A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, February 07, 2004
Welcome to St Blog's

The Theology of the Body - Clayton Emmer
Mirror of Justice - Amy Uelmen
Half Baked 'Taters - Jermaine
Catholic Thoughts - a seminarian
Mark's Weblog - a seminarian

It gets more complex and curious for Bishop Howard Hubbard

Another accuser comes foward but not without some troubling details, such as:

"Bonneau is related to the same family that seven years ago claimed 8-year-old Gilbert Bonneau died under suspicious circumstances in 1953 at St. Colman's Home, a former Colonie orphanage. Anthony Bonneau would have been Gilbert's nephew had the child survived.

Gilbert's relatives have contended that nuns who ran the home may have beaten the child to death. Bonneau said those claims had nothing to do with his accusation against Hubbard..."

(Maybe the brutal murder of the child by the nuns is what some refer to as "the tip of the iceburg" when they speak of a new scandal - always waiting for more to be revealed. Maybe we have yet to discover the murderers in the hierarchy and priesthood and convents and orphanages).

Today in Christian history

February 7, 1478: Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England during the English Reformation, is born. He retired from office rather than acknowledge Henry VIII's divorce and was beheaded for refusing to acknowledge Henry as head of the Church. Thomas More was a loving family man, with a well rounded personality, cheerful yet ascetic, and is known as "The Man for All Seasons" - based on a play by that name about him. He was recently proclaimed the patron saint of politicians.

February 7, 1878. Pius IX “Pio Nono”, [Giovanni Ferretti], who was elected pope in 1846, died on this day at 85.

Friday, February 06, 2004
Pope: Be Fair To Priests

"(AP) Pope John Paul II called Friday for fairness in judging priests accused of sex abuse but said the "predominant" need was to protect the young. That, he said, would be assured if seminaries and church authorities did a better job instructing priests to be celibate..."

For Many or For All: A Clarification

From John Allen's latest Word from Rome:

"Last week I noted that the new English translation of the Mass currently awaiting reaction from bishops’ conferences uses the phrase “for all” in Christ’s words over the cup to translate the Latin pro multis, exactly like current practice. Some traditionalists believe it should be “for many.”

In a footnote, I observed that John Paul’s April 2003 encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, says “for all” even in the Latin version. In paragraph two, where the pope cites Christ’s words, he writes: “…qui pro vobis funditur et pro omnibus in remissionem peccatorum.” This, I suggested, is an indication that the pope is not troubled by the “for all” translation.

Several readers pointed out that things are not so simple. While the Latin version of the encyclical issued by the Vatican press office, and the one that appears on the Vatican web site, contains the language I just cited, that is not the version that appeared in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official registry of the Holy See.

I asked a friend in the Vatican to look it up, and sure enough, in Volume XCV of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, on page 434, the Latin text reads pro multis, not pro omnibus.

One Vatican source told me this is less rare than one might think. Often experts catch small errors in documents after they’re initially released, so that by the time they appear in the Acta some “touch-up” has been done. It is the version in the Acta that is considered definitive."

Thanks for the clarification, John.

Interview with Jesuit Fr. Robert Taft of the Pontifical Oriental Institute

John Allen of Word from Rome column has a fascinating interview with veteran ecumenist-scholar, Father Robert Taft SJ. It is vintage Taft: straightforward, pithy, feisty, and given, I think, with a twinkle in his eyes. I heard him once give a lecture; he was great. And a bit outrageous at times. I like him even as he can drive me nuts. And he does know his field as few others.

More on the proposed Patriarchate for the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and lots more.

Stoning the Devil

What's the hajj all about?

A professor of Islamic Studies at McGill University in Toronto writes of the meanings and emotions of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. He acknowledges in passing the continuing tragedy of hundreds of pilgrims trampeled to death by stampeding pilgrims trying to stone Satan and letting nothing get in their way. This is the high point of the hajj for many. Describing the hajj as an experience characterized by fervor, compunction, and joy, he concludes with this line:

"It is hardly surprising that under such charged circumstances tragedies occur."

This is simply mind boggling to me. To speak of compunction and joy and then to insinuate that because of the size of the crowds human carnage is not surprising. Not only mind boggling, but sickening to me.

