Friday, August 13, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill: Tu Es Petrus!

That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill: Tu Es Petrus!



FROM BENEDICT XVI'S CONVERSATION WITH PRIESTS


Rome, Saint Peter's Square, June 10, 2010


Q: Holy Father, I am Fr. Karol Miklosko and I am from Europe, specifically from Slovakia, and I am a missionary in Russia. When I celebrate the holy Mass, I find myself and I understand that there I encounter my identity and the root and energy of my ministry. The sacrifice of the cross reveals to me the Good Shepherd who gives everything for his flock, for each sheep, and when I say: "This is my body, this is my blood" given and poured in sacrifice for you, then I understand the beauty of celibacy and of obedience, which I freely promised at the moment of ordination. In spite of the natural difficulties, celibacy seems obvious to me, looking at Christ, but I find myself disoriented in reading the many worldly criticisms of this gift. I humbly ask you, Holy Father, to enlighten us about the profundity and the authentic meaning of ecclesiastical celibacy.

Answer from the Holy Father:
Thank you for the two parts of your question. The first, where you show the permanent and vital foundation of our celibacy; the second, which shows all of the difficulties in which we find ourselves in our time.

The first part is important, that is: the center of our life must really be the daily celebration of the holy Eucharist; and here the words of consecration are central: "This is my body, this is my blood"; that is: we are speaking "in persona Christi." Christ permits us to use his "I," we speak in the "I" of Christ, Christ "pulls us into himself" and permits us to unite ourselves, unites us with his "I." And so, through this action, this fact that he "pulls" us into himself, in such a way that our "I" becomes united with his own, he realizes the permanence, the uniqueness of his priesthood; in this way he really is always the one priest, and nonetheless very much present in the world, because he "pulls" us into himself, and so makes present his priestly mission. This means that we are "pulled" into the God of Christ: it is this union with his "I" that is realized in the words of consecration.

Also in the "I absolve you" – because none of us can absolve from sins – it is the "I" of Christ, of God, who alone can absolve. This unification of his "I" with our own implies that we are also "pulled" into his reality as the Risen One, we advance toward the full life of the resurrection, of which Jesus speaks to the Sadducees in Matthew, Chapter 22: it is a "new" life, in which we are already beyond marriage (cf. Mt. 22:23 –32). It is important that we always let ourselves be penetrated again by this identification of the "I" of Christ with us, by this being "pulled out" toward the world of the resurrection.

In this sense, celibacy is an anticipation. We transcend this time and go forward, and so we "pull" ourselves and our time toward the world of the resurrection, toward the newness of Christ, toward the new and true life. So celibacy is an anticipation made possible by the grace of the Lord who "pulls" us to himself, toward the world of the resurrection; he invites us always anew to transcend ourselves, this present, toward the true present of the future, which becomes present today.

And here we are at a very important point. One big problem of Christianity in today's world is that God's future is no longer considered, and the now of this world alone seems sufficient. We want to have only this world, to live only in this world. So we close the doors to the true greatness of our existence. The meaning of celibacy as an anticipation of the future is precisely to open these doors, to make the world bigger, to show the reality of the future that must be lived by us as already present. To live, therefore, in a testimony of faith: we really believe that God exists, that God is part of my life, that I can base my life on Christ, on the future life.

And we know now the worldly criticisms of which you spoke. It is true that for the agnostic world, the world in which God has no place, celibacy is a great scandal, because it shows precisely that God is considered and lived as a reality. With the eschatological life of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the realities of our time. And this is supposed to disappear!

In a certain sense, this permanent criticism of celibacy can be surprising, at a time in which not getting married is becoming increasingly fashionable. But this not getting married is something totally, fundamentally different from celibacy, because not getting married is based on the desire to live only for oneself, not to accept any definitive bond, to have life at every moment in full autonomy, to decide at every moment what to do, what to take from life; and therefore a "no" to commitment, a "no" to definitiveness, a having life only for oneself. While celibacy is precisely the opposite: it is a definitive "yes," it is allowing ourselves to be taken in hand by God, giving ourselves into the hands of the Lord, into his "I," and therefore it is an act of fidelity and trust, an act that the fidelity of marriage also supposes; it is the exact opposite of this "no," of this autonomy that does not want to be obligated, that does not want to enter into a bond; it is precisely the definitive "yes" that supposes, that confirms the definitive "yes" of marriage. And this marriage is the biblical form, the natural form of being man and woman, the foundation of the great Christian culture, of the great cultures of the world. And if this disappears, the root of our culture will be destroyed.

For this reason, celibacy confirms the "yes" of marriage with its "yes" to the future world, and so we want to move forward and make present this scandal of a faith that bases all of existence upon God. We know that next to this great scandal, which the world does not want to see, there are also the secondary scandals of our insufficiencies, of our sins, which obscure the true and great scandal, and make people think: "But they don't really live on the foundation of God." But there is so much faithfulness! Celibacy, as the criticisms themselves show, is a great sign of faith, of the presence of God in the world. Let us pray to the Lord that he help us to free ourselves from the secondary scandals, that he make present the great scandal of our faith: the trust, the power of our lives, founded on God and on Christ Jesus!






Obama to be given the right to shut down the internet with 'kill switch'

G A D S !

President Obama will be given the power to shut down the Internet with a 'kill switch' in a new law being proposed in the US.

He would be able to order popular search engines such a Google and Yahoo to suspend access their websites in times of national emergency.

Other US based Internet service providers as well as broadband providers would also come under his control in times of a 'cybersecurity emergency.' Any company that failed to comply would be subject to huge fines.

Critics of the new law, which has been proposed by former presidential candidate Joe Liebermann, said it would be an abuse of power to let the White House control the internet.

TechAmerica, one of the largest U.S. technology lobby groups, said the new law had the 'potential for absolute power.'.

The proposed legislation, introduced into the US Senate by Lieberman who is chairman of the US Homeland Security committee, seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.

A sustained terror attack on multiple cities would be considered a national emergency as would a cyber attack by 'hackers' on the US financial system.

The director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair warned earlier this year that the US is 'severely threatened' by malicious cyber attacks.

The number of attacks on Government departments has increased by 400 per cent in the last three years.

Under the proposed bill, which has been dubbed an Internet kill switch', the US Government would effectively seize control of access to the internet.

Lieberman argued the bill was necessary to 'preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people'.

He said: 'For all of its 'user-friendly' allure, the Internet can also be a dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets.

Traders work on the New York Stock Exchange floor.

Traders work on the New York Stock Exchange floor. US senators fear a cyber-attack on the US could paralyse the nation

'Our economic security, national security and public safety are now all at risk from new kinds of enemies--cyber-warriors, cyber-spies, cyber-terrorists and cyber-criminals.'

His bill is formally titled the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA.

While the US Government would not be able to control the internet in other countries access to the most popular sites would be cut off.

Google,Yahoo and YouTube, the top three most visited sites, are all based in the US.

Google logs an estimated two billion hits a day from 300 million users.

Under the cyber law any company on a list created by Homeland Security that also 'relies on' the Internet, the telephone system, or any other component of the U.S. 'information infrastructure' would be subject to command by a new National Centre for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) that would be created inside Homeland Security.

Google, the world's most popular search engine, refused to comment. A spokesman said the law was not yet Government policy.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1287695/Obama-given-right-shut-internet-kill-switch.html?ITO=1490#ixzz0rHMrPe00










Can Christians Live Under Moslem Rule?


from: NoonanForNevada


The recent story about an Egyptian court essentially ruling that the Coptic Church in Egypt must violate Christian teaching opened up, for me, the fundamental issue of whether or not Christians can live in peace and justice under Moslem rule.

The Copts of Egypt – who are the descendants of the pre-Moslem population of Egypt – have suffered for a very long time, but of late the persecution of the Church in Egypt has gotten worse. Various fanatics incite violence against the Christian community (which makes up officially about 5% of the population, but is probably closer to 10%; anywhere from 4 to 8 million or so Christians…the Moslem government likes to downplay the number of Christians in Egypt), and nothing is ever done to the perpetrators.

And so it goes around the Moslem world – where there are Christians under Moslem rule, persecution, robbery, rape and murder are common and justice is impossible to obtain. In the Assyrian area of Iraq, the Christian communities of Lebanon and Pakistan – anywhere you care to mention, if Moslems rule over Christians, then the Christians are in a bad way. Meanwhile, Moslems under Christian rule can not only be sure of justice, but can actually be sure of kid glove treatment by people of the West determined to show they bear no ethnic or religious hostility to Moslems.

It is time, I believe, to consider that it isn’t possible for Christians to live under Moslem rule. When one thinks about it, the fact that Christians are forbidden to live and worship in Mecca is all that needs be said – we Christians are considered to be the merest filth to Moslems. We are unclean and unfit to come within sight of Islam’s holiest city. This attitude very naturally spills over to other areas of life – very easy for a Moslem to move from “you aren’t as good as me” to “why don’t I just take what I want from you?”.

