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

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Saturday, January 24, 2004

A prayer from the (old) Roman Breviary for those who are about to make a journey:

Ant. Into the way of peace.
Benedictus - Canticle of Zachary
Glory be ....

Ant. Into the way of peace and prosperity, may the almighty and merciful Lord lead us and may the Angel Raphael be with us along the way, that we may come to our home again in peace, and health, and gladness.

Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father (silently as far as):
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Save Thy servants.
R. My God, who hope in Thee.
V. O Lord, send us help from the sanctuary.
R. And strengthen us out of Sion.
V. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
R. In the face of the enemy.
V. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
R. Nor the son of iniquity have power to harm us.
V. Blessed be the Lord daily.
R. The God of our salvation maketh our way prosperous.
V. Show us Thy ways, O Lord.
R. And teach us Thy paths.
V. O that our ways were directed.
R. To keep Thy precepts.
V. The crooked shall be made straight.
R. And the rough ways plain.
V. God has given His Angels charge over thee.
R. That they may keep thee in all thy ways.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray:

O God, who madest the children of Israel to walk with dry feet through the midst of the sea, and who didst open unto the three wise men, by the guiding of a star, the way that led unto Thee, grant us good speed, and quietness: may thy holy Angel accompany us during our pilgrimage and in the end, may we attain the haven of eternal salvation.

O God, who didst call Thy servant Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and didst keep him from evil through all the ways of his pilgrimage, we beseech Thee, that it may please Thee to keep us Thy servants. Be Thou unto us, O Lord, a help when we go forward, a comfort by the way, a shadow from the heat, a covering from the rain and the cold, a chariot in weariness, a refuge in trouble, a staff in slippery paths, a haven in shipwreck. Do Thou lead us, that we may happily come thither where we would be, and thereafter come again safe unto our own home.

Graciously hear our supplications, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and order the goings of Thy servants in the safe path that leadeth unto salvation in Thee, that amidst all the manifold changes of this life's pilgrimage, Thy shield may never cease from us.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that Thy family may fare onward in the path of salvation, and by giving heed to the preaching of the blessed Fore-runner John, may safely attain unto Him whom John preached, even our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. R. Amen.

V. Let us proceed in peace.
R. In the name of the Lord. Amen.

Thank God some still pray the older Offices and pray this magnficent prayer, so rich, so biblical, so full of substance. I hope I can pray it as well as I prepare to leave. The God of peace be with you all!

Another Cruise

Those who have been faithful guests to this blog might recall what I will mention now. After a crisis that almost broke me, I recouped - in part, thanks to the gracious and generous gestures offered by some of these very guests. I think of the roses from Saint Therese, now made into a beautiful rosary. I still do not know the identity of the anonymous donor(s) who sent me three envelopes with cash telling me to "take a vacation." And I did. I had not yet, since my illness, spent any overnights away from home; but decided to try it and I and Father Michael, a buddy who is an Orthodox priest, spent several glorious autumn days at a bed and breakfast in Front Royal, Virginia.

The travel bug hit me hard!

Around then I began to wonder if I could ever fulfill a life long dream of visiting Alaska. Then it dawned on me that I could get to an airport, I could get on a ship, and I could cruise to parts of Alaska. But I feared the cost would be prohibitive. I also thought the cabins might be too tight for me in a wheelchair much of the time.

The cost amazed me! And I discovered that today's cabins are quite large enough and that for the handicapped there are often much larger cabins available. And so we booked a cruise to Alaska for May of last year. I could hardly believe it.

Then even before taking that dream cruise, I got offers in emails I couldn't resist. The prices were incredible. And so we went on two cruises before the Alaska cruise. The best deal was the 4 nighter to Cozumel, Mexico, on the beautiful Norwegian Sun: for 3 of us the grand total for all of us together was $380. Then came the Alaska cruise (on the Sun again). Fantastic.

Then another cruise, short but lovely, with my brother and sister; and another 7 nighter on the state of the art Norwegian Line cruiseship, the Dawn.

Now we get ready to reboard the Norwegian Sun and sail off to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and 2 ports in Mexico. I am content, mostly, to stay on board and let others do the excursions and swim with the stingrays, etc. I am very happy and feel quite healthy sitting on the pool deck, taking in the sun, the sea breezes, and the whole relaxing ethos. I don't take any books except my Bible and Magnificat, and I take, of course, my rosary. For me, it is not only a time of relaxation (and it is good for me, I think, to be away from the computer, which is such a lifeline for me when I am home), but of "retreat" and "renewal" as well. Or so I hope and pray.

Just in case I sparked your interest, you may want to take a look at my webpage for my cruises and reviews and photos.

I leave early tomorrow morning and, God willing, will return on Sunday evening, Feb. 1st. For the first time I will be traveling alone and have some trepidations (Father Michael is traveling with 2 of his children and they couldn't get on my flights down or back home).

Thanks for your patience as I rehash a part of my journey. A part that has brought me a lot of joy and gratitude. And, yes, I am booked for a few more cruises in 2004 and even 2005. I'll tell you more about them when I get home. Who knows, maybe you can join us?

A sign of our times

You know something is out of whack and seriously so when Father Benedict Groeschel is trashed by Catholic commentators for his role in the "scandals" - since it is known that bishops sought the advice of Father Benedict regarding some troubled priests, etc. Yes, some well known commentators and reporters have already done this. (Guess who is among them?).

As I said already, I won't be surprised when Mother Teresa is dismissed as an "accomplice" and "enabler" since she did not speak out about the "scandals" and thus was a part of the "cover up." She had more moral authority than anyone else and yet did not publicly criticize or call others to task and offer a program of reform - for the others (but rather for herself!).

And the worst is yet to come in the blaming of our Pope.....

Another update on Father Benedict Groeschel

Progress, slow but seemingly sure. Thanks be to God!

Words to live by from today's saint: Francis de Sales

"Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Everlasting Father, who takes care of you today, will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations!"

"The Everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost Heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own Hands, to see that it be not one inch too large and not one once too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His Holy Name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God."

"You will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar. If there were anything better or more beautiful on earth than gentleness, Jesus Christ would have taught it to us; and yet He has given us only two lessons to learn of Him - meekness and humility of heart?

"If you must go to excess on one or the other side, let it be towards indulgence, for no sauce was ever spoiled by sugar. The human mind is so constituted that it hardens itself against severity, but loving kindness makes it pliable. Anger is quieted by a gentle word just as fire is quenched by water, and there is no soil so barren but that diligent tenderness bring forth some fruit. I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity. Is not God all love? God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is a lamb; God the Holy Spirit is a Dove - that is, gentleness itself."

Today in Christian history

January 24, 1076: Germany's Henry IV convenes the Synod of Worms to secure the deposition of Pope Gregory VII. The Synod charged the pope with serious crimes, called upon Rome to depose him, and issued other anti-papal statements. The pope quickly excommunicated Henry. One year later, Henry traveled to Canossa, Italy, and stood three days in the snow in an attempt to gain Gregory's forgiveness. Gregory granted it, but the two men soon fought again; Henry set up an antipope in Gregory's place.

January 24, 1573: English poet and preacher John Donne, dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, is born. One of the most prominent preachers of his day and one of the greatest English poets, he is known for such famous lines as "No man is an island," "For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee," and "Death be not proud."

January 24, 1818: Anglican clergyman John Mason Neale, who was one of the first to translate ancient Greek and Latin hymns into English, was born. Neale rendered the hymns known today as "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Friday, January 23, 2004
The Church: God's Strength in Weakness

Ecclesia: the Church and Christ from the book of Hildegard of Binjen

The Church, as she actually lives, suffers, and in many of her parts rots, is and remains also for us a test of faith - a trying, discouraging, a burning anxiety. She can become a danger to faith, because we all are tempted to wish that she would become more spiritual, more attractive, more impressive, more overwhelming - and then we begin again, even today, to play the ancient ghost game of a Church of pure spirit, the game which drags on through all the centuries, from Montanus to Jansen and into the chambers of our hearts: .

This is the diabolical temptation to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth, to become enthusiastic only over a glorious Messiah, and thus to veil willful denial with the praise of a Church of intellectuals, of a Church of success in the interior life, of statistically provable progress, of a Church able to compete with other religious organizations. No, you who are outside the Church, and you who are inside, no, seek not here Church of him who still hangs on the gallows of shame to and for the sole purpose of drawing all men to himself!

Only in the divine adventure of a Church of deniers, of the mediocre, of those delivered up to history and to their own miserable hearts: , can one discover what faith means, the darkness of faith, the torture of faith - the force of faith.