But perhaps this casualness about death and the blase acception of the crushing of bodies of fellow pilgrims can shed light on other burning issues facing our world today, most especially about the terrorism that seems to characterize a significant sector of the Islamic world today.

Govt to Host Stampede Victims' Relatives for Haj

JEDDAH, 6 February 2004 - Saudi Arabia will invite some 750 close relatives of the Jamrat victims to perform Haj next year, Haj Minister Iyad Madani told a reception here. The reception was organized in honor of the delegates of foreign Haj missions..."

One can only hope that these relatives are spared being caught up in next year's stampede and are not part of next year's hajj body count. But then it may already be determined that they die as did their relatives this year. (And as crazy as this sounds it is truly what some Arabian Muslim leaders have expressed).

O'Malley sharpens attack on court

"Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, accusing the state's highest court of trying to usurp the role of the Legislature, demanded yesterday that lawmakers assert control over the state's marriage laws.

O'Malley, using his sharpest language yet, said the Supreme Judicial Court's Wednesday opinion affirming the right of gay couples to wed may be even more troubling than its earlier decision opening the door to gay marriage..."

Albany Bishop Denies Sexual Abuse Claim

While never a fan of Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, there is something very fishy about this accusation to me. I give the Bishop the benefit of the doubt and hope and pray he is innocent. Other bishops have been accused falsely. Yet some seem ready to condemn any bishop as soon as an accusation is made. No matter how strong or flimsy the accusation might be. This one just doesn't seem very strong to me at this point. And the lawyer pursuing it seems less than objective and unprejudiced.

Kyrie Eleison!

Today in Christian history

February 6, 891: Photius, patriarch of Constantinople from 858-867, dies after a series of excommunications and restorations. His 867 encyclical, which denounced the presence of Latin missionaries in Bulgaria as an intrusion and objected to the filioque clause in the creed ("the Holy Spirit . . . who proceeds from the Father and the Son"), was significant in the East-West conflict that eventually led to the "Great Schism".

February 6, 1564: Carried to church in a chair, John Calvin preaches his last sermon three months before his death.

February 6, 1820: Eighty-six free black colonists sail from New York to Sierra Leone, Africa. Though white abolitionists initially supported such emigration efforts, most free blacks (and eventually more radical white abolitionists) denounced the effort as racist and ultimately proslavery.

Thursday, February 05, 2004
Crushed pilgrims 'met their fate'

"..Speaking to officers responsible for security at the annual event, Prince Nayef said the pilgrimage season had been "a great success".

"Those who say otherwise are ungrateful or hate this country," he said.

Those killed "met their fate because their place and time of death has been decided the moment they were born"..."


Such promise!

(Maybe it's just "Zzzz"?).

The Delightful Secrets of Sex

Juli Loesch Wiley on Fertility & Contraception

The ring of reality, the ring of truth! A sense of the goodness of God and God's creation. The Catholic vision!

Church's fiscal crisis aired

O'Malley details urgent need to close parishes

Today in Christian history

February 5, 1597: Twenty-six Japanese Christians are crucified for their faith in Nagasaki, Japan. By 1640, thousands of Japanese Christians had been martyred.

February 5, 1736: Methodism cofounders and brothers John and Charles Wesley arrive in Savannah, Georgia. They were to be missionaries to the native Americans, and John was to be pastor of the Savannah parish. Their efforts failed. "I went to America to convert the Indians; but O! who shall convert me?" he asked two years later.

February 5, 1837: Dwight Lyman (D.L.) Moody, the greatest evangelist of his day and one of the greatest revivalists of all time, is born in Northfield, Massachusetts. Speaking to 10,000 or 20,000 at a time, he presented his message, by voice or pen, to at least 100 million people.

"Tragedy at Jamrat Was Avoidable"

JEDDAH, 5 February 2004 - Interior Minister Prince Naif yesterday emphasized Saudi Arabia's efforts to ensure the security of pilgrims and said Sunday's Jamrat stampede could have been avoided if pilgrims had behaved calmly.

"I saw people jump over those who fell while others stood on top of them to throw stones. We had hoped that our pilgrims would behave calmly and respect those who fell down or fainted, rather than step on them," he said.

Prince Naif, who is chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, called upon Haj officials in Islamic countries to instruct their pilgrims in what is necessary in order to prevent harm to themselves and others. "What happened was the will of God and we do not want to blame pilgrims," he said referring to Sunday's stampede in which 251 pilgrims were crushed to death and nearly 240 injured..."

