Posts Tagged ‘Ecumenism’

Pope Benedict making the Sign of the Cross


Over at Catholic Answers, I came across this this link on a forum posting.  The minister at a very large Methodist Church in Texas has a series of sermons about different Christian faith traditions, in very charitable and ecumenical presentations. 

The series started with his appreciation of Roman Catholicism.  I listened to it and was very moved.  Not only would Protestants brothers and sisters benefit from it, but we Catholics as well.  Overall, the pastor gave a very fair presentation.  (A couple of his historical dates seem influenced by his Protestant background, e.g. the date of the establishment of Roman papal authority.)  But his historical overview is generally acceptable.  It’s what he has to say about the things he appreciates in Catholics where this sermon gets going, and surprising.  I’ve never known any Protestant to admire our Purgatory beliefs, for instance.   What else does our Methodist brother appreciate?  Not surprising: our commitment to life issues, our steadfastness against cultural attacks, and our work with the poor.  Oh, and of course, Authority.  Surprising: Sacramentals, liturgy, reverent ritualized prayer, candles, and the Sign of the Cross.  He even tackles the sex abuse scandal.

I got a bit choked up listening to it.

Here is the minister, Dr. Ed Robb, preaching on “Why I appreciate the Roman Catholics“.  (there is a video option as well).  Take time to listen to it; it just may make you appreciate your faith more.

The Woodlands UMC


Read Full Post »

I think it is a very historical event in many ways because the language that was used — the language of Jesus, which ties us more directly to Jesus.”  —  Army Col. Teresa A. Gallagher, Commander 28th Combat Aviation Brigade 

Indeed!  Col. Gallagher speaks the truth, the language of Jesus WAS indeed used…and I’m not talking about the Aramaic used in the Mass.  ;-)

From The Boston Pilot (official newspaper of the Boston Diocese) (and the oldest Catholic newspaper in the country!) comes this wonderful Year of the Priest story  from Iraq.  There, at the site of Father Abraham’s hometown, the head of Chaldean Rite Catholic community celebrated mass with the chaplains, men and women of Contingency Operating Base Adder.  From the well-written article by Sgt. Neil W. McCabe, it is clear that God’s Providence was working on many levels:  national, international, denominational and personal.  I would love for a follow-up story in 10 years but for now, I’m sure that God is working on something good.

A short walk from the Ziggurat of Ur, the massive Sumerian stone edifice that dominates the site of Abraham’s hometown, the leader of southern Iraq’s Chaldean Rite Catholic community celebrated Mass Nov. 7 at the camp’s chapel.

“Today, as we gather in the Land of Abraham, the father of all nations, I dedicate this Mass to all of you — and I also dedicate the Mass for the peace, which is the wish of children and every people on earth, especially the peace in our beloved country, Iraq,” said Msgr. Imad Al Banna, who, as the vicar of the country’s Chaldean patriarch, is the prelate of Basra, a diocese erected in the fifth century.

“I further dedicate this Mass to those working for peace, especially for those who offered the ultimate sacrifice, who died in Iraq for the sake of peace at the Altar of Freedom,” the prelate said.

The official host of the liturgy was the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, a unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard, said Army Col. Teresa A. Gallagher, the brigade’s commander.

The invitation was worked out between the colonel and Army Lt. Col. John C. Morris, chief of chaplains for the 34th Infantry Division Command Group, whose area of operations is Iraq’s southern nine provinces, she said. Chaplain Morris and his staff coordinated the event.

The ordinary flew 45 minutes north to Camp Adder with Morris and the commander of the 34th, Army Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, from the general’s Multi-National Division South headquarters at Camp Basra. In his homily, the prelate said he has a great working relationship with Nash, whom he called a great friend of the Iraqi people.

Nash, whose 34th Division is part of the Minnesota National Guard, said the ordinary’s visit to Camp Adder was a fantastic opportunity for the prelate to spread the Word of God to soldiers in other parts of Multi-National Division South.

After the Mass, the Chaldean cleric sat with soldiers and other congregants in a reserved room at the nearby dining facility, posing for pictures and answering questions from curious Americans and sharing moments of affinity with Iraqis from his community. At the end of the luncheon, Gallagher presented him with her personal coin and a commemorative Liberty Bell, which he gamely held up and rang playfully for everyone.

“This is the second time I have met him in person,” said Army Maj. Gary K. DeRouchey, a Catholic chaplain assigned to MND South from South Dakota, about the prelate. Father DeRouchey concelebrated the Mass with the ordinary along with three other Catholic chaplains, Air Force Maj. Richard M. Fitzgerald, Air Force Captain Richard J. Allen and Army Capt. Frantisek Halka.

“Each time, he has shown himself to be a man of great compassion and love for the people of his parishes as well as the American people,” Father DeRouchey said. “He sees the importance of cooperation between our nations, but not so much on the political side, but mostly on being instruments of God’s mercy. You can see the love of Christ in him.”

Father DeRouchey added, “He truly lives out his faith. He has nothing but a smile on his face. He is forever praising God for the blessings he has received. He lives with much less than most of us ever dreamed of living and he celebrates that.”

Among the Iraqis at the Mass, was Deacon Bassam Toma Kajo, a native of Basra, who assisted the monsignor at the Mass both as an altar server and as second voice, joining in chants and making responses.

Kajo, who travelled with the prelate, said he was ordained a permanent deacon in 2005, one year after he lost sight in his right eye when an Islamic militia in his city destroyed his store with rocket propelled grenades.

Today, Kajo is the director of a private agency, Brothers Loving Human Charity, which focuses on helping children of all backgrounds with extreme medical conditions, he said. Because of a freak house fire, he lives with his wife and daughter in a one-room apartment.

On the tarmac at Camp Basra before boarding his helicopter, the prelate told Father DeRouchey, that his community has suffered terribly during the struggle to establish a new Iraq. “There are 14 churches, six are open and eight are closed. There were 1,050 families, now there are 500.”

Despite the challenges, the ordinary said he continues to send seminarians to the Chaldean seminary in Baghdad and he operates a school open to all children and other charitable services with the help of religious sisters.

There is a hope that this Mass is just another step towards a fuller interaction between the local and military Christian communities, said Father DeRouchey.

Events such as this Mass are a chance to reach outside the military boundaries, he said. In fact, the chaplain broached the idea with the ordinary of partnering with the local Chaldean community in acts of charity as a Church, to reach the hearts of the people of Iraq.

He also discussed with the ordinary the possibility of inviting members of his community to come onto Camp Basra to celebrate Mass during the Christmas season.

“It was an East meets West opportunity,” said Father Fitzgerald. “I teach a class here where Western Christians are trying to learn about Eastern Christianity, so my whole class was actually at the Mass–Catholic and Protestant, by the way, and they are trying to integrate this whole experience as to how we can build bridges between East and West and a lot of it comes through knowledge.”

The Chaldean Mass is celebrated in Aramaic, an ancient Semitic language spoken in Palestine in the time of Jesus. The celebrant chants the liturgy in a rhythm unfamiliar to soldiers who are accustomed to how the Roman Rite is celebrated in the United States.

“I think it is a very historical event in many ways because the language that was used — the language of Jesus, which ties us more directly to Jesus,” Gallagher said.

Sgt. Miguel Pastrana, a soldier deployed with the Army Reserve’s Chicago-based 16th Psychological Operations Battalion, stationed at Camp Adder, said the Mass was a very powerful spiritual experience. Pastrana attended the Mass with two other soldiers from the 16th POB; Spec. Martin P. Nolan and Cpl. Richard M. Kostro.

All three soldiers said they followed the cues from Father Fitzgerald from the stage, where he led the choir.

Participation is the key, Father Fitzgerald said. “The Mass has an international predictability, and although the Mass was celebrated in Aramaic, there were moments when we could vaguely indentify the moment and jump in with song.”

Sgt. Neil W. McCabe is a Pilot reporter currently serving with the 311st Military History Detachment in Iraq.

There aren’t many good news stories from the Christians of the Middle East.  The persecutions there are terrible.  Pray for our Christian brethren there.  Pray for the Chaldean peoples and rite.  Pray for our American troops and pray for the writer of this article, a staff reporter for The Boston Pilot who is serving in Iraq.

