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Do You Give Up So Easily on Jesus? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 07:49
And this related story from Iraq - one of many such that I have heard, one of the few that has made it into the media(Catholic News Agency)

"As Fr. Bautista continued speaking with us, he described the fascinating story of a young Muslim woman who was entering the Church under his guidance through the RCIA process. Her story was moving. While working with Americans, this woman, who must remain anonymous, was touched deeply when she realized that the U.S. medical personnel not only treated wounded Americans and Iraqi civilians, but also treated wounded enemy combatants, including one who was known for having killed U.S. Marines. As she put it, “This cannot happen with us.”

This dramatic extension of mercy even to enemy soldiers caused her to take the next cautious step. She asked Father Bautista to “tell me more about Jesus.” As Father described Jesus and his life in the Gospels, one thing stood out among the rest for the Muslim woman he called “Fatima” (not her real name) and that was how kindly Jesus had related to, as she put it, “the two Mary’s.” Fatima was moved to see how Jesus deeply loved Mary, his mother, who was sinless, but also how Jesus deeply loved Mary Magdalene, who was “a great sinner.” As these discussions continued, Fatima reached a point where she said to Father Bautista, “I want to become a Christian.”

Since Father Bautista sees himself as a chaplain for all troops, not just Catholics, he decided to introduce Fatima to other chaplains from Protestant and Orthodox backgrounds. After some time had passed, Fatima returned to Father Bautista and said, “I want to become a Catholic like you.” When Father asked her the reason for her decision, she said, “You were the only one who told me about the other Christians, so you left me free to decide for myself. That’s how I knew this was the right decision.”

As their catechetical lessons developed over time, Fatima’s family discovered her plan and was warned sternly by her father that if she continued on this path, she would be disowned by the entire family and would never have contact with them again. At this point, Father Bautista became concerned for Fatima’s well-being and cautioned her to look carefully at the consequences of her decision and to think seriously before continuing her path into the Church.

Fatima paused for a moment and then looking intently at Father Bautista asked, “Do you give up so easily on Jesus?” The question took Father aback for a moment, but then he thought, “This is incredible; this Muslim woman is already bearing witness to me about how important my own faith is!”

As he related it, this woman’s question had caused him to give greater thanks for his faith and for the great privilege of sharing Christ with others. Fatima is currently continuing the RCIA process with great courage and joy."


It depends a good deal upon her family (although the fact that she could initiate the conversation at all and show up every week for RCIA says a great deal about her relative freedom of movement) but Fatima's life could easily be endangered because of her desire to be baptized.

Please pray for "Fatima" and all who journey toward Christ this Advent.
 
Snapshot From the Global Church: Sharjah PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 07:38
Occasionally, I come across interesting pieces that give a glimpse of what it means to be Catholic in a very different part of the world. I'm calling this irregular feature "Snapshot from the global church" and I'd like to begin with the story of St. Michael's parish ( from Mangalorean.com.)

Imagine a parish of 65,000 made up of 20 nationalities. Where "the day of obligation" runs Friday through Sunday - with 17 Masses in three rites, including Syro-Malabar and Malankara. Where 3,000 children attend catechism class in English in the morning and 1,500 in Arabic in the afternoon. Where the CCD classrooms are jammed with 100 children practically sitting on top of each other.

Welcome to St. Michael's parish in Sharjah, in the Vicariate of Arabia

"When I arrived here the first time, I was literally shocked to see the tremendous faith of the expatriate community. To a certain extent, it energizes one's own belief," recalls Father Kuruvilla who reached the United Arab Emirates some 15 years ago. "Many a time I have wondered what exactly is the reason for this external manifestation of deep hunger and thirst for anything spiritual." asks 50-year-old Kuruvilla who considers it a privilege to be part of a vibrant faith-filled community.

As I know from friends who have lived there, life can be very hard for Christian foreign guest workers, in parts of the Persian Gulf.

"We do take a lot of trouble to come to the church every week daring all types of obstacles. The traffic situation too is chaotic," says a parishioner, Lydiya Pinto.

"Lack of parking anywhere near the church adds to our misery. The over-crowded church atmosphere makes things even more difficult. With this, if we have to just rush in and out of the church every time we come for the service -- when we are seeking solace and relief for our overburdened hearts -- I just don't see the point of taking all this trouble. It is high time that we thought of dividing the crowd."
 