"...He said the stampede, while lamentable, was not any different from what might occur in a crowded place elsewhere in the world and should be kept in perspective."

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Bartholomew I Opposes a Greek-Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine

Orthodox Warns Pope of Break in Ecumenical Ties

Lubomyr Husar, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, and Cardinal of the Roman Church

ISTANBUL, Turkey, FEB. 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has asked John Paul II not to establish a Greek-Catholic patriarchate in Kiev, Ukraine, warning him of the risk of a break in ecumenical relations.

The patriarch's request came in a letter, published in Greek in the patriarchate's Web page, which discusses a document presented by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to Alexy II, patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

Alexy II sent the document, which alludes to the eventual recognition of a patriarchal title for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics, to Orthodox patriarchs.

In the letter dated Nov. 29, Bartholomew I rejects Cardinal Kasper's document, labeling it "erroneous, confused, unacceptable, provocative," and after a lengthy refutation of the cardinal's historical-canonical document, warns about the possible negative consequences of an eventual recognition of a patriarchal title for the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine.

"[It] will cause strong reactions on the part of all the Orthodox sister Churches and will put a stop to attempts to continue the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches," the Italian magazine 30 Giorni reported.

In his letter to the Pope, Bartholomew I said there is a danger "of returning to the climate of hostility that reigned up to a few decades ago."

"Therefore," the patriarch wrote, "it is necessary that you assure the Ukrainian people and all the Orthodox Churches with persuasive force that you have no intention of initiating the institution of the Greek-Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine as Cardinal Kasper's text alludes."

The issue relates to the matter of "Uniatism," a pejorative term applied by the Orthodox to refer to the Greek-Catholic Churches, such as that of Ukraine. The latter belongs to the Byzantine tradition - as do the Orthodox - and at the same time is in full communion with the Successor of Peter. The majority of the population of Ukraine is Orthodox and under the Russian patriarchate.

Recognition of the primacy of Peter is a key point in the discussion between Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholics (who number about 5 million) and the Orthodox.

Recognizing the level of development reached by its Church, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Synod's plenary assembly, held in Kiev in July 2002, asked the Holy Father to sanction this process by granting it the patriarchal title..."

A difficult issue. The ecumenical issue is important. But the self-determination of this long-suffering, martyred but now resurrected Church, matters too. I am not very hopeful - on the human level - about Catholic-Orthodox relations to begin with and so tend to think that if this issue is settled as the Orthodox wish, there will be another, and yet another, issue that is used to keep the division alive (there are blessed exceptions in Orthodoxy who do indeed long for unity and are willing to go the extra mile as well).

Bottom line: I want to see the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church do what is best for her and for the salvation of souls and the spiritual well being of Ukraine (whose Orthodox Churches are sadly divided).

Weblog: Greek Orthodox Group Power Battle Goes to Court

American Greek Orthodox sue archdiocese

Nearly three dozen Greek Orthodox worshipers, including several prominent figures, are suing the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Archbishop Demetrios for what they say are violations of its 1978 governing charter.

The suing parishioners are backed by the Orthodox Christian Laity, a group founded "to restore and strengthen the role of the laity in the life of the Orthodox church, and the renewal of the Apostolic Lay Ministry," and that wants to see "the creation of a united, autocephalous Orthodox Church in the United States." Thus, while the legal issues at stake are whether church officials violated the old charter by creating a new charter in 2002 - without the approval of the American church's Clergy-Laity Congress - the real issues are over the power of the laity and the autonomy of the American church..."

Easy to Please

As anyone knows who has taken a cruise, one of the joys of cruising is the food: its sheer abundance, variety, and often excellent quality. While I wish I could eat more than I am able (for whatever reason since my illness I can't eat that much without feeling stuffed), this last cruise, like the others, had its share of culinary delights. I indulged in shrimps and lobster, milet mignon, lamb and veal, and even a few veggies and some fruit and dessert.

BUT..... home now. And I wonder: is there anything more delicious than a bologna sandwich on white bread with a few chips on the side, washed down with a glass of very cold milk?

Now that's heaven!

Easy to please.....