We challenge all the spiritualists of the pure spirit and all realists of mere statistics, with the challenge that Tertullian in the antiquity of the Church hurled in the face of the Gnostics who were disturbed by the God in human form, born of woman, and hanged on the gallows of the cross: "For what reason do you destroy this necessary disgrace of our faith? What was unworthy of God is that which helps me. I find my salvation when I am not ashamed of my Lord. Crucified was the Son of God: I am not ashamed of this, precisely because it is dishonorable!"

Let us in this hour of celebration cry out of the depths of our hearts: No, you poor Catholica, we are not ashamed of your weaknesses. We confess this weakness in the words of Pius XII: "We give you our energetic love, even in the appearance of your mortal flesh, in your weak human existence, even when your members do not correspond to the position they should hold in your holy mystical body." Holy Church, you are the necessary shame of our faith. Mine will be salvation, and the whole world's will be salvation, so long as we are not ashamed of you.

- Hugo Rahner SJ

More on the "Intrigue"

John Allen, in the midst of this whole intrigue about "The Passion" movie of Mel Gibson, details the scenario again. But how interesting that he does it with a measure of restraint, realism, and without condemnation of individuals. Never thought I'd be proposing the National Catholic Reporter as a sort of model of discourse on topics dealing with the Pope and the papal bureaucracy! But John is so less dreary than some others who seem to thrive on finding fault wherever, whenever they can and to continue to blast away - all in the name of love, of course.

John Allen makes an excellent point about the response we will be making to those who see this movie; a real "teachable moment" so to speak. Will we as a Church be prepared or miss yet another opportunity (and spend more time on trivia and internecine fights)? Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Geez, I think even I will try to see Gibson's movie!

More on the "Intrigue" of such vital importance

Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.
The mountains gave birth - to a ridiculous mouse!

Even my beloved ONION is brought into the controversy!

It is a hoot when all is said and done. Amazing how anger and bitterness can so distort perspective and proportion. To me, anyway, it is obvious in this thread and so many others as well. Glad to see some in the thread confirming my own intuitions in this area.

Today in Christian history

January 23, 1645: Mary Ward, foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dies. Obstacles surrounded Mary Ward throughout her life and her new religious institute was supressed by the Pope. After her death, Pope Clement XI approved the Rule of her congregation in 1703.

January 23, 1786: John Carroll, who would become America's first Roman Catholic bishop, founds the Catholic academy that is now Georgetown University.

January 23, 1875: Charles Kingsley, English novelist and clergyman, died. Perhaps Kingsley is best known as the person whose criticism spurred John Henry Newman to write his "Apologia pro vita sua".

January 23, 1893: Episcopal minister Phillips Brooks, bishop of Massachusetts, staunch abolitionist, substitute evangelist for D.L. Moody, and author of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," dies. He was considered the most "considerable American preacher of his generation.

Thursday, January 22, 2004
Disputations on "the Intrigue"

Lots of excellent dialogue as well in the comments. Tom is my hero.

Next Week!

Please don't hate me!

A Devastating Scandal, a Church Trying to Heal

New York Times review of a new book by David France, "Our Fathers".

The Sins of the Fathers

Adapted excerpts from author David France's "Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal."

New Mass translation said to 'elegant,' closer to the Latin

John Allen expands a bit on the section of his Word from Rome column which I already posted.

I find this section interesting:

"Some liturgical experts, however, say the translation is flawed.

Jesuit Fr. Keith Pecklers, a liturgist at the Gregorian University and author of Dynamic Equivalence: The Living Language of Christian Worship (Liturgical Press), worries about ecumenical consequences.

“After 40 years of work, today the major Christian churches use the same texts for the Confiteor, the Gloria, the Creed, and so on,” Pecklers told NCR Jan. 12. “If that changes, it would be a very unfortunate development.”

Huh? Which Christian Church, other than the Roman Rite Catholic Church, uses the Confiteor?

Do the other major Churches use the exact same ICEL version of the Gloria and Credo? A brief websearch seemed to indicate that these churches uses forms with variances from ICEL's translation.

But that objection just doesn't seem valid to me; it's not as if Christians gather together for common eucharists anyway. And these are prayers associated with the celebration of the Eucharist.