Unless and until Moslems drop this attitude – unless and until they allow a Christian church to open in Mecca (and there are secret Christians there – we can’t live openly there, but Moslems do lack the willingness to do hard, dirty work on their own…so, they hire foreigners, a large number of whom are Christian, to do it for them, even in Mecca), we simply cannot trust Christians to be under Moslem rule.

Out of the Moslem States, where there is a sufficiently large and compact Christian population, we should assist in the creation of non-Moslem nations. Part of Egypt, part of Iraq, part of Sudan, part of Lebanon – and part of the West Bank – must be freed from Moslem rule, at least to the point of internal autonomy which will prevent some Moslem hate-monger from stirring up violence and persecution for whatever reason.

Such a process would not be easy, but far easier than just allowing things to continue as they are now, with endless bloodshed and persecution. Additionally, by starting to make an issue out of this, we might even start to force some Moslems of good will to rethink the Moslem attiude towards “infidels”. Change some times does not grow organically in a society – every now and again, the pace must be forced. As regards Christians under Moslem rule, the time for forcing things has arrived.






Priests will soon be 'inundated' with exorcism requests, asserts author

.- In an exclusive interview with CNA, author and pro-life leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer discussed his recent book on the often misunderstood topic of exorcism, asserting that due to an increased exposure of young people to the occult, priests within the next decade are going to be “inundated” with exorcism requests.

Speaking on his new book, “Exorcism and the Church Militant,” which was released on June 14, Fr. Euteneuer, who also serves as director of Human Life International (HLI), elaborated on the need for exorcism to be clarified in modern society.

When asked why the ancient rite is often shrouded in misconception, Fr. Euteneuer explained that, “first of all, it's misunderstood because most people's perception of exorcism come from the movie the Exorcist or the Exorcism of Emily Rose,” or “some of the horror flicks that disguise themselves as exorcism movies.”

“One of the purposes of the book,” he noted, “was to take back the proper understanding of exorcism by placing it squarely in the context of the Church's pastoral ministry.”

In regard to the need for this pastoral ministry, Fr. Euteneuer asserted that “priests are going to be inundated in the next decade or so at least with requests for exorcism because I can already see it happening now where the younger generations especially have been affected by a lot of hard and soft occultism.”

“Soft forms of occultism are like Wicca and New Age,” he explained, adding that “Harry Potter contributes to that with over 400 million books being sold.” The popular book series, he claimed, has helped educate “younger generations in the language and the symbolism of the occult.”

Although many young people have treated the books merely as “entertainment,” he observed, “it actually leads them more deeply into occult practices.”

“All of this is inevitably, with the lack of faith, going to lead to serious spiritual problems for younger people and those problems are going to be laid at the foot of the Church.”

Though “Exorcism and the Church Militant” is intended for a “general audience,” said Fr. Euteneuer, it is meant specifically to make an appeal “to priests to read it, learn it and get more involved in it.”

“Because,” he clarified, “exorcism is a pastoral ministry and the explicit form of exorcism is a liturgical rite which can only be done by priests.”

Addressing what could be seen by many to be a daunting and frightening topic, Fr. Euteneuer said, “I encourage people to take the view of the Church towards this and that is, we have nothing to fear with regard to evil.”

“We just simply must apply the authority of the church to the power of evil in this world and I don't believe we're doing that adequately.”

“Fear is what keeps us from doing it adequately,” he said. “Fear is what keeps the Church from actually taking the spiritual resources that have been given to the Church and applying them to the very serious forms of evil.”

“Remember that in Jesus' ministry,” Fr. Euteneuer underscored, “He healed the sick, He preached the Gospel and He cast out demons. He continues to do those works in and through the Church and that it what he handed on to the Church to do.”





Friday, June 18, 2010

CHRIST HIMSELF, OUR PASCH!


Faith can never be presupposed, because every generation needs to receive this gift through the proclamation of the Gospel and to know the truth that Christ has revealed to us. The Church, therefore, is always engaged in proposing to all the deposit of the faith; contained in it also is the doctrine on the Eucharist -- central mystery in which "is enclosed all the spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ himself, our Pasch" -- doctrine that today, unfortunately, is not sufficiently understood in its profound value and in its relevance for the existence of believers. Because of this, it is important that a more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord be seen as an exigency of the different communities of our diocese of Rome. At the same time, in the missionary spirit that we wish to nourish, it is necessary to spread the commitment to proclaim such Eucharistic faith, so that every man will encounter Jesus Christ who has revealed the "close" God, friend of humanity, and to witness it with an eloquent life of charity.

In all his public life, through the preaching of the Gospel and miraculous signs, Jesus proclaimed the goodness and mercy of the Father towards man. This mission reached its culmination on Golgotha, where the crucified Christ revealed the face of God, so that man, contemplating the Cross, be able to recognize the fullness of love. The sacrifice of Calvary is mysteriously anticipated in the Last Supper, when Jesus, sharing with the Twelve the bread and wine, transforms them into his body and his blood, which shortly after he would offer as immolated Lamb. The Eucharist is the memorial of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of his love to the end for each one of us, memorial that He willed to entrust to the Church so that it would be celebrated throughout the centuries. According to the meaning of the Hebrew word "zakar," the "memorial" is not simply the memory of something that happened in the past, but a celebration which actualizes that event, so as to reproduce its salvific force and efficacy. Thus, "the sacrifice that Christ offered to the Father, once and for all, on the Cross in favor of humanity, is rendered present and actual" (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 280). Dear brothers and sisters, in our time the word sacrifice is not liked, rather it seems to belong to other times and to another way of understanding life. However, properly understood, it is and remains fundamental, because it reveals to us with what love God loves us in Christ....

The Holy Mass, celebrated in the respect of the liturgical norms and with a fitting appreciation of the richness of the signs and gestures, fosters and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith. In the Eucharistic celebration we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present. This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: we go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us. Hence, the liturgical prescriptions dictated by the Church are not external things, but express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ and thus the prayer reveals the faith according to the ancient principle "lex orandi - lex credendi." And because of this we can say "the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well celebrated". It is necessary that in the liturgy the transcendent dimension emerge with clarity, that of the mystery, of the encounter with the Divine, which also illumines and elevates the "horizontal," that is the bond of communion and of solidarity that exists between all those who belong to the Church. In fact, when the latter prevails, the beauty, profundity and importance of the mystery celebrated is fully understood. Dear brothers in the priesthood, to you the bishop has entrusted, on the day of your priestly Ordination, the task to preside over the Eucharist. Always have at heart the exercise of this mission: celebrate the divine mysteries with intense interior participation, so that the men and women of our City can be sanctified, put into contact with God, absolute truth and eternal love....

Communion with Christ is always communion also with his body, which is the Church, as the Apostle Paul reminds, saying: "The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians:16-17). It is, in fact, the Eucharist that transforms a simple group of persons into ecclesial community: the Eucharist makes the Church....

This City of ours asks of Christ's disciples, with a renewed proclamation of the Gospel, a clearer and more limpid testimony of charity. It is with the language of love, desirous of the integral good of man, that the Church speaks to the inhabitants of Rome. In these years of my ministry as your Bishop, I have been able to visit several places where charity is lived intensely. I am grateful to all those who are engaged in the different charitable structures, for the dedication and generosity with which they serve the poor and the marginalized.

The needs and poverty of so many men and women interpellate us profoundly: it is Christ himself who every day, in the poor, asks us to assuage his hunger and thirst, to visit him in hospitals and prisons, to accept and dress him. A celebrated Eucharist imposes on us and at the same time renders us capable of becoming, in our turn, bread broken for brothers, coming to meet their needs and giving ourselves. Because of this, a Eucharistic celebration that does not lead to meet men where they live, work and suffer, to take to them the love of God, does not manifest the love it encloses. To be faithful to the mystery that is celebrated on the altars we must, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us, offer our bodies, ourselves, in spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God (cf. Romans 12:1) in those circumstances that require dying to our I and constitute our daily "altar." Gestures of sharing create communion, renew the fabric of interpersonal relations, marking them with gratuitousness and gift, and allowing for the construction of the civilization of love. In a time such as the present of economic and social crisis, let us be in solidarity with those who live in hardship to offer all the hope of a better tomorrow worthy of man. If we really live as disciples of God-Charity, we will help the inhabitants of Rome to discover themselves brothers and children of the one Father.
--Pope Benedict XVI
Address to the Annual Convention of the Diocese of Rome
Basilica of St John Lateran
15 June 2010





Thursday, December 03, 2009

Liturgy, Beauty and Truth

Interview With Artist David Clayton

(Zenit.org)

MERRIMACK, New Hampshire, DEC. 2, 2009 - Catholic liturgy has a great capacity to instruct people in appreciating beauty, which will in turn help attract them to truth, says artist David Clayton.

