Thursday, May 31, 2007

Will people merit mercy?

Will people merit mercy?

Except for seasonal allergies I've always been very healthy. I hiked, skied, gardened, bird watched, learned fencing and martial arts, and never had an injury or major illness. The allergies had made me miserable as a child, though, and so I had some understanding of those who were ill. And my father died too soon of a heart attack. But I had always been blessed with great health. The trade off for that seems to be that I'm "sturdy" and "zaftig" (as my Yiddish aunt in law would say.) So I wasn't model material, but I knew that I was blessed with good health and a well working body.

All that changed 13 years ago when I woke one night in unbearable pain in my abdomen. A rush to the emergency room and then 11 painful, un medicated hours of tests resulted in my needing surgery. In a flash my womb and one ovary was gone, and surgeons muttered "pre cancerous" and so forth. Six months later, I woke in disbelief to the same pain, maybe even worse, and after a rerun to the hospital the horror story continued, and the second ovary had to go. This surgery was botched and I was scarred for life, and quite infected. My brother was extremely suspicious of malpractice at the time. But that's not where I'm going with this story.

What was very strange, and continues to this day, is that "friends" and people I don't even know have made some very odd remarks about my surgeries (which I certainly did not choose to have.) It took me a while to figure it out, but apparently people who have had abortions, or who have issues with my faith, took some, well, oddly evil comfort in my having had a hysterectomy and a scarred "pot belly" as a result. It was too strange to believe, at first, the oddly unkind remarks and actions. Those of you who have had miscarriages may have an idea what I mean. Imagine my shock, though, when as recently as last year, a priest who I otherwise admired, actually condemned my surgery out loud to my face at a "healing mass" ... and this was in a parish hundreds of miles from where I live, and he would have no way of knowing my circumstances. There was, and I can't think of any other way to put it, an air of "well, she's such a pious scank isn't she?"

One when I was in an ER, in my embarrassing gown, I saw someone take pictures of me with a cell phone camera. Wow, Beyonce I'm not... he must have been a "motherly flab with face etched in pain and sweat" fan. And I'm not embarrassed. I'd rather people took a hundred pictures of my big butt than look at one picture of child porn. And well, looks like that offer's not been taken up because look at how the filth of child sexual exploitation is ruining the world.

Well, I hardly know where to start in describing my thoughts, but I do wonder, do these people think that when they face God when they die, that he will understand "spin" and "nuance" what they were thinking and what they have done? These are people who think they know quite a bit. They are in for a dreadful surprise.

I mostly ignore what has been done to me, because life offers so many ways to love, beyond vanity of the body, and beyond having a biological child. But it is weird how obsessed people are with other people's wombs and bodies, and thinking of ways to degrade them. No wonder there is so much cruelty in our society? When even a priest in a healing mass "cracks wise?" It is good that the Holy Father recently reminded people that there is a hell. One's personal judgment is not like court TV when you get to have a smart mouth, a famous lawyer, and time to rationalize sin. There is physically no way to lie or spin in the presence of God... he will remember and judge things that you have even forgotten.

And I urge those of you who have been victims and suffered, including having had an abortion that you now regret, to take a page from my book and make an honest relationship with God your highest priority. Those of you who have suffered and perhaps lost a child due to abortion, do remember that you will have one great advocate in heaven: your child who awaits you. Do all that you can do to get there with a clean and honest soul so you can be reunited in eternal joy. Let's just say, no one cares if the lifeguard to the drowning man or woman is tubby with a scar.

Just to end on a humorous note. I always loved the scene in Lethal Weapon II when the Mel Gibson character and the soon to be girlfriend character have a friendly scar comparison and competition lol. I bet my scar would win "hands down" lol.

A Man with a Spine

Excerpt from a strongly worded sermon to be delivered on Thursday afternoon (31 May) at St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh by Cardinal Keith O'Brien:

We see the affirmation of the immense value of life from its very conception. The redeemer in the womb unites himself with all of humanity. By becoming incarnate in the womb of Mary, God raises to a new level the greatness of every human life.

The joy of that meeting holds out to us the message of delight that should accompany every pregnancy. With every life conceived God acts directly to create a new and unique human being, a person destined to life everlasting. Sadly, joy is not always the dominant emotion evoked by news of pregnancy in the world we live in today.

Today as we remember the Visitation we mark the “Day for Life” in Scotland, with a mixture of emotions, celebrating the gift of life but remembering also the tragic loss of life. Abortion is the theme for this year’s “Day for Life” which significantly is the 40th anniversary of the passing of the abortion act. In those 40 years the loss of life has been staggering. Around 7 million lives have been ended as a consequence of that one piece of legislation.

We were told that backstreet abortions were killing women and had to be decriminalised. We were told abortion would only be used in extreme cases. We were told medical scrutiny would be rigorous. We were told a – lies and misinformation masquerading as compassion and truth.

The scale of the killing is beyond our grasp. In Scotland we kill the equivalent of a classroom full of school children every day. For many women abortion has become an alternative form of birth control. The lives of the babies involved are not at risk any more than the lives of their mothers are threatened by pregnancy. Abortions to save the life of a woman are almost unheard of. As a society we wilfully ignore these realities.

We need to build, once again, a society, which joyfully accepts new life. The abortion industry has impacted massively on the values of our society as its proponents continue to spread their culture of death. There is acceptance of a philosophy, which permits the destruction of children in the haven of their mother’s womb.

We must remain witnesses to the truth and be unambiguous in defending life in all that we do. I have campaigned on behalf of the developing world, urging the G8 nations to act in defence of life. I have campaigned against the indiscriminate killing power of nuclear weapons and in defence of innocent life; I speak out today in defence of life at its most vulnerable and defenceless.

It is not easy to turn societies against the natural urge to protect young life. Yet care and concern for children is still very much alive. We are gripped with concern when news coverage of a child snatched or harmed appears on our television screens. We have ached over the disappearance of young Madeleine McCann in Portugal; together with her parents we know the inestimable worth of one precious life. Yes life is precious and precious also are those lives that are snuffed out in darkness hidden from the world.

Let us build up within our society a generation of medical professionals who are unwilling to cooperate in the slaughter. I call on our universities and medical schools to teach that all human life deserves protection. I call on our hospitals to end testing procedures designed only for targeting and killing the weak and infirm. I call on all politicians to answer one simple question: will you protect the right to life of all persons in our society from conception until natural death? And I call on you to hold these elected representatives to account.

For those unwilling to give this support we must be unwilling to give our vote. History will judge us on where we stood in this crucial issue. But there is a judgement more important than history. We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.

I urge politicians to have no truck with the evil trade of abortion. For those at Westminster this means finding means of overthrowing the legislation, which makes the killing possible. For those at Holyrood that means refusing to allow our health services to participate in the wanton killing of the innocent. Peace cannot be built in the shadow of the abortion rooms.

In making this call, I speak most especially to those who claim to be Catholic. I ask them to examine their consciences and discern if they are playing any part in sustaining this social evil. I remind them to avoid cooperating in the unspeakable crime of abortion and the barrier such cooperation erects to receiving Holy Communion. As St. Paul warns us “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

I would be failing as a pastor not to highlight the gravity of this situation not just to law makers but to anyone: mother; father; boyfriend; counsellor who in any way leads a mother to abortion.


I first saw the horror of abortion as a freshman in college. I lived in a dorm and was close friends with several girls there, and the next year four of us would move into our "first apartment." But the freshman year in the dorm, one of my friends became pregnant by a boy who was also in our circle of friends. Even though my friend was an Italian Catholic, she never once thought of having the baby, because of the certain anger of her parents and because it would mess up her very ambitious college plans. As far as I knew she only confided in me, though years later, I came to suspect that was not true. But anyway, as there was no changing her mind, I owned one of the few cars available on campus (that was a rarity in those days, to own a car as a freshman, but my stepdad was a mechanic and got a great car for only $400 for me) I had to drive her to the "clinic." Her boyfriend had nothing to do with it, and I was her only friend in this situation. I figured, if I brought her in a car, and she didn't have to go alone on the bus, we had up to the LAST MINUTE for her to change her mind. I would have been thrilled to have been her friend as she had her baby. (I had already cared for my niece when I was only 14 years old, when both my brother and his wife were working one summer.) The waiting room was packed... an image that still sickens me. Abortion was NOT "rare" even then, in the mid-70's. None of the girls in the waiting room would meet my eyes.

Ironically, my friend married and had some children and a successful counseling practice, and I never got a chance to meet her living children, because she drifted away in friendship after graduation. I got to see her get an abortion, but not to see her have a family. Hmm.

