Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Timeless Wisdom

The peace the world pretends to desire is really no peace at all.. . .. instead of loving what you think is peace, love other men and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed but hate these things in yourself, not in another. (New Seeds of Contemplation: p. 122.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blessed Jeanne Jugan - Quote for the Day

Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel. Go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out, when you feel lonely and helpless. Say to him: "You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus. I have only you. Come to my aid..." And then go your way. And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage. It is enough to have told our good Lord. He has an excellent memory!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Glenn Beck on GOD

Can you imagine, up to 500,000 people were in Washington yesterday to see Glenn Beck. Amazing. Maybe America is really ready for a change. And if that change is placing trust in God - it can only be good.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Mother Teresa!

August 2010
The Centennial of Blessed Mother Teresa’s Birth.
Celebrated August 28th 5pm
St. Augustine Church – Newark, New Jersey

Through the centuries, God has raised up saints – ordinary people accepting the call to be His instruments here on earth. On August 26th, 1910, God raised up a woman who would become a great disciple – a woman who would fall in love with God. Her birth name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Today we know her as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This month of August 2010 we celebrate the 100th year of her birth.

Mother Teresa’s first call from God was a vocation as a Loretto sister, acting as a principal of a Catholic school in Calcutta, India. On September 10th, 1946, while on a train ride to a retreat in the north of India, Mother received the “call within a call” which would give rise to the Missionaries of Charity. Mother clearly heard the voice of Jesus say….

My little one, come, come, carry me into the holes of the poor. Come, be My light. I cannot go alone. They don’t know Me, so they don’t want Me. You come, go amongst them. Carry Me with you into them. How I long to enter their holes, their dark, unhappy homes.

Thus began Mother Teresa’s quest to start a new religious order. On October 7th, 1950, with much patience and the permission of Church authority, Mother Teresa established the Society of the Missionaries of Charity.

Today there are 4000 plus sisters of many nationalities, 900 plus missions around the world. The Missionary of Charity family has grown. The order now includes active and contemplative sisters, active and contemplative brothers, priests, sick and suffering co-workers, Lay Missionaries of Charity (LMC’s) and volunteers.

In answer to the words of Jesus “what you have done to the least of my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25) the Missionaries of Charity make a promise of “wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.” This promise is manifested in many different ways i.e., soup kitchens, homeless shelters, religious education, homes for unwed mothers and AID’s patients and much more. From the very beginning of the order, the Missionaries of Charity have maintained a strong pro-life stance. In Mother’s own words "If you hear of some woman who does not want to keep her child and wants to have an abortion, try to persuade her to bring him to me. I will love that child, seeing in him the sign of God's love".

Reflecting on the life of this remarkable woman, it brings to mind October 16, 1978, the day when Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was chosen to become Pope John Paul II. His words to us that day were “Be not afraid.” These are also the words of Mother Teresa. Do not be afraid to follow Jesus. Trust in Him. John Paul II called Mother Teresa “an icon of the Good Samaritan.”

The Missionaries of Charity operate a mission in Newark, New Jersey. Here the sisters run a soup kitchen, a woman’s shelter, CCD, and children’s summer camp. The sisters are very happy to have people volunteer to help with the work. Without volunteers this work would be practically impossible. Pray about it. Maybe this is the time for YOU to step out of your comfort zone – to become an MC volunteer – to “Trust in God.” Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with God.

Love one another as God loves each one of you. Jesus came to give us the Good News that God loves us and that He wants us to love one another. And when the time comes to die and go home to God again, we will hear Him say, “Come and possess the Kingdom of prepared for you, because I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Message from Sister Prema. M.C., Superior General

My dear brothers and sisters around the world,

Mother Teresa was born 100 years ago in Skopje (in present-day Macedonia) on the 26th of August, 1910.

Her life and work continue to be an inspiration for young and old, rich and poor from all walks of life, religions and nations. Her message: "God has created us for greater things - to love and to be loved," makes us look beyond the struggles, loneliness and grievances of our daily life. We are called for something infinitely greater than riches, talent, fame or passing pleasures. We are called to look at God, our loving Father, and know that He loves us with an unconditional and tender, everlasting love; and we are called to share that love with those around us beginning with our families. In Mother's words, "Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. We never know how much good just a simple smile can do."