I find the new steps so refreshing and too long in the coming. But come they do. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

P.S. Watching the Mass for Life last evening from the National Shrine I am struck on how more and more "traditional" such Masses seem to be becoming. Less "new" music, more from the great heritage of the Church. I was touched especially by the use of the overwhelmingly beautiful Kyrie from the Missa de Angelis (I think it was). And while the congregation gets younger and younger the ethos of worship becomes older and older. WONDERFUL!

Update on Father Benedict Groeschel

Wonderful news! Thanks be to God!

Is it as it was that it was as it is?

Or should that be:

Was it as it is that it is as it was?

'Passion' and Intrigue

I am a great admirer of Peggy Noonan, and surely of the Pope himself! That's why I link to this article which, to me, deals with an issue not exactly important for me. I like Mel Gibson in some of his movies but have no desire to see his "Passion" (I tend to dislike religious movies and especially, for whatever reasons, have never liked any that depict Jesus). But the "intrigue" is a bit intriguing as long as it doesn't get blown out of proportion and become yet another "excuse" to blast "the Church" - which I am sure has already been done, and will be done.

Update: Yes, I was right after all. I am laughing a bit reading these comments about the "intrigue" and really wishing some people could lighten up a bit and laugh a bit at the craziness of the human reality, of which I am a part and hopefully they are too! Where is the joy of faith anymore? GKC, WE NEED YOU! Perhaps only you can worthily respond to the question on everyone's lips these days: is it as it was that it was as it is? or Was it as it is that it is as it was?

Priest-martyr Alexander Men speaks about Christian Unity

Father Alexander Men celebrating the Divine Liturgy

These quotes from interviews of Fr Men, who was born this day in 1935, are from "Cultura i kukhovnoe voskhozhdenie - Moscow - Iskussivo, 1992.

"As an Orthodox believer, what is your attitude towards other confessions?

My attitude was not formed immediately. After considerable thought, interaction and research I've come to be convinced that the Church is in essence one and that divisions have come about through the sin and narrow-mindedness of Christians. This sad fact is one of the greatest reasons for crises in Christianity. Only through brotherly unity and respect for diverse forms of Church life can we hope to find strength, peace and God's blessing once again (362-3).

Can divisions in the Christian Church be overcome?

Over the centuries of division many differences have accumulated in the areas of doctrine, canon and worship. But I'm convinced that the schism between East and West is bound up with political, cultural and national conflicts. Today only a miracle could bring about real unity. But it is still possible to overcome misunderstanding and aggressive attitudes towards one another. If the members of different communities get to know one another better, in time this will hear good fruit (352).

"The Church is a complex formation. First of all, it is that Church which was founded by Christ. This means, coming without interruption from the Apostles. Such is the Orthodox Church, the Eastern Church. Thus is the Catholic Church, the Western Church. In the practice of the Orthodox Church, we recognize the hierarchy and the sacraments of the Catholic Church, that is, we recognize it as a Church, albeit separated from us...." (From his Catechesis on the Creed).

And this:

"I find more meaning in the wing of a bird and in the branch of a tree, than in five hundred icons. God has given us two books: the Bible and Creation."

Brazen crimes, a worried parish

At St. Catherine of Siena in Charlestown, security concerns in neighborhood have worshipers on edge

Today in Christian history

January 22, 304 (traditional date): Vincent of Saragossa, one of the most famous martyrs of the early church, is killed. Starved, racked, roasted on a gridiron, thrown into prison, and set in stocks, he refused to sacrifice. According to Augustine, his fame extended everywhere in the Roman Empire and "wherever the name of Christ was known".

January 22, 1899: Pope Leo XIII warns James Cardinal Gibbons, senior hierarch of the Catholic church in America, against the "phantom heresy" of Americanism - the attempt to adapt the traditional doctrines and practices of the church to a more independent modern world.

January 22, 1935: Alexander Men, who became a great evangelizing priest of the Orthodox Church in Russia, is born. Men was murdered by fanatics in 1990 but his influence continues in his spiritual children. Father Men was prophetic and ecumenical and spiritual father to many.

January 22, 1973: The United States Supreme Court legalizes abortion in its Roe v. Wade decision.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Latest update on Father Benedict Groeschel

Keep praying! We need this great man of God at least as I see things. But God's Will be done.


Just watched the entrance procession for the Mass for Life in the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Wow! The Church lives! And she is not only an old Church but a young Church. ALLELUIA! May God bless the prayers, and efforts of those good persons who are dedicated to the God of life and the gift of life.


Just played with "Teddy." I am in awe.....

ONION again

Amazingly ONION has bounced back to a degree. I decided to reschedule the vet visit until Friday to see just how well he recuperates this time. He is still very slow in walking; he hobbles (something like me!). But he is moving! In fact, I noticed that he was back to some of his routines yesterday and to my surprise about noon went over to his dish and began eating! He cleaned his plate! Then went and had himself some water. His tail wags a lot and seems happy enough.

Then amazingly this morning ONION went by the door to let me know he wanted to go out. I opened the door and he went and stood looking up at the 3 stairs, the first rather high. I picked him up and let him go. Later he came back and took the stairs by himself! I was stunned to see this after how he looked the other day.

There is something out of whack in his left back side and leg. I hope it heals up some and if I see him chasing his toys again I really will speak of a miracle. But right now he does seem OK and happy. I can leave him behind feeling OK about it. James, who will be with him while I am gone, is so good with ONION and can do a lot more for him and with him than I am able. ONION loves James very much, and vice versa.

I really am quite happy to see how things are unfolding, after fearing the very worst. Perhaps the good LORD is helping me prepare, little by little.

Episcopal conservatives form national protest group

"PLANO, Texas -- Dissident Episcopalians upset over the consecration of a gay bishop formed an unprecedented national protest group yesterday -- a network of conservatives who pledged to work with each other and oppose church leadership.

Yet the creation of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes stopped short of a schism with the Episcopal Church, raising the prospect of church-by-church fights for authority and control.

"This has been, for us, a glorious and historic day," said Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, who was elected to head the network..."

Unity: The Blessed Fellowship

"The final grounds of holy Fellowship are in God. Lives immersed and drowned in God are drowned in love, and know one another in Him, and know one another in love. God is the medium, the matrix, the focus, the solvent. As Meister Eckhart suggests, he who is wholly surrounded by God, enveloped by God, clothed by God, glowing in selfless love toward Him - such a man no one can touch except he touch God also.

Such lives have a common meeting-point; they live in common joyous enslavement. They go back into a single Center where they are at home with Him and with one another. It is as if every soul had a final base, and that final base of every soul is one single Holy Ground, shared in by all. Persons in the Fellowship are related to one another through Him, as all mountains go down into the same earth. They get at one another through Him. He is actively moving in all, co-ordinating those who are pliant to His will and suffusing them all with His glory and His joy."

- Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion

Today in Christian history

January 21, 1077: Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV petitioned Pope Gregory VII for forgiveness for crossing the Pontiff?s will over the role of the laity in the investiture of priests, bishops, etc. The Pope ended up excommunicating Henry twice, and eventually the Emperor appointed an Anti-Pope.

January 21, 1525: Conrad Grebel (Ulrich Zwingli's former protege) rebaptizes George Blaurock, a former monk, in a secret, illegal meeting of six men in Zurich. This meeting is now considered the birth of the Anabaptist movement.

January 21, 1549: the English Parliament passed the first of four British Acts of Uniformity, this first requiring the exclusive use of the Book of Common Prayer (later called the First Prayer Book of Edward VI) in all public services of the Anglican Church.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
St. Agnes' Eve

DEEP on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapour goes:
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent-towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord:
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.
As these white robes are soil'd and dark,
To yonder shining ground;
As this pale taper's earthly spark,
To yonder argent round;
So shows my soul before the Lamb,
My spirit before Thee;
So in mine earthly house I am,
To that I hope to be.
Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,
Thro' all yon starlight keen,
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.

He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strows her lights below,
And deepens on and up! the gates
Roll back, and far within
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,
To make me pure of sin.
The sabbaths of Eternity,
One sabbath deep and wide—
A light upon the shining sea—
The Bridegroom with his bride!

- Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Eve of St. Agnes

ST. AGNES’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

- First verse of the poem of John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes

ONION update

ONION is still not back to himself, but he did seem to sleep well and in his usual spot (on my pants beside my bed!). He looks somewhat better, but is still having a hard time getting around. He hasn't eaten since Sunday and hasn't gotten any water either as far as I know. Seems to be in no pain, thankfully. We go to vets this PM and I hope against hope..... Keep rooting for ONION! Thanks!