Iraqi Christians: do not become martyrs

Dearest who suffer in Iraq, both for their faith and as innocent bystanders in the civil war. My advice to you is to leave Iraq, together with your families, even if you have to leave your land behind. I know that many of you have already left, and I urge those who remain to consider leaving as soon as possible. If there are delays in getting visa or permission to enter "Western" countries such as Europe or the USA, please do not wait and go instead to a country in your region when Christianity is allowed in honor and peace, such as Syria or UAE. Do not risk your family's lives any further. It is more important that the Word of Jesus Christ live in your families than for you to water the garden of martyrs with your injury or death. There are times when one must leave one's country for one's faith and one's family's safety, and all honor and prayers for those of you who must now do this. Prayers and blessings for Iraqi Christians throughout the world, and especially those who must now leave for a new start elsewhere. I ask Christians and sympathetic governments, both secular and Islamic, to support and welcome the refugees and thank you in God's name in advance.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Shout out for Michael !

I'm too busy to hunt out your email address so here's something I wrote for you ;-)

Amygadalus communis hastens the word,
Buxus sempervirens makes it durable,
Laurus nobilis sweetly shades it,
Cedrus libani raises the word aloft.
Cinnamomum zeylanicum shows the three,
Cupressus sempervirens houses the word,
Ficus carica feeds those who hear,
Capparis aegyptiaca soothes and cleanses,
Populus tremula rustles in the spirit,
Salvadora persica raises the mighty from the small,
Olea europaea feeds the body temple,
Phoenix dactylifera waves for the righteous.
Punica granatum joys the garden,
Acacia seyal drops its thorns for the tabernacle,
Pistacia terebinthus is the painter's friend,
Ceratonia siliqua fed the prodigal's son,
Platanus orientalis provides the rods,
Vitis vinifera Noah's hands planted,
while Genista monosperma provided Elijah with rest.

Minnesota Twins "Get Back" to .500

Twins get mad, beat Sox
Pierzynski stirs pot, angry Twins expose Sox's flaws in opener
By Mark Gonzales,1,4100319.story?coll=chi-sportstop-hed

I agree with writer Mark Gonzales, who implies in this headline that the Twins played a better game because they got mad. Every athlete and team is different, and how they get "in the zone" of peak performance differs wildly from one person or team to the next. For example, when I was learning golf, my female golf instructor kept telling me to "relax" my shoulders. Well, whenever I "relaxed" I cut a lot of slices, often missing the ball completely! See, because I've had years of training in Tai Chi and Kung Fu, when I "relax" I REALLY relax. I've lowered my blood pressure while wearing a cuff to show doc's how it's done. Anyway, I found that her idea of my "relaxing" my shoulders was to put the golf club in what I considered a strangle hold and make a rigid T of my shoulders! Go figure.

Anyway, the Twins are one of those teams that I have a mild interest in and am glad to see them working their way back up to .500. Pre-season Jason Bartlett was called a "sleeper" but I think he's doing pretty good. I dunno, time will tell. I do know one thing for sure: I'm very glad I did not choose Damian Miller for my fantasy baseball team.

Crystals I No Longer Keep

Back when I had a house (and money) I used to collect rocks, minerals, and meteorites. Did you see that when that town in Kansas, Greensburg, was flattened by that "wedge" tornado that they lost a meteorite museum too? I was glad to see they were able to dig up what was, I guess, their prize specimen.

I used to study the shapes of crystals, and try to get samples of each. Here is a list of what are called "crystal habits" (a habit indicating how they are structured; it gets that name because crystals "tend" to "grow" in a certain way, hence they have a "habit.")

Here is a list of crystal habits that I used to have samples of, but had to get rid of:

Equant or blocky (Microcline, cassiterite).
Columnar (tourmaline, beryl, quartz).
Acicular or needle-like (natrolite, Millerite).
Barrel-shaped (sapphire).
Bladed (kyanite).
Tabular or flattened (ruby, Barite).

Birds Not on my Life List

Citril Finch (Serinus citrinella) (5 in.) is greenish with grey nape and two wing bars. It nests in coniferous forests in the Alps, northeastern Spain, Sardinia and Corsica.

Cassin's Sparrow. Aimophila cassinii. Fairly common on dry plains with short grass and scattered low brush. Recognized by its plain breast, finely streaked crown, gray-brown back, and dark gray tail. Grasshopper Sparrow (p. 308) is smaller and shorter tailed and has a prominently streaked crown in all plumages. Brewer's is smaller and slimmer, with notched tail and wingbars. Unlike similar species, Cassin's Sparrow often gives its song in flight, a high musical trill preceded and followed by 1 or 2 short notes. Founds summers in Texas, winters in Mexico.

Monday, May 28, 2007

From Chaucer's The Nuns' Priest's Tale

True, I have read in Sir Burnell the Ass,
Among his verse, how that there was a cock
Who, all because a priest's son gave a knock
Unto his leg when he was young - for this
Schemed that he later lost his benefice;
But certainly, no man can well compare
The high discretion and the wisdom rare
Your father had, with that cock's trickery.
Bug sing, sire, sing for holy charity;
Try now, can ye your father counterfeit?"
This Chanticleer his wings began to beat
as one that could no treachery descry -
So was he ravished by this flattery.

More about abortion

I've repeatedly tried to post this to the Ignatius Press blog as a comment to a post about whether or not pro-aborts are "Catholics" based on Canon law. I'm bored with trying and only seeing a blank screen so here it is.

It is not a question of Canon law, because pro-abortionists are not only "not Catholic", they are "not Christian." It does not matter how you choose to interpret the Canon, because ultimately the Canon is merely a way to articulate the instructions of Jesus Christ. So word-smithing and spinning whether someone is a Catholic or a Christian begs the question, "Will they be saved?" And the answer is, no.

Everyone would agree that Jesus Christ was very erudite and able to use whatever words or parables he chose in order to teach how to obtain the Kingdom of God. There are many ways he could have chosen to give the definitive summary explanation, and he chose this one:

Luke 18:16-17 Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, "Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it."

Jesus had already identified himself as being the living Kingdom of God (and the Pope writes beautifully of this in his new book.) Jesus instructs "do not prevent them" from coming to him, the living Kingdom of God. Well, aborted children are prevented literally from coming to God in the sense of not being permitted to live their lives as a journey from birth through a natural life and then death. An abortion is the killing of a child. Jesus did not say, "do not prevent them from coming to me unless it is in the first two trimesters." He makes clear that children are the perfect model for gaining the kingdom by adding to his statement "whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Jesus is saying "like a child" because a child is the perfect model for entry to the kingdom of God. Jesus would be horrified (but not surprised) at the institutionalization of abortion. Moses himself had to fight the living sacrifice of babies to idols.

Another reason I say this is a Christian question rather than only Catholic is because there are two important end of times references that interest especially Evangelicals that while they may be misinterpreting it, their instincts are correct that abortion is the driving factor. The first reference is Revelation 6: 9 "When be broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God." The current day martyrs, in the millions, to the word of God are aborted infants. It is not people who are irritated by secular media's suppression of Christianity, nor the painful martyrdoms that occur on a case by case basis around the world today. The martyrs are told to wait until "the number had been fulfilled" which must be interpreted to mean that this is a very, very large number, and fortunately, Christian persecution is not at that level. But there is a persecution that meets this level of rising up to heaven and that is the 47 million estimated abortion deaths to present. Later St John writes: "The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth." Notice that these are ashes, and the earlier quote referred to "they bore" the word of God. It is well known the means by which aborted babies are often burned, especially when acid was used.

The other prophecy that is pertinent to abortion is the so called "rapture." Some evangelicals have interpreted the passage where some people remain and some people disappear from the field, for example, to somehow map to a particular group of saved people. That is not likely because it would not have been written to be so mysterious and open ended as it was. Rather, what I am saying is that this refers to abortion, where some people remained (living) and some people are gone that should be in their place in the field (aborted infants.) If you listen to the public discourse these days, it is exactly in such terms that the debate about illegal immigration is taking place. People are openly pointing out that a large section of the population of the USA is "missing" due to abortion. It is eerie and not at all surprising that the illegal immigration debate in the USA refers to people missing in the field to harvest the food, and that a huge reason for this is abortion. My argument is that the rapture = aborted children, who are truly sinless. Notice the Pope has cleared away the incorrect dogma about babies going to limbo (clearly never true, but it was a lame effort to understand how God's salvation works with those too young to be received in the Church.) These things are happening together for a reason. The Catholic Church does not agree with evangelicals who think the rapture is a pre-judgement and removal of people, but everyone is in agreement that something is indicated in the Bible about a mass vanishing, and the institutionalization of abortion speaks for itself as being literally the calling to heaven in the millions of those who are truly sinless.

Lou Piniella calls out to the Lord...