May God bring to fruition all the many seeds that were planted in this dusty, temporary camp.   Blessed be God forever!



Read Full Post »


There's a war on. Are you going to enlist, be drafted or be run over?

The Manhattan Declaration has been finalized, signed and released.  The summary of the document is:

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Folks, I don’t know if you have heard but there’s a war going on.  Yep and it’s time to chose sides.  These Christian leaders have chosen theirs, and written up a biblical, theologically-based explanation. What will YOU choose?

Read the entire document here.   And then sign here.

…I am signature 18702.

Postscript:  Fr. Z assures us that while the war is raging, our awesome Pope is implementing a Marshall Plan!  He’s got some other good advice, too.

Read Full Post »

A sign? Relics of St. Therese Ecumenical Service, Bishop George Stack, Guest Preacher Rt Rev’d Graeme Knowles, Dean Of St Paul’s Cathedral. Oct. 13, 2009

A sign? Relics of St. Therese Ecumenical Service, Bishop George Stack, Guest Preacher Rt Rev’d Graeme Knowles, Dean Of St Paul’s Cathedral. Oct. 13, 2009


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.  As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.  For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.  –Isaiah 55: 8-11

As I read about the pilgrimage of the relics of St. Thérèse across Great Britain, I remember thinking, “Wow, how incredible that such a progression should be allowed in the land of the English Reformation, in a nation which cannot have a Roman Catholic Prime Minister.”  I thought that the crowds coming to see her relics were remarkable and the fact that the relics were on view in the cathedral halls of the Church of England was very…surprising, to say the least.

Now it appears that the Little Flower, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face has been interceding on behalf of our Anglican and Episcopalian brothers and sisters.  And she, via her relics, may have been sent to Great Britain as part of God’s plan, to ease the way for the Traditional Anglican Communion to return to the Mother Church. 

From the Catholic Key Blog:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Anglican Bishop Confirms St. Therese is Behind Anglican Ordinariate

Yesterday we conveyed the suspicion of former Episcopal and now Kansas City Catholic priest, Father Ernie Davis, that the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux was behind the Vatican’s move to provide a structure to welcome Anglicans into full communion. Now, the Anglican Catholic Bishop of Canada strongly confirms that thought.

Father Davis, who leads St. Therese Little Flower parish in Kansas City which hosts an Anglican Use community, wrote of the news from the Vatican:

Anglicans and Catholics flocked to visit the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux as they made a very recent pilgrimage to England. Her relics rested on her 2009 feast day at York Minster, the Cathedral of the Anglican Archbishop of York. When I read about that, I told the people here at St. Therese Little Flower that she was working on something big. In other words, preparations for this Apostolic Constitution have been in process for 170 years, and some of the preparations have been made at levels that are higher than popes.   (emphasis mine)

The Traditional Anglican Communion Bishop of Canada saw the claim and sent an email today to Father Davis with remarkable details of St. Therese’ intercession. Here’s the email:

Dear Father Davis,

Your story about the Anglican Ordinariate and St Therese (which came to me via England this morning) is very interesting. And I can tell you another connexion with her.

I am the Anglican Catholic Bishop of Canada in the TAC. I was present at the Synod of TAC Bishops in Portsmouth England in October 2007 which voted unanimously to ask for full communion, and signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The first full day of the Synod was October 1st, the ‘new’ date of St Therese’s feast, and the actual vote to ask for full communion was taken on October 3rd ‘old’ date of her feast.

I also accompanied the Primate and Bishop Robert Mercer CR to deliver the Letter to the CDF where we had been directed by the Holy Father. My friend Mother Teresa of the Carmel in Edmonton had given me some holy cards with a piece of cloth touched to her relics. Each of us carried one of these cards, and we asked St Therese’s prayers on our venture. We also had similar cards from Poland of the Servant of God John Paul II.

I have continued ‘to bother her’ about a favourable response to our request, and now thanks to the generosity and love of the Holy Father who has taken a personal interest in us for many years, and the prayers of St Therese, something wonderful has come about.

God bless you,

+Peter Wilkinson, OSG
Bishop Ordinary
Anglican Catholic Church of Canada

Father Davis has posted the letter at his blog, which is also on our blog roll. He’s been quiet for a while, working on a book, but I’ll bet it’ll be worth checking in there as things progress.

It would seem that St. Thérèse is fulfilling her desire to be a missionary and her promise to shower the world with roses.  From the St. Thérèse Relics Blog (chronicling the visit across England and Wales), here is what Most Reverend Fernando Millán (Prior General– Order of Carmelites) had to say during the homily at the Farewell Mass at the Friars, Aylesford.  After remarking on the success of the visit in terms of number of pilgrims who attended and reported personal conversions that occurred, he said: 

– The second success is no less important. Many have underlined the ecumenical importance of this visit. Not only Catholics, but also Anglicans, Methodists, Buddhists, and people without religious affiliation… came to visit the relics. There is something so basic, so fundamental, so essential in the message of Therese that many people, no matter what their religious confession, feel she has something to say to them.

Perhaps (among many other elements of her spiritual teaching) we find with Therese that God is not a God of fear, a God of implacable Justice, a God before whom we feel afraid. When Therese listened to talk of the justice of God, instead of being sad and fearful… she was quite happy: “God knows how weak we are!” When Therese was writing this, in France there was still a very strong influence from Jansenism. That was a religious group or movement, with very good people and very committed Christians, who were worried about the level and the quality of religious life in France. They were asking for a greater seriousness, more commitment, and they were always stressing the justice of God and the gravity of sin. That is fine and there is nothing wrong with it. But, Jansenism forgotten the key point, the essential element, the basis of the Gospel and Christian life is not rules, justice, norms for punishment… but that it is about grace, love, mercy and freedom. That is the secret of Therese; that is perhaps also the secret of her success…

If, after this visit we are a little bit closer to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ; if we have been able to forgive somebody; if we have decided to remove form our hearts hatred and prejudice; if we trust more in God, even when we are suffering; if we are ready to feel the love of God in our lives… if only one person has received that message and is willing to live it… the visit has been a great, great success, and we can say that it was worthy to bring the relics of this Carmelite to this country. I am sure that not only one person, but a lot of people today are a little bit closer to God, and so a bit closer to others around them. I am sure that we all have grown these days in faith, in humanity, in tenderness in solidarity


Emphasis mine.

We cannot know in what ways God is acting in the world, we cannot see as He sees but in hindsight, when we view how miraculously events unfold, we can see His Hand.  The convergence of the many known (and the countless unknown) events leading up to the Vatican announcement suggest a larger plan unfolding.  Providence?  We shall have to wait and see.  In the meantime, let us all pray that we the Church and our Holy Father Pope Benedict be guided by the Holy Spirit, that God’s will be done on earth.   We can be assured that God’s word will indeed achieve His Will. 

How awesome is our God! 

Anglican Bishop Confirms St. Therese is Behind Anglican Ordinariate.

Read Full Post »

From the Associated Press:

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican announced a stunning decision Tuesday to make it easier for Anglicans to convert, reaching out to those who are disaffected by the election of women and gay bishops to join the Catholic Church‘s conservative ranks.

Pope Benedict XVI approved a new church provision that will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining many of their distinctive spiritual and liturgical traditions, including having married priests.

This is surprising and I think good news.  It seems to have caught everyone off guard.  The article has the usual reporting-on-the-Vatican mistakes, as well as the seemingly mandated outlandish conclusions (“By welcoming them in with their own special provision, Benedict has confirmed the increasingly conservative bent of his church.”  Huh?  Come again? making special provisions is loosening, not tightening.)   Oh, and they managed to get in a snarky reference to the Bishop fiasco.  Arrgh.

We can hope that many Anglicans will jump at this chance.  They were coming home before, and this will only make returning home to Rome easier.  Heck, maybe even QEII will come home:  we ‘know’ that she has grown increasingly sympathetic to the Catholic Church while reports are that she is ‘appalled’ at the direction of the church which she nominally leads.  

Oh, how much I would like to see the evil wrought through one man’s lust reversed. 

Pray, brethren, pray!


UPDATEAs usual, Thomas Peters, the American Papist, is all over the news, providing great links to the many important voices weighing in on this fantubulous development.

Read Full Post »