Monday 29 July 2013

Sammy Yatim: A victim of the Toronto Gestapo Police

Toronto Police murdering Sammy Yatim; 2013

Nazi Police violating the civil liberties
of a German citizen, 1933
 “Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?”, as Saint Augustine once said. 

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Bundestag, Berlin

We, at Witness, make the words of Vox Cantoris our own: 

As for Sammy Yatin; may he find peace in the arms of the LORD from whatever mental pain he suffered; may his shedding of blood and suffering at the hands of evil men who had no hearts, be his purgatory and may the merciful Father who desires none of his children to be lost bring Sammy to his bosom through the grace of the Holy Spirit and the redeeming blood of Christ through his Church.

Rest in peace, my little Syrian brother.(Vox Cantoris)

Has Society Failed Sammy Yatim?

The Toronto Police with all their faults and shortcomings are merely a reflection of the society that produced them. I cannot tell how many times I have cringed in horror while hearing or reading peoples comments saying "He didn't drop the knife so he deserved what he got." In some ways the police are at least understandable. After all you can expect thugs to behave like thugs. The real horror is the society that hired the thugs in the first place. What of the ordinary person who simply doesn't want to be reminded that people like Edmund Yu, Sammy Yatim and a host of others even exist? What of the suburbanite who is shocked to find panhandlers on the streets of downtown Toronto?

I have said that the Toronto Police are lacking in compassion. Let me broaden that a little bit... this entire society is lacking in compassion. This society is narcissistic, selfish, hedonistic and with a sense of entitlement far in excess of that which is a human right possessed by all of us. It thinks nothing of killing its most vulnerable members for others' comfort and convenience. It builds luxury condominiums while warehousing the mentally ill in places like the Waverly Hotel, Seaton House and a host of seedy little rooming houses. It shuts down beds for the chronically mentally ill while catering to patients more suitable for pharmacological testing and likely to contribute to a positive success rate.

The Toronto Police with all their brutality and thuggery are a symptom, not the disease. They are merely acting as proxies for every member of our society who has looked at his brother and wished he would just go away. They are the enforcers we send in to ensure that we are never troubled by the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill or anyone else who might disturb us. We spend our time doing things that make us feel good and indulge ourselves in all variety of things from new age spirituality to the most conservative traditions. We are so absorbed in seeing to our own comfort and caring for our spiritual and physical needs that we fail to look down and notice our foot on the neck of our brother.

Cain, where is Abel your brother?

CNA on Time's 'Me Me Me Generation'

The killing of Sammy Yatim and the culture of death

Sammy Yatim, a victim of the Police's
culture of death
This is not a political blog. This is not a political post. The recent slaying of young Sammy Yatim on a Toronto street car by the Police is not a political question, it is  a human question

The murder of Sammy is a question of human rights. This is a human issue, it is a pro-life issue. The killing of Sammy was and will remain an issue of being pro-life. 

"Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another".

Sammy, alone on a street car, unable to hurt anyone, except perhaps himself, is demanded of to drop his knife by a number of police.  Around this scene mill an assortment of police, perhaps totaling 20. What bravery! What manliness! 

Young Sammy does not drop his knife as requested, so he is casually shot to death by police. As Sammy lies dying - or is dead, he is then tasered (if dead, an indignity to a human body); police stroll casually about, some walking away as if nothing happened. Sammy's death can pass as the death of a dog. 

Sadly, for the police, nothing had happened. Witness the reaction while and following the shooting. if there was no body, one could have thought the video was one of a few fire crackers going off. The culture of death was on clear display on Friday.  

Closing the street car door was obviously too much trouble for the police; waiting for mental health professionals was too much trouble... 

"This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable "culture of death". This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency".

Boarding the street car to disarm Sammy was also too much trouble. Using a baton to deftly disarm Sammy was too much trouble. Even tasing Sammy rather then pump him with nine bullets was too much trouble (until he was dead or dying).

"A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of 'conspiracy against life' is unleashed".

This entire incident demonstrates a police force secondarily in disarray, undisciplined, badly trained, cowardly, lazy etc., but PRIMARILY this incident shows that the culture of death has entered into the police force. Young Sammy, "because of illness..." became "an enemy to be resisted or eliminated"

The killing of a human being who offered no immediate threat was the default position of the police. We saw last week, in Toronto, a pure display of the philosophy of power. We saw a casual and monstrous disregard for human life, we saw a "conspiracy against life". 

