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Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category

What is a paradox? My dictionary says a paradox is “a situation or statement which seems impossible or is difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics.”

How does a paradox relate to Christmas? If you are going to relate to God you’re going to deal with a lot of paradox, for God’s ways and thinking often defy and confound human ways and thinking. God is not irrational but He often acts in ways that do not conform with worldly expectations.

I remember my blog post two years ago about the paradox. And I’ve just found this video that also visualizes it very well. (Gosh, I always like Igniter Media works!)

Though there are presents still waiting for you to receive, this season is truly about The Gift that you have already been given.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve! 😀

Thank you, Msgr. Charles Pope.

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Seek for Peace

This is a very good speech by Senator Marco Rubio, and I think this is what every graduation speech should be.

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I found this hillarious video about British atheist Richard Dawkins who campaigns to arrest pope when he visits England for his “crimes against humanity.” (It is one of the more absurd, pathetic things to come out of the shameful attacks on the pope.)

The awakening of media’s lunatic concern about the abuse are now being promoted by few journalists. Meanwhile, others continue to come to the defense of the pope.

____________________

You might be interested in:

  1. Priests Commit No More Abuse Than Other Males. (I think this is the Newsweek article discussed by ‘the Führer’ in the video.)
  2. Pedophilia Scandals: Celibacy Questioned.

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Recently, pediatricians in America (American College of Pediatricians) caution educators on dealing with sexual orientation and gender confusion among students. They “are increasingly concerned, however, that in many cases efforts to help students who exhibit same-sex attractions and/or gender confusion are based on incomplete or inaccurate information.”

For this reason, they write letter to school superintendents which we can be read at their resource website: www.FactsAboutYouth.com.

Here are some facts based on one of their pamphlets: What You Should Know About Sexual Orientation of Youth.

  • Homosexuality is not a genetically-determined, unchangeable trait.
  • Homosexual attraction is determined by a combination of familial, environmental, social and biological influences. Inheritance of predisposing personality traits may play a role for some. Consequently, homosexual attraction is changeable.
  • Most students (over 85%) with same-sex attractions will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged. Most questioning students are experiencing temporary sexual confusion or are involved in experimentation.
  • The homosexual lifestyle, especially for males, carries grave health risks.
  • Declaring and validating student’s same-sex attraction during the adolescent years is premature and may be personally harmful.
  • Sexual reorientation therapy has proven effective for those with unwanted homosexual attractions.
  • For many youth, homosexual attraction develops due to negative or traumatic experiences, such as sexual abuse. These students need therapy for the trauma, not affirmation of a “gay identity.”
  • There is no evidence that pro-homosexual programs, such as on-campus student clubs, ease the health risks or emotional disorders suffered by homosexuals.
  • Regardless of an individual’s sexual orientation, sexual activity is a conscious choice.
  • It is in the best interest of all students to refrain from any sexual activity until adulthood, most optimally until they enter a life-long faithful marriage.
  • The school’s responsibility is to provide a safe environment for respectful self-expression for all students. It is not the school’s role to diagnose and attempt to treat any student’s medical condition, and certainly not the school’s role to “affirm” a student’s perceived personal sexual orientation.

Visit their website! It holds a bunch of useful information.

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Today is Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The Annunciation is celebration of the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would become Theotokos (God-bearer). Today, 25 March, the great mystery of the Incarnation was achieved. Today is nine full months before Christmas.

A holy bishop and martyr of the second century, Saint Irenaeus, who had received the tradition from the very disciples of the apostles, shows us that Nazareth is the counterpart of Eden. Mary, as the new Eve, bowed down before the divine will and said to the heavenly messenger: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.” The obedience of the second Eve repaired the disobedience of the first. Alleluia!

Here are some interesting facts about this feast . . .

  • This feast is very important in the defense of the life of unborn children. Even with small children, this is a good day to begin teaching about the high value God places on human life. He loved us so much that he became one of us, took on our human nature and became an innocent, completely dependent infant.

  • This is a Solemnity, so when this feast falls during the Lenten season, our Lenten penance obligations are lifted. We should celebrate by some special food or dinner. This feast day forecasts the blessed event of Christmas, and illustrates how the liturgical year is an endless circle of days. To celebrate this circle or cycle, serve a cake, coffee rings, or wreath-shaped cookies, or foods shaped in ring molds for this feast day. A perfect symbolic food would be an angel food cake for the archangel Gabriel, baked in a tube pan for the endless circle, decorated with the frosting highlighted with blue for Mary.

  • A traditional food for this day is waffles. “Lady Day” or Annunciation, is the only feast of Mary that Sweden still celebrates since the Lutheran faith became the state religion in 1593. In most of Europe, waffles are a traditional feast day food, but on the feast of the Annunciation in Sweden this is THE “Waffle Day” (Vaffeldagen), where waffles are served either for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with lingonberries or cloudberries.

. . . and a great excerpt: The Annunciation.

What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us.” — Gregory of Nyssa.

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You might have heard these days more blow up news about pedophile Catholic priest scandals in Europe. The offenders and those sheltered them made us Catholics ashamed. The guilty should take responsibility: removed from office and handed over to the civil authorities where they are guilty of crimes. Further, we need systems established to avoid abuse in the future.

Anti-Catholic Prejudice

The scandals themselves are already bad enough to hear, and they get worse by unjust accusation of religious bigotry against Catholic Church. Clerical celibacy is proposed as the cause of sexual scandals among priests. Roman Catholic priests suffering sexual temptations will turn immediately to children simply because Church discipline does not permit clergy to marry. This church discipline is irrelevance, even unbiblical, so it should be weeded out from the Church of Rome, they suggest.