In our Shishu Bhavan (Children's Home) in Kolkata, we had a severely handicapped girl who lived to 39 years of age. Her name was Sundari, which means beautiful. She owned nothing, and could do nothing with her completely gnarled body but lie in bed. But there was one thing she did well - she could give a big smile with great joy lighting up her whole face, communicating all the love that she had in her heart. She knew that she was loved and cared for, that she was precious to many. Sundari was not very pretty, but she was very beautiful.

Let us celebrate Mother's birth centenary by sharing the joy of loving and being loved. Let us pray to know better God's love for us.

Filled with God's love, we shall become carriers of His love to those around us by doing small things with great love, giving a smile, a kind word and a helping hand. These small things done with great love will "make our lives something beautiful for God.” Thus the world around us will be transformed for, “A smile generates smiles and love generates love.

God bless you,

Sr. M. Prema M.C., Superior General

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Support Bill Donohue and Mother Teresa

Bill Donohue, the leader of The Catholic League, has been fighting an uphill battle to get the management of the Empire State Building, Mr. Anthony Malkin, to commemorate the 100th birthday of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta by lighting the top of the building in the colors of the Missionaries of Charity. People of good sense would think this would be easy - but it's not. There are certainly forces of evil at work here. Last year Mr. Malkin lit the top of his building to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Communist Chinese Government. I think that says it all. Now Mr. Donohue is being attacked by so called "Catholic groups" such as Catholic for Choice." We should all know that to be Catholic is to be pro-life. If you are pro-choice, which is actually pro infanticide, you are not a Catholic. And although I am not a theologian, I would suspect that by promoting abortion you already have excommunicated yourself.

It is time for us Catholics to stand up for what we believe. Stand up for the Truth.
If we do not stand up now, what will our future be. Will we even be allowed to worship our God?

"On August 26, the Catholic League is holding a rally in New York City to protest the decision by officials from the Empire State Building not to light the towers blue and white on the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa's birthday. The rally will feature speakers who are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim, as well as celebrities and government officials from both parties.

The rally begins at 6:00 p.m. Please enter at 34th Street and 6th Avenue, and remember to wear blue and white".

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thomas Merton and the Dali Lama

Thomas Merton is pictured here with the Dali Lama. During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Thomas Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known.

I am not sure if I agree with all the content in the following article written by the Dali Lama, but I recognize him as a man of peace - so I think it is an important article, in light of all the discussion regarding the mosque and the World Trade Center issue.

Many Faiths, One Truth
Published: May 24, 2010

WHEN I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.

Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.

Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.

An early eye-opener for me was my meeting with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton in India shortly before his untimely death in 1968. Merton told me he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism. The same is true for me as an ardent Buddhist learning from the world’s other great religions.

A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.

I’m a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I’ve long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks. The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us.

Take Judaism, for instance. I first visited a synagogue in Cochin, India, in 1965, and have met with many rabbis over the years. I remember vividly the rabbi in the Netherlands who told me about the Holocaust with such intensity that we were both in tears. And I’ve learned how the Talmud and the Bible repeat the theme of compassion, as in the passage in Leviticus that admonishes, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In my many encounters with Hindu scholars in India, I’ve come to see the centrality of selfless compassion in Hinduism too — as expressed, for instance, in the Bhagavad Gita, which praises those who “delight in the welfare of all beings.” I’m moved by the ways this value has been expressed in the life of great beings like Mahatma Gandhi, or the lesser-known Baba Amte, who founded a leper colony not far from a Tibetan settlement in Maharashtra State in India. There he fed and sheltered lepers who were otherwise shunned. When I received my Nobel Peace Prize, I made a donation to his colony.

Compassion is equally important in Islam — and recognizing that has become crucial in the years since Sept. 11, especially in answering those who paint Islam as a militant faith. On the first anniversary of 9/11, I spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, pleading that we not blindly follow the lead of some in the news media and let the violent acts of a few individuals define an entire religion.