May God, in His mercy, grant young Sammy eternal rest. May those police who participated in Sammy's murder seek pardon for the evil they have committed. 

Recommended reading: (from which all blue quotes were selected): Evangelium Vitae - The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II

Sunday 28 July 2013

Sammy Yatim Shooting

Sammy Yatin, the young man brutally and
cowardly shot to death by the Toronto Police
Late night on July 27 Sammy Yatim pulled a knife on a streetcar and told everyone in the car to leave. The link below is to a YouTube video taken by one of the witnesses. It has been enhanced to magnify the area at the front of the streetcar. It is a disturbing video which shows how the incident played out.

Sammy Yatim Shooting - Enhanced Video

Shortly after watching this I spoke to someone who has been much closer to these incidents than I have. I was told of past situations which have ended the same way. You may remember the Edmund Yu shooting back in 1997 which sparked a flurry of criticism and recommendations for reform. There were calls from some about MCIT teams.

Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT)

The MCIT is a partnership program between St. Michael’s Hospital and Toronto Police Divisions 51 and 52. The program partners a mental health professional and a police officer who respond to 911 emergency and police dispatch calls involving emotionally disturbed persons, from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The area they respond to includes Bloor to the Lakeshore and Spadina to the Don Valley.
You may have noticed two unfortunate facts. This incident was both outside their cachement and after their stated hours. I do not know if there are similar programs elsewhere in the city. It's not enough because it's happened again and again.

One thing is increasingly obvious. The Toronto Police have lost their soul. At one time police were part of the community they were protecting. The image of the cop on his beat, greeting people by name and being known by everyone is a very powerful image. This was an ordinary citizen who had decided to wear a badge and protect his neighbors and community. It may have been someone living next door. Unfortunately in Toronto this is a thing of the past.

Today the police are part of a paramilitary force with only tenuous connections to the community they serve. I would be extremely surprised to learn of any Toronto cops who actually live in any of the poorer inner city neighborhoods. Most likely they live out in the suburbs if they live in the city at all. When they finish their shift they want to go home just like everyone else and leave the sorry mess they need to deal with daily behind. Who can blame them? Unfortunately this leads to a disjunction between their home life and community and the places they must patrol. They are no longer protecting home and family... they are doing a job. The citizen policeman has been replaced by a mercenary soldier hired to do a job.

The Toronto Police are lacking in compassion for the people they are sworn to protect. Too often the situation escalates very quickly from the first encounter to shots being fired. There is no attempt to find alternatives. It's just easier that way. It's not like you just shot a neighbor.

Just Asking...

Remember last week's first reading? It contains a little puzzle that I have never found an answer to. Abraham serves a meal to three visitors under the oak at Mamre. The meal was a simple but very curious one. Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. So far so good... so what's wrong with this picture... something so blatantly obvious that even an Italian kid from Brooklyn would pick up on it? Give up? Highlight the blank space to get the answer.

The meal is not kosher. As explained to me by a frustrated waiter in a kosher deli when trying to get cream for my coffee... "We ain't got nothin' from a cow's teat!" You never mix meat and dairy at the same meal.

Feel free to offer explanations for this particular curiosity in the combox.

BREAKING NEWS: WYD will be held at Krakow, Poland

The Holy Father has just announced that the next World Youth Day in 2016 will be held in Krakow! Not expected at all - the Holy Father will really need to work on his Polish!

Where will the next WYD Be?

A difficult task to unravel - with just a few minutes prior to the official announcement. After some thought I think the short list will include: USA (San Diego), South Africa, Japan, Philippines and Rome.

We'll know soon.....!

Saturday 27 July 2013

Pope Francis and Msgr. Guido Marini: Brothers in Arms!

His Holiness embraces Msgr. Guido Marini with profound affection at WYD 2013
Much ink was, and is being spilt over the alleged "strained" (let us call it that) relationship between His Holiness and Msgr. Marini. Here, I present a number of screenshots taken over the past few days of Pope Francis with Msgr. Marini manifesting anything but a "strained" relationship, but rather a deep friendship and affection, as one might see between a Catholic father and his loyal son. Any further commentary would be unnecessary.  

