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The Civil War: Crossroads of Our Being PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 11 April 2011 15:26

A poignant anniversary will be marked at 4:30 am tomorrow morning, Tuesday, April 12. It was at that hour exactly 150 years ago, that the shelling of Fort Sumter commenced and the Civil War began.

On April 8, Lincoln notified Gov. Francis Pickens of South Carolina that he would attempt to resupply the fort. The Confederate commander at Charleston, Gen.P.G.T. Beauregard, was ordered by the Confederate government to demand the evacuation of the fort and if refused, to force its evacuation.

On April 11, General Beauregard delivered the ultimatum to Anderson, who replied, "Gentlemen, if you do not batter the fort to pieces about us, we shall be starved out in a few days." On direction of the Confederate government in Montgomery, Beauregard notified Anderson that if he would state the time of his evacuation, the Southern forces would hold their fire. Anderson replied that he would evacuate by noon on April 15 unless he received other instructions or additional supplies from his government. (The supply ships were expected before that time.)

Told that his answer was unacceptable and that Beauregard would open fire in one hour, Anderson shook the hands of the messengers and said in parting, "If we do not meet again in this world, I hope we may meet in the better one." At 4:30 A.M. on April 12, 1861, 43 Confederate guns in a ring around Fort Sumter began the bombardment that initiated the bloodiest war in American history.

In her Charleston hotel room, diarist Mary Chestnut heard the opening shot. "I sprang out of bed." she wrote. "And on my knees--prostrate--I prayed as I never prayed before." The shelling of Fort Sumter from the batteries ringing the harbor awakened Charleston's residents, who rushed out into the predawn darkness to watch the shells arc over the water and burst inside the fort. Mary Chesnut went to the roof of her hotel, where the men were cheering the batteries and the women were praying and crying.

Fort Sumter fell after 33 hours of bombardment and miraculously, no one was killed or seriously injured. The generous terms of surrender allowed Anderson to run up his flag for a hundred-gun salute before he and his men evacuated the fort the next day. The irony is that the only deaths occurred during the hundred gun salute when an accidental explosion killed two defenders.

More than 3 million Americans fought in the Civil War and roughly 620,000 or 2% of the US population died in it. 360,000 died from the north and 258,000 from the south.

Enjoy the following Civil War observations and anecdotes from Shelby Foote, the Mississippi historian of the Civil War.


 
Phoenix, St. Paul, or Pocatello? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 07 April 2011 17:20

This weekend, ladies & germs, we're in

1) Beautiful downtown Gilbert, Arizona (That is, Fr. Mike & I) doing a Called & Gifted workshop for the Archdiocese of Phoenix

2) While our competing team of Barbara Elliott and Charlie Hoover will be doing the same at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St Paul MN.

3) And batting clean-up will be our Idaho state teaching team at St. Anthony's Chapel in Pocatello, Idaho

Love the alliteration.

What will it be? Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3?

See you there.



 
One Christian is No Christian! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 07 April 2011 10:59

One Christian is no Christian! was the famous watchword of Tertullian, the 3rd century theologian.

Latin (Unus Christianus, nullus Christianus!),

English (One Christian is no Christian!),

Greek (???? ?????????? ??? ????? ??????? ??????????!),

Russian (???? ?????????? ??????? ??????????!),

Spanish (Un Cristiano no es Ningún Cristiano!) and as many languages as we can.

Can any readers out there add a language?


 
Silence Runs Deep 2: Question & Answer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 11:30

Question and Answer in the comment section of the "Silence Runs Deep" post below:

Question from a reader in New York, a young woman who will celebrate her first anniversary as a Catholic at Easter:

"How about, I deeply desire to share Christ with the world, but I am afraid of the reactions of other lay Catholics?

I know Catholics with hidden spiritual lives. Some of them I knew for 5 or 10 years and it wasn't until after I converted that I found out they had any personal spiritual lives.

When I ask, why don't you talk about this with anyone, they don't say anything about priests shutting them down.

They say they are worried about looking weird in front of Catholic family and friends, or worried about bad reactions from other lay people who are involved in parish ministries. Adults in their early 30s, raised Catholic, tell me that their parents would not understand. I think their fears are well founded in some cases."


My Response:

Fascinating. They are worried, not so much about what non-believers think but what other Catholics will think if they talk about their faith?

So, through our spontaneous communal discomfort about speaking of our experience of God, we are "policing" our own, so to speak. There is real, if seldom acknowledged, Catholic pressure on one another to stay silent.

