Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Senomyx: A Brand-New Reason to Go Organic

If nothing else has curbed your appetite for artificial food additives, this will probably do it. Senomyx, a San Diego biotech company, uses cells from aborted fetuses in flavor research. I first read about it at Aggie Catholics.

According to the Senomyx Website, their Corporate Collaborators are Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Kraft Foods Inc., Firmenich SA, Nestlé SA, PepsiCo and Solae. PepsiCo, Kraft & Nestlé are most likely breaking your heart.

The others, lesser known by the general public, are quite far-reaching.

*Ajinomoto is the world leader in manufacturing salt substitutes like MSG and the artificial sweetener aspartame.

*Firmenich is a manufacturer of designer perfumes, seasonings, food and beverage flavors & food enhancers, and of a relatively new sweetener, Splenda.

Solae, a joint venture between DuPont and Bunge Limited, was ironically named one of the world's most ethical companies in 2011. They call themselves the "world leader" in developing soy products and ingredients. If the product contains soy, chances are it's from Solae.

I think I'll clean out my cupboards after work today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Doing the Right Thing

Teresa's post yesterday about Baby Joseph made my heart skip a beat. She wrote: "This is an example of God both hearing and answering our prayers. It was a miracle that just hours before Baby Joseph was to be taken off of a ventilator he was rescued by a Priests for Life team headed by Fr. Frank Pavone."  Read the rest by clicking HERE.

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.
(Yield not to evils, but attack all the more boldly.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fr. Barron comments on God, the Tsunami, and the Problem of Evil

Buy This CD! My Beloved Son by Fr. Robert Barron

I don't believe there is a better equipped teacher around today who can deliver the Catholic faith than Fr. Robert Barron. He's proving one project at a time that it IS possible to teach the faith in a succinct, accessible manner without leaving anything out or watering it down. My Beloved Son: Meditations for Lent is yet another example of this. This collection of Fr. Barron's Lenten sermons is the best purchase I've made this Lent.

Here's the playlist:

1. The True and False Messiah (Luke 4:1-12): The temptation of Jesus in the Desert
2. Transfigured Prayer (Mark 9:2-8): The Transfiguration
3. The Thirst for God (John 4:4-41): The Woman at the Well
4. The Father and the Sons (Luke 15:11-32): The Prodigal Son
5. Planting the Law Within: Jeremiah (31:31) The Promise of a New Covenant
I thought I knew each of these readings from Scripture well. After listening to this, I realize that I have MUCH to learn.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Psalm 62

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress;
  I shall not be greatly moved.
How long will you set upon a man
  to shatter him,
    all of you,
  like a leaning wall,
    a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down
    from his eminence.
  They take pleasure
    in falsehood.
  They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse.

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
   for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
   my fortress;
  I shall not be shaken.

Only In God
John Michael Talbot

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Message From Fr. Frank Pavone

CLICK HERE to write your senators and your representative.

Media, Shmedia.

After watching 60 Minutes' interview with Abp. Dolan that aired last evening, I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the mainstream media in this country is garbage. From badgering Dolan about the sex abuse scandal (which cannot be compared to the exponential number of abusers and their cohorts found in every walk of life in this country who continue to fly safely under the radar of mainstream media and the authorities) to inciting division by repeatedly mislabeling Dolan the "American Pope", Morley Safer proved to be once again nothing more than a secular propagandist.

His introduction: "The past decade has been devastating for the Catholic Church; seemingly endless cases of sexual abuse..." SEEMINGLY endless; seemingly, as opposed to reality; what's relative as opposed to what's true. Pay attention to the words, and to the lack of facts. He offends me, and should offend every Catholic in his attempt to speak for the faithful-the REAL faithful.

I will not criticize His Excellency for his laughter, his lightheartedness, and for not saying more than he did, as it was quite obvious by the abrupt cuts in the dialogue that many of Dolan's remarks in this interview were edited out. I also give the Archbishop two thumbs up for not giving them anything to spin.

He made it very clear: The Church will not bend on the "settled questions".  Period.