The Holy Father and his Master of Ceremonies sharing their joy
with a Brazilian priest
Msgr. Marini awaiting the Holy Father
The Holy Father embraces Msgr. Marini
prior to the Pope's veneration of Our Lady of Aparecida
His Holiness eagerly approaching Msgr. Marini during the
Welcoming of the Holy Father for WYD Rio

Msgr. Marini smiling joyfully upon his shared embrace
with the Supreme Pontiff 

Friday 26 July 2013

Pope Francis: "... the elderly build the future of people..."

In today's Angelus to young people at World Youth Day, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of the elderly, especially in relation to the transmission of the Faith to the next Generation: 

 How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family. The Aparecida Document says, “Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives” (No. 447). This relationship and this dialogue between generations is a treasure to be preserved and strengthened!

The full text may be read here

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Msgr. Leo Cushley new Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh

The Holy See has announced the new Archbishop for St. Andrews and Edinburgh. Msgr. Leo Cushley, from the Secretariat of State, is seen as an "outsider" as compared to the homegrown candidates. Interestingly, this seems to be a change in the aggressive stance that no bishops would be appointed until the homosexual mess is cleared up. 

However, we can say that Msgr. Cushley has been resident in Rome since 1993. I will be seeking further information from my contacts on the ground in Scotland.  

EWTN : World Youth Day - Central

Enormous crowds greet Pope Francis
 EWTN once again is providing outstanding coverage of World Youth Day. We encourage all our readers to explore their website; including a so-called "360" degree view. 

The Pope greeting pilgrims
Excited crowds mob the Pope's Fiat
Followers of WYD and His Holiness are aware of a number of protests against the government of Brazil over the past few days. Pray for the safety of the Supreme Pontiff. 

Huge crowds greet the Pontiff's entrance into Rio
The Holy Father kissing a baby 

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Damian Thompson on the "Gay Lobby" Ricca scandal

I do not seek salacious scandal here at Witness. This tragic news item is well known and needs to be told. It need to be resolved.  From Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph. Thompson clearly articulates every reason that Magister has got his facts right. This whole affair undermines Pope Francis: may the wolves be scattered! May the Lion of Judah roar! Pray for Pope Francis. Pray for the Church.

The following is from a well-connected priest source. It's partly guesswork – but the Ricca affair is so mysterious, and its possible consequences so serious, that informed speculation needs to be taken seriously, at least by those commentators trying to work out whether Pope Francis will succeed in his mission to clean up the Vatican. The emphases in bold type are mine.
The first  thing is that it is truly without precedent for someone like Magister, who is no tabloid sensationalizer, to put his career on the line in this way. I think he can be trusted, and ought to be supported. He is a loyal Ratzingerian, and was before it became fashionable. He is not naive. It is quite posssible that his sources are trying to use him, but he would not play such a hand with such decisive stakes unless he believed it was necessary for the good of the Church.
Secondly, I believe that the key point is that, apart from his IOR [Vatican Bank] position, powerful in its own right, Ricca's other job [as director of the hostel] gives him unprecedented personal access to the person of the pope, coupled with a certain control (though not total) over who else gets to see him. I bet no one now gets to stay at the Domus Santa Marta unless vetted very carefully by Ricca, or whoever controls him.
My guess is that Cardinals Sodano and Re [part of the John Paul II old guard unsympathetic to Benedict XVI] are behind Ricca, that they wish to control Francis through him. Ricca may well have come clean to Francis, told him he is sincerely repentent, and the Pope may well wish to proceed in the admirably Christlike belief that the sinner who has repented need not be a prisoner of his past. Ricca is probably sincere in all of this, but he is nonetheless beholden to the faction which whitewashed his dossier. That is why his continued occuption of the post is dangerous.
And that is presumably why Magister has taken this dramatic step, which could end his career. I don't think there can be much risk of a libel suit, but his career depends on access to "sources close to the Vatican", which will dry up if he loses this struggle. And he will have lost if Ricca stays. His informants, whoever they are, may have motives of personal ambition or revenge; but the fact is that if my guess is correct, this papacy will be a failure on every front. A  lame duck pope – probably with Piero Marini [purveyor of trendy liturgies loathed by Benedict's allies] at his side at Divine Worship – would be a catastrophe.
There is doubtless disinformation going on here. I believe that the narrative of a Magister who is being guided by anti-reform forces to weaken the Pope is precisely such disinformation, and anybody who values Benedict XVI's legacy should be inclined to lend him a sympathetic hearing.
Has Ricca resigned? It's typical of the Vatican that we don't know. But he needs to – and quickly, before Francis's authority is gravely damaged.