From Cubs writer Paul Sullivan for the Chicago Tribune:,1,499269.story?coll=chi-sportstop-hed&vote30086303=1

The Los Angeles Dodgers found a way to beat the Cubs without even putting the bat on the ball in the 11th inning of their 2-1 victory Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

"Oh, Lord," exasperated Cubs manager Lou Piniella said afterward. "Oh, Lord."

I love all baseball and don't really have "my team" (though I've consistently liked the Mets for many years.) Mostly I just enjoy good baseball. The Cubs were never on my radar until the 2005 season when I lived in Albuquerque and had season tickets to the Albuquerque Isotopes (Marlins farm team.) It was the first time I had home plate season tickets and loved it, except for some fans who sat near me who were, well, pigs. I don't mean a good lusty heckling of the opposing team, but I mean lots of potty talk and just being gross (even though it was a very family friendly establishment.) People behind me stuck their feet in my face, and I kinda got spat on too. Any hoo, I noticed that in between screaming about Rosanne Barr's naked butt, these particular fans loved the Chicago Cubs. So they got on my radar and I kept track of the standings. The Chicago White Sox, of course, went on to win the World Series.

Funnily enough, today, since the above quote the Cubs have lost again, this time to the Marlins. It makes me wonder if perhaps somewhere unbeknowst to them, that maybe the Cubs, to quote a pet sitter I once had, "has pissed off some gypsies?" LOL. Good luck Cubbies!

Bible Teaches Avoiding Evil Companions

Where the Bible Teaches Avoiding Evil Companions

Of course throughout the Bible there are many examples of the consequences of sin, and of people who lead others to evil. We can see this today in our society, where in an age of "relativism" people are "open" to "new ideas and experiences" without concern for whether these people will lead them to sin, and ultimately, cost them their salvation in eternal life, and result in their eternal suffering in hell. There are six passages in the Bible that are particularly instructive and pertinent to our times, because they trace the actual choices people make to follow evil companions, including times when it seemed like either innocent or "open minded" choices. Let's take a look at these examples, and think about your own life, where friends or relatives may be, in truth "evil companions."

Warnings Against Evil Companions: Proverbs 4:16-19

"The path of the wicked enter not, walk not on the way of evil men; Shun it, cross it not, turn aside from it, and pass on. For they cannot rest unless they have done evil; to have made no one stumble steals away their sleep. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they know not on what they stumble. But the path of the just is like shining light, that grows in brilliance till perfect dawn."

What beautiful and wise advice! And if you read it carefully, you will see that it is not just a simple truism, but a very astute assessment of how evil works. Notice that a path is a way that already exists because many have already walked it. So people are warned not to use a path that the wicked have created. This can be thought of as a place where evil is done, either on the job, or through lack of morals or fear of God. So it is important to avoid even going on the path created by evil companions, because by doing so (accepting that job, joining that "coven" of friends or relatives, or congregating with the immoral), even if one thinks one is in control of one's own actions, this Bible author warns that evil companions will not accept anything less than total control of you. The righteous or innocent person who walks on a path used by evil companions keeps the evil awake at night, because they crave self validation of their own evil by creating acolytes. Their sleep, their food, and their drink are all of their evil ways (think about food choices such as mystical diets, or choices such as substance abuse for real, concrete examples of this symbolism.) Evil companions will require those on their path to eat and drink as they do, share their addictions, abuse the same people, and fully validate all their wicked deeds, and will not rest until they have performed the evil of recruitment to their cause. This Bible author points out that eventually the evil will fall, because their way is in darkness and their stumbling will occur in a way they cannot foresee. However, the path of the just is a shining light that only grows in brilliance. Just companions and deeds only bring more and more illumination until the perfection of the dawn of eternal life in God. There is no stumbling on the path that is created by the just in the light of God, because the millions of good people, in communion with the saints, have shown the way to eternal life. One need only to look at the late Pope John Paul II to see that, with the total confidence he had at the end of his life and the beginning of his new perfect dawn.

St Paul warns Against Corrupt Good Morals 1 Corinthians 15:33-34

"Do not be led astray: 'Bad company corrupts good morals.' Become sober as you ought and stop sinning. For some have no knowledge of God; I say this to your shame."

In this passage, St Paul is very pithily saying much of what is discussed above in Proverbs. He is pointing out that even if one possess good morals, that being in bad company with evil companions will inevitably corrupt the person's morals. How many times have we heard a parent lament, "But he was such a good kid; he fell in with the wrong crowd." But parents themselves need to realize that if they consort in bad company, exposing their children to such, that even the parent's morals become corrupt, and the children will make similar choices. This is again where "relativism" and "new age openness" are such a damaging effect to even people with "good morals." Bad company and evil companions are corrosive and will eventually lead astray even those who think they have such "good morals." As Neil Young sang, "Rust never sleeps." I added the sentence after this exhortation against bad company, because St Paul makes another, related good point. He is saying that "sober" behavior is required to stop sinning. While we could enjoy this as a pun about drinking, this is not its intention. St Paul is saying that a thoughtful and serious mind is necessary to stop sinning. While one is being stupid and self indulgent, one cannot help but to sin. A thoughtful state of mind, informed by knowledge of God, is necessary to first, identify the presence and threat of sin, and second, to stop doing so. St Paul reminds the reader that one ought to feel shame at having no knowledge of God.

Lot's Choice: Genesis 13: 1-18

This is a long passage and I'm going to summarize it, although I recommend that you read it because you will see it with new eyes and with great pertinence to today's economic and social dilemmas. Abram and Lot prospered in their flocks, herds, and tents, so much so that they recognized that the land could not support them if their families stayed together in one location. The pressure on the land for resources created quarrels between their herdsmen, and other strife. Abram and Lot look out over the great land, and Abram gives Lot first choice of where he wants to go, saying "If you prefer the left, I will go to the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left," Lot selected the east, based on seeing the ample water available on the Jordan plain, while then Abram went to the opposite direction toward Canaan. What the Bible does not say but implies is that Lot selected water and lushness of the land without having hesitation about settling so close to Sodom, a city where the inhabitants were "very wicked in the sins they committed against the Lord." After Lot had left the Lord appeared to Abram. (Notice that the Lord did not interfere in their freedom of choice; both patriarchs made their own decisions based on information freely available to them.) The Lord promised Abram "I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth; if anyone could count the dust of the earth, your descendants too might be counted." Immediately after moving Abram "built an altar to the Lord."

We can all relate to the pressure on land and natural resources, which even the patriarchs faced. Notice, however, that Lot makes the choice to go where many others have gone before strictly on the basis of water resources and abundance... and that includes the city that was well known for depravity, called Sodom and Gomorrah. Here, just as discussed in the above passage from Proverbs, a good man takes a path with evil companions. In this case, Lot feels that he can choose where to settle based strictly on the resources, and not thinking of the risks of settling near those who are consumed with wicked ways (and I'm not making a point about homosexuality; I'm talking about the original "sin city" where people demanded sex from any visitors, including angels, who arrived at their city in the course of traveling through.) And for sure, eventually the city is destroyed and Lot, who had moved into the city with his family, escaped with only his life and his two daughters because the rest of his family chose to remain in the city despite the personal warnings of two angels sent by God. There is no starker example of people who have good morals and who think that they can control their own environment, based on economic choices, who then pay with their lives and those of their family through their own choice, and virtually gambled away their eternal salvation.

Evil Companions Led Israel to sin: Numbers 11:4-6

"The foreign elements among them were so greedy for meat that even the Israelites lamented again, 'Would that we had meat for food!' We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt, and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now we are famished; we see nothing before us but this manna."

This passage does not condemn or blame "foreign elements" because they are of a different nationality, but because of their greed. Here Israel welcomed within them foreign elements who only sought to consume their resources, and not to work and produce. If you read further, you'll see that because of these economic and social choices (again God permits free will), the people actually blame Moses and God for their lack of fresh produce, even though God has created the manna that has sustained them through the desert as they left slavery in Egypt! God ends up having to be nutritionist and restaurateur, providing them with food on the wind (flocks of quail) to feed them. So here we see how the introduction of evil companions (consumers and not producers) caused an entire nation to sin, blaming God and actually wishing to be back in slavery in Egypt so they could get fresh produce! Today, who are the greedy consumers among us? Hint: it's not the poor illegal immigrants who are seeking to harvest food, clean up after Katrina, and work on construction jobs and others that would not otherwise be done in our increasingly greedy consumerist culture.

Evil Companions Caused Samson to Fall: Judges 16:4-5

"After that he fell in love with a woman in the Wadi Sorek whose name was Delilah. The lords of the Philistines came to her and said, 'Beguile him and find out the secret of his great strength, and how we may overcome and bind him so as to keep him helpless. We will each give you eleven hundred shekels of silver."

