Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

It is estimated that the United Nations mission in the Congo is the largest and most expensive peacekeeping mission in the world.  The United Nations has 20,000 troops there.  20,000.  The UN has been on the ground there providing peacekeepers since 1999.  And what have all the billions of dollars, military manhours and brute strength achieved in Congo?

Peace?

Prosperity?

Stability?

Er…no.  What it accomplished is a new title.  Congo is now — according to the UN — “the rape capital of the world.”  Yes, that’s right.  In the Congo, where we have a gigantic UN peacekeeping force, 48 women are raped EVERY HOUR.  That’s some peacekeeping going on right there.  Way to protect the women and children, United Nations!

I guess it’s the best we can expect from our earthly princes over at our savior body, the United Nations.  At least the news reports of rapes and pedophilia by the UN’s very own troops it has had in the Congo for last decades have slacked off.  Or is it that the major media just isn’t reporting on these atrocities?  After all, the Food-for-Oil and rape scandals of the past barely made page 3 of the New York Times.  And although it was National Public Radio that reported this shocking news of the rape statistics in Congo, NPR did not even mention the presence of UN forces, nor their complicity in the ongoing rape of that country’s women and children. Not one mention of the multitude of accusations there. 

So you may well ask, because no one has really told you, what atrocities?  Well, to date UN troops have been accused of widespread rape, child sexual abuse, child trafficking, and pornography, in some cases systemic,  in Congo, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Sudan….basically everywhere there are UN troops stationed, there are reports of raping and sexual abuse of children.  And there are over 200,000 UN troops currently stationed around the world

Here’s what the UN’s confidential report from 2004, obtained by the Washington Post, said:

U.N. peacekeepers threatened U.N. investigators investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in Congo and sought to bribe witnesses to change incriminating testimony, a confidential U.N. draft report says.

The 34-page report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, accuses U.N. peacekeepers from Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal of seeking to obstruct U.N. efforts to investigate a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the United Nations’ standing in Congo.

The report documents 68 cases of alleged rape, prostitution and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal. U.N. officials say they have uncovered more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the country as part of a widening investigation into sexual abuse by U.N. personnel that has plagued the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission, U.N. officials said.

Sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly prostitution of minors, is widespread and long-standing,” says a draft of the internal July report, which has not previously been made public. “Moreover, all of the major contingents appear to be implicated.”  (emphasis mine)

Apparently, troops from countries like Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Nepal (who were accused of raping a 10 year old girl inside a United Nations armored vehicle) did not receive the memo about the United Nations being the savior of the world, yada yada.  About how the new world order will lift up all mankind because mankind will save itself via well, the new world order.  And these troops are not remembering to act like saviors of mankind.  Apparently, they still act like conquerers, barbarians and such. 

It was with disappointment that the UN spokesperson dealt with reports surfacing in Haiti as far back as 2006.  They thought things were going so well there!  As the Washington Times writes,

Reports that peacekeepers raped teenage girls have surfaced in Haiti, where a United Nations mission so far had avoided the sexual abuse scandals that have sullied the international organization’s reputation in other parts of the world.

Has it truly “sullied” the UN’s reputation?  Has anyone truly questioned why this enormous body of mostly barbarian third world countries is given a blank check to send poorly disciplined, undereducated, racist troops into helpless, struggling countries with little or no oversight?

According to Wikipedia, the bulk of troops come from poor third world (sorry, I mean “developing”) countries because “peacekeeping” brings in alot of money for them.  Less that 4.5% of UN troops are from the EU and less than 1% from the US.  Here is the breakdown, according to Wikipedia:

Despite the large number of contributors, the greatest burden continues to be borne by a core group of developing countries, who often profit financially from their participation in such missions.[citation needed] The 10 main troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations as of September 2010 were Bangladesh (10,736), Pakistan (10,691), India (8,935), Nigeria (5,709), Egypt (5,458), Nepal (5,044), Jordan (3,826), Ghana (3,647), Rwanda (3,635), Uruguay (2,489).

It doesn’t take a world geography major to see that these countries are known by and large for their despotic rulers and human rights abuses.

The UN has been in Congo since 1999.  The conflict is still ongoing there.   As far back as 2004, the UN’s own confidential report stated that sexual exploitation by U.N. personnel in Congo “appears to be significant, wide spread and ongoing.”  Citation.  Eight years later, we have a hell on earth for woman and children, a place where 1,152 women are raped EVERY DAY in what is generally thought to be an under-reported crime. 

So who is going to save these people, if the United Nations can’t do it?  The psalmist knows.

Hallelujah!  
Praise the LORD, my soul; I shall praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live.
I Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save.  
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth; that day all their planning comes to nothing.
Happy those whose help is Jacob’s God, whose hope is in the LORD, their God,  
The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free;  
the LORD gives sight to the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD protects the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked.
The LORD shall reign forever, your God, Zion, through all generations!
Hallelujah!

Pray to the Lord our God for the safety and peace of the peoples of the earth.  Pray for the weak and helpless, the women and the children who are most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Now there remained in the camp two of the men, of whom one was called Eldad, and the other Medad, upon whom the spirit rested; for they also had been enrolled, but were not gone forth to the tabernacle.  And when they prophesied in the camp, there ran a young man, and told Moses, saying: Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp.  Forthwith Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, and chosen out of many, said: My lord Moses forbid them.  But he said: Why have you jealousy for me? O that all the people might prophesy, and that the Lord would give them his spirit!”    Num 11:26-30

 

John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, who follows not us: and we forbade him.  But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that does a miracle in my name and can soon speak ill of me.  For he that is not against you is for you.”      Mark 9:37-39

Fr. Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries gave a terrific homily a couple years ago at Church of St. Mary’s in Chicago.  The homily is entitled, “Would that Everyone Could be a Prophet.”  The Sunday readings he focused on were Numbers 11:25-29 and Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48. 

