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Posts Tagged ‘Saints’

On June 7th, Muslims in Nigeria destroyed the Catholic Cathedral of St. Patrick in the northern capital city of Maiduguri.  Recently, as many as 16 Nigerians have died in the most recent daily attacks.  Furthermore, estimates are that nearly 500 people have been killed since the April election of that countries first Christian president.  There have been other churches bombed, and an estimated 40,000 people have fled from the northern, mostly Muslim north.  The Islamic group claiming responsibility have even killed an Islamic leader who opposed the ongoing attacks.

I know I repeat myself, but we need to educate ourselves.  Christians are the most persecuted group on earth.  That’s not just a saying, it is a statistic and a fact.  According to the Zenit article below, a Christian is killed every five minutes in the world, not accidentally, but solely because he or she is a Christian.  And those numbers are in large part children.  This ongoing persecution is happening in Egypt, Pakistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria…and on and on.  With the exception of Communist countries China and North Korea, the rest of the top 10 most dangerous countries for Christians are Muslim.   

The sociologist in the article below comes very close to speaking the plain truth at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, he tells the participants that unless something is done about the approximately 100,000 Christians killed every year, “interfaith dialogue” is meaningless.  To that I say, “Amen.”   

ROME, JUNE 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A sociologist representing a European security organization says that the number of Christians killed each year for their faith is so high that it calculates to one martyr’s life being taken every five minutes.

Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported this data at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, which concluded today in Hungary. The conference was sponsored by the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and included a variety of high-level representatives from the three monotheistic religions, as well as political and social leaders.

Introvigne reported that Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.

If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results,” he stated.

Egyptian diplomat Aly Mahmoud said that in his country laws have been passed that will protect Christian minorities, for example, prosecuting those who give speeches that incite hatred and banning hostile crowds outside churches.

“However, the danger is that many Christian communities in the Middle East will die from emigration, because all Christians, feeling threatened, will flee,” he said.

The diplomat suggested Europe prepare for “a new wave of emigration, this time from Christians fleeing the persecutions.”

For his part, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman for the Russian Orthodox patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, reminded that “at least 1 million” Christian victims of persecutions are children.

Emphasis mine.

ZENIT – Sociologist: Every 5 Minutes a Christian Is Martyred.

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An evangelical worship leader visits his brother, the seminarian and writes of what he found at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  Read it here:  A Visit to Heaven.

Interestingly, Mount St. Mary’s undergraduate college was recently the topic of on of Msg. Pope‘s articles in the ADW blog, which I commented on when it was posted.

Just a reminder to pray for vocations, for our priests, seminarians and religious.  Also, pray for Christian unity.

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Well, so you’ve probably heard that the largest body of Presbyterians in the U.S. have voted to allow gay clergy.    I’m not actually going to delve into that here because it is clear to me that mainline Protestantism is busy destroying itself from within.   The situation reminds me of the book of Judges which tells us what happens to the people when they have no king, and each man decides for himself:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  Judges 21:25

Now, the really funny thing about this quote and why it matches the situation with the Presbyterians so well is that it comes immediately after, and by way of explaining, the previous chapters concerning the tribe of Benjamin.  If you haven’t read it before, I won’t ruin it for you.  Suffice it to say that the chapters concern homosexuality, licentiousness, abuse, rape, murder, more murder, lies, cover-ups, chaos, mayhem and evil. 

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.

So…this is what the great reformation has wrought.  Everyone, every denomination doing what he thinks is best, and moral relativism’s grip gets tighter.

Oh, but I said I wasn’t going to discuss the Presbyterian Church situation, per se.  Right.  Okay, back to the point of this post.  What I want to talk about is the response to the Presbyterian Church situation, at least insofar as other more orthodox Protestants view it.  Which brings me to today’s article in Christianity Today, the magazine of Evangelical Christians.  In an article entitled, The Road to Gay Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a Reformed Presbyterian theologian by the name of Dr. S. Donald Fortson III addresses the voted change to that denomination’s constitution.  Dr. Fortson is a Professor of Church History and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary—Charlotte. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which (I learned from reading his article) broke away from the main body of the Presbyterian Church in anticipation that it was only a matter of time until the main body fell to “a pro-gay agenda relentlessly pressed until at length Presbyterians officially landed in the gay ordination camp”.   