Well, read my post about stalking. I think the rest of this lesson is pretty clear. Samson had ruled ("judged") Israel for twenty years, before he was ensnared by that whore. And by the way, in the end, even blinded, Samson pulled the temple in which he was prisoner down on the lords and all the people who were in it and "Those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his lifetime." Notice too that this is a great example of the stumbling block referred to in Proverbs, that the evil companions do not see coming, but causes their total destruction, while the good go on to their brilliant dawn.

Evil Companions caused Solomon's Fall: 1 Kings 11:1-8

I will summarize this reading. Solomon had been a glorious king of Israel, known for his piety, wisdom, wealth, peacefulness, and friendship with God. But he became so corrupt in both sexual and family excess ("He had seven hundred wives of princely rank and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart") and in what we would call today, "open mindedness" and "relativism" that he actually joined in the pagan practices of his wives and he worshipped other gods and idols. HERE WAS A MAN WHO ACTUALLY SPOKE TO GOD, AND WHO GOD CONSIDERED HIS FRIEND, AND HE STILL TURNED FROM GOD TO WORSHIP IDOLS.

I know that sounds so incredibly stupid, especially to the pious today who pray to be in any dialogue with God, as Solomon was, but it's not all that surprising anymore, seeing the lack of piety and faith in the world today. For the sake of God's love of Solomon's father David, God warned Solomon in advance that because of Solomon's sins and turning away from the very God he personally spoke to, that he would give away all that Solomon had accumulated through the grace of God, and would raise up secular enemies to Solomon to divide up and conquer Israel. Once again God allowed the free will of humans to operate, and his way to punish is to allow the free will of opponents to flourish.

Solomon's fall shows the incredible power of sin. Sins of lust, power, and pride are so strong that they can overcome even a holy man who is in direct dialogue with God. This is one reason that priests (and people in all walks of life) are succumbing to the sin of sexual abuse, because there is no more attractive target for being drawn into sin than one who had received grace from God. Now instead of seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, people have pornography, coarsened media, the sex trade, and a lack of boundaries in terms of sexual acts, especially toward the young and helpless, to lead them to evil and away from God, even when God speaks to them and gives them the good blessings of life and the earth. This is why it is so important to avoid temptation of corruption, because while God is stronger than the sin of men and women, people are weak and the path to hell is very wide.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bad Stalker! Bad, bad stalker...

It's important that people realize that even non-violent stalking is a mortal sin. Yes, you read right, not a venial sin, but a mortal sin. The reason that it is a mortal sin is that it violates one of the Ten Commandments. The commandment is number ten, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods." Let me start by defining stalking. It is the monitoring, and influencing, of a person's activities without their knowledge and permission. This is not the friendly nosy neighbor who you know by name, and who keeps an eye on the neighborhood, if that's all he or she does. If however that nosy neighbor knows about you from going through your things, by being part of a group of people who study your every move, or attempts to manipulate your activities, that is stalking and a violation of the Tenth Commandment. The reason is that you are coveting (wishing to have for yourself) something that you are not entitled to (inside knowledge and control.) Think of this as "gossiping on crack." It's much worse than gossip because a gossip does not know but just guesses, while a stalker takes from the person private information for their own purposes. There is no such thing as innocent stalking. There is innocent gossip, and there is innocent puppy love, and there is innocent crushes, and there is innocent celebrity fan activity. But stalking of anyone, celebrity or civilians, with the intent to spy and possess something you are not entitled to is a very serious mortal sin.

Here are some examples. There is a difference between striking up a friendship with someone you meet, or fixing someone up on a blind date and pretending not to know someone and manipulate a meeting and a relationship. This, incidentally, brings into consideration breaking the Eight Commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." That is because stalkers are often in possession of and distribute false information, without their even realizing it. When one is not in an honest relationship, it is easy to misinterpret activities that you have spied upon. That is bearing false witness, first by believing it, and then by spreading that to others. Stalking ruins people's lives. It destroys love and trust. It destroys families. It destroys relationships. It destroys careers. It destroys peace of mind. And ultimately, it destroys the stalker, because by not recognizing that they are committing a moral sin, regardless of whatever else they do in their lives, they do not stop the activity and seek both Church and personal reconciliation with the person who has been hurt.

Think about the life of Jesus Christ. When people approached him for healing, even the lady who touched his hem secretly for cure from her bleeding, they were not stalking him. This is because he had made himself a public figure, and all that people knew about him was in the open. However, who did stalk him? Those who eventually crucified him. They spied on him and believed that they had knowledge of what he "really" was doing and what he "really" meant. Do you think God gave such people an "atta boy" in their personal judgment? The answer is "no" in case you are puzzled!

Let me talk again about the parable I mentioned above. It is one of the most beautiful passages in the bible. Look at Matthew 9: 20-22:

Now a woman who for twelve years had been suffering from hemorrhage, came up behind him and touched the tassel of his cloak, saying to herself, "If I touch but his cloak I shall be saved." But Jesus, turning and seeing her, said, "Take courage, daughter; thy faith has saved thee." And the woman was restored to health from that moment.

Luke 8:45 describes more of what happened, in greater detail: And Jesus said "Who touched me?" And all were denying it. Peter and those who were with him said, "Master, the crowds throng and press upon thee, and does thou say, "Who touched me?" But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; for I perceived that power has gone forth from me." But the woman, seeing that she had not escaped notice, came up trembling, and falling down at his feet, declared in the presence of all the people why she touched him and how she had been healed instantly.

I have always loved this woman. She had suffered for so many years and turned to Jesus in the most humble yet strong in faith manner. Can you imagine what a bleeding for twelve years must have been like in those times? I can. And I've heard priests give wonderful homilies about this particular miraculous healing. She was clearly not stalking Jesus. He was in the part of his life where he had proclaimed his public presence and ministry, and she, like many, believed and came to him. And when Jesus felt her touch, and the apostles and others heard him inquire, she came forward and admitted to the touch. There were three great gifts here, if you think about it. One was the healing itself. One was her total and pure faith (she was not testing him, she believed.) And the third gift was the witnessing, both by the crowds then, and to everyone today, through these events being preserved in the Gospels.

Now, here is how a miracle could have gone "all wrong through stalking." Suppose that people had gone through the garbage of the family of Jesus (not that much was thrown away in those days, but let's go along with my making a contemporary example.) What if they noticed that the Jesus family always threw away the hems of their clothes after performing sewing alterations. Is there a chance that people would have concluded, if they were stalking and not asking, that there is something wrong with hems? I mean, why not save the perfectly good material of the hems and use them as curtain tie backs? And no one asked because they thought, smugly, that they had some sort of secret knowledge of the Jesus family. If this poor woman had been a stalker or had heard of this, she might never have thought to touch the hem of his garment and be cured. Worse, people would have spread the heresy that there was any part of Jesus that was not complete and pure, by reason that they think there is some like or dislike, or power in inanimate objects that the Jesus family responds to. If they had confessed and asked the Jesus family, we have gone through your garbage and notice that you throw away your hems after shortening, why is that? Imagine what they might have heard.

o We know there is a poor old man down the street who is destitute and ashamed to beg, so we put cloth out in our garbage so that he may take it in peace and weave it into a covering.

o We do not want to have long stringy things around the young children in the family, especially the cousins' children who are toddlers and get into everything, as we fear they may choke on it.

o The color of the hem cuttings do not match the curtains, and I want only the nicest, even in our poor circumstances, for my mother and father.

This is why stalking is a mortal sin. It takes knowledge that one is not entitled to and one is most likely to abuse (because if one is not abusing it, why is one doing it in secret?) And the misunderstandings and consequences are hurtful and terrible. There is no such thing as innocent stalking, and there is nothing that is not known to God, and will be answered for. Please pray for honesty, discernment, self control, and wisdom, and do not stalk.