RJN's Public Square for January online

Amid oodles of interesting comments by Father Richard John Neuhaus, here is one that struck a chord:

"It is not simply that the English translations in the Mass tend toward banality. The problem goes back to the hurried putting together of the Paul VI Missal in Latin following the Second Vatican Council. That is the argument of “Theological Principles that Guided the Redaction of the Roman Missal” by Lauren Pristas (The Thomist, 67, 2003). Researching the statements of those in charge of the redaction, Pristas finds that they were quite explicit about their intention to adapt ancient texts to “the modern mind.” Sin and damnation are downplayed, and the distinctions between heaven and earth, the profane and the sacred, God’s grace and our efforts tend to be fudged.

“The traditional [Latin] orations are highly sophisticated and stunningly concise literary compositions that overflow with surplus of meaning—connotation far outstripping denotation,” Pristas writes. The redactors, however, believed that prayers should be “submissive to the principles required for a good homily: to have something to say, to know how to say it, and to stop after it has been said.” It is doubtful that most of the new prayers rise even to the level of a good homily. Far from overflowing with a surplus of meaning, upon careful examination they display a deficit of meaning. A good many of the prayers in the Mass can be adequately summarized by the petition, “Help us to be the really nice people we are.”

By so revising the prayers from all ages, Pristas writes, “it may be the case that nearly all the texts of our missal reflect the strengths and weaknesses, the insights and biases, the achievements and limitations of but one age, our own. . . . If this is indeed so, then Catholics of today, in spite of the access made possible by vernacular celebrations, have far less liturgical exposure to the wisdom of our past and the wondrous diversity of Catholic experience and tradition than did the Catholics of earlier generations.”

True, the Mass was then said in Latin but the people followed it in missals containing a reasonably accurate translation of the Latin. In the rush to the vernacular, the redaction deprived people of the texts in both Latin and English. In Rome, the Congregation for Divine Worship is engaged in a painstaking reappraisal of what happened to the texts in the Paul VI Missal. A remedy for the mischief described by Lauren Pristas may be on its way. This time a little hurry might not hurt..."

An American Muslim on last year's hajj

The reality may be quite different than the reports on most media

"In Mecca, I found the same mixture of confusion, oppression and apathy I thought I had left behind in Egypt. But as in Egypt, nothing worked, even at the blessed hajj, for we were visitors not to an Islamic state but to yet another cynical Arab kleptocracy which only pretended to adhere to the true ideals of Islam.

The Saudis couldn’t even organize the hajj safely. Each day, as I performed the rituals of the hajj, I was part of massed crowds of Muslims from all over the world: Turks and Pakistanis, Nigerians, Malaysians, Arabs. We would shamble forward without order or seeming direction, endangering lives as we knocked over women, the lame and the elderly in our hurry to get from one ritual to the next. Once, in a street so filled with pilgrims that I could not take one step forward, I was forced to jump into the back of a truck to avoid being killed in a stampede.

At night, I would wander through the pilgrim camps, disgusted by the sight of the mud-faced pilgrims who were only too happy to sleep on the filthy streets. In the morning, the streets would be clogged again, and veiled women who had trouble walking because they’d so rarely been let out of their homes would waddle slowly before me. At the stoning ritual, I watched little girls fall under the crowds of pilgrims: Turks shoving Arabs, Africans shoving Indians until each day a few more pilgrims were trampled to death. The next day I would read of the incident in the Saudi Times (FOURTEEN PILGRIMS KILLED IN STAMPEDE) which would quote a hajj official who never took any responsibility for the deaths. He would only say that since the pilgrims had died on hajj they would ‘surely enter Paradise’. There was never any promise to cut the number of hajjis or control the outsized crowds to prevent these needless deaths.

The mutawan, the dreaded Saudi religious police who enforce the rigid observance of Wahhabi Islam, patrolled the streets, beating or arresting anyone they caught missing a prayer; it was impossible ever to know if the native Meccans prayed out of genuine piety or to avoid a whipping.

I returned from prayer in the Grand Mosque one morning to find my sandals stolen from the shoe racks..."

That was last year - a relatively good year in that only 14 were trampeled to death. This year the toll was 251 who died in another stampede of pilgrims.

Already this item is forgotten in the media. But if it happened in the Vatican......???????

Today in Christian history

February 4, 856: Rabanus Maurus, a theologian and educator mentored by Alcuin, dies at age 80. His "retirement" from school administration at age 66 was followed by a career as archbishop of Mainz, Germany.

