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Saturday 19 May 2012

Six post day--scroll down-- and here--for my Maltese friends-pay attention please

Petizzjoni 2012. Le għall-iffriżar tal-embrijuni umani fil-liġi l-ġdida dwar l-IVF f’Malta.

If you are in Malta, please go here, ask for, and sign the petition. Thank you. 

Welcome home, Chen Guangcheng

Chen Guangcheng is on his way to the United States today.  Let us continue to pray for him and his family. 

Do Catholics Know Who They Are?

One of my favorite movies is Lawrence of Arabia. It is an epic film, worthy of all the praise it has received over the years. The saddest scene for me is at the end, when Lawrence is leaving Egypt to return to England. He is in an army vehicle with a driver. The soldier says to him something to the effect that Lawrence must be glad to be going home. Lawrence has no home. He stands up in the jeep and looks at a small group of Bedouins, his only family in the past few years of the tale.  This scene echoes an earlier one, on purpose, when Lawrence had crossed the Sinai after the Battle of Aqaba, and ended up at the Suez Canal. A British soldier yells across the water, "Who are you? Who are you?" Identity, not having one, finding one, losing one, is one of the themes of the movie.

I am struck with the identity crisis of many Catholics, those in the media and those in my parish. At one time, Catholics could and would identify themselves as "Catholic", that is, as members of the One, True, Holy and Catholic Church. Identity was based on the sacrament of Baptism, making one a son or daughter of God, a member of a larger community which is the universal Church, as well as a member of the local parish.

Being Catholic meant that one was living a life of grace, by receiving the sacraments on a daily or weekly basis, reading Catholic literature and news, studying the Faith, and raising one's family to be Catholic. Being Catholic meant following the Ten Commandments, the Laws of the Church regarding Holy Days of Obligation, fasting, abstinence, tithing and so on. Being Catholic meant having friends and a social network of Catholics, from whom one's children would meet and marry other Catholics and carry on the heritage and identity of Catholicism.

Being a Catholic was being proud of belonging to the Church instituted by Christ--the Church created by Christ Himself to save and impart grace. Being a Catholic was the first identity, followed by being an American, or British, or Irish or whatever.

There were no such things as "liberal Catholics", "gay Catholics", "charismatic Catholics", "Latino Catholics" or "Catholic feminists". We were all just Catholics. We were proud to be Catholic.

What happened? How did Catholics lose their identity and choose other identities, such as those based on gender, sexual inclinations, liturgy,  politics, or nationality? Why were other identities taking the place of the most important identity? Why does one of my friends identify himself with being a gay Catholic? I do not primarily identify myself as being a heterosexual Catholic. I am much, much more than my sexuality, and so is he, but he limits himself.

We are in a dangerous position of fragmentation, both personally and corporately, owing to a misunderstanding of who we are as individuals and as the Church. I do not say "Church" without "the", as there is only one.

Fragmentation of an identity, either in a community or, worse, in a person, leads to a bi-polar existence, as we all must have some definition about who we are. We live according to how we define ourselves. That has been a large part of my previous discussion here on socialism, and how it re-defines humans outside of the definition of human taught by the Catholic Church.

In the old Baltimore Catechism, the question of identity was foremost in the presentation of Truth.

Who made you? God made me. Why did God make you? God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world and  to praise Him in the next.

There are variations, but the answer is one of identity.

Does it matter, that we know that we are children of God, heirs of heaven, sharers in the life of God, which is grace? Does it matter that we have an end which is eternal and that all of our actions lead and bear upon the choices leading to that end?

I see that the trend of the last several decades to re-define ourselves into sub-groupings is actually an existential thrashing about to find a lost identity. We have complicated definition by setting aside priorities. The origin and goal of anything determine its existence. We are spiritual being by creation, body and soul,  and have a spiritual goal-heaven, eternity, love, glorified body and soul. Where we are going determines how we get there and who we are, returning to our intended place of destiny. We were thrown out of the Garden of Eden and the Church brings us into the Kingdom of God. Our place determines who we are--nurture and nature.