Friday, May 25, 2007

More about babies and loving them

Yesterday I bought a baby rattle, because it is fashioned as a Holstein cow and I love cattle, both the real fragrant living things, and knick-knacks of them. As I unwrapped it I thought again about how so many parents do not understand the need for tactile play with their babies, rather than any television time at all. (See my previous rant on this subject). I thought about the babies I've helped raise (like my niece) or have had the pleasure of cuddling and how this new rattle would have been such a simple yet wonderful shared experience. I'd have the baby on my lap and first show her how I pry open the container to remove the rattle. This shows baby how things come apart and something else can seem to "appear" to them. I'd actually also help baby touch the edges of what I'd just done, and maybe open and close it a few more times. This helps baby see three dimensionally, comprehend figures, and develop tactile sensitivity and confidence... something that not even the most "educational" or "fun" video can do. In fact, this is one reason we have so many learning issues with children. They are seeing on a flat screen activities that are too rapid, too flat, too non-contextual. They can't touch the bouncing ball on TV, for example. I could easily spend a half an hour showing baby a new rattle. I'd help her hands move over it's surface and show her that shaking it moves the 3 dangling keys on it. I'd show her that it could "disappear" behind something and reappear. This is something that is vital to healthy baby development, by the way. Again, TV gives a weird perspective that's not right, things pop up all around and there's no 3D reality. Babies need to have parents play with them in order to calmly and happily understand the 3D world. Hide and go seek with the rattle shows baby that she can have confidence that something that is there can be out of sight for a moment, and then recovered. TV makes the unreal real all the time, and all at too high an electronic pace for babies, whose brain circuitry is still forming. Time spent with the simplest of toys with a baby is such fun (when else can you see a sweet face so easily happy, in this otherwise sad and stressful world?) And this time helps the baby to learn, to have joy and confidence, and gives the baby the true grounding in the real, three dimensional warm world that her brain needs to develop, to say nothing of the wonderful bonding. I'm always amazed at how some parents have no idea how simple and fruitful that real play is with their babies.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Biblical description of angel Raphael

There's a post on Crossed the Tiber blog about allegations by some Protestants that the Catholic bible includes books that are somehow invalid, and that they were added in the 16th century. Here's a passage from a very excellent book that refutes this misperception:

For the Old Testament, the final decision as to which books make up the complete canon, and to which books make up the complete canon, and to which no further books may be added, came only slowly through a long period of time. Nor has it been an easy question to deal with, because Protestants, Jews and Catholics disagree on what should be included. The Jewish canon, later taken over by the Protestants, contains only thirty-nine books, all written in Hebrew or Aramaic languages, and all discussed and accepted by the rabbis, the Jewish religious leaders, in the first century A.D. or shortly after. On the other hand, for the Catholic Bible, the canon contains forty-six books, seven beyond the thirty-nine in Hebrew. These forty-six books were first listed as the canon by local church councils in North Africa in the fourth century: at Hippo in 393, and at Carthage in 397 and 417 A.D. But they were not given solemn approval by the Church until the Council of Trent in April of 1546, although they had been accepted as binding practice from the time of the fourth century decisions. From the book "Reading the Old Testament" by Lawrence Boadt, 1984, Paulist Press, pp 16-17.

One of the books that is included in the Catholic bible but not the Protestant bible is the book of Tobias. From my bible here is an introduction to Tobias: This Book is named after the holy man, whose history is here recorded. Though led into captivity, he distinguished himself by his unwavering faith in God, his observance of the Law, and his heroic charity towards his neighbor. Afflicted with blindness he manifested exemplary patience and extraordinary resignation to the will of God. To reward his virtue, God sent the angel Raphael to restore his sight, for which favor he failed not to thank and glorify god. The Book records much also concerning the virtues of the younger Tobias his son, especially his respect for his parents and the holy dispositions, with which he entered upon marriage.

If you have ever been curious about what angels are really "like" do read the book of Tobias. The angel Raphael in human form accompanies the young Tobias on a quest on behalf of his father over a period of several years. It is toward the end of their journey and return to Tobias' father that Raphael identifies himself as the angel Raphael "one of the seven who stand before the Lord." This is the only book in the bible where the reader is able to "look over the shoulder" of a bona fide angel of God as he moves in human form among humankind and performs God's will. I've often thought with all the curiosity about angels, how sad it is that such a great account is left out of the Protestant bible, and is somewhat little known among Catholics too, though it's there to read. It's a wonderful family story (even the family dog has a moving encounter) and I encourage everyone to read it anew, and to share it with your children as a bible story.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Climate Change - 3 Easy Pieces

Rather than bang my head against the wall any further, lol, may I offer three simple steps to making sense of the "global warming" aka "climate change" debate. I actually have a B.S. in this subject from the 1970's so this isn't my first rodeo on this subject.

1. Yes, the climate is changing all on it's own, as it has throughout earth's history. It is undergoing a warming trend all on it's own. The natural point of view is that this is related to solar cycles and their effect on earth, while the religious point of view is that God gave the thermostat a little tap. So those who have been fighting human caused global warming by pointing out that climate change is not caused by humans but is a natural cycle can pat themselves on the back. OK, stop patting, that was enough because here is point number 2.

2. Humankind is overlaying on top of the natural climate change an unsustainable and very dangerous amount of human caused climate change. The oceans are already topped out in the amount of carbon dioxide it can handle (there are recent articles on this.) Furthermore, it's not just the carbon dioxide, it's all emissions that are human created, because they all interact in a way to change climate. Worst of all it's the timetable. When climate changes naturally, plants and animals have time to evolve. Even "drastic die offs" take place over millions of years. So the fact that the earth has gone through "drastic" climate changes in the past should not be a comfort to humans today, because it's happening over a period of mere years.

3. The Holy Father has stated the Church's position that climate change (and overall stewardship of the earth and it's creatures) is of the utmost concern and clearly consistent with scriptures that humankind must be proactive in preserving their role as good stewards of the earth.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Story about a Prayer Rug in London

I've been thinking about Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai's generous gift (reported two posts below) that is for an education center for reading skills (especially women) and job creation in the Middle East. In the course of thinking about it, I found myself thinking about an amazing thing that happened in the early 90's. The theme of why it came to my mind is how close I feel to the mainstream of Muslim worshippers, even though I am a Roman Catholic.

From 1985-1994 I worked for a major international bank. I often had reason to visit London, which I enjoyed, as I used to love that city (having traveled there on business even before this particular job) and I developed deep friendships, even loving a Brit lol. But even after that relationship ended, I had wanted to work on assignment in London, either in my current (at that time) field of information technology and banking, or in a very different field (one of my friends had an antiquities shop and I enjoyed collecting and identifying antiquities.) So I was always trying to get a way to work in the London office of the bank, so I could get a work visa, and hopefully raise the money I would need for perhaps the antiquities business.

In the early 1990's my staff started working on a small but significant project for a Saudi bank that was a partly owned affiliate of the bank we worked for. I visited them on location in their separate building, which was in what is called the "Bishopsgate" section of London. I met our Saudi bank liaison manager and I just loved him, he was such a great guy. Everyone had raved about him, what a great manager he was, and how humanistic and friendly he was to everyone, and they were right. He was such a cool guy. During my visit he gave me and my two staff members a tour of the building.

When we walked into a conference room he gestured to follow him toward the coat closet, which he then opened. It was empty except for a rolled light color rug of Oriental design on the top shelf. He said, "This is our prayer rug." The moment I saw it I was touched so deeply. In the early 90's it was the height of secularism, and to see the devotion that was brought into the office by the Saudi bank employees greatly moved me. At the same time I felt the most urgent need to bless the rug and without conscious thought my hand reached up to touch it with a blessing of the God of Abraham. Our friend intercepted my hand quickly and said very nicely that I should not touch it. I understood why, but I had a very bad feeling of something unfinished in not doing so. I also realized that this was a secular building full of men and women, including cleaning staff, who had undoubtedly handled the rug, but I truly respected their rules and so of course we moved on with our tour and gave it no further thought. I'm sure that my manager friend thought I was just being an uninformed nosy woman who didn't understand the sacred context of the prayer rug, but of course I did. I could not rid myself of the feeling that my not being able to touch and bless the rug was something that left unmet a need (and this is no reflection on any incompleteness of the rug itself or the people who used it). I could not identify my feeling of disquiet.

Over the next couple of years I tried to get to London, including my wish to work for the Saudi bank. I really would have liked to work for our friend there, and with the people who worked for him. These were mostly Brits, men and women, who worked there, as they employed locally. But my friend had no openings and I could not get an interview there. And I eventually found that I was being pushed out of my very job in New York, in the sadistic way that any reader of Dilbert comic strip would recognize, lol. So in 1994 was tortured into resigning and moved on. I wasted 1994 still trying to get a job in London, as I still loved that city, even though I no longer had friends there, but I had to give up and get a job in another hell hole bank in NYC.

One day I heard the news that the building which housed that Saudi bank affiliate had been blown to smithereens by an IRA truck bomb. Thank GOD that it had taken place at night when no one was working in the bank building, except security. As I recall, there were several casualties on street level, and every one is painful and unfair. But it could have been horrendous if this had occurred during business hours. I heard through a mutual friend that everyone was OK, and had to squeeze into the main building of the bank I used to work for.

So now I know why I had felt such a need to bless the prayer rug in the building. I like to think the good news and blessing that can always been found in even the worst, is that the building was not filled with people, and it was not rush hour, or the height of the shopping day on the street. Even though the building had to be torn down, when I hear the name Bishopsgate, instead of visualizing the building, I see that rolled up prayer rug on the top shelf of the closet and praise God.