Clayton is an artist-in-residence at Thomas More College, and a teacher for the newly launched Way of Beauty program.

In this interview with ZENIT, he speaks about the program's goals to instruct artists and their patrons in the appreciation of true beauty.

Clayton reflects on Benedict XVI's words in a Nov. 18 general audience, when the Pontiff spoke about Christian architecture, focusing on Gothic cathedrals such as Chartres and Notre Dame. 

ZENIT: What struck you about the Pope's statement?

Clayton: Well, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts has put into place a program aimed at training students to do exactly what he is calling for. He even used the same name, the Way of Beauty (except, being the Pope he used Latin of course, "via pulchtritudinis," and that makes it sound even better!)

Beauty has an important part to play in attracting people to the truth. 

We have to state clearly what the truth is, but we must do so beautifully, otherwise people are less likely to be attracted to it.

ZENIT: Is it pure coincidence that the Pope delivered this speech just after you launched the program? 

Clayton: It is a coincidence that we have just started it in the last couple of months, but in another way it isn't. He made the point that his two predecessors had asked for a return to a culture of beauty. We are doing what we are doing as a direct response to them as well.

It was John Paul II especially and his Letter to Artists that inspired me to try to establish a program at a Catholic school that would enable the "new epiphany of beauty" that he called for. 

The writings of the current Pope just seem to build on this. Every week, it seems, his addresses have focused on the Church Fathers in such a way that he seemed to be leading up to this.

So, for example, he refers often to Augustine of course, and he has drawn our attention also to St. Boethius, who is the father whose work was so influential in the teaching of the quadrivium, the "four ways" -- the higher part of the seven liberal arts. 

This is pretty much a traditional education in beauty and was influential in the School of Chartres, which was at the center of the gothic tradition of the Church.

ZENIT: The Pope had a meeting with artists from all over the world on Nov. 22. What impact do you think this event will have on art? 

Clayton: In itself, probably little. Most of the figures are prominent in the current creative environment, which is secular. 

I hope I'm wrong, but I think it will be difficult for them to just turn on a tap of beauty in any way that is very different from what they are already doing. It is asking them to change course in what they are already doing and that's not easy.

However, they may be inspired to get involved in long term projects that point the way to the next generation, and very importantly it draws attention to the issue and gets a lot of publicity, highlighting how important this is from the perspective of within the Church.

ZENIT: What has the Church done, or what could it do, to reach out more to the world of art?

Clayton: I think that more important than persuading the artists, we should be persuading the patrons of the arts. 

The artists will always do what they are paid to do. I think that we need enlightened patrons. 

Part of this is training priests in seminaries to understand exactly what Catholic culture is. However, I think that as much, if not more, can be done by the laity -- really it comes down to us to demand better art and to come up with the money to pay for it. 

I am on the board of an organization called the Foundation for Sacred Arts that is trying to promote the idea of knowledgeable artists and architects going into seminaries to give talks and courses that will help the priests to choose what is good.

And of course, we have the Way of Beauty at Thomas More College. It rests on understanding our own culture and, very importantly, how it is rooted in the liturgy. 

ZENIT: Why is beauty so often missing from modern art and architecture? And what could or should be done to go back to the original beauty?

Clayton: Modern culture is secular. It reflects a worldview in which God is not acknowledged. It does this very well and so this is why it is so powerful and yet so ugly. 

Catholic culture should not, in my view, look to secular culture for inspiration. To do so would be to look at art forms that were developed to communicate an anti-Christian worldview.

If you try to Christianize popular culture, for example, you end up with a form that is trying to communicate values that are good through the medium that was developed to communicate something else. The result is that it loses all its power and it comes across as weak and sentimental. 

There is another reason. There is a saying that all the great art movements began on the altar. Catholic culture is always rooted in the cult that is central to Catholicism, that is, the Mass and the Divine Office.

If our liturgy is lacking in dignity and beauty, then Catholic culture will be too. 

One of the great things that is happening in the Church now is a liturgical renewal. This is more powerful in creating a culture of beauty than anything else, and it is the current Pope who, more than anyone, is overseeing a restoration of liturgical orthodoxy.

This is the most powerful way to reach out to artists, and for that matter anyone else (if I can come back to your earlier question) that the Church has at its disposal. The reaching out is done by the Holy Spirit; it is a supernatural magnet! 

Once we get the liturgy sorted out, everything else will fall into place. 

ZENIT: Tell us about your project of the way of beauty. Why did you choose an academic environment in which to establish it?

Clayton: Thomas More College offers a unique practical training in beauty that will enable ordinary Catholics to contribute to the culture of beauty. 

Rooted in our own tradition, it is trying to further what the West has been waiting for. We need skillful artists, of course. We also need knowledgeable patrons of the arts. But most of all we need people who know what beauty is, know how to use it in their worship, and demand it in their churches, their homes, their workplaces.

This is why every student at the college goes through this course. They learn to participate in, and create, a culture of beauty that directs us to God. It is based upon the traditional quadrivium that I mentioned earlier. The subjects are number, geometry, harmony/music and cosmology, but these are not taught as they would be normally. 

It is a tradition that teaches the patterns and harmony that comprise all that is beautiful and how they correspond to the patterns in the liturgy.

This is reflected in what we think of first when we talk of Catholic culture: art, architecture, literature, music. But these are values and principles that can be employed in all our human activity. Whatever we do, we can do it beautifully, inspired by God. 

As beauty is apprehended intuitively, an education in beauty develops our intuitive faculty -- we become more creative. True originality is that which looks to the origin of all that is good, God.

Crucial to this education of beauty and creativity is the guided practice of the creation of beauty. 

This begins in the teaching of people to pray with visual imagery in the context of the Mass and the Divine Office. We teach through practice, sacred geometry -- the traditional abstract art form that manifests these principles and is the basis for the proportion and compositional design in art and architecture. 

Those who are artistic can choose to do iconography courses and fine carpentry courses. Everyone is required to do creative writing courses that teach using traditional methods. 

The result is that we also teach people to recognize the theological language of the artistic traditions of the Church, the iconographic, the gothic and the baroque. We teach people the visual language. As the students go through the whole of our liberal arts program, which is a great books program, they will start to see how the whole of Catholic culture is run through with these values. 

As well as being a fascinating journey through our culture, this will give us the knowledge to be enlightened patrons for the Church and to choose images discerningly for our own pray and worship. It is also an excellent foundation for Catholics wishing to go on and study art intensively. They will know how to apply their skills in the service of the Church.

ZENIT: It sounds as though this would be of interest to more than just your students. Is there a way that others can get access to this?

Clayton: Yes, we are running a summer program in 2010. This is for anyone aged 16 and above. It will take place at our college campus in New Hampshire. As well as a course in the Way of Beauty -- teaching people the basics of the quadrivium- we also run courses in drawing and painting. We teach iconography and naturalistic drawing in the baroque style using the academic method. 

What people should be aware of is that talent has very little to do with being an artist. If you love art and love the Church, then with the right training, you will learn the necessary skills to do it. We have internationally known artists doing the training here and people will be amazed at the results they achieve.

Way of Beauty: www.thomasmorecollege.edu/WayofBeauty

Foundation for Sacred Arts: www.thesacredarts.org

__________________

from the website of :

Way of Beauty

God called man into existence, committing to him the craftsman’s task. Through his “artistic creativity” man appears more than ever “in the image of God”, and he accomplishes this task above all in shaping the wondrous “material” of his own humanity and then exercising creative dominion over the universe which surrounds him.
-Pope John Paul II, Letter to Artists

The traditional quadrivium is essentially the study of pattern, harmony, symmetry and order in nature and mathematics, viewed as a reflection of the Divine Order. Along with Church tradition, they provide the model for the rhythms and cycles of the liturgy. Christian culture, like classical culture before it, was patterned after this cosmic order, which provides the unifying principle that runs through every traditional discipline. Literature, art, music, architecture, philosophy—all of creation and potentially all human activity—are bound together by this common harmony and receive their fullest meaning in the Church’s liturgy.

Way of Beauty 2This course teaches a deep understanding of these principles and their practical application through both lectures and workshops.

When we apprehend beauty we do so intuitively. So an education that improves our ability to apprehend beauty also develops our intuition. All creativity, even that employed in business or scientific endeavors, is at its source intuitive. Furthermore, the creativity that an education in beauty stimulates generates not just more ideas, but better ideas—better because they are more in harmony with the natural order. The recognition of beauty moves us to love what we see, and leaves us more inclined to serve God and our fellow man.

The Way of Beauty courses are taught by the College’s Artist-in-Residence David Clayton, an internationally known painter of icons, who was trained in the natural sciences at Oxford University and in the techniques of Baroque painting at one of the ateliers of Florence. He has received commissions at churches and monasteries in the U.S. and in Europe, and has illustrated a variety of Catholic books, most recently one written by scripture scholar and apologist Scott Hahn. All students will learn to understand the principles and techniques that make classic works of art beautiful; those interested in creating their own works are welcome to join his optional evening classes in drawing and painting.