Exclusive Photo to Witness: The Royal Baby


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 
This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 
And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, 
from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, 
because he was of the house and lineage of David, 
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 
And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.

And she gave birth to her first-born son 
and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, 
because there was no place for them in the inn.

Christians raped by Syrian Jihadists....

The following is an excerpt from a heartbreaking report on the persecution of Christians in Syria. Full details may be read at Vox Cantoris. Please pray for our forgotten Christian brothers and sisters - viciously brutalized. 

Mariam was a 15-year-old Christian from Qusair, a city of the governorate in Homs, 35 km south of the capital. The city, which had become a stronghold of the Syrian rebels, was reconquered by the troops of the regular army at the beginning of June. Mariam’s story - sent to Fides thanks to the report of two Catholic priests - is a sign of the brutality of the conflict and the extreme vulnerability of religious minorities. Mariam's family was in town when militants linked to the jihadist group "Jabhat al-Nusra" conquered and occupied it.

While her family was able to escape, Mariam was taken and forced into an Islamic marriage...


Monday 22 July 2013

Pope Francis in Rio: The peace of Christ be with you....

From the Holy Father's Address at the Welcoming Ceremonies: 

I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ! I have come in his name, to feed the flame of fraternal love that burns in every heart; and I wish my greeting to reach one and all: The peace of Christ be with you!

The full text may be read here

Pope Francis in flight to Rio; visited Benedict before departure

Our Holy Father in in transit on his way to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. Pray that the harvest may be good... prior to his departure, the Pope once again visited his revered predecessor, Benedict and gave him gifts, asked for prayers and discussed the program. The visit lasted at least 30 minutes, we are told. Was WYD the only thing discussed....? Pray much for the Holy Father.... 

Sunday 21 July 2013

Pope John Paul II was a Prophet (Part II)

Pope John Paul II - notice how he identifies a society that is "sick " - strong words! - and the danger of a corrupt and evil mass media - continues in his Letter to Families

This kind of critical reflection should lead our society, which certainly contains many positive aspects on the material and cultural level, to realize that, from various points of view, it is a society which is sick and is creating profound distortions in man. 

Why is this happening? The reason is that our society has broken away from the full truth about man, from the truth about what man and woman really are as persons. Thus it cannot adequately comprehend the real meaning of the gift of persons in marriage, responsible love at the service of fatherhood and motherhood, and the true grandeur of procreation and education. Is it an exaggeration to say that the mass media, if they are not guided by sound ethical principles, fail to serve the truth in its fundamental dimension? 

This is the real drama: the modern means of social communication are tempted to manipulate the message, thereby falsifying the truth about man. Human beings are not the same thing as the images proposed in advertising and shown by the modern mass media.They are much more, in their physical and psychic unity, as composites of soul and body, as persons. They are much more because of their vocation to love, which introduces them as male and female into the realm of the "great mystery".

Pope John Paul II was a Prophet (Part 1)

In 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote a "Letter to Families". How many of us, read, studied and even more importantly, put into action in our lives his words? The Holy Father seemed to a "voice crying in the wilderness". When was the last time you received a pastoral letter from your bishops, or heard your parish priest preach and teach on the "great crisis"? May God forgive those in authority who betrayed the Holy Father and the Church. 

Reading the following words, one can see that not only was John Paul II a prophet, but that - sadly - the monstrous horrors he warned about are alive and well: consider - the recent triumphalist homosexualist "parade" in Toronto (attended by "Catholics"; including a so-called "religious service"), the promotion and growing acceptance of the concept on GSAs in our Catholic schools, the ongoing revolt of the Catholic teachers union (OECTA) against faith and morals... Catholic families in meltdown with abortion, contraception and sexual deviancy...  

