"Christ lives, he has overcome death, he has overcome all these powers. We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy." (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 12 XI 2008)
"Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks the truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie." (Blessed John Paul II, Canonisation of Edith Stein, 11 X 1998)

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Get ready for the Beatification of John Paul II

Tomorrow will be the beatification of JP2 the Great.
To refresh your memory of this great doctor of the Church you can pick up the pdf version of Our Sunday Visitor's tribute from 2005 here:

Also, you can follow the beatification live here:

And refresh your memories:

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Scourging and Crucifixion in Anime style Video

The film is a bit violent (as it was 2000 years ago), but it has the happiest ending - the one we all hope for. Jesus, I Trust in You,

Good Friday: Pope Benedict XVI Answers Live Questions on Television Broadcast (from Catholic online)

Good Friday: Pope Benedict XVI Answers Live Questions on Television Broadcast - Television & Video - Arts & Entertainment - Catholic Online

VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI made papal broadcasting history on Good Friday when he became the first pope to appear on a question and answer TV show. The pre-recorded program for "In His Image", broadcast on the Italian RAI Uno station, showed the pope replying to seven questions submitted from around the world, that included a young Japanese girl, a Muslim mother from the Ivory Coast and seven Christian students from Iraq. The full text follows:
Pope's Responses from the Transmission of "In His Image"
Q. Holy Father, I want to thank you for your presence here, which fills us with joy and helps us remember that today is the day in which Jesus showed His love in the most radical way, that is, by dying on the cross as an innocent. It is precisely on this theme of innocent sorrow that is the first question that comes from a seven-year-old Japanese child who says: "My name is Elena. I am Japanese and I am seven years old. I am very frightened because the house where I felt safe really shook a lot and many children my age have died. I cannot go to play at the park. I want to know: why do I have to be so afraid? Why do children have to be so sad? I'm asking the Pope, who speaks with God, to explain it to me".
A. Dear Elena, I send you my heartfelt greetings. I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease? And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent, and that the true God who is revealed in Jesus is by your side. This seems very important to me, even if we do not have answers, even if we are still sad; God is by your side and you can be certain that this will help you. One day we will even understand why it was so.

At this moment it seems important to me that you know "God loves me" even if it seems like He doesn't know me. No, He loves me, He is by my side, and you can be sure that in the world, in the universe, there are many who are with you, thinking of you, doing what they can for you, to help you. And be aware that, one day, I will understand that this suffering was not empty, it wasn't in vain, but behind it was a good plan, a plan of love. It is not chance. Be assured, we are with you, with all the Japanese children who are suffering. We want to help you with our prayers, with our actions, and you can be sure that God will help you. In this sense we pray together so that light may come to you as soon as possible.
Q. The second question presents us with a Calvary because we have a mother under her son's cross. This mother is an Italian named Maria Teresa and she asks you: "Your Holiness, has the soul of my son Francesco, who has been in a vegetative coma since Easter Sunday 2009, left his body, seeing that he is no longer conscious, or is it still near him?"
A. Certainly his soul is still present in his body. The situation, perhaps, is like that of a guitar whose strings have been broken and therefore can no longer play. The instrument of the body is fragile like that, it is vulnerable, and the soul cannot play, so to speak, but remains present. I am also sure that this hidden soul feels your love deep down, even if unable to understand the details, your words, etc.

He feels the presence of love. Your presence, therefore, dear parents, dear mother, next to him for hours and hours every day, is the true act of a love of great value because this presence enters into the depth of that hidden soul. Your act is thus also a witness of faith in God, of faith in man, of faith, let us say, of commitment, to life, of respect for human life, even in the saddest of situations. I encourage you, therefore to carry on, to know that you are giving a great service to humanity with this sign of faith, with this sign of respect for life, with this love for a wounded body and a suffering soul.
Q. The third question takes us to Iraq, to the youth of Baghdad, persecuted Christians who send you this question; "Greetings from Iraq, Holy Father", they say. "We Christians in Baghdad are persecuted like Jesus. Holy Father, in your opinion, in what way can we help our Christian community to reconsider their desire to emigrate to other countries, convincing them that leaving is not the only solution?"
A. First of all I want to cordially greet all the Christians of Iraq, our brothers and sisters, and I have to say that I pray every day for the Christians in Iraq. They are our suffering brothers and sisters, as those who are suffering in other lands are too, and therefore they are particularly dear to our hearts and we must do whatever we can so that they might be able to stay, so that they might be able to resist the temptation to emigrate, which is very understandable in the conditions they are living in. I would say that it is important that we are near to you, dear brothers and sisters in Iraq ...
(for more click here)