Here's the info from Wikipedia: On 24 April 1993 it was the site of a Provisional Irish Republican Army truck bomb, which killed journalist Ed Henty, injured over 40 people and caused £350,000,000 worth of damage, including the destruction of St Ethelburga's church, and serious damage to Liverpool St. Tube Station. Police had received a coded warning, but were still evacuating the area at the time of the explosion. The insurance payments required were so enormous, that Lloyd's of London almost went bankrupt under the strain, and there was a crisis in the London insurance market. The area had already suffered damage from theBaltic Exchange bombing the year before.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Child Abuse and Hell

Mark 9:41-48

And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him if a great millstone were hung about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If thy hand is an occasion of sin to thee cut it off! It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than, having two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire. Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot is an occasion of sin to thee, cut it off! It is better for thee to enter into life everlasting lame, than, having two feet be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire, 'Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.' And, if they eye is an occasion of sin to thee, pluck it out! It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hellfire, 'Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.' For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every victim shall be salted.

I continue to be infuriated by child physical and sexual abuse in the world today. I do not know how clearer Jesus Christ could be than in the above passage. And yes, of course, this applies to priests too. Abuse is abuse regardless of who is doing the abusing and what their "excuse" may be. When I was a young girl walking home from school, a child predator attempted to get me into his car, but I did not and hid in a neighbor's house while we watched him prowl the streets looking for me. I got his license number and my mother went to the police (small town) and they said they could not do anything about it. We knew they were lying and covering up for someone. And he was not a priest. I wondered, even as a child, how many others would be hurt because of covering up, and this was covering up by secular authority in a small town where supposedly "everyone knew everyone and looked out for each other."

When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the children in Lourdes, she confirmed the existence of an everlasting and terrible hell by showing the children a very brief view. She warned that very many people would go to hell because of sins of lust.

When Jesus is speaking in physical terms, such as the removal of hand, foot, and eye, that causes sin, he is making two very important points. One is that hell is a reality, one that is by definition unbearable, yet must be borne for eternity by those who are cast into it. It's not just a fairy story to make people behave. The Blessed Virgin Mary practically pleaded for people to not succumb to crimes of lust and therefore go to hell. She was not talking about sex outside of marriage, or wearing a short skirt. She foresaw the terrible perversion toward even the youngest and most innocent of children that would overcome people like the sewage that it is. And remember, those who were oppressed in the times of Christ were terribly tortured and abused, not just the Christian martyrs, but anywhere where depravity reigned. But today it is terribly different because depravity has become commercialized, institutionalized, and enabled by the general society. Anyone who thinks priests are the worst offenders or are the only ones need only to read the daily news. So Jesus Christ makes his second point, which is whatever is causing you to sin against children, cut it off. Remove it. Stop it. No matter how painful, get rid of it.

So how many people who are righteously angry about a case of child abuse, then go home and watch a TV program that has depravity in it? How many people know a case where it might be happening, and do not go to the police, no matter how painful the confrontation may be? How many people enable the use of the Internet for sexual slavery by thinking it's not their problem? (And for every image of pornography, there is a victim on the other side of that camera lens.)

I do not understand people who do not go after child predators like the hounds of hell were after them (because they are, eventually, but let's not wait for God to fix the problem, while a trail of victims results.) If the church does not respond, then go to the police. If the school does not respond, then go to the police. If your drug using relative abuses your children, then go to the police. And if you are in the media, yes, report the news and report the abuse, and if you feel you need to do exposes on the Church, then that's your job. But might you not also spend time going after the abusers and the ways and means of the abuse in the here and now? There are millions of children being sexually exploited in this world RIGHT NOW. Everyone needs to "cut off" the hand, the foot, and the eye that is enabling this. There is a big spot in hell for enablers too.

This just in, an actual story headline from AP:

"Professors Puzzled By Level Of Violence In Students' Essays
Teachers Say It's Tough To Discern Art, Pathology"

How stupid have people become? How long are people going to deny that children brought up in a violence saturated society and media are becoming warped in their sensibilities and robbed of any security and joy, becoming obsessed in turn with violence? No, really, how stupid and in denial has everyone become? This has got to change.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

OK, now I'm impressed

His words speak for themselves.
Snips from the BBC online article:

The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, says he is giving $10bn (£5bn) to set up an educational foundation in the Middle East.

It is thought to be one of the largest charitable donations in history.

The announcement was made to widespread applause at the World Economic Forum, which is being held in Jordan.

At the moment, he explained, there was high illiteracy in the region - where more than 40% of Arab women cannot read or write.

The whole Arab world publishes fewer books than the country of Turkey.

"Our region needs at this moment 15 million job opportunities, and our Arab world will need in the next 20 years between 74 to 85 million job opportunities," the sheikh told the conference.

"In order to realise these objectives, I have decided to establish the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Foundation to focus on human development, and have I decided to endow a fund of $10bn to finance its projects," he said.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Excerpt from the Pope's Jesus book

I chose an excerpt at random from the Holy Father's book "Jesus of Nazareth" for those of you who have not received a copy, so you can have a flavor of it This section that I opened to in random is just wonderful with its richness of explanation of the topics that weigh upon humankind at this time. This selection is a gem.

From Chapter Five: The Lord's Prayer

snips start at page 164 with this section topic
"But Deliver Us From Evil"

In the next-to-last petition the not set the dominant note (do not give the Evil One more room to maneuver than we can bear.)

Today there are on the one hand the forces of the market, of traffic in weapons, in drugs, and in human beings, all forces that weigh upon the world and ensnare humanity irresistibly. Today, on the other hand, there is also the ideology of success, of well-being that tells us, "God is just a fiction, he only robs us of our time and our enjoyment of life. Don't bother with him! Just try to squeeze as much out of life as you can." These temptations seem irresistible as well. The Our Father in general and this petition in particular are trying to tell us that it is only when you have lost God that you have lost yourself; then you are nothing more than a random product of evolution. Then the "dragon" really has won. So long as the dragon cannot wrest God from you, your deepest being remains unharmed, even in the midst of all the evils that threaten you. Our translation is thus correct to say" "Deliver us from evil," with the evil in the singular. Evils (plural) can be necessary for our purification, but evil (singular) destroys.

...In asking to be liberated from the power of evil, we are ultimately asking for God's Kingdom, for union with his will, and for the sanctification of his name. Throughout the ages, though, men and women of prayer have interpreted this petition in a broader sense. In the midst of the world's tribulations, they have also begged God to set a limit to the evils that ravage the world and our lives.

This very human way of interpreting the petition has entered into the liturgy: In every liturgy, with the sole exception of the Byzantine, the final petition of the Our Father is extended into a separate prayer. In the old Roman liturgy it ran thus: "Free us, Lord, from all evils, past, present, and future. By the intercession... of all the saints, give peace in our day. Come to our aid with your mercy that we may be ever free from sins and protected from confusion." We sense the hardships of times of war, we hear the cry for total redemption. This "embolism" with which the liturgy enhances the last petition of the Our Father, shows the humanity of the Church. Yes, we may and we should ask the Lord also to free the world, ourselves, and the many individuals and peoples who suffer from the tribulations that make life almost unbearable.

We may and we should understand this extension of the final petition of the Our Father also as an examination of conscience directed at ourselves - as an appeal to collaborate in breaking the predominance of "evils." But for all that, we must not lose sight of the proper order of goods and of the connection of evils with "evil." Our petition must not sink into superficiality; even on this interpretation of the Our Father petition, the central point is still "that we be freed from sins," that we recognize "evil" as the quintessence of "evils," and that our gaze may never be diverted from the living God.

As an aside, notice how Pope Benedict refers to the reality of evolution. In modern times, the Catholic Church has consistently recognized that evolution is a physical reality, not inconsistent with God's definition of "days" of creation being not the 24 hour solar cycle, but a length of God's own will and reckoning.

Love of Children *Daily Dosage*

Here's a cute story about a Navajo family that I know. When I first visited them in the 1980's on the reservation, the husband and wife had six children. They were all delightful and never once resented living in a crowded 3 room house, where money was always a struggle, despite both parents working hard. We were sitting in the living room and the mom pointed to the couch and said, "I had all the children on that couch." As I listened slack jawed with admiration, she told me how funny it was that after she had each baby, they'd drive to the hospital (50 miles away) to have the post natal care, and the hospital folks would joke, "You always come to us after the baby is born." LOL! The oldest child, a boy, told me, "Yeah, I was so disappointed that I missed the youngest one's birth because I was over at the neighbors!" The family was so warm and loving and if there was a Pulitzer Prize for parents, I think my friends should win. And each child loved his or her sibling. If one got a special present of say, $5.00, they'd never spend it on just themselves, they would buy juices for their brothers or sisters out of their small gift. Like most Native Americans of that generation that I know, they would never consider not having a child, no matter what the sacrifice. Anyway, I wanted to share that story about the couch; I still smile when I think about it :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The sad slide into abortion society

Here I'm responding to a post on the Right Reason blog, that invites people to speculate as to Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's unclear position on abortion. While I use philosophy and logic a bit in my reply, I think that putting it in perspective of the times and inviting fresh and radical alternatives to abortion is valuable for the thought process.