If you'd like to see just how anti-Catholic both the media and this nation are, pick up a copy of Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church. (I'll be reviewing it over the next few weeks.)  Also,  Click here for Abp. Dolan's commentary on the historical Anti-Catholic sentiment found in America, which I would like to see someone in the mainstream media further explore. The fight to which Safer referred was when His Excellency called the Times out for lambasting the Church and Pope Benedict XVI for not defrocking a priest found guilty of extensive abuse, but never reporting that the abuse took place in the 1970's and the priest has been dead since 1988.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Last Day of Winter

In less than an hour (it's 11:08pm as I write this), Spring will be here!  I spent the afternoon in my flowerbeds, clearing away the dead leaves, branches and debris carried into my yard by the wind and snow. The Lenten roses are blooming, and so are the crocus; the tulips and daffodils won't be far behind. This week I'll be setting up my germination station to start my garden veggies and annuals.  I have a magnificent system using soil blockers, foil cake pans with clear plastic lids, a homemade lighting unit and a huge heating pad. Last year was my "experimental" year. This year I have a much better grip on what I'm doing. All that's left is ordering the seeds, which I'll have done before midnight strikes on this last day of winter.

Speaking of seeds, the editorial by Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. found in this year's Magnificat Lenten Companion I found to be particularly enlightening. Here's a portion of it:
The directions on the packet of flower seeds read: "Seeds need darkness to germinate." It makes me think of myself. I want to grow. I want to become more than I am. Yet, so often my self-guided efforts leave me feeling empty, looking for Something More. The "germination", the better life that I seek, must start in darkness. Lent is that darkness.
In that darkness the seed must die so that new life can begin.

Instead of offering the fruits of the harvest, Cain should have offered the Lord his seeds.

Venerable John Paul II and Bioethics

From "Personalistic Bioethics: The Dignity of the Human Embryo from the Moment of Fertilization" by Etsuko Akiba (published by The Institute of Oriental Philosophies' Journal of Oriental Studies, Vol 17, 2007)
“Pope John Paul II offered the following description in his “The Gospel of Life.” “From the time that the ovum is fertilized a life is begun which ... is the life of a new human being with his own growth. This has always been clear, and ... modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the programme of what this living being will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already well determined” (n° 60). That is, the fact that a person’s life begins at the time of fertilization is not something that Pope John Paul II decided, nor is it simply a theological doctrine or an ethical interpretation. It is the position taken from modern genetic science. Therefore, if we were to word this differently, we could say that if modern genetics had asserted that “the human life does not begin at the time of fertilization,” then the position of the Pope would also be different. This goes without saying. What we must acknowledge here is that the Pope is honestly incorporating the scientific truth into his position.

The human being is a “totality and unity as body and spirit,” an integration of these two, and thus in an early stage embryo, in which a new existence begins physically, it is thought that the spiritual soul is already present. Consequently, “the human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from the same moment his rights as a person must be recognized.”
If you're up for some serious reading on bioethics, check out this entire piece. It's very long, but well worth the time. You might also pick up a copy of Evangelium Vitae.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stations of the Cross

Last year I started to write a Stations of the Cross based on the magnificent granite etchings at the Shrine of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted here in town; with the confines of my schedule, though, I couldn't finish them.

Over the next few weeks, I am making the attempt to finish them. Until then, enjoy this beautiful Stations of the Cross by Jesuit Brother Edward Sheehy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hey Brother Noah, I'll Tell Ya What To Do...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


I received this message in my Inbox today:
On Tuesday, the House approved a second short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) bill that would keep the government running for three weeks by a vote of 271-158.

First, the bad news: the three-week Continuing Resolution did not include the Pence Amendment that would defund Planned Parenthood.

Now the good news: 158 Members voted against the Continuing Resolution, with many pro-life Representatives voting against it because it failed to defund Planned Parenthood – an incredible show of momentum for our efforts.

Our pro-life heroes in Congress led the charge, with Reps. Jim Jordan, Mike Pence, Joe Pitts, Michele Bachmann, Jean Schmidt, Steve King, Trent Franks and Chris Smith voting against the bill. They were joined by many courageous pro-life freshmen such as Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Andy Harris who refused to back the measure because it didn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

From its founding Planned Parenthood's agenda has been clearly anti-life, anti-Church and anti-woman in spite of their claims. Planned Parenthood can drive their big pink bus around with gigantic numbers plastered all over it bragging about how tax dollars only pay for their free pap smears and breast exams until they're blue in the face. A spreadsheet column doesn't give you a pass when you not only provide abortions on demand, but over the last several years have been exposed doing what many of us have known all along--that Planned Parenthood distributes misinformation, encourages lying and dishonesty in teenagers, promotes deviant sexual behavior, and protects sexual predators, statutory rapists and human traffickers.

Yes, many of us have known for years that teenagers going to Planned Parenthood for birth control, pregnancy tests and abortions would get them, and get them without parental consent. When I was a teen back in the 80s, every worker at Planned Parenthood outright asked teenagers if they'd get in trouble if their parents found out they were inquiring about Planned Parenthood services, and counseled them to lie. I know first hand--when I called to inquire about birth control (yes, young and stupid) they offered to use the code name "Sally" if they needed to call my house. I chickened out of the appointment, but quite a number of the girls in my class didn't chicken out of their appointments and used their services-including obtaining abortions-without their parents' consent.

More recently I had the opportunity to watch Bloodmoney, which outlined Planned Parenthood's model of deception, including their eugenics background, their apparently racist agenda (click here to watch the clip), their distribution of faulty and ineffective birth control to teens, and so much more that it made me sick.  You can read Robin's review of Bloodmoney and watch the trailer here.

So am I surprised that courageous Lila Rose has been able to walk right into random Planned Parenthood facilities across the country and capture Planned Parenthood employees repeatedly breaking the law? Should this be a surprise to anyone?


My friends, it's time to stop this big pink bus. Click here to contact your Representative, you Senators, and even President Obama if you so desire, to support the Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Can We Make A Real Difference?

One bead at a time.

If St. Louis Marie de Montfort were alive today, he'd take one look around at this weak, dysfunctional, crumbling world we've built for ourselves and start passing out rosary beads by the thousands. "If," Montfort wrote in True Devotion to Mary, "the knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ must come into the world, it can only be as a necessary consequence of the knowledge and reign of Mary. She who first gave Him to the world will establish His kingdom in the world."

The more intensely we turn our attention toward Jesus, the more we believe in Him, turn to Him, trust in Him and become like Him. In this way, the world will change. What is a rosary? It's putting our hand in Mary's, who teaches us how to most intensely turn our attention toward Jesus.

Even if you have difficulty praying the rosary, for whatever reason, its importance and power is unmatched, and everyone should be working it into their daily prayer life. No, it's not a mandatory prayer for Catholics--nothing is "mandatory" really if you want to get right down to it--but if you want to really gain insight, if you want to deepen your relationship with the Lord, if you have prayer intentions that break your heart, if you want to see this world change for the better, pick up those beads and persevere.

I know how hard this devotion can be. I have lots of difficulties and obstacles in my devotion to the Rosary. Some days I can't find 10 or 15 free minutes to devote to a Rosary; other days I just can't get my mind out of the whirlwind long enough to focus. I try, I start, but can't "get into it", as it were. There are times when I'm in the midst of a rosary when I'm so profoundly affected that it scares me, and I'm overtaken by fear the next time I pick up my beads. I'll even admit that sometimes I'm just too self-involved to get started, and put it off until I never get to it that day.

When I finally do make it over the hurdles, no devotion compares. Other devotions, prayers, even reading Scripture becomes preparation for my next rosary. I've written before about this: CLICK HERE for some suggestions when the Rosary becomes difficult. Here is some great insight from St. Louis Marie de Montfort that I've also found very helpful:
[Y]ou cannot say your Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions; it is even difficult to say a Hail Mary without your imagination troubling you a little, for it is never still; but you can say it without voluntary distractions, and you must take all sorts of precautions to lessen involuntary distractions and to control your imagination.

To do this:

1) Put yourself in the presence of God and imagine that God and his Blessed Mother are watching you.

2) Imagine that your guardian angel is at your right hand, taking your Hail Marys, if they are well said, and using them like roses to make crowns for Jesus and Mary.

3) Remember that at your left hand is the devil, ready to pounce on every Hail Mary that comes his way and to write it down in his book of death, if they are not said with attention, devotion, and reverence.

