind of openness." --Pope Francis, to Korea's Bishops (via Whispers)

"Once again, it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity, our being rooted in the Lord. If we have this, everything else is secondary. It is from this deep identity – our being grounded in a living faith in Christ – it is from this profound reality that our dialogue begins, and this is what we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves. Because Christ is our life (cf. Phil 1:21), let us speak “from him and of him” readily and without hesitation or fear. The simplicity of his word becomes evident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters."

"...authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. For dialogue to take place, there has to be this empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns. Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to 'hear', in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate."

Youth in Asia

"You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take. This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture. In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world." --Pope Francis, (via Whispers)


Sabbath rest

Rise . . . and walk: According to Jewish tradition, medical attention could be given on the Sabbath only when someone's life was in danger. The boldness of Jesus in neglecting this convention reflects his own theological stance that giving rest to suffering souls, whether or not they are on the brink of death, fulfills the true intent of the Sabbath.

Read John 5:1-18 for the whole passage.

I love having Gospels-in-a-year sent to my inbox for insights like the one above. Ask yourself, how often do you live the true intention of the Sabbath? How often do you give rest to suffering souls on a Sabbath day?

We went to visit my grandma in the nursing home, three generations showing tender care to a matriarch. Her prognosis is bleak, yet she is strong. We spoon-fed her some food from the dinner tray, held a straw to her lips, and wiped her lips with a napkin. Being Saturday after 5pm, we were indeed fulfilling this expectation from the Gospel, to care for someone on the Sabbath.

I think we have forgotten, in a culture of death, to truly honor the mortality of our bodies, to be tender unto the last breath. Safeguarding the dignity of another is truly good for the soul. Jesus understood this and asks us to respond accordingly.



Here's what I read at The Atlantic:

"With thousands of armed men now at his disposal, Baghdadi opened a second front against the Shiites—in Syria, where there was a largely secular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. What mattered to Baghdadi and his propagandists was that Assad and many of his senior military commanders were Alawites, members of a Shiite sub-sect. Battle-hardened from Iraq, ISI was a much more potent fighting force than most of the secular groups, and fought Assad’s forces to a standstill in many areas. Soon, Baghdadi renamed his group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), reflecting his greater ambitions."

So...a militant sub-sect of Sunni Islam (Wahabbists) are attacking a militant sub-sect of Shiite Islam (Alawites). Chaldeans and other minorities (like Yezidi) are caught in the crossfire, though they would always have been targeted by ISIS, whose goal is to purge the region of anything that is not its specific brand of Sunni Islam.

Their black flags remind me of the fear and dread that accompanied the swastika.

They aren't even Muslim!

They are Wahhabists!

"Reporters and commentators appear unwilling to name the ideology of ISIS for what it is: an unchecked outburst of extreme Wahhabism. ISIS is described, without nuance, as 'Sunni.' Yet Sunni theologians in the Ottoman Empire and India denounced Wahhabism as a form of apostasy for its accusations that Sunni Sufi Muslims are allegedly 'apostates.' Paradoxically, that is, the accusers of apostasy were declared to be apostates.

Wahhabis continually claim that Shias have abandoned Islam because they pray at shrines, celebrate the birthday of Muhammad, and visit sites in Mecca associated with the prophet – all long-established Muslim practices. Prayer at shrines and requests for blessings from the spirits of prophets and Muslim saints, male and female is not idolatry. It is simply prayer in a spiritual setting.

Wahhabis have long been known for a pattern of vandalism. They justify ravaging tombs, shrines, decorated mosques, and other structures by their absurd claim that prayer within them is prohibited in Islam."

Once more, Satan reveals himself as the great deceiver. Ergo...

ISIS is neither Islamic, nor a state-- talk amongst yourselves.


We are not jihadists

After forcing myself to look at photos of beheaded children, I read this letter from a nun who was raped and became pregnant. She has this to say about her child:

“Someone has to begin to break the chain of hatred that has always destroyed our
countries. And so, I will teach my child only one thing: love. This child, born of violence, will
be a witness along with me that the only greatness that gives honor to a human being is

This is what we, as Christians, offer a world that despises us; we forgive, that is to say, we imitate the Lamb, even when our children are conceived through rape-- even when our children are beheaded.