We are not merely material, although that is part of who we are. We are not defined by our sexual tendencies, although we are identified by our gender. I am a daughter of the King, and you, dear reader, may be a son of God. We have the same Father, and we are family.

Whether the lost Catholic identity may be found I do not know. It is a tragedy of culture and of personal salvation. The lack of personal identity was the tragedy of a real man, T. E. Lawrence. The lack of our identity as Catholics weakens the Church as a whole and our own characters.

The saints are those who most fully discovered who they were and where they were going, and how to get there. We have them as guides. We have the Church giving us our identities in Christ. The sacraments mark times of identity-baptism, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, last rites....and those in-between for our nourishment-Eucharist and confession.

I pray for all those who have not found out who they are and for those who are confused. We need that center of being, our identity in God, as Catholics.

Mary knew who she was when she prayed the Magnificat. She is complete, body and soul in heaven.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

Worth repeating from LifeSiteNews-blogging is important, folks

UK Christian blogger under investigation by gov’t ad authority for running pro-marriage ad

Hilary WhiteFri May 18 10:33 ESTFaith
LONDON, May 18, 2012 ( – A prominent British Christian conservative ‘blogger is under attack from a government agency, at the behest of a homosexualist activist group, for supporting the defence of traditional marriage. Going by the pseudonym “Archbishop Cranmer” the ‘blogger has become an influential, tongue-in-cheek voice for social and moral conservatism critiquing liberal Britain, and is particularly popular with social conservatives within the Conservative Party.

Cranmer came under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) when he posted an ad for the petition being run by the Coalition for Marriage that recently tipped over half a million signatures, including those of several members of the House of Lords. He has been given until May 21 to answer the accusations against him from an alleged 24 anonymous complainants. He wrote that he was “instructed by the ‘Investigations Executive’ of this inquisition to keep all this confidential”.

Cranmer revealed that among the complainants was the campaign group the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group, who described the advert as “offensive” and “homophobic”.

Reproducing the advert several more times on his blog, Cranmer has asked the ASA to clarify some points including why he alone among all the conservative ‘blogs and websites carrying the ad his was the object of a formal investigation:

“One presumes it has nothing to do with the fact that ConservativeHome is generously underpinned by Lord Ashcroft’s £millions, or that Guido Fawkes isn’t without the means to call in the lawyers or lacking the rottweiler tendency to tell you where to go. Why have you chosen to victimise and harass the weakest, lowliest, and most utterly insignificant of the blogs which carried this advertisement?”

“Since it appears that only a few hundred complaints out of some 26,000 per annum are selected by the ASA for such treatment, could you also please explain why this complaint was considered to be of such gravity that you saw fit to escalate directly to the status of ‘formal investigation’?”

The ASA said in its correspondence, “We require you to explain your rationale for the ad and comment specifically on the points raised in the attached complaint notification.”

The specific points include accusations that the ad was deemed by 10 of the complainants to be “offensive” and “homophobic” and to violate the advertising standards code rules on “misleading advertising,” “substantiation,” and harm and offence”.

The ASA demanded, “robust documentary evidence to back the claims and a clear explanation from you of its relevance.”

The legal defence organisation, Christian Concern for Our Nation, a member of the Coalition for Marriage, is working with Cranmer to craft a legal response. Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said, “There is increasing hostility against those who hold that marriage is between a man and a woman. Holding to the current legal definition of marriage now appears to be classified as offensive and homophobic.

“How much worse will it get if same-sex marriage is actually introduced? Freedom of speech and freedom of belief are hanging by a thread.”

The Coalition for Marriage has also responded, saying that the attack by the ASA is “bullying” and “over the top”. “a troubling sign of what may happen if marriage is redefined. Will the authorities pounce on every utterance in support of traditional marriage?

“Will activists demand punitive action every time someone thoughtlessly uses the deeply offensive, heterosexist phrase ‘husband and wife’? Yes, the ASA has lost all sense [of] perspective. But a loss of perspective is what happens when ordinary people are ignored.”