4) Do not fail to offer up each decade in honor of one of the mysteries, and try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with that mystery.

from "Four Ways to Avoid Distractions During the Rosary" by St. Louis Marie de Montfort. CLICK HERE to read the entire article posted at America Needs Fatima.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jesus-The Best Bible Teacher I Ever Had

It's taken me a few days to process what I got out of our first Lenten visit to the Blessed Sacrament. My husband and I sat in the front pew in the darkness. I brought my Kindle which has my Bible in it. Now, I've been meditating on this scripture for quite a long time:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay, saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Silo'am" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” John 9:1-7
The part about Jesus spitting into the clay and anointing the man’s eyes in particular has been tripping me up for a while. I always wondered why in every other instance Jesus would heal people with just a word, or command; I wondered why would He decide in this case to do something so formulaic.

I have been thinking back to the second story of creation in the book of Genesis, and figured there was a connection there:
“…a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground -- then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:6-7
So there before Jesus, after deeply praying Psalm 51 (a very effective prayer for Lent), I returned to this passage in Genesis. I asked the Lord to teach me. Something suddenly became illuminated:

“…a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground”—WATER

“…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”—SPIRIT

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:5-6

The formula for our creation is water & clay for the flesh; the Breath of Life for the Spirit. Can it be MORE logical that the formula for our REBIRTH, or our being born again has to do with WATER AND SPIRIT--BAPTISM & CONFIRMATION? And as if that weren't enough, Jesus demonstrates the power of creation upon a man born blind--working "the works of him who sent me".

Of course this is my own private revelation, and you may have a different take on these stories (and it would be very cool if you shared). In my mind, though, I suddenly see everything Jesus did--even spitting into the dirt and making a paste in this one story--as a powerful message that the Catholic Church is His Church. It's as if Jesus anointed my eyes with clay and made me see.

I can't even put into words the rest of what I've gained from just this one little granule of information; I'm going to spend the next two days with this story and discover what else He taught me.

I can't wait until my next lesson.

One Minute Meditation

"Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary work and you will have sanctified it." – St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #359

Puts a whole new spin on my workday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Desert of Translation

There is a new translation of the New American Bible, and it's being promoted at the USCCB Website. I'm not sure about this translation, as I haven't seen it yet--I'm not even hopeful that it will be better than what they're currently using. For example, from today's Gospel reading as posted at the USCCB Website:

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Um, USCCB, I have a question: ONE WHAT? One door? One dog? One elephant? One tree?  Are we really serious about using "One" now as the gender-neutral pronoun for human beings?  "One does not live on bread alone." How unremarkably innocuous; how utterly unprecise.

I'm as irritated by this as I was on Ash Wednesday when some random lay person smeared ashes so high on my forehead it was in my hairline and said, "turn from sin and live the gospel".  What happened to remember, Man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return?  Yes, lent is about repentance, but Ash Wednesday is about the REASON for repentance: that the flesh dies. Again, safety trumps precision.

Yes, I know, gender neutrality, oppressive language and all that.


We can't simply ignore the fact that languages developed over thousands of years, and that gender in language is much, much more about sound, meaning and precision than gender. We also can't ignore the fact that written language has always been far more structured, as the desire for precision and clarity call for formality. So when members of the Church buy into the dumbing down of Scripture, the very book containing the teachings of Christ and His apostles, in favor of not offending us women folk, I am a little more than insulted to be perceived a bigot.

Here is the definition of the word "bigotry" from m-w.coma person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.  Isn't altering the words of the gospels because certain people don't like to be associated with males--at the expense of clarity--an example of treating a group with hatred and intolerance? We should be more concerned with accuracy than anything else when it comes to working out our salvation, yet people worry more about the he's and she's than about what is actually being said. Isn't this an example of devotion to opinion and prejudice?

Of course uberfeminists wouldn't dare put it into these words, but that's what it is. It's the worst kind of bigotry there is--bigotry against the self.  The modern ideal of feminism promotes self-loathing in women to the point that being feminine is a woman's mortal enemy. What I can't figure out is why so many of our members--Priests, Deacons and laity alike--can't see this.

I, for one, long for the days when on Ash Wednesday a Priest (not a lay person) puts the ashes on my forehead saying, "Remember, MAN, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."  Until they return, though, I'm going to stop using the USCCB's Online Bible on this blog, convenient though it may be.

Click Here for the RSV Online

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pray For The World Today

(This is not an overtly graphic video.)