The article itself is brilliant in its linguistic and theological acrobatics to say how wrong this decision by the PC(USA) is, how unbiblical and outside of tradition…without of course, admitting that the entire Protestant Reformation was…<ahem>…unbiblical and outside of tradition.  And of course, to make his point, this Reformed Presbyterian relies on the Church Fathers of the Catholic Church to make his case.  It’s a brilliant use of equivocation.**  Really, it’s brilliant

Here are some examples of Dr. Fortson’s theological heroics:

And church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity. The church fathers insisted that doctrine and practice must be tested by Holy Scripture. In addition to careful exegesis, another test was catholicity, that is, what has been the universally accepted scriptural interpretation passed down in the church. (emphasis mine)

To what church is he referring?  the Presbyterian Church?  Or that other one

I kinda think he means this one

He continues–

When novel teachings were shown to fail both the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of the orthodox Fathers, heretical ideas were doubly condemned.

Um, gosh, could the ‘novel teachings’ he refers to be something like, I dunno…sola fidesola scriptura?  If you remember your history, they both failed the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of orthodox Fathers, not a one of whom supported either.  The reformers were the ones who championed these novel teachings.

He goes on to quote SAINT Vincent of Lerins (without “Saint” naturally) —

… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic [universal] Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Um, Dr. Fortson, I know you are a scholar and like a teacher of kids as well as an actual historian so I’m sure you realize that (this is embarrassing) but uh, you do realize that you misquoted a church father, right?  I am sure that you did not mean to suggest that St. Vincent, the Catholic monk said, “the univeral church” because of course, he didn’t.  He said, the Catholic Church.  Changing the name of the church would seem sorta like you are hiding or obfuscating facts and of course as a Professor of Reformed Theology…I know you wouldn’t do that.  I mean, it’s not like he was just some presbyter schmoo.  He was a monk.  So I’ll just correct it for you.  Here, let me correct your mistake.

‘… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Yes, yes!  ‘the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere’…yes, the Presbyterian Church has been taking great care to hold onto that which has been believed since the time…er…well, since the time that it formed itself in defiance of that which was believed everywhere, always, and by all.  But I will take your word for it that since the time of their rejection of the universal beliefs of the universal church, they have been really really good at holding onto that which has been believed everywhere.  (So that is, what?  1541 or so?)

Dr. Fortson, now on a roll, heads toward his conclusion–

Christianity is a tradition; it is a faith with a particular ethos, set of beliefs and practices handed on from generation to generation. The Christian tradition may be understood as the history of what God’s people have believed and how they have lived based upon the Word of God. This tradition is not only a collection of accepted doctrines but also a set of lifestyle expectations for a follower of Christ. One of the primary things handed down in the Christian church over the centuries is a consistent set of …

I’m sorry!  I need to take a break.  Laughing too hard.  BRB!

kk, sorry, where were we?  oh yes…haha, we were talking about the Christian tradition, some of us more seriously than others.   Dr. Fortson now makes his dramatic and unintentionally Catholic and/or seriously hilarious conclusion regarding the matter at hand–

Revisionist biblical interpretations that purport to support homosexual practice are typically rooted in novel hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture, which produce bizarre interpretations of the Bible held nowhere, never, by no one. (emphasis mine)

So there you have it.  Typical Reformed Protestant absconds with Patristic Fathers, rewrites what they say to make them agree with his Protestant theology, and equivocates his way into agreeing completely with the position of the Holy Mother Church circa 1520 all the while still assuring himself and his wayward, defiant Protestant flock that while it is meet and right to condemn homosexuality via the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, because, well, you know, those Papists got it right on that one, but hey, don’t come waving your authority in my face!

Hahahahahaha.   I wish I had an nth of the intellect and scholarship of someone like Dr. Michael Barber who I know would see layers here that I do not.  Nevertheless, I  find this whole article ripe for satire and abuse.  I wonder if these earnest Sophists ever realize how absurd and hilarious they are!  God bless ’em. ***

**a quick lookup of the word “equivocation” reveals that its synonyms are misrepresentation, deceit and doublespeak.  To be charitable to Dr. Fortson, we are only using the definition of equivocation in the philosophical use, meaning a fallacy.