Students in Art Class

The course draws on works of pre-Christian classical thinkers, the Church Fathers (especially St. Augustine and Boethius) who established it as a Christian tradition, the developments of later medieval thinkers such as Aquinas and Bonaventure, and the writings of more recent figures such as popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI which place it in a modern context.






Orthodox & Catholic Churches Inch Closer


03 December 2009
Reuters

The Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church are making progress toward healing their 1,000-year-old rift, a senior Russian official said ahead of President Dmitry Medvedev’s first visit to the Vatican.

But Medvedev will not invite Pope Benedict to make a historic visit to Russia when the two meet on Thursday because he believes that church heads should take the initiative, said the official, who refused to be identified.

“It is not appropriate for a secular leader to raise the issue in the absence of a hierarch,” the official said. “They [church leaders] should decide the issue themselves.

“However, a movement toward normalization is clearly seen, and things are moving in the right direction,” he added.

Visits by Russian leaders to the Holy See in the past have failed to help heal the rift between the churches. But new hopes emerged when Patriarch Kirill took power after the death of his theologically more conservative predecessor, Alexy II, last December.

Patriarch Alexy, who spearheaded the revival of his church after decades of Communist persecution, treated rival religions and churches with suspicion.

The Russian Orthodox Church has accused the Vatican of poaching for converts in its territory, including in Ukraine. The Catholic Church says it is only ministering to an existing flock of about half a million Russian Catholics.

The medieval Christian church split into Eastern and Western branches in the Great Schism of 1054 amid disputes over papal authority and the insertion of a clause into the Nicene Creed. The divide has never been healed.

Patriarch Kirill, who headed the church’s foreign relations department for many years before taking his present job, has shown less hostility toward Catholics than did Alexy.

German-born Pope Benedict, a theological conservative, is viewed by Orthodox hierarchs as a more welcomed partner than his predecessor, John Paul II.





Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkish Military Planned Attacks on Christians


By Dikran Ego
Freelance Journalist
AcsaTV.com


Senior Turkish military officers had made extensive plans to terrorize non-Muslims in Turkey. In the large Ergenekon[1] scandal recently a well-planned terrorist operation was revealed. The operation which is called "Kafes Operasyonu Eylem Planı", in English meaning "the execution of the cage - operation" was to eliminate the remaining small group of Christians living in Turkey today.

The plan was revealed when police arrested Levent Bektas, a major in the Turkish army. The evidence seized reveals more than 27 officers and senior military officers involved in the conspiracy against Christians.

In order to identify key persons among the Christians and then kill them, this terrorist network has broken into a Greek Church congregation compound and stolen computers. The purpose of this was to access the congregation’s member lists.

"When our office was emptied of computers and files, church members were very concerned. Since the murder of the monk Santoro, the journalist Hrant Dink and the brutal murder of three publishing workers in Malatya, Christians are living in constant fear", said lawyer Kezban Hatemi, representing the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Constantinople (Istanbul).

On 28 November 2007, the Syriac Orthodox monk Daniel Savci in Turabdin was kidnapped in southeastern Turkey. The monk resides in the St. Gabriel monastery, which Turkish authorities are trying to confiscate. A few days later the monk was found beaten. Shortly after, the police arrested some village guards, a state-sanctioned militia subordinate to the Turkish army, for the kidnapping. Many people with insight into the situation interpret the kidnapping as a direct threat to the remaining Assyrians in Turabdin.

Christians were attacked across the country. To implement the strategic attacks, the country's Christian population was mapped out and 939 key persons from different parts of the country were identified as potential targets.

The fully detailed operation consists of four phases: preparation, spreading propaganda, shape opinion and execute.

The newspaper Taraf, which has been able to access the information, has published several articles about this. On its website www.taraf.com.tr it is described in detail how the plan to attack the Christians was to be implemented.

Below are some points that constitute the plan's main lines.

  • Christians are mapped
  • Famous and wealthy Christian businessmen kidnapped
  • Systematic fires and looting of Christian businesses
  • The Armenian newspaper AGOS be subjected to several explosions
  • Murder patrols executing attacks against selected individuals
  • Christian cemeteries subjected to explosions
  • Churches and institutions belonging to Christians subjected to explosions
  • Put the blame on imaginary militant organizations
From the late 1980s to the 2000s, thousands of people have been killed, among them there were also many Christians. The perpetrators of the killings have never been found. But officially they have been systematically identified as an organization named "Hizbullah".

A military arsenal provides the network with weapons. The police have, after following the tracks, at a house search in Poyrazköy outside Istanbul found a weapon cache to be used in the attacks. Among the weapons were several items, from C4 explosives to Uzi firearms and other sophisticated weapons.

According to the newspaper Taraf, major Eren Günay has been arrested for having provided the attackers with arms and ammunition. According to the newspaper there are indications that the plan is sanctioned by the highest Turkish military leadership.

For a long time, Christians’ houses, property and businesses in the Christian areas of the cities of Istanbul and Izmir have been labeled, in order to identify them. MP Sebah Tuncel notified the Turkish government with a written question last summer. The question addressed the Ministry of Interior and was about what the government intends to do against the labeling of Christian properties and about Christians being identified. Even today, the government has not replied to this question yet.

As long as the attacks were aimed at Christians and other minority groups, the Turkish government acted indifferently. Not until the ruling government party AKP themselves felt threatened they began to act. In recent years the relationship between the government and the military has been strained and on several occasions the military has made attempts to make a coup d'état, without succeeding fully.

Fr. Daniil murder a warning to +Kyrill?


Sunday November 29, 2009

From CrunchyCon


an American Orthodox priest reader living temporarily in Russia writes:

"I wanted to thank you for reporting about the martyred priest Fr. Daniil. I thought you might also be interested to know that there is some thought in the Church here that Fr. Daniil was murdered as a warning to Patriarch Kyrill. The patriarch has been very outspoken about missionary work. He believes that the years since the fall of communism have seen the "restructuring" of the Church here, but now is the time for real mission work, not only making the new Orthodox truly Orthodox (or "churching the people" as he often puts it), but reaching outside the Church to those who are non-Orthodox. He was very supportive of Fr. Daniil and all missionary priests here; openly so and very vocal about it.

So, Fr. Daniil was murdered on the evening of the Patriarch's birthday as a perverted "gift" to him. By killing one of the most visible and well-known of his missionary priests, they were warning him what the cost would be to him and the Church if missionary work continues.

This is still very much a place where one's faith has a high cost. A number of friends (and family) have warned me about always wearing my cassock and cross in public, on the subway, on the streets, at the university. But I find that so many people are attracted to a priest and are very sincerely interested in the faith, and have so many questions to ask, that just wearing the cassock in public is 'missionary.'"




___________________________________________

background story:


Today, the parishioners of St Thomas church are praying for the repose of the soul of Fr Daniil Sysoev, who died last night after an unknown assailant shot him. “This morning, we celebrated three Pannikhidas for Fr Daniil. In spite of it being a working day, people continue to come forward”, a spokesman for the parish told our Interfax-Religion correspondent. They told us that Fr Daniel had many friends in the clergy, and, probably, they will continuously perform Pannikhidas for him until the day of his funeral. “Anyone can come to our church and pray, however, we don’t allow reporters to use photo and video equipment here”, the sexton on duty said.

On early Friday morning, at St Thomas church in the Kantemirov district of Moscow, there was continuous reading from the Psalter in honour of Fr Daniil Sysoev, killed the night before. Parishioners and spiritual children of Fr Daniil read from the Psalms and offered prayers for the repose of his soul at an analogion set up for the purpose in the centre of the church, according to our Interfax-Religion correspondent. Mourners lit dozens of candles.

One constantly sees all sorts of people bringing flowers to the church, including priests, members of the parish community and missionary clubs that Fr Daniil sponsored, and friends and relatives of the deceased priest. Most of them are weeping disconsolately. People light candles and quietly discuss the tragedy amongst themselves, as they recall their personal contact with Fr Daniil; they remember his care and assistance for his parishioners in their specific needs.

In the small wooden church, a memorial to the right of the altar marks where an unknown assassin murdered Fr Daniil the night before. Two white and two red roses lie crosswise around bouquets of flowers on the rug where he fell. Meanwhile, on the street outside, believers have laid more bouquets of flowers at the entrance to the church. Announcements of parish events signed by Fr Daniil still hang on the door of the church. Near the church fence, a few cops are on duty to keep order, but, the church is open to anyone who wants to come and pray. Several Russian television crews are on the scene, as well.

Hundreds of Russian-speaking users of the internet service Live Journal passed on a message urging everybody to participate in a procession on the day of the funeral of Fr Daniil Sysoev, who died early Friday morning after being shot in the head on Thursday evening. “We would like 400,000 to show up for a procession to remember the murder of a priest in Moscow. It would stretch from Tver to the Kremlin,” political scientist Aleksandr Morozov wrote on his blog. According to most Orthodox bloggers who expressed a desire to come to any such procession, it should be a prayerful religious event blessed by the Archpastors of the Church without any political dimension.