Who can deny that our age is one marked by a great crisis, which appears above all as a profound "crisis of truth"? A crisis of truth means, in the first place, a crisis of concepts. Do the words "love", "freedom", "sincere gift", and even "person" and "rights of the person", really convey their essential meaning? This is why the Encyclical on the "splendour of truth" (Veritatis Splendor) has proved so meaningful and important for the Church and for the world—especially in the West. Only if the truth about freedom and the communion of persons in marriage and in the family can regain its splendour, will the building of the civilization of love truly begin and will it then be possible to speak concretely—as the Council did—about "promoting the dignity of marriage and the family".

Why is the "splendour of truth" so important? First of all, by way of contrast: the development of contemporary civilization is linked to a scientific and technological progress which is often achieved in a one-sided way, and thus appears purely positivistic. Positivism, as we know, results in agnosticism in theory and utilitarianism in practice and in ethics. In our own day, history is in a way repeating itself. Utilitarianism is a civilization of production and of use, a civilization of "things" and not of "persons", a civilization in which persons are used in the same way as things are used. In the context of a civilization of use, woman can become an object for man, children a hindrance to parents, the family an institution obstructing the freedom of its members. 

To be convinced that this is the case, one need only look at certain sexual education programmes introduced into the schools, often notwithstanding the disagreement and even the protests of many parents; or pro-abortion tendencies which vainly try to hide behind the so-called "right to choose" ("pro-choice") on the part of both spouses, and in particular on the part of the woman. These are only two examples; many more could be mentioned.

It is evident that in this sort of a cultural situation the family cannot fail to feel threatened, since it is endangered at its very foundations. Everything contrary to the civilization of love is contrary to the whole truth about man and becomes a threat to him: it does not allow him to find himself and to feel secure, as spouse, parent, or child. 

So-called "safe sex", which is touted by the "civilization of technology", is actually, in view of the overall requirements of the person, radically not safe, indeed it is extremely dangerous. It endangers both the person and the family. And what is this danger? It is the loss of the truth about one's own self and about the family,together with the risk of a loss of freedom and consequently of a loss of love itself. "You will know the truth", Jesus says, "and the truth will make you free" (Jn 8:32): the truth, and only the truth, will prepare you for a love which can be called "fairest love" (cf. Sir 24:24, Vulg.).

Saturday 20 July 2013

Hope: Why I am a Christian

Faith, hope and charity are a tripartite concept presented by St. Paul. Isaiah speaks of hope; indeed the Scriptures are replete with commentary replete to hope. We are therefore to hope in the Lord, to unite it with Faith and charity.

How can one hope? What is hope for me? Well, it is the hope that there is eternal life, that I will be on the right side of judgement. It also is, an intellectual decision. made - hopefully - as an act of Faith, yet also reasonable; logical....

... the Gospel’s word of truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life... This is my faith, this is my joy...

Faith is not an emotional act alone - as Luther believed - our hearts are to be informed by our minds, as St. Thomas advised. Enough, in a way, of this intellectualizing.... and yet, hope cannot be detached from thought. 

I hope in Jesus, and I hope in the Church. To love Jesus is to love the Church. To love the Church is to love Jesus. I have written on scandal and public sin that has degraded my Mother, the Church. The Church, it would seem has been reduced to a political party, with careerism, corruption etc. Does it lessen my hope? No, it does not. Otherwise, I would have left the Church long ago.  If discerning hope and truth was determined by the quality of persons then the Catholic Church is not a very pleasant place. Catholics do not help each other; they - based on observation and experience - excel in talk but very little action. This is exemplified in parish life. Perhaps your parish is different: lucky you. If you are ill, unemployed, suffering, isolated - don't look to Catholics for a hand up. You probably won't get one.  

Putting faith into action is not a high agenda item. Catharsis, feeling good, psychological self-caressing, pious mirror gazing - all these seem to be agenda items for the contemporary Catholic. Read St. Theresa - has much changed since then?

Now, if I am experiencing this - and many of you are: what do we hope in? What do I hope in? I hope in Jesus, because he too experienced the same thing, yet in a manner that was infinitely more intense and painful. God, rejected by his own people, God, mocked and degraded by his own people, God, tortured and murdered by his own people... "Father, forgive them, for they known not what they do..." 