February 4, 1555: English reformer and theologian John Rogers becomes the first Protestant to die under "Bloody" Mary I when he is burned at the stake for heresy.

February 4, 1906: Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is born in Breslau, Germany. Author of "The Cost of Discipleship" (1937) and "Letters from Prison (1944)", he opposed the Nazis as one of Germany's Confessing Church leaders. Believing that Hitler was like a madman "driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders," he joined a plot to kill him, but the plot was discovered and Bonhoeffer was arrested and eventually hanged; just days before Allied troops liberated the concentration camp where he was held.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Pilgrims long to see Mecca and die

Many pilgrims are certain those who die on hajj enter paradise, a widespread conviction in Islamic world.

By Taieb Mahjoub - MINA, Saudi Arabia

The death of 251 Muslims in a stampede shocked no one, with many pilgrims certain that those who die on the hajj enter paradise and the Saudi authorities pointing to the "will of God".

"I wish I was among the pilgrims who died on Sunday," Kamal Shahada, an Egyptian pilgrim, said.

"I would have gone to heaven, because dying in these holy sites of Islam would assure one a place in heaven," he said, echoing a widespread conviction in the Islamic world..."

A Crossroad for the Catholic Church

George Weigel writes: "What 'issues' will frame the election to choose a successor to Pope John Paul II? Chances are they're not what you might think."

In this piece he lists 3 major issues:

Collapsing Catholicism in Europe
Radical Islam

"In addition to these weighty questions, the next conclave will be shaped by dramatically altered expectations of the papacy. The world and the church no longer think of the pope as the CEO of Catholic Church Inc. Thanks to John Paul II, the world and the church now expect the pope to exercise a global ministry of religious presence and moral witness. At the same time, influential cardinal-electors believe that John Paul II has been more successful in articulating a robust, compassionate Catholic orthodoxy than in embedding that vision in the church's practice. Finding a man who can do both - bring the church to the world in a compelling way, and reform the church's discipline - is the great "personality" issue the cardinals must resolve..."

Pro Multis: "for all" or "for many?"

From John Allen's Word from Rome column:

Despite the rather traditionalist thrust of a new translation of the Mass now awaiting reaction from English-speaking bishops? conferences (see NCR Jan. 23, New Mass translation said to be 'elegant,' closer to the Latin), one much-anticipated choice is likely to leave the most ardent traditionalists disheartened. In the new translation, just as in current practice, the priest says that Christ?s blood will be shed "for all," rather than "for many."

Rendering the Latin phrase pro multis as "for all" has long been Exhibit A in the traditionalist case against the English translation of the Mass following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Not only is it a loose translation, these critics insist, it flirts with heresy by suggesting that all human beings will be saved regardless of their moral choices or religious affiliation.

At one stage, a draft of the new translation from the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) appeared to endorse this criticism, translating Christ's words as "for the many." When the bishops who govern ICEL met in mid-January, however, they opted to maintain "for all" instead.

The outcome is something of a surprise since the new translation reflects a general sympathy to the traditionalist impulse, restoring "sacral" language in several places where it was dropped after Vatican II. At one stage, the traditionalists seemed poised to win the pro multis issue too. In at least one draft that made the rounds, the words of institution were translated as follows: ?Take this, all of you, and drink it, for this is the cup of my blood of the new and eternal testament, which will be poured out for you and for the many for the forgiveness of sins.?

Defenders of "for all" argue that Christ's sacrifice is objectively valid for all ? Christ is the universal savior of all humanity. Whether individuals accept that redemption is another matter. Further, they point to occasions when St. Paul used the word "many" to mean "everyone."

Sources told NCR Jan. 25 that in their mid-January meeting, the ICEL bishops opted to revert to "for all." The decisive issue was a desire to avoid changes in the Eucharistic Prayers wherever possible.

The bishops, however, would obviously not have adopted a translation they felt risked heterodoxy. In fact, the Vatican's own liturgical publication, Notitiae, carried two pieces offering a theological and linguistic justification of ?for all? back in 1970, just after the New Mass was promulgated by Pope Paul VI.

One footnote. John Paul II has never declared himself explicitly on this issue, but one may glimpse his thinking in the recent encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia. When the pope refers to the words of institution, he uses the phrase ?for all? rather than "for many." Most notably, this phrase appears not merely in the modern languages, but even in the Latin version, where the text reads: hic calix novum aeternumque testamentum est in sanguine meo, qui pro vobis funditur et pro omnibus in remissionem peccatorum.

Hence we have a further instance where, despite media stereotypes of a ?conservative pope,? some staunch Catholic conservatives actually feel dismayed by John Paul's "liberal" instincts.

In the passage John Allen quotes from the Pope's Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the Pope conflates several passages from the New Testament giving the words of institution and uses "omnibus" not "multis" - for whatever reason. But the LITURGICAL TEXTS to be translated in the Eucharistic Prayers still have "pro multis" and not "pro omnibus."

Now these may well be equivalently translated into English as "for all." I don't doubt this.

However, as a more faithful and accurate translation, I hope the Bishops return to the revision which translates it as "for the many". Latin has a perfectly good word for all which the Pope uses in his own adaptation of the words of institution: omnibus. The reason given for not going back to the more faithful translation is that they don't want to make unnecessary changes in the Eucharistic Prayer (oh, if only that norm were in place decades ago!). But here is it simply a matter of fidelity and words spoken by the priest alone. I think it should be done. I hope it will be done. I doubt it will be done.

Today in Christian history

February 3, 865 (traditional date): Ansgar, the first archbishop of Hamburg and called the "Apostle of the North," dies. Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, he converted many, including the King of Jutland.

February 3, 1468: Johann Gutenberg, who developed a printing press with movable type that helped the Protestant Reformation (by allowing the easy dissemination of reformers' writings), dies at age 67.

February 3, 1809: German composer Felix Mendelssohn, a very devout Lutheran, is born in Hamburg. His "Elijah" oratorio is considered second only to Handel's "Messiah," and he is responsible for rediscovering Bach, whose music had been forgotten for 80 years.

February 3, 1943: The Allied troopship S.S. Dorchester was torpedoed by a German sub and went down with a loss of 600 lives. As it sank, four chaplains gave up their lifejackets to shipmates, thereby also perishing in the icy waters. The bravery of Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Rev. George Lansing Fox (Methodist), Father John Washington (a Catholic priest) and Alexander David Goode (a Jewish rabbi) led Congress afterward to mark February 3 as Four Chaplains Day.

Monday, February 02, 2004
Pilgrimage: Death and just keep Moving On

If 251 persons were killed (this year) in a stampede at a Catholic gathering in Rome, I think we can be sure that, whatever the occasion, it would be canceled until there was no more danger for another death. Human life is precious and nothing "religious" can justify the taking of life and the death of innocent pilgrims. (And, of course, the outcry would be deafening, one can be pretty sure).

Yet this just happened in Saudi Arabia and the event continued without interrruption, a minor blip on the overall scene. It was, I believe, even expected since so many have died in similiar circumstances these past years. But the hajj continues.

Now for some this may seem a good thing. Nothing interferes with the religious obligations of our faith! Not even the death of hundreds of fellow believers and pilgrims! We take our faith seriously! And what is human life anyway compared to life in paradise?

I find this sort of thinking, if anyone really thinks like this, repulsive. I find, more and more, that vast sectors of Islam promote a cult of death. It is seen perhaps in the casualness surrounding the tragedy of 251 pilgrims being stampeded to death. There was another stampede the following day, but this time no one was killed.

I just rewatched the TV special "In the Name of God" about Islamic extremism. It was repulsive to me. So much ugliness, so much tension, so little joy, so little beauty. Repulsive and bloody. A cult of death. I am sure many Muslims would reject this dimension so prominent in vast sectors of contemporary Islam. But too many seem to support it; I find this scary and bad news for the future of our world. And my heart breaks for the children, exposed to such ugliness and morbidity from early on, robbed of the joys of childhood.

For an interesting "take" on the Arab culture - which is so aligned with Islam, for the most part - you can read a review of a Japanese reflection on the Arabs .

In this book the author says:

"'Due to the absence of justice, there is no public responsibility. This is why Arab residents destroy parks, streets, public drinking fountains, and public transportation, thinking that they are destroying government property, not their own."

Does anyone know if this assertion is accurate?