Boris Yakemenko, the head of the Orthodox section of the youth movement Nashi, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia, sees the murder of Fr Daniel Sysoev as evidence of our country’s moral crisis. “This heinous crime shows just how far society has gone in its spiritual degeneration. If the walls of a church, or an ordained priest, or even the cross itself didn’t stop such wicked men, it means that we see the onset of a crisis that is much worse than any global economic crisis… a crisis of consciousness, a crisis of the heart and soul”, Boris Yakemenko told Interfax-Religion on Friday. In his opinion, “Everyone with a heart and a conscience, not only Orthodox, but, anyone with an open soul, must oppose this spiritual decay now, or, we shall pay once again for our indifference with the best things in our lives, leaving our house in ruins. Fr Daniil was a bright, talented, and very active missionary; he was a very significant figure. He preached, spoke, wrote books, and dashed off anywhere at a moment’s notice to where anyone needed his help, pastoral support, or word of comfort”.

Mr Yakemenko noted that Fr Daniil worked with Muslims, with migrant workers, with counterculture types, “with very different sorts of people. Like any other exceptional or gifted man, not everyone cared for his ways, but, no one could say that he wasn’t the kind of missionary that people really need today”. He told us that Fr Daniil spent the entire term of the Orthodox youth camp this summer at Lake Seliger “because there were thousands of people there, and he just couldn’t stay away. He baptised, preached, and talked to the kids… It seemed that he was everywhere doing everything. We collected petitions in support of his church (when some wanted to tear it down), and he and I met on several occasions, and we discussed our plans for next summer”.

According to tentative plans, the funeral service of Fr Daniil Sysoev shall be on Monday at Ss Peter and Paul church in the Yasenevo district in Moscow. “In addition, people may pay their respects to Fr Daniil on Saturday and Sunday at St Thomas church in the Kantemirov district of Moscow, where he was the rector and where he was shot”, a source in the MP told Interfax-Religion on Friday. According to our source, on one of those days, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all the Russias shall come and pay his respects to the late Fr Daniil. At one time, Fr Daniil was a cleric at Ss Peter and Paul church in Yasenevo, which is a podvorie of the Optina Pustyn Monastery. His father, Fr Aleksei Sysoev (also a priest), is rector of St John the Evangelist church in the Yasenevo Orthodox classical gymnasium, also served in this podvorie as well.

Fr Aleksei Sysoev

Biography

In his own words, he is “half Russian, half Tatar”. His father is a priest, Fr Aleksei Sysoev. Fr Aleksei is rector of the church of St John the Divine at the Yasenevo Orthodox classical gymnasium and a clergyman of the Ss Peter and Paul church in Yasenevo. His mother, Anna Midhatovna Amirov, teaches Orthodox catechism at the same school.

He graduated from the Moscow Theological Academy in 2000 with a Kandidatura in Theology. {Editor’s note: Literally, a kandidat is a “candidate member of the Russian Academy of Sciences”, equivalent to a Western PhD, but, perhaps, a bit more stringent in requirements and more rigorous.} His thesis was entitled, The Anthropology of the Seventh Day Adventists and the Watchtower Society and its Analysis.

His career as a cleric began in 1994, when he became a reader. In 1995, he received ordination as a deacon, and in 2001, as a priest. He is married and has three daughters. Fr Daniil Sysoev actively engaged in missionary work among Muslims, and converted many to the Orthodox faith. He held a conservative stance towards yoga exercises, karate, Latin American dance, and belly dancing, urging Christians not to attend these classes. Rev Sysoev was critical of the Darwinian theory of evolution

Fr Daniil was the rector of St Thomas parish; he developed an active missionary movement, which included training Orthodox “street missionaries”, whose task was to attract people to Orthodoxy by appealing to passers-by on the street.

On 19 November 2009, D. A. Sysoev was mortally wounded in St Thomas church by two shots from a pistol (other sources say that four shots were fired). The masked assailant managed to escape. At 00.20 Moscow Standard Time on 20 November 2009 (21.20 UTC 16.20 EST 13.20 PST, all of these 19 November), Fr Daniil died on the operating table.

At present, detectives believe that the most plausible explanation for the crime is that the murderer had a religious motivation for the killing. Earlier, members of various extremist groups repeatedly threatened Rev Sysoev. “Fr Daniil was a prominent figure amongst the Moscow clergy, creative and vigorous, and a true preacher and missionary. I think that he was murdered because of his strong views”, said Fr Vladimir Vigilyansky, a spokesman for the MP. Indeed, Rev Sysoev himself stated that he had received death threats on 14 separate occasions.

Church of the Apostle Thomas

In 2005, the Moscow city government allocated the community led by Fr Daniil Sysoev 0.5 hectares (a little under 1.25 acres) of land near the Kantemirovskaya metro stop on the Zamoskvoretskaya Line for the construction of a stone church dedicated to the prophet Daniel. By November 2006, the parishioners had cleared all of the undergrowth and debris on the site and erected a temporary wooden church dedicated to the Apostle Thomas. The parish runs missionary courses, singing lessons, iconography classes, and a scout group. In 2009, four years after the allocation of land, the Moscow City Department of Environmental Management believed that the community was in violation of environmental legislation, although many use the floodplain of the Chertanovka River as a dump for construction debris. The Department stated that the land at this location should be a park and nature reserve, and the construction of a church would result in irreparable harm to the unique natural habitat. In August 2009, deputy prefect of YuVAO stated he approved in principle for the construction of a church in Kantemirov district, and, during public hearings on the new Master Plan of Moscow, residents demanded that a church be part of the draft General Plan.

Criticism

In 2007, Mufti Nafigulla Ashirov, Co-chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, sued in court [against Fr Daniil] for his book Marriage to a Muslim, which, he said, contained expressions offensive to Muslims. Journalist Khalida Khamidulina accused Fr Daniil of inciting hatred of Islam in his publications and filed a suit in court against him. At the same time, Neo-Nazi groups expressed their displeasure with the Fr Daniil’s views and ultra-rightwing Orthodox publications criticised him for his anti-monarchist position. In addition, some spokesmen for Old Ritualists {Editor’s note: These are mistakenly called “Old Believers” in Western circles… all too many of them are nothing but Protestants in Orthodox drag.} expressed a negative assessment of D. A. Sysoev. They believed that he attacked their faith, considering his publications on Old Ritualists as “slander against the Old Orthodox Church”. {Editor’s note: The so-called Old Orthodox Church is not in communion with any of the recognised Orthodox Local Churches. It is a sect of popovtsy (“priested”) Old Ritualists, in opposition to the sort known as bezpopovtsy (“unpriested”). The latter are literally what their Russian name indicates… they are priestless. The former have a hierarchy ordained by a renegade Orthodox bishop in the old Hapsburg Empire. Neither group is in the Church, as I said above, no Local Church considers them Orthodox. Neophytes should best avoid both sorts. Don’t be fooled by their icons and chanting… they are nothing but Protestants who reject the Church.} They accused him of poor reasoning, faulty judgement, and distortion of historical facts.





Russian patriarch seeks 'powerful reply' to train bomb


By Conor Humphries
MOSCOW
Nov 29 (Reuters)

The head of Russia's Orthodox Church on Sunday called on authorities to give a "powerful reply" to the people behind a train bombing that killed 25 people, as police probed whether Islamist rebels were involved.

A blast derailed a high-speed Russian train on Friday night on the main line between Moscow and Russia's second city, St Petersburg, raising fears of a new wave of attacks five years after a bombing campaign in Moscow by Chechen rebels.

"We believe the reply will be effective and powerful enough to show these shameful, terrible people that ... when the hand of an enemy is lifted against our lives, we are able to defend our citizens," Patriarch Kirill said at a memorial service in Moscow.

The comments were the strongest statement of anger against the perpetrators by a senior public figure. President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday called for calm and ordered officials to do everything to help the victims of the attack.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, but security analysts said militant groups from Russia's mainly Muslim North Caucasus were the most likely culprits.

A claim of responsibility by Islamist rebels could heighten tensions between Russia's Christian majority and its Muslim minority weeks after an Orthodox priest who was critical of Islam was shot dead in his church.

Russian investigators on Sunday combed the site of the blast and questioned residents of the rural area where it happened. The Emergency Ministry said 25 people were confirmed dead.

Passenger services resumed on the track on Sunday, with commuter trains rolling past an overturned carriage disguised by a green camouflage net, television pictures showed.

Television stations cancelled entertainment shows on Sunday and football matches observed a minute of silence.


(editors note: okey dokey...ee gads!)

Scientist says to be 'very careful' when interpreting writing on Shroud of Turin

A researcher in the Vatican secret archives claims to have interpreted a death certificate supposedly imprinted on the Shroud of Turin. However, a leading scientist and researcher on the Shroud cautions against reading too much into the images.

Dr. Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican secret archive, claims that she has reconstructed the death certificate of a man named “Jesus the Nazarene or Jesus of Nazareth” from fragments of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin words she sees imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, reports the U.K. Times Online. The letters Frale claims to be interpreting were first found in a 1978 examination of the Shroud. Other letters have allegedly been found since then.

Dr. Frale told “La Repubblica” that Jewish burial practices at the time of the Roman occupation of Jerusalem mandated that a body buried after execution of a death sentence had be in a common grave and could only be returned to the family after a year had passed. Therefore, a death certificate was glued to the burial shroud, usually on the cloth near the face, so that the body could be easily identified.

Frale's reconstruction of the death certificate reads, “In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year." Dr. Frale noted that many of the letters were missing from the Shroud, and that Jesus, for example, was referred to as "(I)esou(s) Nnazarennos."

Dr. John P. Jackson, director of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, told CNA, “you have to be very careful when interpreting these things.” He cited the example of an image on the Shroud thought to have been the rope which led Jesus to Calvary which, under scientific investigation, turned out to be nothing more than a watermark.

“I'm not trying to demean someone else's work that I'm not familiar with,” Jackson said. He did, however, point out that “there is a long history of people finding things on the Shroud which are tied into subjectivity.”

The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth used as a burial shroud which bears the distinct image of a crucified man bearing wounds matching the Gospel accounts of the Passion of Christ. Scholars concur that the Shroud cannot be a work of art, and traces of blood, as well as the pollen of plants found only in the Middle East, have been found nestled within the fibers of the cloth.

The object of much scientific study, the authenticity of the Shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ has neither been confirmed nor denied by the Church.





Jesus Christ's 'death certificate' found on Turin Shroud

Researcher says she found text on Shroud of Turin

ROME — A Vatican researcher claims she has found a nearly invisible text on the Shroud of Turin and says the discovery proves the authenticity of the artifact revered as Jesus' burial cloth.

The claim made in a new book by historian Barbara Frale drew immediate skepticism from some scientists, who maintain the shroud is a medieval forgery.

Frale, a researcher at the Vatican archives, says the faint writing emerged through computer analysis of photos of the shroud, which is not normally accessible for study.

Frale says the jumble of Greek, Latin and Aramaic includes the words "Jesus Nazarene" and mentions he was sentenced to death. She believes the text was written on a document by a clerk to identify the body and the ink then seeped into the cloth.


_______________________________________________

By Nick Squires in Rome

The historian and researcher at the secret Vatican archive said she has found the words "Jesus Nazarene" on the shroud, proving it was the linen cloth which was wrapped around Christ's body.

She said computer analysis of photographs of the shroud revealed extremely faint words written in Greek, Aramaic and Latin which attested to its authenticity.

Her claim was immediately contested by scholars who said that radiocarbon dating tests in 1988 showed the shroud to be a medieval forgery.

Dr Frale asserts in a new book, The Shroud of Jesus the Nazarene, that computer enhancement enabled her to detect the archaic script, which appea

rs on various parts of the material.

She suggested that it was written by low-ranking Roman officials or mortuary clerks on a scroll or piece of papyrus to identify Christ's corpse. Such a document would have enabled the relatives of a dead person to retrieve a body from a communal morgue, she suggested.

It would have been attached to the corpse with a flour-based glue and the ink could have seeped through into the cloth below, leaving a faint imprint.

Scholars first noticed that there was writing on the shroud in 1978 but when the radiocarbon tests a decade later suggested that the shroud was a forgery, historians lost interest in the script, Dr Frale said.

She claimed she had been able to decipher a jumble of phrases written in three languages, including the Greek words (I)esou(s) Nnazarennos, or Jesus the Nazarene, and (T)iber(iou), which she interprets as Tiberius, the Roman emperor at the time of Christ's crucifixion.

The text also mentions that the man who was wrapped in the shroud had been condemned to death, she believes. The hidden text was in effect the "burial certificate" for Jesus Christ, Dr Frale said.

"I tried to be objective and leave religious issues aside," she said. "What I studied was an ancient document that certifies the execution of a man, in a specific time and place."

But other experts were sceptical. "People work on grainy photos and think they see things," said Antonio Lombatti, a church historian who has written books about the shroud. "It's all the result of imagination and computer software."


_______________________________________________


Death certificate is imprinted on the Shroud of Turin,

says Vatican scholar


A Vatican scholar claims to have deciphered the "death certificate" imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, or Holy Shroud, a linen cloth revered by Christians and held by many to bear the image of the crucified Jesus.

Dr Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican secret archives, said "I think I have managed to read the burial certificate of Jesus the Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth." She said that she had reconstructed it from fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing imprinted on the cloth together with the image of the crucified man.

The shroud, which is kept in the royal chapel of Turin Cathedral and is to be put in display next spring, is regarded by many scholars as a medieval forgery. A 1988 carbon dating of a fragment of the cloth dated it to the Middle Ages.

However Dr Frale, who is to publish her findings in a new book, La Sindone di Gesu Nazareno (The Shroud of Jesus of Nazareth) said that the inscription provided "historical date consistent with the Gospels account". The letters, barely visible to the naked eye, were first spotted during an examination of the shroud in 1978, and others have since come to light.

Some scholars have suggested that the writing is from a reliquary attached to the cloth in medieval times. But Dr Frale said that the text could not have been written by a medieval Christian because it did not refer to Jesus as Christ but as "the Naz

arene". This would have been "heretical" in the Middle Ages since it defined Jesus as "only a man" rather than the Son of God.

Like the image of the man himself the letters are in reverse and only make sense in negative photographs. Dr Frale told La Repubblica that under Jewish burial practices current at the time of Christ in a Roman colony such as Palestine, a body buried after a death sentence could only be returned to the family after a year in a common grave.

A death certificate was therefore glued to the burial shroud to identify it for later retrieval, and was usually stuck to the cloth around the face. This had apparently been done in the case of Jesus even though he was buried not in a common grave but in the tomb offered by Joseph of Arimathea.

Dr Frale said that many of the letters were missing, with Jesus for example referred to as "(I)esou(s) Nnazarennos" and only the "iber" of "Tiberiou" surviving. Her reconstruction, however, suggested that the certificate read: "In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year". It ends "signed by" but the signature has not survived.

Dr Frale said that the use of three languages was consistent with the polyglot nature of a community of Greek-speaking Jews in a Roman colony. Best known for her studies of the Knights Templar, who she claims at one stage preserved the shroud, she said what she had deciphered was "the death sentence on a man called Jesus the Nazarene. If that man was also Christ the Son of God it is beyond my job to establish. I did not set out to demonstrate the truth of faith. I am a Catholic, but all my teachers have been atheists or agnostics, and the only believer among them was a Jew. I forced myself to work on this as I would have done on any other archaeological find."

The Catholic Church has never either endorsed the Turin Shroud or rejected it as inauthentic. Pope John Paul II arranged for public showings in 1998 and 2000, saying: "The Shroud is an image of God's love as well as of human sin. The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one's fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age." Pope Benedict XVI is to pray before the Shroud when it is put on show again next Spring in Turin.

















Islamic Imperialism: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Middle East

Written by Thomas O. Hecht
Saturday, 28 November 2009

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Samuel Huntington predicted that only the Islamic civilization would re-emerge as the nemesis to the West. Recently, there is a rebirth of the Islamic struggle to reassert control over parts of the world, with jihad, or its modern manifestation - international terrorism - as its tool. The US is losing its dominance in the Middle East and is gradually being replaced by Iran. The Western world is in urgent need of a leader who will powerfully defend Western values against the growing influence of radical Islam.

Samuel Huntington remains relevant as ever. His book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order (1996), presented a thesis that ran counter to the zeitgeist euphoria over globalization and a borderless world after the end of the Cold War.

Huntington unequivocally stated that the end of the Cold War would bring about a clash of civilizations. He inferred that soil, ethno-cultural devotion, and religion-based energy would claim and define the world in conflict. Huntington also drew a map of the world which can be described as "The West and The Rest." He recognized other less challenging civilizations - Hindu, African, Buddhist - but to him in the post-Cold War world, only the Islamic civilization would re-emerge as the nemesis to the West. According to Huntington, "The twentieth century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist Leninism was only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflicting relations between Islam and Christianity." Unfortunately, the West displays weakness and lack of courageous leadership.

Islamic History

A review of the onslaught of Islam, from its foundation in the seventh century to its current attempts to dominate the world, elucidates the gravity of the challenge currently faced by the West. Bernard Lewis has noted that since its birth, Islam has sought to merge religion and state authority, and to expand its influence. Christian awareness of the new competing Islamic faith began almost immediately after its advent with the triumphant emergence of the new religion from its Arabian homeland and its spread eastward to the borders of India and China, and westward across North Africa and the Mediterranean Islands into Europe. Islamic penetration of Western Europe ended with the Christian re-conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 1492. The struggle lasted eight centuries.