Imagine what would happen if Catholics experienced the same kind of "soft" pressure in favor of sharing their faith? As happens in the evangelical world.

Is that why so many Catholics who become evangelical are suddenly willing and able to talk about faith issues at great length - because the "soft power", the wind of lived ecclesial culture has shifted dramatically, and the wind is now behind the back of the one who wants to evangelize?


 
Don't Bore Me. Don't Waste My Time. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 09:47

The brilliant Barbara Nicolosi Harrington has hit another one out of the ballpark with this funny and wise essay on applying the wisdom of Hollywood to preaching and teaching. The catalyst was having to endure a series of memorably awful homilies.

I'm going to send Barbara's essay out to all our teachers immediately. I says what I tried to say in our Teacher training but in a much clearer and comprehensive style. In fact, I need to revise the Teacher training anyway and some of her words of wisdom (with attribution, naturlich!) will be going into it. Here's a few snippets.

"Sadly, many people of religious faith tend to dismiss entertainment as frivolous or exploitive. This is muddled thinking."

"Entertainment" simply refers to the effort to satisfy and engage human nature by appealing to the emotions. We have entertained whenever we have made people feel. Once we have them feeling, we can move them toward caring and thinking."

"Every communication should have what Aristotle called: Logos, pathos, and ethos. That is, there needs to be something for the mind, something for the emotions, and finally, something for the imagination."

"The two biggest rules of Hollywood meetings, and also movies:

Don't bore me.

Don't waste my time."

"Also, a good communication gives the hearers marching orders. If you have successfully summoned up the listener's passions, you will frustrate them if they don't know what to do with what you have told them. Always give the viewers something to do in a message."

Click and read. Download. Apply. Pass it on. Repeat.


 
Was Your Lenten Fish Dinner Caught By Slaves? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 08:23

This is enough to make your shrimp scampi or salmon fillet turn to dust in your mouth. Take a look at this video report over at CNN.

The story of brothers Pheum Dina and Pheum Bolin, who were lured from Cambodia to work on the fishing boats three years ago. They say they were imprisoned on a Thai trawler for 3 months – with no pay and no chance to escape. They were slaves at sea.

You "abolish" the slave trade but someone always finds a way to prey upon the weak, poor, and desparate. How can Christians continue to fight slavery?

By the way, the on-going CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern Day Slavery is a great resource for news from around the world on this complex and constantly evolving issue. Many kudos and blessings to CNN for taking it on.



 
Silence Runs Deep: Catholics and Evangelization - the Great Debate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 07:40

There’s a fascinating conversation over at my Facebook page that I wanted to moved over here so that other people could play.

The money quote:

“Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him.”

Novo Millennio Ineunte, 40

Sherry’s question: Does this statement of Pope John Paul II mean that if we have no desire to proclaim Christ, that we haven't yet experienced "genuine contact"? Or are there other dynamics at work?

Over the years, I’ve heard variations on a few typical answers (this isn't a response to any particular commenter on this post)

Answer 1: Silence runs deep

Many lay Catholics have a profound but hidden and almost completely non-verbal spiritual life. (And a common corollary, people who talk easily and a lot about their faith are shallow, e.g. like Protestants)

Answer 2: St. Francis said “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

Lay Catholics preach effectively without words through their lives of faithfulness, honesty, and acts of compassion and justice.

Answer 3: Nobody here but us Carmelites.

Some of us are gifted to pray, not talk. It is just as powerful a witness (and really more profound) to pray in a hidden place where no one sees you.

Answer 4: The English made us do it.

The Irish experience of oppression by the English Protestants made Irish immigrants to the US reluctant to talk about their faith. And the prejudice they experienced as immigrants just reinforced that. Our history is our destiny.

Answer 5: We are powerless to do anything because of resistance and lack of support by priests

Everytime I try to start something, Father shuts it down or refuses to support it. What can a lay person do?

And something new that has emerged out of our conversation:

Answer 6: I'm afraid of the reactions of other Catholics. Other Catholics will get uncomfortable or mad if I talk about my faith.

"I know Catholics with hidden spiritual lives. Some of them I knew for 5 or 10 years and it wasn't until after I converted that I found out they had any personal spiritual lives.

When I ask, why don't you talk about this with anyone, they don't say anything about priests shutting them down.