Divine Mercy Novena starts today

(Text from EWTN)
Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to theDivine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday.  He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:
"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."
In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:
"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."
The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:
DAY 1 (Good Friday) - All mankind, especially sinners
DAY  2 (Holy Saturday)- The souls of priests and religious
DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls
DAY 4 (Easter Monday)- Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him
DAY  5 (Easter Tuesday)- The souls of separated brethren
DAY  6 (Easter Wednesday)- The meek and humble souls and the souls of children
DAY  7 (Easter Thursday)- The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy
DAY  8 (Easter Friday)- The souls who are detained in purgatory; 
DAY  9 (Easter Saturday)- The souls who have become lukewarm.
TheChaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena. (click here for instructions on how to pray the Chaplet)

Read more:http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm#ixzz1KHmaXuNA

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Act to defund Planned Parenthood NOW

Senate vote on Planned Parenthood, health law funding, set for Thursday | LifeSiteNews.com

Now is the time. This is the opportunity for Pro-Lifers to make the world a safer place.
Click here to find information to contact your U.S. Senator.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

WCCM, Christian Meditation and Centering prayer – a spiritual mishmash for Catholics

 Guest post by NETI

My Parish in London (Our Lady of Victories) initiated a “Lenten Talk” run this year by the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM). Having recently read an awful lot about the New Age Movement I became worried. I went to the first talk done by Fr Laurence Freeman titled “Letting go” and the one done by Kim Naraja “Is meditation Christian”. Here are my reflections.

The subject is vast and much can be said about what is happening in the Catholic Church nowadays. I guess the right basis for any discussions are two documents issued by the Vatican: 1) “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life, a must-read for any Catholic in the current world of confusion and 2) “The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation”.

C.S. Lewis once gave a speech to an assembly of Anglican ministers and youth leaders asking them to respect the boundary line: 'I think it is your duty to fix the lines clearly in your own minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christian or as priest but as honest men.'

I would be really grateful if those priests changed their professions as C.S. Lewis says, not only out of respect to our Holy Mother Church but also as honest men (or women in some cases). But above all I pray for their conversion to the true spirituality. Sometimes I wonder if they think they are much smarter than Our Lady who encourages us, the sinners, to pray the Rosary, read the Bible, go to Confession and receive the Eucharist. Not navel-gazing !

And the list of the “enlightened” fathers is long (of those that I know):

  • Cistercian monks ( O.C.S.O) Fr Thomas Keating, Fr William Meninger, Fr Basil Pennington and Fr Thomas Merton;
  • Benedictine monks (O.S.B.) Fr John Main, Fr Laurence Freeman, Fr Bede Griffiths
  • Franciscan friar (O.F.M.) Fr Richard Rohr
  • Benedictine sisters (OSB) Sr. Teresa Ann Harrington
It was interesting to discover that most of them use the Rule of St Benedict - St Benedict incorporated many principles of John Cassian and recommended his monks read the works of Cassian.

Okay, so who was this John Cassian so widely quoted by many propagators of so called “Christian Mediation” or Centering prayer (Kim Naraja when asked by me what the difference between those two types of prayer is replied that they were like brothers, very similar).

JOHN CASSIAN John Cassian wrote two major spiritual works, the Institutions and the Conferences. In these, he codified and transmitted the wisdom of the Desert Fathers of Egypt. The Institutions (Latin: De institutis coenobiorum) deal with the external organization of monastic communities, while the Conferences (Latin: Collationes patrum in scetica eremo) deal with "the training of the inner man and the perfection of the heart.” John Cassian is generally considered to be an early proponent of the view that later became known as Semi-pelagianism. This emphasized the role of free will in that the first steps of salvation are in the power of the individual, without the need for divine grace. His thought has been described as a "middle way" between Pelagianism, which taught that the will alone was sufficient to live a sinless life, and the view of Augustine of Hippo, that emphasizes original sin and the absolute need for grace.