Cranmer himself has responded by going on the attack, blogger-style, revealing that the Chairman of the ASA and former Labour MP Chris Smith, now appointed to the House of Lords as Baron Smith of Finsbury, moonlights as Vice President of The Campaign for Homosexual Equality.  Smith has been described by the homosexual news service Pink News as among the 30 most powerful homosexual people in British politics.

Cranmer wrote, “Naturally, His Grace apologises in advance to all those who find this educative illustration offensive and homophobic, for it is never his intention to be either offensive or homophobic. But those of you who do find it offensive and homophobic are free not to visit His Grace’s blog whenever you wish.”

Neil Addison, a barrister and expert in religious discrimination law, wrote that the only response to such attacks are outright defiance. Addison also posted the ad to his ‘blog and encouraged others to do the same.

“I get so fed up with the small minded little Hitlers who seem to infest organisations such as the ASA and the Equality and Human Rights Commission that I have added it to my Blog simply as an expression of solidarity with my fellow Blogger.”

“We in this country fought a war to defend our right to speak freely and express our opinions but clearly the ASA are not aware of that fact.”

Even the anti-Christian pressure group, the National Secular Society, has called the ASA’s action “authoritarian” and announced its support for Cranmer’s ‘blog. In a media release, the NSS said the “eccentric Christian blogger” is being martyred “all over again,” referring to the ‘blogger’s 16th century namesake, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the protestant author of the Book of Common Prayer who was executed by Queen Mary I.

Cranmer’s “wit and style is more than a match” for the ASA, the NSS said. Although they disagree with his goals, and called the Coalition a group of “the most extreme and unpleasant religious bigots in Britain” the NSS said the ASA is “overstepping the mark and posing a rather sinister threat to freedom of expression”.

“In a democracy we believe that they have the right to express their opinion so long as it doesn’t incite violence. The fact that some people find those opinions “offensive” is not reason enough to silence them.”

Rose of the World, Mystical Rose

I am in a meditative mood. I have been thinking of Mary Our Mother and her name, popular in Medieval Times, as the Mystical Rose. The title above is from the first of the two carols posted today. 

I meditate on the lovely words of two ancient carols--- pondering her innocence and beauty on this cold, wet Saturday-- the day of Mary. Earlier this week, I wrote that the Medievals in the East knew of the blue rose. Here are some roses for Mary. One poem, (and both are sung at Christmas), refers to the red rose, but I am sure Mary likes the color blue. Some of you will know the music. She, the Theotokos, brings beauty into our lives.

Of a Rose Synge We

 Of a rose synge we:
    Misterium mirabile.

This rose is railed on a rys;
He hath bought the prince of prys,
And in this tyme soth hit ys,
Viri sine semine.

This rose is reed of colour bryght,
Throw whom oure joye gan alyght,
Uppon a Cristys masse nyght,
Claro David germine.

Of this rose was Cryst y-bore,
To save mankynde that was forlore;
And us alle from synnes sore,
Prophetarum carmine.

This rose, of flourys she is flour,
She ne wole fade for no shour,
To synful men she sent socour,
Mira plenitudine.

This rose is so faire of hywe,
In maide Mary that is so trywe,
Y-borne was lorde of virtue,
Salvator sine crimine.

There is No Rose of Such Virtue  1420

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;

 For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space;
    Res miranda.

 By that rose we may well see
That he is God in persons three,
    Pari forma.

 The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo:

 Leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;

 Alleluia, res miranda,
Pares forma, gaudeamus,

Prayer for the Pope and for Priests

I have not published a prayer for priests for a long time, so I thought I would do two. 

First is Pope Leo XIII's prayer for The Pope. 

Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervor the sacred Victim of love and peace.

Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in unison with him.
Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen.
The Second is a prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. It is actually his prayer for Christmas, but I think it can apply to priests. 
Let your goodness Lord appear to us, that we, made in your image, may conform ourselves to it.In our own strength we cannot imitate your majesty, power, and wonder nor is it fitting for us to try. But your mercy reaches from the heavens through the clouds to the earth below.You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love.