Earthquakes in Japan and in China, a massive Tsunami crossing the Pacific, death tolls rising, loss and destruction...

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent Begins

From today's meditation for Mass:
We begin each lent begging for "the blessing of forgiveness". God longs for us to return to him with our whole heart. For without such repentance we remain tormented by the question, "Where is our God?" God has not cast us out of his presence; rather, he desires us to "become the righteousness of God". The father "who is hidden" waits for us to pray, "A clean heart create for me, O God." Then the way that we reach out to reality to become one with it will reveal God's saving Presence in every circumstance. "The joy of our salvation" begins today.
MAGNIFICAT, March 2011, Vol. 12. No 13, page 123. CLICK HERE to subscribe.

Psalm 51
For the leader. A psalm of David, 
when Nathan the prophet came to him after his affair with Bathsheba.
     Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness;
          in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
     Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.
     For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.
     Against you alone have I sinned;
          I have done such evil in your sight
          That you are just in your sentence,
          blameless when you condemn.
     True, I was born guilty, a sinner,
          even as my mother conceived me.
     Still, you insist on sincerity of heart;
          in my inmost being teach me wisdom.
     Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
          wash me, make me whiter than snow.
     Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
          let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
     Turn away your face from my sins;
          blot out all my guilt.
     A clean heart create for me, God;
          renew in me a steadfast spirit.
     Do not drive me from your presence,
          nor take from me your holy spirit.
     Restore my joy in your salvation;
          sustain in me a willing spirit.
     I will teach the wicked your ways,
          that sinners may return to you.
     Rescue me from death, God, my saving God,
          that my tongue may praise your healing power.
     Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.
     For you do not desire sacrifice;
          a burnt offering you would not accept.
     My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit;
          God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.
     Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure;
          rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
     Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice,
          burnt offerings and holocausts;
          then bullocks will be offered on your altar.

Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving

Carne Valle


"Mardi Gras, literally "Fat Tuesday," has grown in popularity in recent years as a raucous, sometimes hedonistic event. But its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the "last hurrah" before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday."

Read the rest of the article here.

Once upon a time--way back when (as St. Augustine puts it in his Confessions) "I walked the streets of Babylon, and wallowed in the mire thereof"--bidding a most jovial arrivederci! to the flesh, hopping on a plane to New Orleans for Mardi Gras or to Brazil for Carnival and partying a few weeks of my life away behind a fabulous mask would have definitely been on my "must do" list.

Thank God wisdom prevails.

The Rivers of Babylon 

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Hour A Week This Lent

When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration. – St. John Chrysostom

Anyone thinking about adding Eucharistic Adoration to their Lenten exercises? Click here for a directory of Adoration sites in the US. I have decided that I will offer one hour per week this lent for those who are lukewarm.

Expose Planned Parenthood Live Webcast Tonight

It's not too late to reserve your spot. Find out why Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded, no matter how much "good" they claim to be doing.  Click here to sign up for the webcast.

WHAT: “For Such a Time is This” Teleconference and Web Simulcast Event
DATE: This Monday, March 7th
TIME: 9 PM Eastern (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Lord Upholds My Life

Really good song--I'd listen to this on my drive to work in the morning.

Also a great way to continue to raise awareness about the earthquake victims in Haiti still trying to put their lives back together.  So many people suffering in the world.  Keep them all in prayer.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yet ANOTHER Reason to Defund Planned Parenthood

How can anyone possibly watch this clip an NOT realize that Planned Parenthood is evil, and that defunding it is the RIGHT DECISION?

Tragedy in Pakistan

The current Zardari government has taken positive actions to promote religious tolerance. However, the government has failed to reverse the continuing erosion in the social and legal status of members of religious minority communities and in the ability of members of the majority Muslim community to discuss sensitive religious and social issues freely.
Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom May 2010, p 91. (To see this document CLICK HERE)

Barely a year after this document was published, the government itself is crumbling beneath the continuing erosion.

Yesterday Pakistan's minister for religious minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, was martyred for his part in "promoting religious tolerance". From a Catholic Culture article I read today: "The gunman who ambushed Bhatti's car and shot down the government leader left a note saying that Bhatti was killed 'for speaking out against the blasphemy law.'" (read the article by clicking HERE). To echo the article's headline, this is devastating.