The second reference widely used by our “Meditating MishMash Fathers” is the mysterious book called: “The Cloud of Unknowing”. The story goes that in 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. apparently found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God. This form of meditation is recently known as 'Centering Prayer' (from a text of Thomas Merton). He quickly began teaching contemplative prayer according to The Cloud of Unknowing at the Abbey Retreat House. One year later his workshop was taken up by his Abbot, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington, both of whom had been looking for a teachable form of Christian contemplative meditation to offset the movement of young Catholics toward Eastern meditation techniques.  Father Meninger now teaches the Centering Prayer along with workshops on Forgiveness, the Enneagram, Sacred Scriptures, and Prayer all around the world – now, have a look at the Vatican document and you will find that the Enneagram is classified as a New Age Practice. That is what I call spiritual mishmash – a bit of Scripture, a bit of New Age and a bit of prayer.

“The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation” says: Christian prayer is not an exercise in (…) stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which “implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'You' of God”. It leads to an increasingly complete surrender to God's will, whereby we are invited to a deep, genuine solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”

Fr Freeman (WCCM) told us in his introduction that “Meditation is the way of self knowledge, prayer in silence, letting go (I think he mentioned that world at least 50 times, almost like a mantra on its own). Prayer is not about getting benefits from God but becoming like god. Capacity of letting go (here we go again) everything, receiving, humbly and simply. Not to acquire but to let go (déjà vue). All forms of prayer converge in the hub of a wheel of prayer. In the center of prayer we enter into the prayer of Jesus (Christ prays in you).

The inspiration for his enlightened talk can be discovered by reading from “Centering Prayer” by Fr Basil Pennington (p 25-37): The desert tradition out of which this teaching on prayer of John Cassian, The Cloud of Unknowing, and Centering Prayer evolved is the same as that from which the Jesus Prayer issued. However, while Abba Isaac gave St. John a word from the Psalms: "0 God, come to my assistance; 0 Lord, make haste to help me," the Eastern current derived its source from two passages of the New Testament - that of the blind Bartimeus and that of the publican - to form the well-known prayer: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." In time, especially under the long domination of the Moslems, the Eastern Christian tradition was enriched or modified by other influences from the East. Thus today the expression "The Jesus Prayer" is a blanket covering a variety of methods.

Also remember that although the early Fathers (including Cassian) sought union with God in solitude and peace, this was always in the third stage of spiritual development, after undergoing both the Purgatio and Illuminatio. For us to assume that we can jump directly to the stage of Unitio without the first two stages is dangerous and not in keeping with Catholic teaching. Also, for us to attempt to achieve mystical experiences through certain practices is against our Faith as these mystical experiences are graces giving to the mystics as a great gift from God and it is Him alone who decides who shall receive them. As the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states in paragraph 23: “Genuine Christian mysticism has nothing to do with technique: it is always a gift of God, and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy (cf St. Teresa of Jesus, Castillo Interior IV)”. St Teresa of Avila also tells us in The Interior Castle that more harm than good can from trying to stop the mind, but we should rather without any effort or noise, strive to cut down the rambling of the intellect – but not suspend either it or the mind; it is good to be aware that one is in God’s presence and of who God is when in prayer. 

Also, you can't use technique as a substitute for spiritual growth to suddenly arrive at "contemplation" or Unitio. You may "blank" your mind or use a mantra to some how hypnotise yourself, but this will bring an empty calmness more akin to transcendtal mediation than any true contemplation. Let us not forget what the Great Pope John Paul II taught us in his homily during the celebrations of the 4th Centenary of St Teresa of Avila's death. He reminded us that St Teresa opposed the books of her day which presented  contemplation as thinking about nothing or an assimilation into some vague divinity.

What most of the above Fathers are proposing is mishmash of Eastern religions (Zen Buddhism and Hinduism) mixed with the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and true mystics. It is not easy to make up your mind while going through that mishmash of good and less good intentions. The rich heritage of Christian Meditation is not to be found in other religions. It is found in the methods of St Theresa of Avila, St Ignatius of Loyola and St Francis de Sales. It is also most prominently found in the ancient practice of Lectio Divina. As Pope Benedict points out in Verbum Domini: “The Word of God is at the basis of all authentic Christian spirituality.” (Para 86, where Origen is also quoted). The basis of Christian meditation is the Word of God (in the person of Jesus and the Scriptures), not an emptying of the mind, but approaching the dialogue with God where God reveals himself through his Word (cf Verbum Domini).

I would fully encourage you to read some of the following sources for a better understanding of centering prayer and what the dangers for any Catholic practicing them are:
And please write to your Parish Priests, Bishops and The Vatican about this alarming spread of mishmash spirituality.