Let me tell you about the Islam I know. Tibet has had an Islamic community for around 400 years, although my richest contacts with Islam have been in India, which has the world’s second-largest Muslim population. An imam in Ladakh once told me that a true Muslim should love and respect all of Allah’s creatures. And in my understanding, Islam enshrines compassion as a core spiritual principle, reflected in the very name of God, the “Compassionate and Merciful,” that appears at the beginning of virtually each chapter of the Koran.

Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one.

Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Be Not Afraid

This month of August marks the 100th year of Blessed Teresa's birth. This is a perfect time to reflect on her life, her tireless work for Jesus. What can we learn from Teresa? What is Jesus saying to us by raising a saint such as this? A modern saint - not one in the book of saints from so many centuries ago - but a saint many of us have met in the flesh.

Today I reflect on Teresa's trust in God. Do you remember the words of our beloved Pope John Paul II - standing on the balcony at the Vatican - "Be not afraid"? Mother Teresa understood these words from the very beginning. Her faith gave her the strength to leave a comfortable life as a school principal in the Loreto order and enter the streets of Calcutta - all alone. We too can leave our comfort zone and reach out to Jesus in His most distressing disguise. It is faith that gives us strength, and the embracing of our Christian hope.

We must pray. Many of us are living the busy life of work and family responsibility. Some say they have no time to pray. But prayer is essential if one is to have faith.

Let us reflect today on our prayer life, our trust, and our faith.

Dear Jesus,
Help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


A GREAT SIGN APPEARED IN HEAVEN: A WOMAN CLOAKED WITH THE SUN AND HAVING THE MOON UNDER HER UNDER HER FEET (Apocalypse 12:1). Holy Scripture contains various kinds of writings: stories of patriarchs and kings, revelations made to individuals and reflection upon the events of history, on creation and the movement of time. Such analysis and reflection on actual happenings was felt to be a way of discerning the meaning hidden in the events whose deeper significance was obscure. Such study appeals to those more thoughtful persons who are particularly concerned with ordering their lives in keeping with the dictates of a wisdom that is procured through experience, thoughtful analysis, attentive observation and humble prayer for understanding. A considerable portion of the Bible consists in presenting a reinterpretation of past events in light of deeper insight into the meaning of God's plan as discerned by authors who were inspired by the Spirit. Such reinterpretation often accounts for works in the Old Testament, both in the Torah, notably the book of Deuteronomy, and in such prophets as Second Isaiah. The new Testament too represents a further development along the same lines. Much of its teaching consists in inspired insights into the person of Christ as the fulfillment of prophecy and of the promises made to the Patriarchs. Jesus understood himself and his mission in terms of this earlier revelation.

The passage we have just heard from the Apocalypse witnesses to such a process of observation and reflection on history made with faith in God's Providence at a time of heavy persecution. The whole scene of the woman cloaked with the sun, bringing forth a son in an unfriendly desert, is shrouded in mystery. The language employed is deliberately allusive and symbolic, so that it can be rightly understood only by those who already share something of the author's perspective and beliefs. This woman who gives birth to a son whose life is in danger from hostile forces, is a symbol of the Church of God. This extraordinary woman, under heaven's special care, enshrined in glory, yet facing danger is an image of the Church who is best exemplified in Mary, the Mother of the Savior. From the first time she is introduced in the New Testament, Mary is set apart from all others. She is designated by the angel as the most blessed of all women, superlative in her holiness a well as in the role she was to undertake in becoming the mother of the Savior. In assuming that role, she goes beyond the limits of nature so as to become unique: alone among all women she conceives and bears a child while remaining a virgin. Thus, from the beginning Mary stands for a kind of special creation; she is more than an outstanding individual. She is a symbol of the perfectly realized human person in God's plan, and of the whole of the people of God. She does not need man for her fruitfulness; for her, God is enough. She is fructified by the Holy Spirit of God who overshadows her. Yet she remains one with all of us who belong to her Son.

Only a special intervention by God preserves the mother and her child from a deadly assault of a hostile power. The immediate sense of these symbolic events is that Divine Providence has a particular care for the Church. The Catholic tradition eventually came to understand this special act of God to include not only the protection afforded to the Church and in particular to Mary and her divine child, but also her bodily assumption into heaven. Her glorification is a pledge of the future glory to be given to the Church, in the person of all of us who follow her example of faithful dedication to her son to the end. Certainly, this is the significance given to this scene in today's liturgy when we commemorate the Assumption of Mary into heaven, in body and spirit.

Today, as so often in the past, the Church is exposed to hostile attack from enemies of many kinds, as, in the person of her fervent faithful she seeks to bring forth children who live in holiness that makes them worthy of the kingdom of God. We are keenly sensitive in our own time to the opposition of the world to Christian faith and hope and a life conformed to God's law. The Church will always bring forth her children in a world that is a hostile threat to her very life and that of her offspring. But God's special care and Providence is powerful to save and glorify those who are his.

Mary's experience as mother of the Savior and mother of the Church was lived out in intimate union with her son who, as the prophet foretold, was a sign of contradiction. Her life was joined to his as he lived out the conflict inherent between the people of God and the world. She merited the glorification that we celebrate on this Feast of her Assumption by her fidelity to the graces of her virginal motherhood and by standing at the cross of her son as he died in humiliation and rejection. May the Eucharist we offer this morning, along with her intercession and protection, obtain for each of us a share in the same grace of fidelity to her Son, who is himself our hope of eternal salvation.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

Abbey of the Genesee HERE

Saturday, August 14, 2010

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Saint Maximilian Kolbe (8 January 1894 – 14 August 1941), was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland.

He was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, amateur radio and the pro-life movement. Pope John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".

Kolbe, The Saint of Auschwitz > HERE

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What has America become?

This article was emailed to me today by a friend. I have heard that it is circulating across America - so I joined in. As a teacher of mine used to say "any questions, comments or rebuttals."?

What has America become?


Has America become the land of special interest and home of the double standard?

Lets see: if we lie to the Congress, it's a felony and if the Congress lies to us its just politics; if we dislike a black person, we're racist and if a black person dislikes whites, its their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don't burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive; we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; if you protest against President Obama's policies you're a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas; we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people; we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don't want to work; we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct; parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs; the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who's at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes; tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

- Ken Huber
Tawas City

"What Has America Become" was the title of a letter to the editior written by Ken Huber of Tawas City, Michigan. It contains a series of comparisons and contrasts which causes one to think about the double-standards and conditions under which we now live here in America.

A reprint of the article has been circulating online finding its way to Fort Worth and possibly all over the nation. It was originally printed in the Iosco County News Herald on June 9, 2010, published in the Opinion column.

Nobody Knows - Paul Brady

Paul Brady is a fantastic song writer and musician. If you haven't heard of him, find some of his music and listen. "Nobody knows" is one of my favorites. Paul hails from that enchanting place called "Ireland."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

St. Clare of Assisi

Saint Clare of Assisi (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253), born Chiara Offreduccio, is a saint of Italy and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life—the first monastic rule known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.

"In the Lord Jesus Christ, I admonish and exhort all my sisters, both those present and those to come, to strive always to imitate the way of holy simplicity, humility and poverty and to preserve the integrity of our holy way of living, as we were taught from the beginning of our conversion by Christ and our blessed father Francis. May the Father of mercies always spread the fragrance of a good name from them, both among those who are far away as well as those who are near, not by any merits of ours but by the sole mercy and grace of his goodness. And loving one another with the charity of Christ, may the love you have in your hearts be shown outwardly in your deeds so that, compelled by such an example, the sisters may always grow in love of God and in charity for one another".

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.

Is it difficult to be a follower of Mother Teresa in today’s world? She was a great lady but she was tough. Not everybody can be a follower of Mother Teresa.

Actually we are not followers of Mother Teresa, we are followers of Jesus, and Mother Teresa followed Jesus very closely and loved Him with all her heart. She tried to know Jesus better and better every day, tried to love Him more ardently and serve Him more closely in the poorest of the poor. Serving the poorest of the poor Mother always said: you must love until it hurts you. Love is always in a certain sense a tough thing because you don’t do the things which you like to do but you must do the things which the person is in need of. One time I was working in the home for the dying in Calcutta and one man was brought into the house and Mother Teresa was there with me. I told Mother Teresa: "There is no sense in taking this man in, because as he gets a little better he goes out; this had happened 10 to 15 times". She looked at me and said: "Fr. Sebastian, what is important is not what you did yesterday or what he is going to do tomorrow. The question is whether he is in need of your help now". I said: "Yes Mother". Then she said: "Do it. So don’t waste your time asking how many times you have helped this person or that person but what this person is in need now. And then do it".