Is that true?

Now, let us see the fact: there is no data supporting a higher rate of child-oriented sexual activity among the unmarried Roman Catholic clergy than that of the married clergy of them outside Catholicism. However, for cases of available data, molestation of pre-pubescent children was found to be rare. Also note that pedophilia and ephebophilia are different problems. The former is sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The latter is attraction to teenagers. Most cases branded ‘pedophilia’ are actually ‘ephebophilia.’

Philip Jenkins (who is not a Catholic), a professor of religious studies and history at Pennsylvania State University has written  the most objective book on the subject, “Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis.” You might wanna read one of his articles, “The Myth of the Pedophile Priest.”

My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination — or indeed, than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported.

Comparing Catholic priest with other professions on sexual abuse cases, I will quote this Wikipedia entry: “Catholic sex abuse cases – Comparison with other professions.”

Sexual abuse exists in all reaches of society.[115] In terms of the relationship of the catholic sex abuse cases to other professions some studies are now emerging. A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Dr. Thomas Plante of Stanford University and Santa Clara University states that “available research suggests that approximately 2 to 5% of priests have had a sexual experience with a minor” which “is lower than the general adult male population that is best estimated to be closer to 8%”.[116] Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Clergy and Other Professionals is a scholarly work that shows sexual abuse is not particularly prevalent within the Catholic hierarchy and that abuse is significantly higher among public school teachers than among ministers and priests. In the report, a study titled “Sexual abuse of students in schools” by Carol Shakeshaft, the instance of prevalence with the NTC public school system is described.[117] In the 1993 Journal of Pastoral Care, 14 percent of Southern Baptist ministers said they had engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior”.

It Ain’t Just Catholic

I unintentionally found this website which is “intended mainly for [Baptist] clergy abuse survivors and those who seek information about Baptist clergy sex abuse”: StopBaptistPredators.org. Yes, it is not an exclusive issue of the Catholic Church. One headline said that “Child sex abuse by Protestant clergy may exceed abuse by Catholic priests” and linked to an article explaining the nature of Catholicism’s centralized hierarchy which made its statistic of sexual abuse at the top of the list. The wildly diverse division of Protestant made tracking allegations and confirmed cases of sex abuse as an elusive task to do.

Another headline said “TIME ranks Southern Baptists’ rejection of sex-offender database as a top ‘underreported’ news story of 2008.”

And while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record-keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse.

The Top 10 Everything of 2008 – Top 10 Underreported News Stories

Conclusion

In light of what we have learned, we should remember some basic facts and principles:

  • Clerical celibacy is not the issue, for sure. Clerical celibacy is a good church practice and it is biblical.
  • All religious groups have pedophile scandals and child abuse is prevalent in all areas of society: schools, youth organizations, sports, etc.
  • Catholic cases of pedophilia make more headlines because of anti Catholic prejudice and because the Catholic Church is bigger and more lucrative to sue.
  • What people now call ‘cover up’ was often done in a different cultural context, when the problem was not fully understood and when all establishment organizations hushed scandals. They did so for what seemed good reasons at the time: protection of the victims and their families, opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender, the avoidance of scandal to others. It is unfair to judge events thirty years ago by today’s standards.
  • When lawsuits are looming people smell money. We must be wary of false accusations.
  • When guilt is established the offender must be punished, not sheltered.

Saint Patrick

Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Saint Brigid

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.
Amen.

From the Vatican, 19 March 2010, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2010 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Recently my girlfriend informed me about a Christmas – Advent site. It has a whole bunch of good articles, and at that time she showed me one article about the importance of Advent. The article tingled me, because I usually think of Advent as a mere preparation for Christmas. And now I know, more is involved.

Why do we celebrate Advent, then? Because we need it!

The vision of life that Advent gives us is twofold; it looks back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, and it looks to the future when Christ will come again. In the interval between these two events we find meaning for our life as a Christian.

First we celebrate Christ-become-human. We view his life and experience his presence as a human being in our history. Christ came to show us what life can and should be. He gave us true and valid principles by which we can live true and valid lives. But Jesus knew that the human heart could not live in isolation. He formed the Church around the concept of a people held together by love. In that community we discover unlimited possibilities and meaning. Alone we can do nothing. Together we find real meaning.

When Christ left this earth, he did not abandon us. He remains with us in his Spirit, the Church, the sacraments, the Scriptures and each other. He lives in community with us and keeps his vision of life before us.

When Christ comes again, his presence will no longer be hidden behind the signs and symbols of the liturgy or the words of the Scriptures. His presence among us will be revealed in all its fullness, a presence that will never end, a presence that will perfect and complete our community.

That is wonderful! Advent gives us a vision of our lives as Christians.

In his Advent homily, St. Bernard of Clairveaux said that in the interval between the two comings, there lies the third coming of Our Lord “in Spirit and in power.”

We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible while the other two are visible. In the first coming He was seen on earth, dwelling among men; … in the final coming “all flesh will see the salvation of our God and they will look upon Him whom they have pierced”. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In His first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness; in this middle coming He comes in Spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and in majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last.

His insight unveils the special truth of this wonderful season of beginning again. He reminds us of all the Lord’s comings and the message we are to proclaim is that Lord is always coming for those who look for Him!

And now that we live in the intermediate time between the first and second comings, we are to be changed by the first and to prepare ourselves for the second. So, let us prepare ourselves worthily to welcome the comings of the Lord. Happy Advent to you, folks! Special thanks to my girl 🙂

“Send down the dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One: let the earth be opened, and bud forth the Redeemer.”

See also:

  1. Waiting for Christmas – 1
  2. Waiting for Christmas – 2

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