Do we known what we are doing? Do you? We can certainly wonder based on your - and my actions. Yes, I too am guilt of the above things. Well, we have time to change. 

And yet, I remain in the Church because She is my Mother. She may be ill, stinking from her open wounds, but because She is the Vessel of Christ's truth, I shall not leave her. Perderasts, sodomites, careerists, petty gossips, backbiters, heretics, modernists, schismatics... will not chase me out, nor do they lessen my hope. I hope for their repentance. Do these people anger me? Yes, they do. Do I wish them evil? No, I do not. 

This draws me to the recent happenings in Rome and how we can draw hope from it. What could our Holy Father be thinking? Our previous Holy Father? I am sure they hope in Christ.  We too should hope in Christ with Pope Francis. Consider the words of advise of Benedict: 

...the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been - and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His - and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

If I hope, try to hope - let us hope together

A very serious suggestion: Prayers for Pope Francis

I would invite you to offer up some prayers and penances for the intentions of our Holy Father. Is someone annoying you - forget it! Don't you want to meet them in Paradise?  You can't, if you have hate in your heart. It may be a little thing like this that contributes to the changing of hearts, and the increase of hope. 

I invite you to post in the combox your intention of a spiritual offering for our Holy Father. I offer up my frustrations annoyances and daily difficulties joyfully (please God) for his intentions. If we hope we will have faith, we will have charity. They simply cannot be separated...

We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired in order to strengthen our own faith in God in a context that seems to push faith more and more toward the margins of life. I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord. I would like that we all, entrust ourselves as children to the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk every day, even in times of struggle. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says, “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, for having made me a Christian.” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good, that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!

[All quotes, Final Address, Pope Benedict XVI]

Recommended reading: SPE SALVI 

Friday 19 July 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Pope Francis is "embittered" after betrayal by the "Gay Lobby"

The Polish press is reporting that our Holy Father is "embittered" by the betrayal of his advisors in the question of the appointment of Monsignor Ricca as a "prelate" for the Institute of Religious Works. Ricca's connections with the Vatican Bank are further suggestive of that institution being controlled - Polish press reports indicate - by the "Gay Lobby". 

As such, Fr. Lombardi protestations to the contrary does not bring closure to this issue, but begins to stink of another coverup. The question now can be raised: who advised the Holy Father? How extensive is this pack of wolves? Were possible advisors deceived by "others".... the questions are many. We know one thing: there is a powerful "gay lobby"; it must be rooted out.

Be Not Afraid

Woman heard "be not afraid" before cure sealing John Paul II's sainthood

"I woke up when I heard a voice that said 'get up,'" Mora, now 50, said on Friday at the Roman Catholic Church's administrative offices in San Jose, showing the clipping. "I was alone in my room, I only had this clipping that was published around those dates to commemorate John Paul II's papacy."
"I had it in front of me and I heard a voice again that said 'get up' and I looked at his photo and saw his open arms and I heard a voice that said 'be not afraid' and I said 'Yes Lord,'" she added between tears, a golden rosary hanging around her neck.

It amazes me how this theme runs all through the gospel. The Lord knows us so well, how the fears of life can consume us and fill us with an abiding sense of dread. He knew how the first reactions of shepherds on a hillside in Bethlehem to something new and wonderful would likely be fear. This "Be not afraid" becomes the very first proclamation of the good news.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for I bring you news of a great joy...  Lk 2:9

In the sermon on the mount Jesus speaks to the anxieties and troubles of life.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life. what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Mt 6:25

In the upper room as Jesus ate his passover meal with his disciples, before they rise to go to Gethsemane Jesus reassures them knowing the trials that are to come.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  Jn 14:27

When the worst had befallen them and their master had been crucified, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and met an angel who said  

"Do not be afraid, for I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen."

I do not have to live my life in a constant state of fear and anxiety, worrying over the state of the world or the Church. Both are in His hands. What I need to do this day, this morning, is to face the challenges and trials this day has to offer.

Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.  Jer 1:8

Thursday 18 July 2013

Catechesis or Evangelization?