Mother Teresa had her strong convictions. When people have strong convictions and they are very clear about them, they will be very demanding out of love. I saw she was a very tough woman but full of love and therefore the toughness disappears in the light of love.

I met her first in 1966, when I was doing my philosophy in the seminary Then I came to Calcutta to meet her again. What attracted me was not the person of Mother Teresa, because she was not famous then and I didn’t know her much, but what touched me was the work she was doing and the kind of life she was leading, which was so close to the Gospel.

* from an "
Interview with Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C. (Vatican Radio)"

** above image - Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C. accepting written vows from the Lay Missionaries of Charity - St. Louis retreat 2007

Sunday, August 8, 2010

US Coast Guard Prayer

Almighty and Everlasting God, Whose hand stills the tumult of the deep, we offer our prayers for those who serve in our Coast Guard. We are mindful of their traditions of selfless service to the seafarers who make their ways to appointed ports. Employ their devotions of good ends as they track the weather and search for the seas for those in extremity of storm, shipwreck or battle. Make their soundings and markings sure that safe passages may be found by those who go down to the sea in ships. Encourage them, O Lord, as they stand guard over our coasts and the bulwarks of our freedoms. Graciously deliver them from threatening calamities in all their perilous voyages. Bless the keepers of the lights and be Thou their close friend in lonely watches. Keep the beacons of honor and duty burning that they may reach the home port with duty well performed, in service to Thee and our land. AMEN.

* For the brave men and women who graduated from Coast Guard Boot Camp - Cape May New Jersey Friday August 6th, 2010 - and all those who have served and currently serve. God bless them all!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Favorite Devotions (tagged by a Chocolate Heart)

Looks like I have been tagged by "My Chocolate Heart."

So here a few of my favorite devotions...

1 . Eucharistic Adoration (He is always first!)

2. Holy Rosary
( especially Sat mornings at the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen)

3. The Divine Office
(maybe not a devotion, but I am devoted to it)

4. Late night reading of Thomas Merton's journals.
* I am close to Merton, he was very human, like me.
I think I am a closet Trappist

5. Monthly meeting with my spiritual director (who is a Friar of the Renewal)
* and praying Compline with the brothers

6. Evening prayer with my "diaconate" class brothers
(before our Monday and Tuesday night classes)

What are your favorite devotions?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero?

Much has been said and written about the Islamic Center possibly to be built in very close proximity of "ground zero." Mayor Bloomberg of New York City would like to see it built as it is a sign of America's religious freedom. He certainly has a point. On the other side, many, if not all of the relatives of those who died in the attack are very much against it - and I believe rightly so. William Mcgurn of the Wall Street Journal wrote an excellent article concerning this issue. Here is the article which was printed in yesterday's WSJ.

WTC Mosque, Meet the Auschwitz Nun

With every passing day, the dispute over the planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero grows more acrimonious. These feelings will probably only get worse today, when the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission is expected to remove another hurdle by ruling against landmark status for the undistinguished old building the center will replace.

So maybe it's time to look beyond the lawyers and landmark preservation commissions and regulatory agencies. When we do, it will be hard to find a better example than the grace and wisdom Pope John Paul II exhibited during a similar clash involving another hallowed site on whose grounds innocents were also murdered: Auschwitz.

In the 1980s, Carmelite nuns moved into an abandoned building on the edge of the former Nazi death camp to pray for the souls taken there. As with the dispute over the mosque near Ground Zero, the convent's presence escalated into a clash not only between different faiths but between competing historical narratives. As with today's clash too, it seemed intractable until the Polish pope stepped in.