Islam made inroads also in parts of Russia during the wars waged by the Ottoman Turks. There is still an ongoing conflict between Russia and its Chechen Islamic province. For close to 200 years, the Ottoman Empire advanced into Europe spreading Muslim domination in the Balkans and South Central Europe, including Budapest. The Ottoman Turks were defeated at the gates of Vienna on two occasions. The final defeat took place as recently as 1683.

The conquests stretching over a millennium are the antecedents to the rebirth of a struggle on the part of Islam to reassert control over parts of the world, with jihad, or its modern manifestation - international terrorism - as its tool. In this context, Bernard Lewis' caution about political terminology is important. He warned against the phraseology: "the war against terrorism." This, he says, is as if Churchill had told us we were engaged in a war against submarines. Terrorism, like submarines, are a tool, but are not the enemy. The enemy, Lewis says, is radical Islam.

The Current Radical Islamist Challenge

Today, it is politically correct to say that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims want to live in peace. This may be true, but in light of worldwide Muslim terrorist acts in Bali New York, the northern Chinese provinces, Mumbai, and Madrid, the reference to the religion of peace becomes questionable. Using such terms obfuscates the issue by causing a false optimism while diminishing the specter of the fanatics who rampage the globe in the name of Islam. The peaceful majority in Muslim lands is cowed into a non-existent force.

Unfortunately at this moment in history, it is fanatics who set the tone in Islamic countries. Their impact on ordinary citizens manifests openly with the mass celebrations in Islamic countries when "infidels" are killed, or Muslim terrorists are released from prison. It is fanatics from the Muslim world who slaughter children and non-Muslim tribal groups daily in Darfur, and are progressively taking over segments of Africa, be it Nigeria or Somalia. Islamic fanatics bomb, behead, murder, and carry out "honor" killings. They also stone rape victims and homosexuals. Muslim fanatics teach in the schools the virtues of becoming suicide bombers and acquiring the coveted status of a shahid (martyr).

Therefore, the peaceful majority is not always relevant. In communist Russia, the country was comprised of Russians who wanted to live in peace, but were terrorized by the communist leadership, who was responsible for the murder of at least 20 million of their own people. Similarly, 80 million Germans were not all Nazis, but they were irrelevant when Hitler and his murderous minions brought about World War II and caused the death of tens of millions, including one-third of the world's Jewish population. China's huge population was also peaceful, but Chinese communists under Mao Tse-tung managed to kill 70 million people in China.

History's lessons, when analyzed, are simple and blunt. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence, just as the majority of Germans, Russians, and Chinese. It is the extremists like Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or the Wahabists in Saudi Arabia, who dictate policies, set the agenda, and cause the majority to remain silent and to progressively even lose their naturally endowed rights to human freedom and dignity.

Like Nazism and cruel communism, the radical Islamist must be defeated not only for the sake of the silent majority in the Islamic world, but also for the sake of our own survival in the wars in which we are waging today.

Combating Radicalism and Defending the West

The Western world today needs a leader who will powerfully defend Western values against radical Islamic usurpers and their allies in the West. Huntington was pessimistic in this regard. He expressed an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West, and said that the West neither monitors nor defends the ramparts of its free society. Islam will remain Islam, while he was equally dubious that the West would remain true to its mission of defending freedom, the rule of law, and human rights.

Today, the main leader of radical Islamist forces is Ahmadinejad, who wishes to establish his influence across the entire Middle East. Facing him are America, pacifist-oriented Europe, and America's alleged Sunni Arab allies. Israel - Ahmadinejad's target for elimination - is the only democratic state in this part of the world allied to the values of the West. Israel is surrounded by a sea of cultural, intellectual, and socioeconomic decay - which describes the current Muslim Middle East.

Iran, in its challenge to the West, arms Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah. Al Qaeda also supports the Iranian vision of challenging Western values. The Iranian daily Kayhan has clearly defined the participants in this struggle, "In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides, Iran and the US." So far, Team America has been losing on many fronts. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times gave a short explanation: "Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak. And the Sunni Arab world is feckless, unreliable, and divided."

Ehud Yaari, Israel's outstanding Arab affairs commentator, defines the present Middle East as a Pax Iranica, which follows the US' Pax Americana after the end of World War II and the Cold War. America let this hegemony slip from its grasp, while Iran now calls the shots in the Middle East, with a jihad motivated by religiously-inspired fervor to recreate a Persian empire and a Muslim Caliphate.

Yaari observes that anyone destroying Iran's atomic facilities will create a massive conflagration in the Middle East involving the Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis, and the Emirates. The realization of this possibility creates a strategy of inaction - neither Western powers nor the United Nations will want to face such an event.

In the short period of time since Jimmy Carter capitulated to the Ayatollahs, Iran has progressively influenced events in the Middle East. Today, it strongly influences Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and manipulates Shiite militias in Iraq. Iran also has built Hizballah into a military force equipped with 50,000 rockets that controls Lebanon and threatens Israel, and has supported the creation of Hamastan in Gaza.

Over eight years, the Bush Administration dragged America into a position where it was neither liked, feared, nor respected. Aaron David Miller, a negotiator with both Republican and Democratic administrations, says, "We stumbled for eight years under Bill Clinton over how to make peace in the Middle East, and then we stumbled under George Bush over how to make war, with the result that America is trapped in a region which it cannot fix and cannot abandon."

Churchill's admonition to the world when Chamberlain returned from the Munich Conference in 1938 practicing his policy of appeasement has relevance today, "We are existentially threatened by the malice of the wicked, enhanced by the weakness and hesitation of the allegedly virtuous."


What is urgently needed today is a Western awakening.



Dr. Thomas O. Hecht is the founder of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies and Chairman of its International Advisory Board.





Some notes from the past...



Here are some past articles from
Pat Buchanan



___________________________________________________


Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

December 3, 2002

“I think Muhammad was a terrorist … a violent man, a man of war,” said the Rev. Jerry Falwell on “60 Minutes.” He added, “Jesus set the example for love. … Muhammad set an opposite example.” Murderous riots broke out in India, and an Iranian cleric threatened Falwell with assassination.

“The Koran teaches that the end of the world will not come until every Jew is killed by Muslims,” says the Rev. Pat Robertson. He compares the Koran’s message on Jews to “Mein Kampf.” “There is no doubt the religion of Muhammad … is extreme and violent.”

“I don’t believe this is a wonderful, peaceful religion,” adds Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, “When you read … the verses from the Koran, it instructs the killing of the infidel … those that are non-Muslim.”

What does President Bush think of this bashing of Islam by his Christian friends? He rejects it. “Islam is a religion of peace.”

Colin Powell is less charitable: “We will reject the kind of comments … where people in this country say that Muslims are responsible for the killing of all Jews, and who put out hatred. This kind of hatred must be rejected.”

Is Islam a religion of peace? Why, then, was an American Christian woman murdered in south Lebanon by an Islamic fanatic, after Christians were warned to stop proselytizing for the faith?

If Islam is a religion of peace, how do you explain four days of Muslim rioting in Kaduna, Nigeria, against a Miss World pageant, after a journalist wrote that Muhammad might have chosen one of the beauty queens as one of his wives? Those riots left 1,500 hospitalized and 215 dead.

Islam has “bloody borders,” says Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington. Is he not right? From Algeria to Afghanistan to the Philippines, Muslim insurgencies rage in a dozen countries.

Yet the president, too, has a point. In America, a huge Islamic community lives at peace with its Christian and Jewish neighbors. Around the world are a billion Muslims, only a tiny fraction of whom are waging jihad against Christian minorities or their own rulers.

How to explain the dichotomy? We are at the beginning of a religious and political revolution in the Islamic world. Like all revolutions, it is marked at its extremes by militancy, intolerance and a sometimes murderous xenophobia. What is being worked out, often violently, are the terms of Islam’s engagement with a hedonistic, triumphalist West that both attracts and repels the Muslim faithful.

In northern Nigeria, this revolution is religious and cultural – at war with both Christianity and a neo-pagan MTV culture. In Algeria, Islamic jihadists seek to overthrow a secular-socialist state brought to power by the war of independence. In southern Lebanon, militants want Christians out, now that Hezbollah has driven the Israelis out. In Palestine, Hamas and Islamic Jihad add religious fanaticism to a nationalist cause. Should Arafat become president of Palestine, he will face an Islamic party more rabid than the religious parties Sharon must cope with.

In Chechnya and western China, Islamic guerrillas seem more secessionist than fundamentalist. In Egypt, Islamic extremism is manifest in assassination attempts of pro-Western scholars, the slaughter of tourists and the persecution of the Copts.