I'm "of an age" so that I've been able to observe the whole sad slide into the current situation of millions of abortions from the 1960's to now. I think Giuliani is a good example of someone who has traveled that path where now the entire argument is, unfortunately, a binary tree. Things were more complex in the 60's-80's and attitudes/ laws/ social services evolved in a way that reduced this complexity into only two contentious positions. For example, a recent study shows that positive attitudes toward adoption have plummeted. This is an incredible statistic. Nowadays, people are actually responding more positively to killing a baby in an abortion that giving up that baby for adoption. I can remember in my lifetime the exact opposite being true. So as attitudes changed, the social network to provide that alternative dried up. So this branch of what should have been a three alternative decision tree/ argument died away:

o Abortion is legal but so repugnant that it is rarely used and alternatives flourish.

I believe that a confluence of social and anarchy forces created the artificial situation of the binary argument of:

o Abortion legal, or

o Abortion illegal

Those who advocate the overturning of Roe v. Wade are seeking a third alternative, but rather than addressing the social moires and practical ways to support unplanned births, the third "alternative" becomes:

o Abortion legal or illegal on a state by state basis

People under 40 years old will not really remember a time when nearly every family knew a family who "helped someone out" by adopting a baby. This was especially common as a result of inevitable unplanned pregnancies during and after World War II. In the 1970's adoption was still such a desirable activity that the hotbed argument of the time was "Which is best for the baby, adopting within race or is adopting a different race baby better than the child having only foster parents?" I remember the heated arguments, but all of them assumed a living baby being given up for adoption! Now society has devolved so that this argument barely exists, because millions are aborted.

Like so many things, the technology and the trend toward liberated morals overcame society's ability to develop a richness of alternatives. It's like the Internet, where access to vile material is a problem because the pace of the technology outstripped the stewardship role of society and family.

Now, many who were uncomfortable with the "abortion: yes or no" absoluteness of argument bought into the "let's not have any unwanted babies by promoting birth control" argument. Understanding human sexuality and moral trends? Not so much! But this is the slippery slope that many got onto in the 1980's with donations to Planned Parenthood, NOW and other organizations. People who donated in the 1980's and 1990's believed that their donations were primarily going to the "family planning" (ha ha ha, excuse me for laughing but that is what it was called) side of the organization, rather than the abortion side. My ex husband, who was extremely liberal and from the "Workman's Circle" tradition, was proud of his donations (as a cool man) to NOW and Planned Parenthood on "our" behalf. I, as a lifelong Catholic, oppose abortion. But I found that because of this incredibly fast downward spiral of the family, of social moires, and the incredible mainstreaming of abortion, few people could even follow my argument of, "Let's not worry about putting women in jail or back alley abortions, but let's make so many lovely alternatives that the vast majority of women will have even their unplanned babies, even if it means an enormous adoption effort." So I donated on "our" behalf to foster family types of organizations, and I focused on communities where there was still the desire to have a baby rather than abort (such as Native American communities). I've contributed financially to the upbringing of at least 20 children. I'm not bragging, but I'm explaining the logic of those times. There is so little of the way that I chose that it's not even statistically significant, although I applaud and praise every mission for unwed mothers and every effort to save a baby. Legally I opposed rancorous and insulting protests outside of abortion mills, because no woman needs that type of pressure. However, I believe mightily in prayerful demonstrations outside of abortion mills, where the faithful can provide a safe and loving alternative so that a woman might, even at the last minute, choose life.

So Giuliani is like everyone else, stuck in that reductionist cleft stick of argument: abortion legal or abortion illegal. Attempts to drown society in birth control so "no unwanted babies" not only fell by the wayside, but the AIDS crisis further shifted the focus from families/adoption to safe sexual freedom. The most broad minded anyone seems to be able to be now is to postulate that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that a state by state preference can be expressed, and that indeed would be better than the horror show that exists now. And things like donations to organizations that support abortion are very common from the generation who thought, well, at least subsidizing birth control will solve the problem. And of course, 42 million abortions later, it has not. Abortion has become "birth control."

I wish with all my heart that the legal but repugnant and extremely rare approach had "won" but it never had a chance to develop because point-counterpoint, yes-no, protest, and litigate became the only tools that the majority of people learned to use, overlaying the demise of the family. So even though I oppose abortion and believe that people simply cannot seem to do the right thing and help a woman out who becomes pregnant in a life giving way, I can understand very well how Giuliani's position developed, and I also understand how the stem cell discussion could well have been an eye opener for Mitt Romney. And with pictures of babies in the womb, and the improved viability of preemies, for once technology is helping to re cultivate a social context for the legal fight. But because people can't seem to do the right thing, while I understand "choice" people, I believe that to save society in the long run, abortion should be illegal except in rare exceptions. I've become very disillusioned with people's lack of social charity, in that few followed my example of subsidizing unplanned pregnancies so that babies are carried to term and live. The fact that this approach has completely fallen off the social map, and that people actually "prefer" abortion over adoption should be a wake up call beyond the legal ramifications.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Recovering love for babies and paternal tenderness

Recovering love for babies and paternal tenderness

The pro life fight is so wearying yet it is the vital issue of our times. As relief from just the sadness and terror of the subject, every few days I'm going to post something positive and loving about babies, and about being a parent. Some will be quotes from the Bible, but many will be just sweet, secular musings about the family. For the first, here is one of seven births in the Bible that were foretold.

Genesis 16: 7 And the Angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
Genesis 16: 11 And the Angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.

I Have a Request for Christopher Hitchens

I Have a Job for Christopher Hitchens

While he is wielding his intelligence, verbal skills, and dark disdain like a scalpel regarding his disbelief in God and all religion, I can't help but think of one area that I do wish he would focus on. If I had any money perhaps I'd sponsor a special lecture series (or hissing series LOL) on this subject. That subject is the belief in reincarnation. When Mr. Hitchens speaks with contempt of how religion has "ruined" the world and many people's lives we do not agree. But given his and my totally sets of "beliefs", rather like those circles we learned about in math class, our circles would intersect in one vital place, and that is our feelings about the bogus and destructive belief in reincarnation. I think that surely Mr. Hitchens would agree with me that if he believes there is no God and that all religion is damaging, he would agree In Spades with me that even "worse" is a belief that God and humans are in a sausage machine of punishing and rewarding people for so called lives they lived before, but do not remember (unless of course the right person's palm is crossed with lucre, of either the monetary or ego stroking variety, who can "unlock" the mystery of "past lives" and tell people how to "remedy" the "lessons unlearned.") Dare I speculate that Mr. Hitchens and I could agree that there is an exponential evil in this particular cruelty? It's a free society and people are free to believe whatever lunacy about themselves that they wish. If they want to believe they are a poor woman accused of being a witch and killed in Ye Olde Medieval times, while all they wanted to do was "nurture" and be "green", and now they are reincarnated, well, if that's your brand of lunacy, it's a free country. But it never stays an individual fantasy. I have yet to meet a reincarnation believer who does not think that they know who "you" or "I' "really are" and then proceeds to manipulate that person in accordance to their insane belief. If you know what I'm talking about, you know what I mean. If you don't be glad that you have not become entangled in someone's cruel delusion. Belief in reincarnation regarding another person breaks the 8th Commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" because by believing your neighbor is someone that she or he is not, and by gossiping about them accordingly, and also interacting with them and interfering with their life in accordance to that belief, that is bearing false witness and it is a mortal sin. I digress from the part of the job that I have for Mr Hitchens, because of course, he does not believe in God, so it's OK for him to ignore my religious admonitions. But I do wish he would "rip another hole" especially for those who shamelessly sin by performing actions based on some sick belief. For those of you who think I'm talking about someone cuddly like the Dali Lama, I'm not really. I'm talking about the thousands of people running around looking normal on the outside but shooting their neighbors furtive looks, and believing that they have built in "beefs" from previous lives, and then, incredible as this sounds, ruin people's loves, lives, children, careers, and peace of mind in an attempt to manipulate the machine they believe in. Trust me, trampling on the 8th Commandment will result in a justice that will be "just desserts" rather than being saved upon death. So Mr Hitchens, if you are listening, feel free to go after a particularly appalling abuse of "religion."