***and my original response via the comment section may not have been as charitable.  Mea culpa.

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Here is today’s tearjerker.  Fox News Chicago had a heartwarming and surprisingly pro-Christian piece on a local homeless man who has been helping to support a down-on-her-luck  banker.    Craig Wall reports:

Chicago – A year ago, everything was going right for a woman we’ll call Sandy.

She had a good job at a bank in the suburbs.

She and her 10-year-old son had a safe home.

But then the world came crashing down around the 39-year-old. She lost her job. She lost her house. And she and her son moved into her truck. Police found her and DCFS threatened to take away her son if she didn’t find a safe place to stay.

She moved into a hotel with the help of a social worker who paid for a few nights stay with her own money. That’s when Sandy’s knight in shining armor showed up. And he’s kept showing up, every day, paying her hotel bill, so she and her son can stay off the streets.

But Sandy’s Good Samaritan isn’t a Chicago big shot. He isn’t living in a Loop highrise. He doesn’t even have a job.

Sandy’s Good Samaritan is Curtis Jackson, who’s been homeless since 2004. He pays for Sandy’s hotel room because she used to treat him with dignity and kindness when she did have a house — and he pays for it by panhandling and giving the money to her.

“All I can do is get out there and put a sign in my hand, or put a cup in my hand and ask people to help me out, and everything I get, except maybe bus fare and something to eat, I give it to her,” Jackson said as he stood at the corner of 55th and Harlem.

Jackson pays the nightly bill by pouring his bucket of change on the hotel counter. Since December, he’s raised $9,000, and he’s given it all to Sandy. He said sometimes 40, 70, a hundred cars go by before someone gives him a few pennies or a few bucks.

Sandy can’t believe it.

“I’ve donated to charities, I’ve helped other homeless families — never realizing that one day we’d be in this situation,” she said. “So thank God that we did have an angel waiting for us.”

Here is the best part of the article, read the wisdom contained here:

Jackson said he’s a man of faith; homeless, but not hopeless, and he’s got some words of wisdom for the people he sees bustling by every day.

“I have God. I’m one of the richest men on this earth, ’cause I have God,” he said. “Money is not my master. That’s what’s wrong with this world: money is its master.”

Sandy said she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to repay Jackson, who’s become like a brother.

“I’m out here for a purpose: to help someone, and that’s all I’m trying to do is help someone that needs help right at this moment,” he said. “And once she doesn’t need help anymore, I’ll move on to something else.”

I read this story and I ask myself, “What purpose does God have for me?  Who is it that I am helping today?” 

God bless and keep Curtis Jackson.  May we use his example to become better follower’s of Christ Jesus.

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Beautiful video with Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B. reflecting on the solemnity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with the Kyrie Eleison chanted in the background.

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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

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Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Or distress? Or famine? Or nakedness? Or danger? Or persecution? Or the sword?  (As it is written: For your sake, we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.)  But in all these things we overcome, because of him that has loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.                                            –Romans 8:35-39

Last Friday, a yacht with four Americans was hijacked by pirates south of Oman.  Since then, American warships have been tailing the pirated yacht back to the pirates’ base in Somalia. From CBS News today, comes this sad ending to the Somali pirate hostage situation:

A pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy destroyer shadowing a hijacked yacht with four Americans aboard Tuesday. Then gunfire erupted, the military said. U.S. special forces rushed to the yacht only to find the four Americans fatally wounded.

 The experienced yacht enthusiasts from California and Washington are the first Americans killed by Somali pirates since the start of attacks off East Africa several years ago. One of the American couples on board had been sailing around the world since 2004 handing out Bibles.

Like a good number of people, I have been wondering what on earth made these four Americans sail in such dangerous waters.  Now we know:  they were acting as missionaries in the twilight of their years, bringing the good news to people who need to hear it.  Their yacht was stocked with bibles which they took to many third world locations.  From the Santa Monica newspaper, where their home parish is located, comes this story of how their faith community is grieving, and also telling us a bit more about these unconventional missionaries.  I am posting the entire article with the paper’s updates.

They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson tells Santa Monica Patch.

(Updated at 1:37 p.m.): On Tuesday afternoon, Torgerson shared with Santa Monica Patch his thoughts about Jean and Scott Adam.

“They’re an extraordinary couple, a wonderful part of our community,” the pastor said. “Jean had been my dentist, so I got to know her that way.”

The couple was highly active in the church, and two sons of Jean attended St. Monica Catholic High School.

They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Torgerson said.

The pastor said that, after working hard all their lives, Jean and Scott decided to “make a difference” in their retirement.

“Retirement for them was relaxed, but they went to the far-flung corners of this world and visited the poorest of the poor,” bringing Scripture to them, he said.

He added that the Scripture that was read during Mass on Tuesday morning says, “if you’re faithful, you’ll win the crown”—and, according to Torgerson, “that’s what they did.”

“They died doing what they wanted to do,” he said.

(Updated at 12:29 p.m.): The Rev. David Guffey, a priest who is in residence at the church, reflected on Jean and Scott Adam at the 12:10 p.m. Mass on Tuesday.

He told the congregation, which had gathered for the regular daily service, that “we do so today with special feelings of sadness and sympathy.”

He said the news was “tragic,” and that Torgerson is “working with” the grieving family of Jean and Scott Adam.

A funeral and a memorial service are pending, Guffey said.

Guffey noted that, last weekend, parishioners had lit a candle in the hope that the couple would return home safely.

“We pray for their eternal rest, and for their family and friends,” he said.

Torgerson said Tuesday that Jean and Scott were “faithful people” and that Jean sang in the church choir, according to City News Service.

“They were people that worked hard all their lives and decided in their retirement that they wanted to do something to make a difference in this world,” he said.

Family and friends of Jean and Scott Adam are mourning the deaths of the St. Monica Catholic Church parshioners, who were killed by Somali pirates early Tuesday. At the church’s morning Mass, Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson said the parish was heartbroken at the news, according to The Associated Press.

The couple had been on a voyage around the world, distributing Bibles.

The Bibles, which numbered in the thousands, had been donated to Jean and Scott Adam through grants and gifts. They referred to their effort to distribute them as “friendship evangelism.”

A “wonderful turn of events have occurred as a result of this endeavor,” the couple wrote on their Web site, SVQuest.com.

“They loved the experiences they were having with the people they were meeting and the places they were going,” Scott Stolnitz, a longtime friend of theirs, told CNN. “We asked them once if they ever looked forward to living on land again, and they both, believe it or not, said no.

“They were not proselytizing evangelicals,” he continued. “They were using their Bible mission as a way to break the ice in the Christian community, particularly in the Pacific.”

“This is all of our worst nightmares,” Stolnitz told the Los Angeles Times.

Stolnitz said the 70-year-old Scott Adam was laid-back, had a dry sense of humor and earned a theology degree later in life, after retiring as a film executive. Jean Adam was a retired dentist, according to CNN.

“She wore her heart on her sleeve,” Stolnitz said.

He added that, even though Jean Adam often got seasick on boats, she wanted to be with her husband and decided to sail with him.

“The Quest started an ‘around-the-world’ trip in mid December of 2004 after sailing her to the States from New Zealand in 2002,” the couple wrote on their site. “This is planned to be an eight or ten year voyage.”

The couple was aware of the dangers of piracy, friends told the Los Angeles Times. They said Scott had considered shipping the boat instead, but later decided not to after learning that a rally of yachts was headed to the Arabian and Red Seas.

Ten days ago, Jean and Scott said via e-mail that, in an effort to avoid being located by pirates, they would be out of communication for almost two weeks, according to BBC News.

“They basically had said, ‘We’re not going to be in communication for 10 or 12 days because we know this is territory where there could be problems and we don’t want pirates or other people to know our location,’ ” said Robert Johnston, a professor who taught Scott at the seminary he attended.

According to St. Monica’s Annual Reports, Jean and Scott Adam donated money to the Partners in Mission effort benefiting St. Monica Catholic High School. They donated to the effort’s campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

I do not understand what happened, why the pirates would kill these hostages with the US Navy right behind them.  But I believe that the Adams and their passengers died because they were following a call to witness for our faith, as part of the new evangelization.  And because of their followership, they put themselves into a dangerous position leading to their deaths.  This makes them martyrs for the faith, though maybe not technical martyrs, I don’t know how that is defined by the Church.

But I will pray for the eternal rest of their souls, for mercy for everyone involved, and comfort for their family and friends.  I thank God for their lives and example.

As it is written–

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

-Psalms 116.

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