From the readings, we see Joshua being jealous of the prophesying by the two elders who were not at the meeting with Moses.  In the gospel, we see John complaining that some people are casting out demons in Jesus’ name, even though they were not part of his apostles.  In both cases, Moses and Jesus chastise the complainers for trying to stop these works of God.  Also, Fr. Barron tells us, this is the root of the problem between Saul and David, and Saul’s jealously of the divine gifts to David, threw Israel into civil war.

Fr. Barron reminds us that when we sow dissention, jealousy and turf wars, we waste the grace that God has extended to us.  Instead, he challenges us to look for the grace in us, and in those around us, and cooperate with it: 

The spiritual life is really about one thing: it’s about our cooperation with grace….Grace–God’s love–is surging into the world at all times, according to God’s purposes, God’s will. Our job is pretty simple: it’s to notice it and once we notice it to cooperate with it, get on board with it.  Cooperate.  Whether that grace is coming directly to me, or to someone else.  Whether it is according to my expectations or outside my expectations…Whereever it appears, get on board, cooperate with it!

When the ego takes over, the flow of grace is blocked.  That’s the central tragedy of sin.  God’s love wants to surge into the world, but He gives us the privilege of cooperating with it.  We can block it if we make our own ego central.

 

Watch the homily below. 

Part 1

Part 2


Remember to pre-order your Catholicism dvd set today!

Read Full Post »

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 »

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.  Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:8-14

Yesterday, we attended the Confirmation of the oldest son of a family with whom our family is close. It struck me during Mass that this passage from the second reading applies very aptly to the young people; indeed to all of us.  This entire chapter of Ephesians gives good instruction on the importance of right thinking.  In our modern context, it is a sure shield against moral relativism.

Pray for our Confirmation recipients.

Read Full Post »

As I was saying to my Bible study group a couple weeks ago, I have struggled personally to make quiet time for prayer.  Between running a family, working, volunteering, blogging, Bible study, and going, going, going, I will allow myself to forget to make quiet time to spend with God.  Oh sure, I’ll remember a quick morning prayer, short prayers throughout the day, and evening examinations, but many days, unless I stay determined, I may not have actual quiet time to simply be in God’s presence. Knowing this weakness, I try to give myself opportunities throughout the week, especially walking or hiking. 

One of my blogging acquaintances first put this in my mind several years ago when she pointed out that she was spending so much time blogging that it was interfering with her prayer life, so she had decided to take a break from her blog.  That shook me because I had become accustomed to thinking of my blogging time as time spent with God.  I realized that I was mistaken, and I was grateful to her for mentioning this, because clearly I myself had rationalized my online time as prayer when in fact, it wasn’t.

A second opportunity for growth came when I read that Dr. Michael Barber teaches his classes at John Paul the Great University:

Prayer should be more than a monologue–a litany of requests. As I tell my students, we need to talk to Jesus more than we talk about Jesus. But if your idea of prayer is simply rattling off requests, you miss the point.

Now, honestly, I don’t rattle off requests to God when I pray…although I have a lot of “bless him, her, this and that”s.  But the comment from my blogging friend and Dr. Barber’s teaching got me to thinking about how much time I actually make for God.  When I took away the time I was spending talking about Him, it wasn’t very much time.  Dr. Barber was right on the mark.  I was spending more time talking ABOUT Jesus than talking TO Jesus.  It was a spiritual kick in the pants and I’ve been mindful of it for the last year to two.  

I realize that I am not alone is this.  So many of us practicing Christians think we know God because we study and talk about Him.  The Christian rock band Remedy Drive even wrote a song called Get to Know You the lyrics of which are:

I heard so much of you I wrote a book
Thick with thoughts of you that I heard were true
The critics read my work and they reviewed
‘He wrote of things he’d heard but never really knew’

I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
More then just what I’ve been told
I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
I want to know from my soul

If a lack of intimacy with God is a prevalent problem even among the faithful, how can we repair that?  What can we do to draw closer to God?  Dr. Barber’s advice is helpful when he goes on to write:

Spending time in his presence through contemplation helps us remain with him and helps us hear his voice so that our prayer is not simply about what we say to him.

…We need to be still. We need to place ourselves in God’s presence.  (italics mine)

Isn’t that beautifully said?  “….place ourselves in God’s presence.”  In other words, quiet our minds, stop our hands from fiddling, our eyes from darting, our mouths from prattling.  Place ourselves in God’s presence and allow Him to come to us.  Can we be brave, humble, or trusting enough to receive? Can we put away our defenses, our rationalizations, our attacks, our petty grievances and constant desires and let God wash over us?  God will come to us when we make ready for him. 

…and behold the Lord passes, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air.  And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle…”

….because God was in the whisper.

 

Next week is Lent.  Take yourself to Adoration, or walk among the trees.  Sit in the sun, or lie in the dark.  Turn off your computer, your television, your IPhone, your stereo.  I promise to do the same.  Let us make our Lenten offering to the Lord be our stillness, placing ourselves in His presence, awaiting the whisper.

 Come Emmanuel.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »