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Woman drinks water from a Muslim’s cup … death sentence.

In the New York Post I saw an article about a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for drinking water from a cup owned by a practitioner of the Religion of Peace.
Sentenced to death for a sip of water
As her religion faces persecution across the Middle East, a Christian woman explains why she faces hanging in Pakistan for the crime of ‘blasphemy’

Daughters of Asia Bibi hold a photo of their mother, who has been in prison for four years.
Daughters of Asia Bibi hold a photo of their mother.
 To her neighbors, Aasiya Noreen “Asia” Bibi, a poor mother of five in the tiny village of Ittan Wali in central Pakistan, was guilty — guilty of being Christian in a nation that is 97% Muslim. For four years she has languished in a prison cell for this, facing death by hanging. Her new memoir, “Blasphemy,” was dictated to her husband from jail, who relayed it to French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet. Fifty percent of the proceeds the book will go to support Bibi and her family. Tollet says the situation is dire. Embarrassed by Bibi’s case but still refusing to release her because of angry protests by extremists, the Pakistan government has transferred her to a more remote prison, hoping the 42-year-old dies quietly behind bars, perhaps poisoned by another inmate. Already two government officials who have spoken out on her behalf have been murdered, including Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed by the Taliban. In this excerpt, Bibi explains the simple “transgression” that led to her plight.
Read the rest there.
Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us.

Coptic Catholic leader: Egyptian government is not stopping hate speech against Christians

By on Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak (CNS)
Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak (CNS)
Egypt’s new interim government is doing nothing to prevent hate speech, which is inciting violence against Christians, a prominent Egyptian Catholic leader has said.

“The state is paying no attention to sermons coming out of the mosques, which are inciting Muslims against Christians,” said Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak.

In a statement he said perpetrators involved in a wave of attacks on Christian institutions across the country since early July were not being apprehended, and those involved in the burning and destruction of churches should have been forced to repair them at their own expense and not at the cost of the state.

He said southern parts of the Minya governorate had seen some of the most severe anti-Christian violence so far, and that “people there are so extreme that they are threatening the Copts with expulsion from their homes”.

Muslim-Christian tension in Egypt has long been a problem, but it reached unprecedented levels after the July 3 military ousting of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and worsened after security forces raided two Cairo camps of pro-Morsi demonstrators on August 14. Hundreds of people, most of them protesters, were killed that day.

About a week later, the Coptic Catholic Church reported that more than 70 churches, schools, community centres, homes and other properties belonging to Christians had been ransacked in the violence. The military and the new interim government have said they will repair the damage done to Christian institutions.

Coptic Christians make up as much as 15 percent of Egypt’s population. Coptic Catholics account for as many as 300,000. The rest of Egypt’s 82.5 million people are predominantly Sunni Muslims.
Christian leaders, including Patriarch Sedrak, have come out in support of military leaders, who they say are “fighting a war on terror” launched by people sympathetic to Morsi.

Source: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/08/27/coptic-catholic-leader-egyptian-government-is-not-stopping-hate-speech-against-christians/

TLM Workshop at Sacred Heart Major Seminary

New Liturgical Movement
Certainly a sign of the continued movement towards tradition among new and future clergy is the increase in workshops and classes dedicated to teaching seminarians and priests the usus antiquior (for example, the expressed desire of Bishop Morlino that all the seminarians in the diocese of Madison learn to celebrate the TLM, or the liturgical practicum in the EF offered by the Pontifical College Josephinum).

A recent announcement in the Archdiocese of Detroit offers news of the same:
Fr. Dan Jones, Professor of Patristics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, announced on August 23, 2013 that the Seminary has invited the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius of Chicago to offer a workshop on celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Fr. Jones said that the Canons Regular have been invited because they have a particular charism for the restoration of the sacred in the Latin rite and "an expertise both in celebration of the EF and in the training of others to celebrate it." [...]

The workshop will be held at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Thursday Oct. 10th - Sunday Oct. 13th, and that seminarians in their third and fourth years of Theology at the Seminary (T3 and T4), as well as the priest faculty from the Seminary and priests serving in the Archdiocese of Detroit are invited to participate.

Too dangerous for New Jersey

A new law against ‘change therapy’ begs questions about the high health risks of gay sex

             Aug 23, 2013, The Christians 
Gay bar: Not a recipe for a long and healthy life.
Gay bar: Not a recipe for a long and healthy life.

If you lived in New Jersey, say in Newark or Paterson, and just found out from your 16 year old that he thinks he’s gay, here’s one right you just lost: hiring a professional counsellor to try changing his orientation, even if he wanted to.

State Governor Chris Christie signed a law this week, passed by the legislature in June, making it a de-licensing offence for any professional counsellor to try changing the sexual orientation of a minor. In this regard New Jersey is the first state to follow the lead of California.

Reading more like a gay manifesto than a government statute, Bill 3371 opens with the declaration, “Being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.” It ascribes “critical health risks” to any therapy seeking to alter a same-sex inclination in an adolescent.

A caring parent might slip over to New York anyway

Whether or not “change” therapy actually works – a highly contested question – it’s not as though the gay lifestyle is safe. The medical hazards of homosexual sex are severe, and though rarely acknowledged, have been well known for decades.

Most homosexuals have far more sexual partners than straight men do: the self-reported lifetime totals range fairly evenly from “over 100” to “over 1,000.” Despite three decades of “safe sex” badgering, many gays – about 40 percent – continue to have anal sex without condoms, and many HIV-infected gays don’t tell their partners. Though committed homosexual relationships are not uncommon, almost none are faithful. Some 60 percent of gays are infected with the transmittable, often incurable Human Papilloma Virus. Gays are at significantly increased risk of Hepatitis A and B, often fatally harmful to the liver. They suffer an exceptionally high incidence of Gonorrhea , particularly of the anus and throat. They have very high rates of syphilis infection, and of a uniquely homosexual condition known to doctors as Gay Bowel Syndrome, leading to serious diseases such as enteritis. Many of these health risks expose them to higher rates of various cancers.

To our knowledge, the many sources for these observations have not been discredited, merely ignored. The one assertion that has been heavily challenged is that the average gay life span is eight to 20 years shorter than the male average, making it twice as harmful as smoking. Given the scarcity of data available, it may be an exaggeration; but given the lifestyle’s known medical risks, it’s even harder to believe the assurance we now hear so often, that it’s natural, normal and healthy.

Don’t believe anything the medical establishment says

Since successfully bludgeoning the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the manual of mental disorders in 1973, gays have achieved unchallenged political control over national mental health associations in the U.S. Parents can therefore ignore the dozen such organizations listed in the New Jersey bill that criticize “change therapy” as dangerous. Until they start talking candidly about homosexual health risks, they have nothing to say worth hearing.

- See more at: http://thechristians.com/?q=node/563#sthash.WfLHjZV9.dpuf

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – August 27, 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on August 27

4:00 - How To Wolf-Proof Your Kids
Gary Michuta has produced a product of years of work in the field of apologetics and evangelism. A few years ago, he gathered his experiences and ideas into a series of talks titled "How to Wolf-Proof Your Kids." Catholic parents around the country were extremely enthusiastic about the talks. Parents frequently approached him after the talks and encouraged him to put the information into book form because their own experiences so closely mirrored what he said. Some of these parents would proceed to share their own heart-breaking stories when their child had been pulled out of the Church. These discussions with parents also helped him to decide what information to include in his talks. He took these parents' advice to heart and the result is this book. Gary joins us to discuss "How To Wolf-Proof Your Kids."

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Jody Bottum, Generosity of Spirit, and the Battle for Marriage 

5:40 – Economic Plight and the Hope of the Church
The city of Detroit announced in July that it would go into bankruptcy, setting in motion the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Archbishop Allen Vigneron was installed as the archbishop of Detroit in 2009, a year after General Motors declared bankruptcy. Critics blame Detroit’s troubles on the struggles of the U.S. automotive industry to adapt to a changing global marketplace, corruption in city hall and public employee unions, which negotiated generous pensions for their members that now cannot be funded.But Archbishop Vigneron sees hope – he sees an opportunity for the Church to be the Church. He joins us to explain.