For Jews, Auschwitz is a symbol of the Shoah, and the presence of a convent looked like an effort to Christianize a place of Jewish suffering. Suspicions were further aroused by a fundraising brochure from an outside Catholic group, which referred to the convent as a "guarantee of the conversion of strayed brothers." The protests mounted over the course of several years and various interfaith agreements, and pointed to the real strains that remained between Poles and Jews over a shared history with very different perspectives.

Many Catholics, not just in Poland, could not understand how nuns begging God's forgiveness and praying for the souls of the departed could possibly offend anyone. There was also a nationalist element. Many members of the Polish resistance had also been murdered at Auschwitz. And again like our present controversy at Ground Zero, intemperate reactions and statements from both sides only inflamed passions.

So what did Pope John Paul II do? He waited, and he counseled. And when he saw that the nuns were not budging—and that their presence was doing more harm than good—he asked the Carmelites to move. He acknowledged that his letter would probably be a trial to each of the sisters, but asked them to accept it while continuing to pursue their mission in that same city at another convent that had been built for them.

Let's remember what this means. By their own lights, the nuns believed they were doing only good. They may have had a legal title to be where they were. And it is likely that they never would have been forced to move by local authorities had they insisted on staying.

There's a lesson here. Even those who favor this new Islamic Center surely can appreciate why some American feelings are rubbed raw by the idea of a mosque at a place where Islamic terrorists killed more than 2,700 innocent people. If feelings in Auschwitz were raw after nearly half a century, it's not hard to see why they would remain raw at Ground Zero after less than a decade.

Please read the rest of the article HERE

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fr. Herald Brock, CFR

Two weeks ago I watched Fr. Benedict Groeschel's show, Sunday Night Live. He interviewed Fr. Herald Brock, a Friar of the Renewal. Fr. Herald is working in Sudan, doing so many wonderful works for the people, all in Jesus' name. I really enjoyed the interview. I posted it here for you to watch - the video is over fifty minutes long - so it is best to get your cup of coffee now before you sit down to watch. God bless you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

It is not good to be alone.

Excerpt from “Street Wisdom” Albert Holtz, OSB

Leaning over the banister, I glance down at the dark sidewalk under the Jackson Street Bridge. Just the usual collection of empty wine bottles and fast food containers, an old sofa and a few scraps of carpet. This is a corner of the mysterious world of the shadow people. I call them that because I hardly ever lay eyes on them. I just see the traces they leave all over the city: a cardboard refrigerator-carton shelter under the steps where Raymond Boulevard passes under King, or the food scraps and filthy rags scattered in the grimy darkness along Edison Place where it cuts under Penn Station.

Now and then I pass a shadow person lying hidden under some sheets of newspaper along the sidewalk somewhere, and wonder what it must feel like to have no one who knows you or cares about you, no one who consoles you or challenges you, no one you can count on. You’re on your own, all-alone in a shadow world, hidden from everyone else’s gaze, and disconnected from the rest of humanity

In the Book of Genesis God decides that it is not good for Adam to be alone. Adam is sharing the joys of the garden with Eve, and both are chatting easily and openly with God. Paradise is a delight for all three of them because of their connectedness and closeness.

Human beings are, after all, made in the image of a God who is Love itself: a trinity of divine persons united in eternal, joyful mutual self-giving. Relatedness is at the core of who we are. It’s not good for us to be alone.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Psalm 103

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, my soul!
Lord, my God, how great you are!
You are robed in majesty and splendour;
you are wrapped in light as in a cloak.

You stretch out the sky like an awning,
you build your palace upon the waters.
You make the clouds your chariot,
you walk upon the wings of the wind.
You make the breezes your messengers,
you make burning fire your minister.

You set the earth upon its foundation:
from age to age it will stand firm.
Deep oceans covered it like a garment,
and the waters stood high above the mountains;
but you rebuked them and they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they fled in terror.
They rise to the mountains or sink to the valleys,
to the places you have decreed for them.
You have given them a boundary they must not cross;
they will never come back to cover the earth.

You make springs arise to feed the streams,
that flow in the midst of the mountains.
All the beasts of the field will drink from them
and the wild asses will quench their thirst.
Above them will nest the birds of the sky,
from among the branches their voices will sound.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

* all images ©bjm