Bhatti is the second Pakistani official assassinated for his commitment to reform of the nation's blasphemy laws. I found a very disturbing post on a Website called Jihad Watch. Apparently, the Pakistani government knew that Bhatti had a target on his back, but didn't protect him with the same vigor as they would other government officials. Most disturbing is the last sentence of the post: "The country's interior minister Rehman Malik went to the extent of saying he too would shoot anyone who commits blasphemy."  (Click here to read the article.)

*    *    *    *    *

Here is a partial summary of the Pakistani blasphemy laws as found in the USCIRF 2009 Annual Report:

Prescribed criminal penalties for what is deemed to be blasphemy include life imprisonment and the death penalty. Blasphemy allegations, which are often false, result in the lengthy detention of, and sometimes violence against, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and members of other religious minorities, as well as Muslims. Because the laws require no evidence to be presented after allegations are made and no proof of intent, and contain no penalty for leveling false allegations, they are commonly used by extremists to intimidate members of religious minorities and others with whom they disagree. They also are often used by the unscrupulous simply to carry out a vendetta or gain an advantage over another. Although the penalties were amended in October 2004 with the aim of reducing the more maliciously applied charges, the minor procedural changes have not had a significant effect on the way the blasphemy laws are exploited in Pakistan. The negative impact of the blasphemy laws is further compounded by the lack of due process involved in these proceedings. In addition, during blasphemy trials, Islamic militants often pack the courtroom and make public threats of violence as a consequence of an acquittal. Such threats have proven credible since they have sometimes been followed by violence. Although no one has yet been executed by the state under the blasphemy laws, individuals have been sentenced to death. Several of those accused under the blasphemy laws have been attacked, even killed, by violent extremists, including while in police custody. Those who escape official punishment or attacks by extremists are sometimes forced to flee the country.
Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
May 2009, p 68. (To see this document CLICK HERE)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More on Fridays

The other day, I posted about abstaining from meat on Fridays (Read my original post HERE; read the comments as well--they are very much relevant to this post). My closing thought read the following:

"...the answer is YES, we still abstain from meat on Fridays..."

I fear that I may have caused a little confusion, so I think the topic deserves to be revisited. When I wrote the post, I was thinking about two things: first, that someone said to me a few weeks ago that Catholics don't fast on Fridays anymore; and second, a section I read in Matthew Kelly's book Rediscover Catholicism regarding Minimalism, or doing the very least you can get away with, being an M.O. our culture.

Since you are not psychic, though, you would have no idea that I was trying to reflect these two things in my previous post. Thus my "answer" really should have read, "YES, we SHOULD still abstain from meat on Fridays," with a little more explanation than I offered.

For the rest of this post, I'd like to give a shout out to all my commenters--Fr. Bill Loveless, JoeD and RobinMarieTherese--for offering the rest of the explanation. It's truly a joint effort, this whole blogging thing!

The spirit of "should" abstain is not that abstinence and penance are now optional. The spirit is whether or not abstinence from meat should be your Friday act of penance; abstinence from meat is still therefore encouraged, as Fr. Bill Loveless further clarified for us.

I also got a great suggestion (thanks, JoeD) to read the Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence (click HERE to read it), a 1966 document by the NCCB. Under the heading Christ Died for Our Salvation on Friday we read the following:
Gratefully remembering this [that Christ died for our salvation on Friday], Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church. (pp 18.)

and also this:
Accordingly, since the spirit of penance primarily suggests that we discipline ourselves in that which we enjoy most, to many in our day abstinence from meat no longer implies penance, while renunciation of other things would be more penitential. (pp 20.)

Hence the option, and the concept of additional acts of penance in combination with abstaining from meat, for which Robin provided some wonderful insights and examples.

I also had a really good conversation just this morning with my dear friend Nancy, who provided some additional insight into the topic. She said, "See, I think what people don't understand any longer is that eating meat on Friday was a sin, not because you ate meat on Friday, but because you were DISOBEYING THE CHURCH, which is the sin." (Recall from my previous post that Canon Law does state that Fridays are a day of abstinence, to be further defined by the Bishops Councils.)

So will this follow up piece clarify everything, or open another can of worms? Either way, keep the comments coming!

P.S. Angela: FIESTAINING...what a concept! heehee
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...