Alice Cooper’s Christian testimony


Fruitful Sacramental Preparation

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries
Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries and associate professor of theology at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary, has an article in Nova et Vetera titled, "The Post-Christendom Sacramental Crisis: The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas."

The sacramental crisis of the title has two interrelated aspects:
  1. A "radical drop in the numbers of those who still bother to approach the sacraments."
  2. "[T]he apparent lack of sacramental fruitfulness in the lives of many who still partake of the sacraments."

Obviously, an unreceived sacrament is a fruitless sacrament, but if a sacrament is not fruitful, why bother to receive it in the first place?

The key section of the essay is a discussion on making reception of the sacraments more fruitful, in light of St. Thomas's teaching on adult baptism. Specifically, Martin recommends recovering a balance in sacramental preparation, reflected in St. Thomas's writings, that was thrown off after the Protestant revolution:
The reaction to the theology of the Protestant reformers produced in the Catholic Church what could be regarded as an overemphasis on the ex opere operato (by the fact of the action being performed) aspect of the sacraments working, to the neglect of the practical importance of the ex opere operantis (from the action of the doer) aspect. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the importance of both aspects:
From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.
While no one would intentionally ignore the disposition of the one in sacramental preparation -- I use "no one" in a rhetorical sense here; empirically, people are capable of anything -- it's not only inadequate to argue that the sacrament itself will make up for what is lacking in the recipient, it's flat-out contrary to what the Church teaches. If "Ex opere operato" is how a given sacramental preparation program addresses the question of subjective disposition, then, objectively, that sacramental preparation program doesn't address the question of subjective disposition.

Martin quotes St. Thomas's article on "Whether sinners should be baptized" to explain why subjective disposition needs to be addressed in the sacramental preparation of adults:

Read the rest here: http://disputations.blogspot.com/2013/08/fruitful-sacramental-preparation.html