(By the way, for those of you who relate to the cartoon strip "Dilbert" I give a hat tip for the strip that correctly defined karma as the ability to do anything bad to anyone and figure that they somehow deserve it.)

And.... I also don't really mind when Mr. Hitchens goes after the idea of the rapture, since Protestants leave us Catholics out of it anyway....

So please, have at it Mr. Hitchens!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Warrior Passes: Dr. Jerry Falwell

I know how sad and stricken his family, friends, and those of his body of faith must feel, and I extend my deepest condolences and prayers for his soul, and for their comfort.

Over the years I've watched him and seen how great were his fear and love of the Lord. Much of what he said and did was from sincere concern for the salvation of others.

I've often wanted to bang my head against the wall at the tact he took, wishing that some of his war for God could have been conducted with more charity. Over the years I've seen spears boomerang.

However, everyone can learn from this man who loved God, by seeing what worked, and what did not, as he clung tight to the belief that he understood the full word of the Lord. He now knows what cannot be fully understood from the narrow perspective within the temple of the body and with a human's mind. And again, people need to be reminded, they never know the moment they will be called.

Again, my condolences to his family and prayers for his salvation.

"O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins; that through pious supplications they may obtain that pardon which they have always desired: Who lives and reignest..."

Fidelium, Deus, omnium Conditor et Redemptor: animabus famuloreum, famularum que tuarum remissionem conctorum tribue peccatorum; ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur: Qui vivis et regnas in unitate ...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


I've not had personal care of a baby in my household in over 30 years so I've been unaware than parents are actually putting babies in front of TV sets with programming or videos. This is extraordinarily dangerous because a baby's developing brain cannot grow properly with ANY computer, video or TV exposure. Apparently pediatricians have been saying not to expose babies to TV but almost all parents are ignoring this advice. Now there is news of a study confirming the damage but of course crass market forces and lazy parenting will deny it. But I can tell you that without question, there is a serious terrible effect on a baby's brain due to TV and other electronic screen exposure and with all the attention to ADHD and Autism I'm totally amazed that people don't see the connection and continue to risk their babies. TV is like running over sensitive budding flowers in a baby's brain with a tractor and worse, developing a "taste" for it that will spill out into cognitive dissonance, over stimulation, and syndromes such as ADHD and Autism.

Please take this seriously.

Bible Study: Wisdom 1:2-5

2. because he is found by those who test him not, and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him,
It is understandable that people experience time of doubt and weak faith in God. With this admonishment, however, the pious Jewish man who authors this Book of Wisdom tells the reader that they will not satisfy their need for affirmation or reassurance by testing God. Notice how carefully he phrases this statement, by saying "he is found by." So before the admonishment the author assures people, by virtue of how he phrased this, that God is "found" and is findable. He does not say how at this point, because his priority is to warn against ineffective and counterproductive ways of trying to find God. So the author writes that "he is found by those who test him not" to clearly instruct readers that God is not found by those who test him. By "testing" the author means the all too common temptation to demand or set up parlor trick types of scenarios by which God is supposed to reveal himself. The author then writes "and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him."

At first glance that might seem disheartening to those struggling in their faith. "Of course God appears to those who believe in him" a sad cynic might say. But again, look at how the author deliberately phrases this. This is another example of how word precision is significant (translation difficulties not withstanding.) He uses a double negative for a reason. God shows himself to those "who do not DISbelieve." The author is saying the act of disbelief is a challenge and blockage to seeing God. It is one thing to be struggling with faith and not being sure if one does believe or not, because that leaves the door open for God to contact he or she who struggles with faith. But a person who establishes a firm state of disbelief within him or herself is blocking the appearance of God to them.

3. For perverse counsels separate a man from God, and his power put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy;
Here the author gives a specific example. By "perverse counsels" the author is referring to unwise advice, which is what he is assuming that those who "test" God or who deliberately put themselves in a state of "disbelief" are receiving. The perverse counsels may come from other people, or of course, through demonic temptation. But being surrounded by a pagan community, the author of the Book of Wisdom had probably seen all too much of pagan based advice put to those who struggle in faith. So as explained above, the author states that these types of counsel "separate a man from God" by placing a barrier to the person's ability to see and hear God. The author further warns that "and his power put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy." What he means is that if people through sinful and disbelieving behavior continue to defy God (because they continue to act in a "show me" and "prove it to me" mode while they continue to sin), that the inevitable subsequent actions of their sin will result in a rebuke either from God or through his agents, other people. Let's look at the two extreme examples of the same rebuke. If a burglar continues to steal because he does not believe in God and the commandment against stealing, and challenges God, "well, if you exist and burglary is bad, then stop me", the burglar will likely eventually be caught by human forces, either law enforcement or an armed victim. So he receives a "rebuke" for being "foolhardy." The other extreme is divine retribution and justice will come to the burglar in time and according to God's will. Again, it's not the struggle with faith that is being punished, but it is the case of someone who sins by trying to put the guilt and proof on God ("if you really existed you'd stop me and I'd not do this.") This is a barrier to the soul's salvation at death, and could likely, through the withholding of grace, cause some divine retribution while alive. That is a subject for another writing, but rather than zapping people, God's retribution tends to take the form of permitting the person to harden their heart and reject God's continual offering of grace. They then most likely will fall, and while it might be viewed as bad luck when it happens, or an accident, it could have been avoided if grace had been received. Grace functions as a second sense, a source of wisdom and insurance against action with bad consequences. In it's most fundamental form, it's like listening to one's guardian angel.

4. because into a soul that plots evils wisdom enters not, nor dwells she in a body under debt of sin.
The author now intensifies his tone to underscore that testing God is a form of evil. Those who put themselves in a deliberate state of disbelief and function accordingly is in fact a "soul that plots evil." Again, this is not a person struggling with faith. This is a person who acts by plotting actions that are based on either a state of deliberate disbelief or an attempt to off shoulder onto God the blame by "testing" God for a sign or action at the person's behest. These put the soul into a state of evil.

He again talks about blockage by saying "a soul that plots evils wisdom enters not." Notice that here he is not talking about communication with God, as such, but with wisdom, who he calls a "she." Wisdom has traditionally been referred to as a feminine toned quality. That is also a topic for another time, but the beauty of this warning is unmistakable. "A soul that plots evils" is a place that "wisdom enters not".... so "she" (wisdom) cannot enter due to the evilness resident in that soul, as it blocks wisdom. What is even more, well, wise about this man's writing is that he observes "nor dwells she in a body under the debt of sin." Not only can wisdom not enter where evil blocks the way to the soul, but wisdom that had already resided in that soul is weighed down and crushed by the accumulation of sin over time, until wisdom can no longer dwell in the soul at all.

As an aside for contemporary life. One can think of drug addiction as illustrating this. As the consumption of drugs takes over a life, from "casual" use to rampant addiction, first new wisdom is blocked, and then eventually, the ability to be wise at all is crushed and lost.

5. For the holy spirit of discipline flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsels; and when wickedness occurs it is rebuked

Here he packs a lot of theology and philosophy in a simple phrase, "the holy spirit of discipline." By use of the word "holy spirit" he is, of course, introducing one of the Trinity of Persons of God" the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now, this was written before the Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, had appeared on earth. But the holy scholars of the Old Testament always understood that God exists in his form as the Father, and in the form of the Holy Spirit. So this wise author ties together the discussion of trying to communicate with God and the need for wisdom's access by recognizing its means: The Holy Spirit. He writes "the holy spirit of discipline" because discipline is necessary in order to be organized sufficiently to receive wisdom. A mind and soul in a chaos of evil and deceit is too disorganized to receive wisdom and the Holy Spirit.

(As an aside, one might ask, how can a person in such a state get themselves out of that state if they cannot receive the Holy Spirit because they are blocking it? One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is fortitude. It is well known in both secular medicine and in theology that fortitude the essential first step to a cure. So while a person blocks them self from the Holy Spirit's wisdom and grace, if they see the light sufficiently as to the error of their ways, they can appeal to the Holy Spirit for fortitude to lead to better thinking and actions that can eventually allow the reflowering of wisdom.)

The Holy Spirit is often characterized as a dove, and indeed, when it's been physically seen, as the Bible records, it is in the form of a white dove. The author recognizes this quality of the Holy Spirit without drawing a picture when he writes the poignant phrase "flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsels, and when wickedness occurs it is rebuked." A person who tests God, puts themselves in a state of willful disbelief, and who listens to evil counsel literally rebuffs the dove of the Holy Spirit, which like a gentle bird, will withdraw and flee, having been rebuked.