The response that screams, "kill them all" is a product of Evil, and therefore not the response of a Christian. Be an imitator of the Lamb who was slain rather than a participant in Evil.



At one point do we determine one group to be worthy of international intervention over another group?

At one point do we sound an outcry?

This is an outcry:


When I saw it on television I cringed, for I had hoped that this headline was overblown:

"Families throwing children from a mountain"

Isaiah 13:

15 Whoever is found will be thrust through,
    and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces
    before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered,
    and their wives ravished.


HotAir (via Pia) asks an important question, "What else is going on that might give the Pentagon a reason to play dumb for awhile?"


The Eucharist Can Save the World?

What a concept...

We are going to offer Catholicism in all its beauty and with all its challenges. There is no watering it down or offering a modified version that is easier to swallow. The truth is the truth. But what we can do is bring people in to the Church one small bite at a time. They may not be ready to chow down on the teachings about marriage, sexuality, an all male priesthood, the veneration of Mary, and the intercession of the saints. But a beautiful liturgy might draw them in to sample a little bit of the Church.

You probably know a fallen away Catholic who hasn’t been to Mass in years. He is a lost soul waiting to be found. Maybe inviting him to Mass is too big of a bite. Invite him to vespers or a holy hour instead. Why don’t you ask him to volunteer with you at a Catholic charity? Let him see the loving side of the Church. Don’t be afraid to let him know that you said a Rosary for him or asked the intercession of a saint for his intention. The Divine Mercy Chaplet can be comforting to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Our Catholic prayers are wonderful tools of evangelization.


The first paragraph of this chapter states extraordinarily simple, yet profound truth with regard to evangelization:

“One result of the liturgy’s vital relationship with the Sacred Scriptures is that the liturgy is a primary source of the Christian faith; it contains and expresses the most constitutive elements of that faith. If the church believes what it prays, then every liturgy is a profession of faith. In particular, every Eucharistic celebration is the highest profession of faith. The faith of a Christian is expressed in a fundamental way in the Eucharistic prayer. There is, then, an indissoluble link between the liturgy and the transmission of faith. We can say, in fact, that the celebration of the liturgy is the most important act of evangelization.” (pg. 209, The Spiritual Meaning of the Liturgy)
In citing the “vital relationship” between the scriptures and the liturgy, we gain a greater understanding of the role of sacred music. As the mass is a sung prayer, and scripture the foundation of the liturgy, then it is the scripture that we primarily sing. This is simple, profound, and revolutionary.
In any parish setting, it is incontrovertibly the liturgy that is the front-line of engagement and drawing in the faithful. One generally becomes more involved in a parish after being drawn in by the liturgy. It is a sort of “ministry of first impressions” that matter.



Fast & Pray

today, in accordance with Pope Francis, that the Chaldeans in Iraq will not be utterly dhimminished.


epic EPPC survey

Highlights from the groundbreaking research include the finding that while only 13% of church-going Catholic women completely accept the Church’s teachings on family planning, acceptance doubles (27%) among young women (18-34) who attend Mass weekly. It climbs still higher, to 37%, among women who both attend Mass weekly and have been to confession within the past year.

“The data show that the more plugged-in a woman is to the Church and the Sacraments, the more likely she is to accept Church teaching on family planning,” says study co-author Mary Rice Hasson. “But our research also uncovered a hidden opportunity. There are many Catholic women out there who don’t fully accept the Church’s teaching but are open to learning more about it. Two-thirds of these women are already involved in parish life. In short, they are receptive and reachable. This is good news.”

Hasson notes that the Church is missing a prime opportunity to communicate persuasively its teachings on family planning: although 72% of church-going Catholic women rely on the Sunday homily as their primary source of learning about Church teaching, just 15% of these women fully accept Church teaching on contraception.

Even so, notes report co-author Michele Hill, “Nine out of ten Catholic women say their faith is important to their daily lives. They want to be good Catholics. And they are a far more diverse group than they are given credit for. Many of them will be receptive to Church teaching, given the right message and the right approach. I can’t encourage our priests enough to present the Church’s beautiful teachings-gently, but with conviction.”

Forward this to every priest you know!

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