The Preemptive Surrender of Jody Bottum

By Robert Royal
Sunday, 25 August 2013
Joseph Bottum, sometime friend of several of us at TCT, published a painfully long, painfully rambling article Friday in the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal saying that the Church is wasting its time – is even harming itself – opposing gay marriage. He was fired as editor-in-chief of First Things three years ago, years in which he has mostly been living in his native South Dakota, where one hoped he was growing in wisdom and grace. But that is not our subject today.
The subject involves the fact that the liberal Luce Foundation provided the money for the writing of the Commonweal article, whose release included an announcement of the publication of Jody’s book, An Anxious Age (scheduled for in February), and coincided with a large story in The New York Times Saturday. A cynic might think that this shows less an argument about Church policy than a PR campaign, as in “former First Things editor turns.”
But let’s start by getting the record straight: if you take his argument seriously, which I mostly do not, Jody is not saying that he “supports” gay marriage, which the New York Times headline, as is its wont in matters Catholic, gets wrong.
He is saying that the Church cannot win this cultural battle, indeed is being harmed by it, given the forces arrayed against Her. Our bishops should not waste time on it and instead focus on the deep “re-enchantment of the world,” which is what it will take to get people to see the real point of the Church’s richer notions of Creation – and sexuality.
In a way, true enough, and many people, myself included, have been saying that – minus the surrender on same-sex marriage – for decades. But I personally don’t have a large investment in the “beauty will save the world” argument, which tends to work some of the same veins as “re-enchantment.” The Beautiful is one of the transcendentals, but only one, a lot of bad can happen while we’re waiting for it to kick in.
There are hundreds of art galleries all over the world filled with first-rate Christian painting and sculpture. Religious music is regularly performed. Christian literature is abundant and still being produced. There are beautiful liturgies in many churches. People I admire write brilliantly about the deep significance of such things. I don’t see that any of this has prevented, slowed, much less reversed, our sharp cultural decline.
Bottum’s argument is the equivalent of saying: fighting terrorism will not establish the peace that passeth all understanding, so we shouldn’t bother with such skirmishes. Leave aside that a large and sophisticated entity like the Catholic Church can walk and chew gum at the same time. Walking away from this fight will not gain the Church friends or placate her enemies.
The proof will be in the people who rally to his cause. The National Catholic Reporter, Planned Parenthood, Catholics for a Free Choice, most Catholic universities, and the most secular in the secular world. Be ready for the public wave of support for Church efforts to “re-enchant” the world – along with greater time spent on social justice and inclusiveness. I’m sure Luce Foundation funding can be found for those campaigns.
In other words, they will all be happy to send Catholics off on a wild goose chase that threatens nothing in our desert of a culture: “Have a nice trip. Here are a few Euros to tip the waiters. See you guys the day after the Second Coming.”
That would be a best-case scenario. Actually, once the Church gives up the legal and cultural pushback, it won’t appease gay activists and their many more or less passive supporters. They know it means weakness. We’ll see an increase in attacks on the Church to simply shut up, and maybe even get onboard about homosexuality.
Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George just got a letter signed by eight Catholic lawmakers in Illinois chiding him for cutting archdiocesan funding to a pro-immigrant group that decided to endorse gay marriage. Imagine, a Cardinal of the Catholic Church defunds a non-profit group that goes out of its way to take a non-Catholic position inessential to its mission – and, for his trouble, reaps a stinging rebuke from Catholic pols.
The Cardinal is famous for saying that he expects to die in his bed, his successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr. The Cardinal is 76, but he’s in pretty good health, and with the highest respect, may be entirely too optimistic.
Jody asserts that there’s no coherent, principled legal argument against gay marriage and that we should simply accept it “as Americans.” I leave the legal niceties to the lawyers and legal beagles, but an awful lot of them seem to think otherwise.
And that notwithstanding, there’s a very coherent and principled – if outrageous – legal effort to extend alleged “hate crimes” further and further. One hears that Cardinal George has already been threatened by groups saying that they have eyes and ears on him. And he’s not the only one.
Jody cited G. K. Chesterton on enchantment and St. Thomas Aquinas on tolerating certain evils in making his case. The implausibility and formlessness of this argument – about which he’s already published some defensive reflections – show his own nervous ambivalence. Take one step back from the controversy. Can you imagine either of these men retreating from this battle? I can’t.
In 1976, Henry Kissinger, known as “the smartest man in the world,” told Admiral Elmo Zumwalt: “The day of the United States is past and today is the day of the Soviet Union. My job as Secretary of State is to negotiate the most acceptable second-best position available.” The Soviets had only thirteen years left.
The gay surge in the West may seem much less likely to be reversed. There are days we all feel that way. And it may be so. But there’s only one way to find out. And it’s not pre-emptive surrender.
Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, now available in paperback from Encounter Books.
© 2013 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – August 26, 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on August 26
4:00 – “The Things We Share A Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage”
Former First Things Editor Jody Bottumhas set off a bit of a firestorm after publishing an article in Commonweal Magazine entitled “The Things We Share A Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage.” In the lengthy essay he writes, “Campaigns against same-sex marriage are hurting the church, offering the opportunity to make Catholicism a byword for repression in a generation that, even among young Catholics, just doesn’t think that same-sex activity is worth fighting about. There’s a reasonable case to be made that the struggle against abortion is slowly winning, but the fight against public acceptance of same-sex behavior has been utterly lost.” He is here to argue his case.
4:40 – Gay Panic Over New Russian Laws
The Russian parliament recently passed a national law forbidding homosexual proselytizing to schoolchildren. The law also forbids public manifestations like parades. An additional law forbids homosexual adoption of children or foreign adoption into countries that allow for homosexual “marriage.” Opponents of the law are not content simply to shock their friends with what is really going on in Russia. After all, these new laws are enough to shock the sensibilities of westerners where homosexuality has largely triumphed over the culture. Austin Ruse has just returned from Russia and is here to discuss the situation.
5:00 – Kresta Comments: Jody Bottom and the Future for the Church and the Culture in the Battle for Marriage
5:20 – In NM, Same-Sex Marriage Trumps Religious Liberty
The Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled last week that the First Amendment does not protect a Christian photographer's ability to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony -- even when doing so would violate the photographer's deeply held religious beliefs. As Elaine Huguenin, owner of Elane Photography, explained: "The message a same-sex commitment ceremony communicates is not one I believe." Is this a harbinger of things to come as we continue down the path of gay “marriage” as a civil right? We talk to Alliance Defending Freedom, who argued this case.
5:40 – The Personal Muslim
Steve Ray has led untold numbers of pilgrimages to the Middle East. One thing that necessarily entails is a lot of personal contact with Muslims. Steve is here to talk about the practical aspects of Islam in the Holy Land. How do Christians relate to Islam and to the Jews? How does Steve relate to Muslims as a Catholic tour guide in their countries? Steve tells us.