They say they are worried about looking weird in front of Catholic family and friends, or worried about bad reactions from other lay people who are involved in parish ministries. Adults in their early 30s, raised Catholic, tell me that their parents would not understand. I think their fears are well founded in some cases." For more on this answer and the discussion about it, go here.

I have moved some of the comments over so you can see what people are saying below. What do you think?


 
Is Facebook the New Blogging? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 06:46

There's a fascinating discussion going on on my Facebook page. Let me see if I can transfer the essence here so the rest of you can see it and participate.


 
"Transmitting or Informing? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 April 2011 16:41

Back to the Lineamenta for the Synod on the New Evangelization. Here's what I find so stunning, so powerful, so true.

Basically the Church is saying:

Transmitting the Faith is first and foremost transmitting a relationship with Jesus Christ, not teaching information about Jesus Christ. If a living relationship with Christ does not exist, we have not succeeded in "transmitting" the Faith.

We may have successfully conveyed Catholic theological concepts, dogma, discipline, and moral perspectives, Catholic history, facts about Catholic practices and canon law and the saints, etc.

But the Faith has not been transmitted unless the Person and the relationship at the center of the Faith has been transmitted.

And we can't transmit the the relationship at the center of the Faith unless we, ourselves, have lived that relationship.

Essentially, if I'm not a disciple myself, I can't evangelize. I can educate others about the faith without being a disciple.

But I can't transmit the Faith in a living way to someone else because I can't give away what I don't possess. I can't make disciples without being a disciple myself.


Think I'm over-stating? Read the passage from the Lineamenta below:

"In referring to the Gospel, we must not think of it only as a book or a set of teachings. The Gospel is much more; it is a living and efficacious Word, which accomplishes what it says. It is not so much a system of articles of faith and moral precepts, much less a political programme, but a person: Jesus Christ, the definitive Word of God, who became man.[34] The Gospel is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, not only does the Gospel have Jesus Christ as its content; but even more, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is also the promoter and the centre of its proclamation and transmission. Consequently, the goal of the transmission of the faith is the realization of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, in the Spirit, thereby leading to an experiencing of his Father and our Father.[35]

Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions for this personal encounter of individuals with Jesus Christ.

The faith-encounter with the person of Jesus Christ is a relationship with him, “remembering him” (in the Eucharist) and, through the grace of the Spirit, having in us the mind of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVI stated: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. [...] Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.”[36] The Church realizes herself precisely from carrying out her task of proclaiming the Gospel and transmitting the Christian faith.

This personal encounter allows individuals to share in the Son’s relationship with his Father and to experience the power of the Spirit. The aim of transmitting the faith and the goal of evangelization is to bring us “through him [Christ] in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph 2:18).[37] This is the newness of the Christian God. From this perspective, transmitting the faith in Christ means to create the conditions for a faith which is thought-out, celebrated, lived and prayed; in short, this means participating in the life of the Church.[38] This way of transmitting the faith is very much grounded in Church Tradition. Reference to it is found in The Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, both of which take up the subject of the new evangelization so as to encourage, explain and repropose it.[39]

The Church Transmits the Faith Which She Herself Lives

12. The transmission of the faith is a very complex, dynamic process which totally involves the faith of Christians and the life of the Church. What is not believed or lived cannot be transmitted. . .

The Gospel can only be transmitted on the basis of “being” with Jesus and living with Jesus the experience of the Father, in the Spirit; and, in a corresponding way, of “feeling” compelled to proclaim and share what is lived as a good and something positive and beautiful."

Your thoughts?



 
We Cannot Transmit A Relationship We Have Not Lived PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 April 2011 10:57

I’ve been working my way through the Lineamenta or “Guidelines” put out by the Synod of Bishops last month in preparation for the Synod on the New Evangelization to be held in Rome in October, 2012. The Lineamenta provides guidelines and a series of questions to which bishops, head of religious orders, and other Catholic leaders are asked to respond. Their responses are the basis upon which a draft of a new magisterial document on the New Evangelization will be discussed at the 2012 Bishop’s Synod in Rome. So the Lineamenta sets the tone and parameters for the discussion to come.

The title is telling: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

I find the issues and questions being raised to be dead on, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Whoever wrote the Lineamenta really grasps our lived situation in the west in the early 21st century.

Word forms like “ecumenical” and “disciple” (20 times), personal”(25 times), encounter (36 times), “change” (45 times), “missionary” (51 times) “experience” (60 times), “transmit” (63 times), proclaim (71 times), “Jesus” (83 times), “live” (94 times), “Gospel” (90 times), “Spirit” (105 times) “community” (105 times) and especially “new” (206 times) are key. Meanwhile, the vague and ubiquitous phrase “Catholic identity” isn’t anywhere to be found.