Practicing Muslims Outpacing Anglicans in Britain

LONDON, JAN. 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Attendance at Britain's mosques has outstripped the number of regular worshippers in the Church of England for the first time, the Sunday Times reported.

Government and academic data show that 930,000 Muslims attend a place of worship at least weekly, compared with 916,000 Anglicans. Catholic churchgoers number 1.5 million, said Peter Brierley, executive director of the Christian Research Association.

The results of the 2001 census, released last year, have been supplemented by surveys to give the first reliable assessment of worshipping Muslims. The census recorded 1.59 million Muslims but academics believe the true figure is at least 1.8 million.

Home from another (marvelous) cruise!

Last evening I returned home to a happy ONION and am always glad to be home again. For the first time I traveled alone and while there were some hairy moments, I managed and found out I can indeed do this if I must.

This 6th cruise within 12 months, and the 3rd on the beautiful Norwegian Sun was unique among all of them. I had determined to make this one more of a retreat than past cruises and to give more time to prayer, reflection, and just being with the LORD. It worked out great; I was able to give most of each morning, from about 9:30 AM to about noon to this "quiet time." Wonderful for me! I just wish I were able to benefit more from this opportunity; but I am grateful for whatever I was able to manage.

On the first full day at sea we noticed a sign announcing "Living His Life Abundantly: Catholic Conference as Sea." It rang a bell and I tracked down the people behind the conference. Sure enough it was who I thought. Here are some photos. Some of you, too, may recognize some of these:

Director of the Catholic Conference at Sea with Father Michael, who was hanging out by the outdoor pool on this deck, and myself

One of the speakers at the Conference, hanging out at the pool, with wife and child and the chaplain to the Conference and Father Michael,

I was privileged to make contact with these folk and to attend two Masses as well. A first for me at sea. A gift indeed for a cruise I had hoped would be unique in its dimension of faith and prayer!

Recognize any of these persons?

Bring back Friday abstinence and Lenten fasting

Not eating meat on Fridays used to be synonymous with being Catholic. Restoring abstinence would not only revive tradition but signal solidarity with the poor.

244 Die in Saudi Stampede During Muslim Pilgrimage

MINA, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 1 (Reuters) — At least 244 Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death and a similar number were injured Sunday in a stampede during a Devil-stoning ritual at the climax of the annual hajj season in Saudi Arabia.

Panic spread rapidly after some people in the crowd collapsed just as many of the two million white-robed pilgrims, chanting "God is greatest," surged toward the Jamarat Bridge in Mina to throw stones at pillars representing the Devil..."

1997: Fire kills 343 pilgrims and injures 1,500 at camp in Mina
1994: Stampede near Jamarat bridge kills at least 270 pilgrims
1990: Stampede in crowded tunnel leading to holy sites kills 1,426 pilgrims
1987: About 400 killed - mainly Iranian Shia pilgrims - in clashes with Saudi forces

Charity Reopens Bible, and Questions Follow

"The Salvation Army of Greater New York, long known for its network of thrift shops and shelters, has begun an effort to reassert its evangelical roots, stressing to lay employees that the Army's core mission is not just social services but also spreading the Gospel..."

"..The Army's charitable role was in full focus last week when the national headquarters announced it had received a bequest of $1.5 billion to build and endow 25 or 30 community centers around the country, each of which will contain a place of worship. The bequest came from Joan B. Kroc, the wife of the McDonald's chain founder, who died in October.

Local Army officials said it was far too early to say how the money would affect operations, but national officials have said the centers will be used for educational and spiritual purposes, not for social services..."

Today in Christian history

February 2, 767: Alcuin, the academic who would later play a large role in establishing schools under Charlemagne, becomes headmaster of York Cathedral School, where he once studied. Alcuin's curriculum was built on the seven liberal arts: the elementary Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and the more advanced Quadrivium (music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy).

February 2, 1594: Giovanni F. da Palestrina, considered by many the most gifted composer of Renaissance church music, dies.

February 2, 1745: Popular British poet and dramatist Hannah More is born. She renounced the social life and concentrated on religious efforts, such as setting up Sunday schools. For her work with the Clapham Sect of British social reformers, she was once derisively called "a bishop in petticoats".

February 2, 1945: Jesuit priest Alfred Delp was hung by the Nazis.
Shortly before his execution he told the Jesuit priest who visited him: "Shortly I will know more than you!"

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