The Eclipse of God. Ratzinger’s Students to Address How to Overcome it.

By On 26 agosto 2013
Monday Vatican

For the first time since 1977, Pope Benedict XVI will not take part in the annual meeting of his former students. To them, he explained that «as Pope Emeritus, I intended not to take part in public events.» And so he will not be at the Ratzinger’s Schulerkreis meeting. The gathering (to be held Aug 29 – Sep. 2) will take place without the beloved professor.

However, the beloved professor did not abandon them. He showed them the way. Fr. Stephan Horn, the president of the Schuelerkreis, met with Benedict at the beginning of June at the Vatican monastery where the Pope Emeritus resides. Pope Benedict confirmed to him that he would not take part in the Schulerkreis gathering. But he chose the theme for the meeting: «The question of God against the background of secularization.» He also chose the guest speaker: Remi Brague, a French theologian awarded last year with the Ratzinger Prize for Theology.

The theme is typically Benedict XVI’s. Since he was ordained priest, Joseph Ratzinger has reflected about the question of God against the background of secularization. As vice parish priest of the Church of the Most Precious Blood, Joseph Ratzinger listened to confessions very often. He was ever more aware that there was a new paganism rising, that of people who called themselves Christians but were not, and lived as pagans. He wrote a book about it, «New Pagans and the Church.»

Looking back at that book can explain all of Benedict XVI’s work, from that of an intellectual and a theologian, passing through the years as bishop and then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to shepherd of the Universal Church.

Pope Benedict XVI often admonished about the eclipse of God. He did so, quoting Isaiah, in November 27, 2011, the first Sunday of Advent: «No one invokes your name, or makes an effort to take hold of you. For you have rejected us and handed us over to our own sins.» Benedict XVI cried out loud and with angst about the present times, and about a world of «anonymous cities» where «God seems to be absent, and the human being the only master, as if he were the author and maker of everything.»

It is in these cities where men may experience a sense of abandonment by God. In such a world that «seems almost perfect,» later on «disconcerting things occur, in nature or in society, and we think that God is something like retired, that He has in some way abandoned us to our own fate. In fact, the true master of the world is not man, but God.»

These themes have always been pivotal to Ratzinger’s thought. A major focus of his reflections is about a Europe that has put aside its identity and its faith. A Europe that must come to terms with this moral crisis, before its economic crisis. The Saturday before his lamenting cry, Benedict XVI had met with the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. There, he underlined that «sometimes we have worked for a more incisive presence of Christians in society, in politics and economics, but perhaps we have not paid equal attention to the solidity of their faith.»

Benedict XVI has always called for «authentic Christians,» and this is why, in Germany in September, 2011, and in October, 2011 in Assisi, the Pope praised «agnostics for whom the question of God leave them unease, and are thus closer to the Kingdom of God than routine believers.» In essence, Benedict XVI was calling for a freer Church to believe in God.

Joseph Ratzinger’s students are well aware of all of this. They will nevertheless miss their mentor. As recalled by Fr. Joseph Fessio, publisher and founder of the Ignatius Press and one of the members of Schuelerkreis, Ratzinger had in every meeting «something new to say, something nobody had ever thought about before.».....
These will be the foundations for what should be a lively debate. Maybe a part of this debate will also take place at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery. Because, while it is true that Benedict XVI will not take part in public events, he will probably celebrate the final Mass with his former pupils. In last years’ homily, he launched the idea that truth «cannot be possessed» and the Schulerkreis meeting gave impetus to the ecumenical relationships with Lutherans and the Orthodox. Perhaps the Schuelerkreis meeting this year will show the way to overcome the eclipse of God.

Read the full article here: http://www.mondayvatican.com/vatican/the-eclipse-of-god-ratzingers-students-to-address-how-to-overcome-it
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