Bishop, priests meet on scandal aftermath

"WEST ISLIP -- The leader of Long Island's 1.5 million Roman Catholics met with 190 priests yesterday to address what some had said was a lack of confidence in his leadership over a sex abuse scandal. Bishop William Murphy, who joined the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 2001, agreed to meet with the priests after a group of them wrote to him last month citing "a general malaise" and anger in the diocese following the scandal. A grand jury issued a report last year alleging that the diocese repeatedly protected priests accused of sexual abuse by transferring them to other parishes. No indictments were handed down because the statutes of limitations had expired. Some have called for Murphy's resignation over the scandal, a notion he has repeatedly rejected.

"This has been a good day for all of us," Murphy said after yesterday's meeting, which he described as "an open discussion that I found to be very helpful." The Rev. Peter Pflomm, one of a group of priests who requested the meeting, said he left the session feeling hopeful. Nearly half of the priests in the diocese attended."

Episcopal conservatives eye new path

"..The closed-door meeting involved 100 bishops, priests, and lay members representing a dozen dioceses with 235,000 members, or 10 percent of the nation's Episcopalians.

The delegates at the meeting plan to complete an organizational charter for the network. They also are trying to produce a new theological statement based upon previous conservative platforms.

The Episcopal Church is the US branch of the international Anglican Communion and the network hopes to draw legitimacy from overseas Anglican branches that agree with it.

"You've never had this many dioceses rallying to say a massive corporate mistake has been made," said Canon Kendall Harmon, a South Carolina delegate..."

Today in Christian history

January 20, 1606: Jesuit missionary, Alessandro Valianono, dies. He was an architect of the strategy of "inculuration" for the mission to Japan and China.

January 20, 1918: Following the Bolshevik Revolution, all church property in Russia is confiscated and all religious instruction in schools abolished.

Monday, January 19, 2004
New web page!

Perhaps distracting myself a bit, I worked on a project that I've wanted to do for a while but just couldn't seem to get to it. A webpage on Islam and some resources for study and understanding. A few links, too, to some fine online resources. I realize it is geared to a more cautionary vision of Islam and not as positive as it might be. But it is unfinished and I hope to keep adding to it as time goes by. I'd love to get your feedback, suggestions, on this new page, Islam. Thanks.

update: ONION is mostly resting and still not doing real well. I will keep you posted. Tomorrow hope to take him to the vets at 2:30 PM.

ONION again

Perhaps I spoke too quickly. ONION has taken a turn for the worse and can hardly walk right now. Something is very wrong. He is laying down, curled up right now, and seems to be in no pain. A neighbor came over, after I called, and even walked him and ONION managed to go up the steps and down again with a little help. When he hobbled in his tail wagged when he saw me. And then he laid down and stays there now. He seems very weak but almost in peace. My hope is that he bounces back.

I would appreciate any prayers; may God's will be done.

Update: P.S. My neighbor's young neice just dropped by to get him and ONION barked and wagged his tail but didn't move!!!

Light-up time leaves some Italians fuming

"Tradition!" as the Broadway song has it

CAPENA, Italy - Yesterday was light-up time in Capena, a medieval town where everybody smokes on St. Anthony's Day. Nobody remembers why, but nearly everybody does it - even children as young as 2 years old. For years, the event has gone unnoticed by public-health advocates, who just this month succeeded in getting the Italian government to order bars and restaurants to ban smoking or to allow it only in well-ventilated smoking areas...."

Iraq Liquor Store Murders Raise Concerns

BASRA, Iraq (AP) -- By most accounts, Sameer got off easy - the 42-year-old Christian liquor merchant received only a warning from the masked men who waved Kalashnikov rifles in his face and trashed his house in search of booze.

Others weren't as lucky. Abid Slewa was shot in the head as he unlocked the front door of his liquor store. Bashir Elias, caught selling alcohol from the back of his car, was shot to death Christmas Eve on a street crowded with cheering onlookers.

The sale and consumption of alcohol is legal in secular Iraq, even if many Iraqis avoid it for religious reasons. But as many as nine liquor store owners, most of them Christians, have been killed in Basra since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April, according to merchants..."