We have spilled much digital ink on the need for catechesis amongst Catholics these days. I am beginning to think this emphasis is slightly off. In my own case, I have a copy of the Catholic Catechism on the shelf and behind me in a pile are two copies of the bible, the RSV and the Douay Rheims. Nothing compares to my RSV for finding stuff but I still like to refer to the old Douay from time to time. No one has told me to refer to these books and the last time I was in a catechism class was in preparation for my confirmation and that was dull indeed. So what happened between my last catechism class and today?

The answer is evangelization. Some very good people took the time to tell me who Jesus is and they showed me what a difference He made in their lives. In the beginning they were not even Catholic... I still have fond memories of the German Baptist minister who allowed me into his home and gave me the opportunity to watch him and his family. He even deposited me in the arms of the Catholic Church when the time was right! In all of this the key is witness... this is who Jesus Christ is... this is what he has done... come and see!

This idea of witness is central to the Catholic faith. A witness is someone who has seen and whose testimony is reliable. We believe that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead based on the testimony of witnesses, the truth of whose testimony was sealed with their lives. In our own lives, if we know Jesus Christ at all, it is because we have met someone who has introduced Him to us. In an ideal situation this witness comes from the family of the child presented for baptism. By growing up in a close Catholic family, a child learns first hand who Jesus is... the parents are the first evangelizers of their own children. What then of those situations which are not ideal, where parents are ignorant of the faith or even hostile to it?

My own parents dutifully sent me to church but for the life of me I cannot recall them ever accompanying me. My mother would ask me to bring back a bulletin but I have a suspicion that this was her way of verifying that I had actually gone. When I was old enough to consider myself grown up I emulated my parents and ceased church attendance. My situation was likely an extreme case and there are many who routinely attend mass these days for reasons that are less than ideal. It may be because of an ethnic affiliation where the Catholic Church was the cultural centre of the community. It may be out of fear of displeasing a parent or even out of an abiding sense of guilt. Whatever the reasons, it is probably dangerous to assume that everyone in our churches is there because of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is fertile ground for evangelization.

Catechesis is different from evangelization though hopefully the two go hand in hand. Catechesis is the presentation of the truths of the faith in a comprehensive way that is suitable for the ones being taught. Evangelization is the proclamation of the good news and it can be as simple as "I have found something marvellous... I have seen the Lord...come and see!" Catechesis requires an expertise in teaching, a firm grounding in doctrine and is the necessary followup to evangelization. Evangelization, on the other hand, only requires that you have met Jesus Christ and are willing to share the good news. Moreover it is a task that is given to all of us.

There are still problems though. Perhaps chief of these is the question of where you would send someone for catechesis once the desire to learn more about the faith has been awakened in them. I have no experience with any modern catechesis and would be at an utter loss to recommend something. Fortunately we have the Catechism of the Catholic Faith so at least there is one solid reference.

Outrage du Jour

But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 1Peter 3:15-16

Well, I'm asking. In the face of almost daily reports of one outrage after another both in the local church and in the Vatican itself it is fairly easy for forget why we even bother. Nor do I even have to look outside myself for the signs of sin at work in my life. I go to confession and repeat the same sins I confessed the last time and sometimes it seems as though I am getting nowhere. I do not have to look very far at all... I do not measure up. Is it any wonder that a Church made up of sinners like myself finds itself plagued by the same old scandals and conflicts?

We have heard about the desecration of our sanctuaries but nowhere do we hear about why these places are sacred. Stand at the back of any church in this city and watch people as they go to their pews. People make the oddest assortments of bows, curtsies and half genuflections or nothing at all. Better yet, watch at the back of the church on Good Friday while people do precisely the same thing. Some say it is an act of respect for the church. Many of these people do not know the reason for this simple act of reverence. Nor are we taking any great pains to tell them. Why do I bend my knee in this place and at this time, an act which is painful at my age, when I would do so nowhere else and for no one else?

This is personal. By that I mean that the reason for the hope that is in me is a person, Jesus Christ. He accepted me when no one else would. He loved me when I thought there was not much in me to love. He gave me a home when I had lost mine and was living as an exile in a foreign land. He is the one to whom I bend my knee before the tabernacle as an act of reverence and fealty. I do not do this out of any special feeling for that place or out of respect for any sacred space. I do it because He is there and I belong to Him. This is the reason for the hope that is in me. 

I'm still asking....
What is the reason for the hope that is in you?