This is not another compilation of high level abstractions and exhortations on the topic of evangelization. This is a serious meditation on where we actually are in the post-Christian west in terms of transmitting a living, personal Catholic faith.

The emphasis on ‘transmit” is crucial, I think. Transmitting the faith is an organic, full-orbed, whole person/whole life concept that goes far beyond instruction in ideas or doctrines or facts. Some synonyms for transmit are bequeath, broadcast, carry, channel, conduct, convey, disseminate, funnel, hand down, hand on, impart, instill, pass on and relay.

What does it mean to successfully “transmit the faith”?

According to the Lineamenta, “. . . the goal of the transmission of the faith is the realization of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, in the Spirit, thereby leading to an experiencing of his Father and our Father.[35]

Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions for this personal encounter of individuals with Jesus Christ. . .

This personal encounter allows individuals to share in the Son’s relationship with his Father and to experience the power of the Spirit.”

The non-negotiable pre-requisite for successfully “transmitting the faith” according to the Vatican’s guidelines?

“What is not believed or lived cannot be transmitted.”

More on this critical topic in a bit.


 
Massacre in Ivory Coast & a Little Background PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 April 2011 08:48

Details of a terrible massacre in the Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) is slowly trickling out. The Salesian parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus in Duékoué was the center because it had become a refuge for thousands of refugees fleeing the looting of an entire district.

On March 29, people were forced out of their homes in Carrefour” district. Their homes were then looted and burned down by supporters of Ouattara, who is a struggle for the Presidency of the Ivory Coast. Many people reported being told by looters to take refuge in the parish where the courtyard was quickly filled and which had had no water or electricity for 3 days. 30,000 eventually took refuge in the sprawling parish. (Via the Salesian information service.

Caritas reports that 1,000 were killed, Red Cross workers reported seeing at least 800 bodies in the neighborhood. Reports vary as to whether or not the killings took place within the parish or were primarily of men who weren't able to reach the parish in time.

Per the Catholic News Service, Bishop Gaspard Beby Gneba of Man, whose diocese includes Duekoue, told the Vatican's missionary news agency Fides April 2 that civilian and church-owned facilities in his diocese such as churches, schools and health clinics have been destroyed and looted.

Bishop Gneba said 20,000 people had taken refuge at the Catholic mission in Duekoue, and another 2,000 refugees were in the two parishes of Guiglo. Among them were many Liberians who had been in Ivory Coast since the end of civil war in Liberia in 2003.

Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan told Fides April 4 that the situation there was quiet yet extremely tense -- like the calm before a storm.

He said people have locked themselves in their homes, and many were without water, electricity and food.

"We are awaiting the finale to the battle. It's an indescribable tragedy," the archbishop said.

And now a bit of background to the story:

West Africa has seen massive Christian growth over the past century. Only 1.7% of West Africans were Christian in 1910. By 2010, Christians made up nearly 36% of the population while Muslims are 48.6%. The growth of Christianity in the Ivory Coast was typical of the region. In 1910, there were only 780 known Christians in the Ivory Coast. Today there are over 7 million Christians and 35% of the nation is Christian. (per the Global Atlas of Christianity) There are an estimated 2.8 million baptised Catholics in Côte d'Ivoire, 17% of the population, in 14 diocese. There are 800 priests and 1,500 men and women in religious orders.

Roman Catholicism made a brief appearance in the Ivory Coast in the mid-seventeenth century and reappeared two centuries later when French missionaries began to work among the Agni. The first African Roman Catholic mission in the country was established in 1895, and the first African priest was ordained in 1934. In the 1980s, the Roman Catholic Church operated seminaries and schools throughout the country.

The basilica in Yamoussoukro is one of the five tallest churches in the world. Unfortunately, the basilica, which is bigger than St. Peter's and has 7,000 air conditioned seats and standing room for 11,000, is widely regarded as a 300 million dollar monument to corruption and ego. The then president of Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, wanted to venerate himself through the construction of the largest church in the world at his birthplace, Yammousoukro. The president was depicted in a stained glass offering a gift to Jesus with his apostles. The local bishop and the Catholic community in this poor capital city of 120,000 spend their time at the near-by Cathedral of St. Augustine.


 
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