The Ecumenism of the Saints

One of my favorite passages:

"The whole teaching of the Latin Fathers may be found in the East, just as the whole teaching of the Greek Fathers may be found in the West. Rome has given St Jerome to Palestine. The East has given Cassian to the West and holds in special veneration that Roman of the Romans, Pope St Gregory the Great. St Basil would have acknowledged St Benedict of Nursia as his brother and heir. St Macrina would have found her sister in St Scholastica. St Alexis 'the man of God', the 'poor man under the stairs', has been succeeded by the wandering beggar St Benedict Joseph Labre. St Nicholas would have felt as very near to him the burning charity of St Francis of Assisi and St Vincent de Paul. St Seraphim of Sarov would have seen the desert blossoming under Father Charles de Foucauld's feet, and would have called St Therese of Lisieux 'my joy'".

- Father Lev Gillet, "Orthodox Spirituality"

Today in Christian history

January 19, 1086: Canute the Great, the king of Denmark, is killed by his subjects. Though Denmark was already nominally Christian when he became king, he went to great lengths to revitalize the faith. He built and restored churches and monasteries and created laws protecting the clergy. But his "new order," which included higher taxes and mandatory tithes, led to a revolt. Canute was reportedly killed in church while at Mass, and he was declared a martyr and saint in 1101.

January 19, 1563: The Heidelberg Catechism, soon accepted by nearly all European Reformed churches, is first published in Germany.

January 19, 1649: England's King Charles I, a devout Anglican with Cathoilc sympathies who staunchly defended the "divine right of kings" while oppressing the Puritans, is executed by fanatics in Oliver Cromwell's army.

Sunday, January 18, 2004
ONION: quick update

My beloved peke is doing well, even taking the stairs and jumping up on the sofa and chasing Sootie (our large black cat) and playing with Teddy and other toys. He takes his time navigating the higher-steeper stairs but still can do it (at least most of the time!). So I am grateful and feel OK about leaving him - in good and loving hands - during my cruise, from next Sunday to the following Sunday. One day at a time!

Orthodox Leader to Honor Fidel Castro

HAVANA -- The spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians will honor Fidel Castro with a church order in recognition of Cuba's construction of a new cathedral, regional church leaders said Friday.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will arrive in Cuba Wednesday to begin a visit, the first ever by the Orthodox Christian patriarch to Latin America.

Bartholomew will bestow the church's Order of St. Andrew on Castro for his government's construction of the new St. Nicholas Cathedral, to be consecrated by the patriarch on Jan. 25, regional church leaders said.

Bartholomew is considered "first among equals" of 14 patriarchs representing Orthodox Christian in eastern Europe and Middle East. There are less than 2,000 practicing Orthodox Christians in Cuba..."

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan 18-25, 2004

"My peace I give to you" (Jn 14: 23-31)

"The walls of our division do not reach to heaven!"

0 Merciful Lord Jesus, Our Savior, hear the prayers and petitions of Your unworthy sinful servants who humbly call upon You and make us all to be one in Your one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Flood our souls with Your unquenchable light. Put an end to religious disagreements, and grant that we Your disciples and Your beloved children may all worship You with a single heart and voice.

Fulfill quickly, 0 grace-giving Lord, Your promise that there shall be one flock and one Divine Shepherd of Your Church; and may we be made worthy to glorify Your Holy Name now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

- Blessed Exarch Leontios Feodorov

Karen Marie Knapp

Karen, of From the Anchorhold blog, is in rehab now - at a "sub-acute rehabiliitation facility". Among other conditions, she has open wounds that need dressing and healing before she can go home. She seems to be on the road to recovery, thank God. And Karen says the facility is better than many others.

For those who might like to drop her a note and let her know you are praying for her, here is her current address:

Karen Marie Knapp Room 210 Bed 1
Christopher East Health and Rehabilitation Center
1132 East Knapp Street
Milwaukee WI 53202

(I just did a web search to see if the address really is "Knapp Street" thinking Karen might have mixed things up; no, that is indeed the correct address!).

A suggestion: ask Karen to send you one of the truly beautiful rosaries she's been making lately - in fact, ask for two - the five decade and the one decade. Just used the one decade and it is great. The beautiful five decade rosary seems quite excellent as well. I am so glad Karen sent them to me (and I didn't even ask). Update 1/18/05 10:20 AM: While we had an electrical outage, I just prayed the 5 decade rosary and it is wonderful! Now I have another treasure along with my special Rosary made from roses. Thanks, Susan. Thanks, Karen.

Today in Christian history

January 18, 1562: The counter-reformation Council of Trent reconvenes after a 10-year break caused by the revolt of Protestant princes against Emperor Charles V. During the break, all hope of reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants had vanished.

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