Yet, while all this violence is the daily fare of our front pages, how many Islamic terrorists, guerrillas, assassins and rioters are there, when you consider that if they add up to 1,000,000, it would be less than 0.1 percent of the Muslims on earth? And not all the causes for which Muslims fight – independence for Chechnya and Palestine, secession from Russia, Indonesia and China – are inherently unjust or evil.

Islam is in a revivalist phase. In the lands where it is predominant, there is often little tolerance of rival religions seeking the conversion of Muslims. So it is that Falwell, Robertson and Graham, too, have a point. Between militant Islam and Christian fundamentalism, there is an unbridgeable chasm of belief, and in the Islamic world, devout Christians are citizens under suspicion – just as Jews and Muslims were in Isabella’s Spain and Catholics were in Elizabethan England.

Yet, in his sense that we must avoid war with militant Islam, lest we find ourselves at war with all Islam, President Bush is surely right.

In the last century, America was threatened by a global communist revolution. Avoiding all-out war, we outlasted it. And we can outlast this Islamist revolution. What we must avoid is a war of faiths, a war of civilizations between Islam and America. And those who propagandize for such a war are the unwitting or willful collaborators of Osama bin Laden.




___________________________________________________


Coming Clash of Civilizations?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

December 7, 2001

With the ouster of the Taliban and eradication of the al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Islamic extremism has sustained a crushing defeat. But what continues to unsettle Americans is that film of Arab and Islamic people, wildly cheering the barbaric atrocities of Sept. 11.

Is a war of civilizations coming?

Clearly, not a few in the Islamic world and the West so believe, and ardently desire. And, with the War Party cawing for an attack on Iraq, with Sharon unleashed after the atrocities in Jerusalem and Haifa, with the U.S. press calling for a reappraisal of our ties to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, a clash of civilizations has moved from the possible to the probable.

President Bush, however, seems instinctively aware such a war would be a disaster. For no matter how many deaths or defeats we inflict, we cannot kill Islam as we did Nazism, fascism, Japanese militarism and Soviet Bolshevism. Islam has survived for nearly 1,600 years; it is the predominant faith in 57 countries; it is indestructible.

Astonishingly, 63 years ago, when Islam lay dormant under the heel of Western empires, a famous Catholic writer predicted Islam would rise again. Wrote Hillaire Belloc: “It has always seemed to me … probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.”

Islam was a Christian heresy, Belloc believed, whose strength lay in its “insistence on personal immortality, the Unity and Infinite Majesty of God, on his Justice and Mercy [and] … its insistence on the equality of human souls in the sight of their Creator.”

While The Prophet “gave to our Lord the highest reverence, and the Mother of God was ever for him the first of womankind,” he rejected the Incarnation. Mohammed “taught that our Lord was the greatest of all Prophets, but still only a prophet, a man like other men.” Belloc believed Islam to be a “Reformation” movement with parallels to “the Protestant Reformers – on Images, the Mass and Celibacy.”

When Christians were illiterate, Islam spread “for 700 years, until it had mastered the Balkans and the Hungarian plain, and all but occupied Western Europe itself,” almost destroying Christendom “through its early material and intellectual superiority.”

Three heroes saved the West. In 732, at Poitiers, Charles Martel, the Hammer of the Franks, stopped Islam’s invasion in France. In 1571, the Christian fleets of Don Juan of Austria, an illegitimate son of Charles V, destroyed the Mohammedan armada in an epic battle immortalized in Chesterton’s “The Ballad of Lepanto.” And Polish Catholic King John Sobieski stopped the Turks at Vienna “on a date that ought to be famous in history, September 11, 1683.”

One of history’s great questions is why the Islamic world collapsed. A century before Yorktown, Constantinople was superior in arms. But in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Islamic world was not only superseded by the West, it fell backward – in technology, industry, communications, arms and governance. The Ottoman Empire became “the sick man of Europe.”

Colonization by the West followed. In the 20th century, only at Gallipoli – the 1915 battle that cost its architect, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, his post – can one recall an Islamic victory over a Western army.

But if a clash of civilizations is coming, how stands the balance of power? In wealth and might, the West is supreme – though wealth did not prevent the collapse of the Western empires and did not prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire. Rome was mighty, and early Christianity pathetically weak. Yet, Christianity triumphed.

If belief is decisive, Islam is militant, Christianity milquetoast. In population, Islam is exploding, the West dying. Islamic warriors are willing to suffer defeat and death, the West recoils at casualties. They are full of grievance; we, full of guilt. Where Islam prevails, it asserts a right to impose its dogma, while the West preaches equality. Islam is assertive, the West apologetic – about its crusaders, conquerors and empires.

Don’t count Islam out. It is the fastest growing faith in Europe and has surpassed Catholicism worldwide. And as Christianity expires in the West and the churches empty out, the mosques are going up.

To defeat a faith, you need a faith. What is ours? Individualism, democracy, pluralism, la dolce vita? Can they overcome a fighting faith, 16 centuries old, and rising again?




___________________________________________________

The Rage of Islam

September 19th, 2006

by Patrick J. Buchanan

To bank the firestorm ignited by his address in Regensburg, Germany, Pope Benedict XVI declared himself “deeply sorry” for the effect his remarks have had on the Muslim world. The words of the Byzantine emperor he quoted, Benedict explained, were “from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thoughts.” The pope’s subject was the “profound harmony” of biblical truth and Greek thought…

————–

The Rage of Islam
by Patrick J. Buchanan – September 19, 2006

To bank the firestorm ignited by his address in Regensburg, Germany, Pope Benedict XVI declared himself “deeply sorry” for the effect his remarks have had on the Muslim world. The words of the Byzantine emperor he quoted, Benedict explained, were “from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thoughts.”

The pope’s subject was the “profound harmony” of biblical truth and Greek thought. No conflict exists, he argued, between true faith and right reason. Contending violence is the antithesis of reason, he cited the “erudite Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus,” during a siege of Constantinople, between A.D. 1394 and 1402.

Benedict’s words merit being put into context.

“I would like to discuss one point – itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole – which … can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.

“In the seventh conversation … the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 (of the Quran) reads, ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’

“According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Muhammad was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions developed later and recorded in the Quran concerning holy war. …

“(The emperor) addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence … saying, ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’”

The explosion followed. For it was reported that Pope Benedict had endorsed the view that the only innovations the prophet made to the monotheistic faiths were “evil and inhuman.” The pope did not say this and has denied that he believes this.

Yet the issues he raised, that true faith and right reason are never in conflict, that force is intolerable in advancing God’s word, merit discussion in light of history and the present.

How did the Christians conquer the Roman Empire after 300 years of persecution? By living the Gospel, preaching the Word and dying for the faith – martyrdom. But Islam came out of the desert to conquer the Holy Land, North Africa and Spain in a single century, by the sword. Islam is a fighting faith. Wrote J.M. Roberts in “The History of Europe,” “Islam from the start has been a religion of conquest.”

In 1095, Urban II preached the First Crusade to end the abuse of Christian pilgrims and recapture the Holy City and Holy Sepulcher. Muslims view these Crusades as Christian wars of aggression. Yet the martial means the Crusaders used to recapture Jerusalem were the same as those the Caliph Umar had used to conquer the Holy City.

Until our time, Western man did not apologize for the Crusades. Gen. Eisenhower even titled his war memoir “Crusade in Europe.”

For centuries, European Christians fought the Islamic world. In 1492, Muslims were forcibly expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. In the early 16th century, Suleiman the Magnificent invaded the Balkans, defeated the Hungarians at Bohacs and besieged Vienna. The Balkan wars of Suleiman bear little resemblance to the Christian crusades of Dr. Billy Graham. In 1571, the fleets of the Ottoman Turks were destroyed at Lepanto by a fleet organized by Pius V.

In the 19th century, the Ottoman Turks began their long retreat from the Balkans. At the end of the First World War, Kemal Ataturk abolished the caliphate, put the caliph on the Orient Express, severed the ties between mosque and state, and made Turkey a secular state.

In our own time, however, the issues Pope Benedict addressed – the harmony between faith and reason, and the disharmony between force and faith – have re-arisen.

In Afghanistan this year, a Christian convert was threatened with beheading for apostasy. Most imams and Afghans seemed to approve. In Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan, Muslims are at war with Christians, in the Middle East with Israelis, in Chechnya with Russians, in India with Hindus, in Thailand with Buddhists. Other issues are involved, but faith seems ever present as a prime motivator of violence.

In the West, men and women convert to Islam and imams preach and proselytize. In Islamic nations, conversion to Christianity can mean death, as can preaching and proselytizing. Do Muslim faithful believe it is legitimate to use state power to impose Shariah or maintain religious orthodoxy, as Henry VIII and Isabella believed?

In the West, a militant secularism has seized state power and the de-Christianization of America is well advanced. In the East, we had best recognize that the rage, militancy and intolerance so often on display are the unmistakable marks of a rising, not a dying, faith.