Welcome to Advent PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 06:06

Written by Keith Strohm

This past Sunday, the Church celebrated the beginning of Advent, that period of expectant waiting for the birth of the Christ child. One of the things I love about being Catholic is the pulse of liturgical rhythms that beat throughout the year. All of time has been redeemed, and we acknowledge this by setting aside the recurring moments of the calendar year (this chronos time) and entering into what the Lord has prepared for us, what the ancients called kairos time--a period where the eternal enters into our finite experience. I would also call this Sacramental time.

In this season of waiting, we are called (as a People and as individual members of that People) to prepare our own hearts for the birth of Christ so that He might be born anew in us. It is a season of intentional reflection upon the great gift of our salvation and redemption, and a time when we can deepen our committment to follow Christ and become more like Him, so that, as Mary, the very model of all Discipleship, our whole being can become impregnated with the Word of God--this Jesus for whom all of Creation waited.

The word "advent" (which means "coming") is the latin version of the greek word "parousia," which many of us hear in relationship to the Second Coming of Christ. And so, in this Advent season, we are called not only to reflect on and celebrate the Mystery of the Incarnation and the coming of Christ that occurred in the past, as well as prepare ourselves for the birth of Christ in our hearts, but we must also be aware and celebrate the reality of His Second Coming, when the fullness of the Kingdom of God will be made manifest, realizing that ulimately our destinly lies with the eternal, living One.

May this sacred season bring you much grace and joy, and may we all celebrate it with integrity and intentionality.
You can find a great listing of various posts about advent over here at Mary's Aggies.

 
"That Incomparable Woman": Mary Ward PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 04 December 2007 22:44
The extraordinary Mary Ward is a great example of the prominent role that women played in the persecuted English Catholic community. Mary was related to most of the recusant families of England and all the women in her family - mother, grandmother, aunts - were very devout and had spent years in prison for their faith. Imagine the impact of that kind of modeling on a highly intelligent and devout young girl.

Mary was classically educated and spoke and read several languages, including Latin. Like many Englishwomen from the higher classes, Mary Ward enjoyed much greater freedom and independence than was available to women in most Catholic countries at that time - especially in Rome.

Mary established the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary to educate girls and it quickly spread all over the Europe. She was completely faithful to the Church and her ultimate vision was to re-establish Catholicism in England but her vision of educated, non-cloistered women apostles, operating under the Jesuit rule, and answering to the Pope rather than to local bishops, was extremely controversial. Her community was formally suppressed by the Pope in 1631 and Mary herself was imprisoned by the Church (although released by the Pope when he realized what had happened).

The 1631 Papal Bull of Suppression was never been rescinded. However, it was contradicted in 1703 by the approval of the Rules and the approbation of the Institute in 1877. It was only in 1909 that Mary Ward was publicly acknowledged as foundress of the Institute and her rehabilitation was complete when Pope Pius XII called Mary "that incomparable woman" in his speech to the the 1951 Congress on the Apostolate of the Laity.

There is a wonderful Life of Mary Ward told in 50 - 17th century paintings that hang in the IVBM convent in Augsburg, Germany.

Some of my favorites show Mary as a young woman evangelist in England.



At Coldham Hall in England, Mary obtained the conversion of a very wealthy but obstinately heretical lady, after many learned men had vainly employed all their zeal and eloquence in trying to convert her.

And here, Mary goes undercover by dressing as a servant to reach her aunt and bring her to the Catholic faith.



And here Mary quells a mutiny on board by invoking her patron St. James. Mary afterwards declared that she had never sought any favour from God through the intercession of this great prince of heaven without it being granted to her.



All in a day's work.
 
Relics From Recusant England: Light in the Darkness PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 04 December 2007 20:13
Stoneyhurst College holds a fascinating collection of English Catholic relics from penal times.

There is this peddlar's trunk of wood in which St. Edmund Arrowsmith hide his vestments. It was found walled up in a Lancashire cottage in the 1880's:



Here is St. Edmund's rosary bracelet:



The elaborate embroidered pomegranate on this corporal made between 1590 and 1600 is a symbol of eternal life. In the absence of a priest to celebrate the Eucharist, the corporal that had touched the consecrated host was regarded as a relic.



This Agnus Dei of 1578 was carried by St. Edmund Campion.



An Agnus Dei is a disc of wax impressed with the figure of a lamb and blessed at stated seasons by the Pope. The lamb usually bears a cross or flag, while figures of saints or the name and arms of the Pope are also commonly impressed on the reverse. They are regarded as sacramentals like holy water. Agnes Dei were worn as protection from evil. In the prayers of blessing, special mention is made of the perils from storm and pestilence, from fire and flood, and also from the dangers of childbirth.

This Agnus Dei was wrapped in a list of indulgences and hidden in rafters of Lynford Grange, Berkshire when Campion was arrested July 17, 1581.
 
Shakespeare's Testament PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 04 December 2007 07:48
Another glimpse of the world of Recusant Catholicism:

From EnglishHistory.info

In 1757, a gang of workman working on the roof of the Shakespeare home, found "a small 'paper-book', or pamphlet, tucked between the old tiling and the rafters. Its six stitched leaves turned out to contain fourteen hand-written articles amounting to a profession of Roman Catholic faith by John Shakespeare, William's father in 1580.

It's full significance was not grasped until 1923 when a Jesuit scholar uncovered a remarkably similar document in Italian buried in the British Museum: "Borromeo's 'Last Will of the Soul, made in health for the Christian to secure himself from the temptations of the devil at the hour of death' was composed during a virulent bout of the plague in Milan in the 1570s, said to have claimed 17,000 Catholic lives. His Testament, which became a mantra of the Counter-Reformation, was clearly the original of the English translation found hidden in what had once been John Shakespeare's roof."

In 1580 Borromeo was visited in Milan by a group of Jesuit missionaries, led by Father Edmund Campion, an English recusant who two years later would be tried and gruesomely executed for treason. Campion and his colleagues brought back with them to England numerous copies of Borromeo's testament, which was now circulating around Catholic Europe in huge quantities. 'Three or four thousand or more of the Testaments' were ordered from Rome by Campion and his colleagues, 'for many persons desire to have them.'

Once back in England, Campion passed through the Midlands — specifically Lapworth, just twelve miles from Stratford — en route to Lancashire, where he was again to play a significant role in the life of young William Shakespeare.

Campion's host at Lapworth was Sir William Catesby. Shakespeare's father might well have been one of the furtive souls invited by Catesby, his Catholic wife's Catholic kinsman, to meet Campion at Lapworth, and to carry away one of the secretly made English translations imported by the thousand from Rome.

Three years later, a Catholic cousin of the Shakespeare's, devised a plan to assassinate Elizabeth I in a fit of insanity. . . . in his rented room, he must "...evidently have been talking aloud to himself in bed, and thus have attracted attention, for again his room became filled with startled auditors of his frenzied exclamations that he was going to London to shoot the Queen through with his dagg or pistol, that she was a serpent and a viper, and he hoped to see her head set upon a pole" (courtesy Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet):

Many Catholic homes in Warwickshire were searched and numerous Catholics arrested. And John Shakespeare seems to have thought it prudent to hide his testament in his roof.

This Crisis article from 2002 by Paul Voss outlines the case for Shakespeare's very Catholic background and imagination:

"The Catholic imagination-the imagination that allowed Shakespeare to sprinkle his plays with references to Catholic religious beliefs and practices in meaningful ways-also helped to create the fictive worlds of Denmark, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Illyria. The imagination that made him Catholic also helped make him the greatest writer in the English-speaking world.

. . . Not only does the Catholic imagination allow for great art, music, and literature to flourish, it allows Catholics today to use the transcendent truths of our faith in profound ways. We, as Catholics, need not observe the world with the blinders of fundamentalism, rejecting everything not found within a narrow worldview. Moreover, the Catholic imagination mitigates against an unfettered relativism that is skeptical of any truth, no matter how obvious. The Catholic imagination, anchored in the truth of beauty and the beauty of truth, seeks connections between God and His creation, between His truth and our understanding Shakespeare's plays grant us a glimpse of that imagination at work."

 
The Timeline of English Persecution PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 04 December 2007 07:17
The Timeline of Persecution from this very useful website, The Recusant Historian's Handbook gives you a sense of the mounting oppression that Elizabethan Catholics faced.

1559, Act of Supremacy: Monarch supreme governor of Church of England, clergy to take oath of supremacy on pain of deprivation.

1559, Act of Uniformity: imposed Book of Common Prayer, one shilling fine for failure to attend church on Sunday.

1563, forbidden to defend papal supremacy on pain of Praemunire (forfeiture of property).

1571, treason to call monarch heretic or schismatic, treason to introduce papal bulls.

1581, treason to convert or to be converted to Catholicism, fine of £20 per month for recusancy.

1585, treason for Jesuits or seminary priests to enter the country.

1587, suspected recusant who failed to appear for trial incurred guilt.

1593, recusants restricted to within five miles of their homes.

1605, convicted recusants to receive Anglican communion once per annum on pain of fine and eventual forfeiture of property.

1605, recusants barred from office and professions.

1678, recusants barred from parliament.

1692, recusants incur double land tax.

1699, recusants barred from purchasing or inheriting land.

1778, Relief Act: Catholics permitted to own land.

1791, Relief Act: Catholic clergy permitted to exercise ministry.

1829, Emancipation Act: Catholics permitted to hold office and to sit in parliament.
 
Bizarre But True PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 04 December 2007 06:51
Bizarre, grotesque, and heroic are the words that come to mind about this item. Via Catholic New Service:

A book bound in the skin of an executed Jesuit priest was sold at an auction in England to an unnamed private collector for 5,400 pounds (more than US$11,000).

The macabre, 17th-century book tells the story of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot and is covered in the hide of Father Henry Garnet.

Fr. Garnet served as superior of the hunted Jesuits in England for 20 years between 1586 and 1606. He was a remarkable leader in troubled times. During his time in office, the Jesuits in England grew from 1 to 40 and no one was captured in his London lodging (although there were many close calls)

The priest, at the time the head of the Jesuits in England, was executed May 3, 1606, outside St. Paul's Cathedral in London for his alleged role in a Catholic plot to detonate 36 barrels of gunpowder beneath the British Parliament, an act that would have killed the Protestant King James I and other government leaders.

The book, "A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceedings Against the Late Most Barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuit and His Confederates," contains accounts of speeches and evidence from the trials. It measures about 6 inches by 4 inches and comes in a wooden box.

Sid Wilkinson, the auctioneer, said: "The front cover is rather spooky because where the skin has mottled or crinkled there looks to be a bearded face.

"It is a curious thing, and we believe it to be taken from the skin of Henry Garnet," he told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview Nov. 28.

He added that it was common for the skins of executed criminals to be used to cover books about their lives, a process called anthropodermic binding.

Another glimpse of strange world of recusant England. Poor Fr. Garnet died at the hands of an executioner, protesting his innocence of any involvement in the Gunpowder Plot. It is because of uncertainty about this that he has never been declared a martyr for the faith.
 
Tough Times on the Road PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 03 December 2007 17:53
It looks like Fr. Mike and I will be traveling to Ettal, Germany in October, 2008, to give a Called & Gifted workshop at the Benedictine monastery there.



Sometimes this is really tough gig. This is going to be the hardest trip since the trips to Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. As you can see, the St. Stephen Pastoral Center for the Diocese of Hawaii is also a tough gig.



I'm working away on that Michelin Guide to the convents and rectories of North America. And maybe Europe . . .
 
Snapshot From the Global Church: Sharjah PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 03 December 2007 09:47
Snapshot from the global church via Mangalorean.com


Imagine a parish of 65,000 made up of 20 nationalities. Where "the day of obligation" runs Friday through Sunday - with 17 Masses in three rites, including Syro-Malabar and Malankara. Where 3,000 children attend catechism class in English in the morning and 1,500 in Arabic in the afternoon. Where the CCD classrooms are jammed with 100 children practically sitting on top of each other.

Welcome to St. Michael's parish in Sharjah, in the Vicariate of Arabia

"When I arrived here the first time, I was literally shocked to see the tremendous faith of the expatriate community. To a certain extent, it energizes one's own belief," recalls Father Kuruvilla who reached the United Arab Emirates some 15 years ago. "Many a time I have wondered what exactly is the reason for this external manifestation of deep hunger and thirst for anything spiritual." asks 50-year-old Kuruvilla who considers it a privilege to be part of a vibrant faith-filled community.

As I know from friends who have lived there, life can be very hard for Christian foreign guest workers, in parts of the Persian Gulf.

"We do take a lot of trouble to come to the church every week daring all types of obstacles. The traffic situation too is chaotic," says a parishioner, Lydiya Pinto.

"Lack of parking anywhere near the church adds to our misery. The over-crowded church atmosphere makes things even more difficult. With this, if we have to just rush in and out of the church every time we come for the service -- when we are seeking solace and relief for our overburdened hearts -- I just don't see the point of taking all this trouble. It is high time that we thought of dividing the crowd."
 
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