Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Third Way

The Social Agenda
A Collection of Magisterial Texts
is a publication of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Students, teachers, and all those who seek a better knowledge of the social doctrine of the Church will find contained within this collection the central statements of the Roman Pontiffs from a range of texts, including papal encyclicals, apostolic letters, and Conciliar documents, on matters relating to politics, economics, and culture.

The selections are arranged thematically according to the significant subject areas of Catholic social doctrine. Under each subject heading, the quotations appear in pedagogical—as opposed to chronological or magisterial—order, with each subject area opening with a quotation that explains the issue at hand.

+ (The Late) François-Xavier Nguyên Cardinal Van ThuânPresident, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace(1928-2002)
I should read through it and compare it to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Distributivism and Catholic Social Teaching
Also Known as "Distributism" or "Distributionism"

The Third Way: Voice of the Radical Centre


Something that turned up during my search: Third Way Cafe... website about the Mennonites

Lou Dobbs testifies before Congress on free trade

Lou Dobbs testifies before Congress on free trade

POSTED: 1:30 p.m. EDT, March 28, 2007

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lou Dobbs testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade. The hearing was entitled "Trade, Foreign Policy, and the American Worker." Below is the transcript of Lou's testimony.

There's Nothing Free About Free Trade
"The United States has sustained 31 consecutive years of trade deficits, and those deficits have reached successively higher records in each of the past five years. The trade deficit has more than doubled since President George W. Bush took office. The U.S. trade deficit has been a drag on our economic growth in 18 of the 24 quarters of George W. Bush's presidency.

The current account deficit in 2006 reached almost $857 billion, also a new record, and now represents 6.5 percent of our total GDP. Since 1994, the first full year in which the North American Free Trade Agreement was in effect, the United States has accumulated more than $5 trillion in external or trade debt.

The United States has been a debtor nation for almost three decades now, and with our trade debt now rising at a faster rate than the national debt, the United States could be consigned to international debtor status in perpetuity. That is, unless the U.S. government adopts a pragmatic and responsible new direction in its fiscal and trade policies.

Congress is being called upon this year to renew fast-track authority, and the Bush administration, as it did five years ago, is insisting that Congress continue to cede its Constitutional power and responsibility of trade policymaking and to renew so-called "fast-track" trade promotional authority, which diminishes Congressional prerogative and reduces representation of domestic interest in the name of so-called "free trade."

As I've already pointed out, free trade has been the most expensive trade policy this nation has ever pursued. There is nothing free about ever-larger trade deficits, mounting trade debts and the loss of millions of good-paying American jobs.

Since the beginning of this new century, the United States has lost more than three million manufacturing jobs. Three million more jobs have been lost to cheap overseas labor markets as corporate America campaigns relentlessly for "higher productivity, "efficiency," and "competitiveness," all of which have been revealed to be nothing more than code words for the cheapest possible labor in the world.

Corporate America and our country's political elites have combined to put this country's middle-class working men and women into direct competition with the world's cheapest labor. Salaries and wages now represent the lowest share of our national income than any time since 1929. Corporate profits have the largest share of our national income than at any time since 1950.

The pursuit of so-called free trade has resulted in the opening of the world's richest consumer market to foreign competitors without negotiating a reciprocal opening of world markets for U.S. goods and services. That isn't free trade by any definition, whether that of classical economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo or that of current propaganda ministers who use the almost Orwellian term to promote continuation of the trade policies followed for the last three decades.

How important is it that we reverse the course of these short-sighted and destructive policies? More than six years ago, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System had this to say about what happens when trade deficits exceed 5 percent of GDP: "We find that a typical current account reversal begins when the current account deficit is about 5 percent of GDP." Again, our current account deficit now represents 6.5 percent of GDP. The authors of the study go on to say: "In general, these episodes involve a declining net international investment position that levels off, but does not reverse, a few years after the current account begins its recovery."

It is important to note that no recovery is underway, and that most importantly, the United States last year suffered negative investment flows. The cumulative effect of more than three decades of trade deficits and mounting external debt has produced our first investment income deficit on record. This is the first time that Americans have earned less on investments abroad than foreigners earned on their investments in the United States since 1946, when the Commerce Department began keeping records.

Amazingly, even our own top trade officials admit that U.S. free trade policies aren't working, unless they consider trade surpluses for our trading partners to be the objective of U.S. trade policy.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab appears to understand the consequences of the past few administrations' free trade policies, but she's shown little willingness to shift that policy. Schwab said, "...Our trade deficits are too high. We can't...pretend that the trade imbalance can just keep getting bigger with no cost."

And Ambassador Schwab's Deputy Trade Representative, Karan Bhatia, said outright, "From Chile to Singapore to Mexico, the history of our [Free Trade Agreements] is that bilateral trade surpluses of our trading partners go up."

Because I seek balance and reciprocity in our trade policies, I've been called a "table-thumping protectionist," and the Bush administration has hurled at me its favorite public epithet, "economic isolationist." Nothing could be farther from the truth. I believe, as I hope you and the majority of all members of this Congress believe, irrespective of your political party, in the importance of an international system of trade and finance that is orderly, predictive, well-regulated, mutual and fair.

Reciprocity does not in any way connote protectionism. Mutuality does not in way connote economic isolationism. But both terms when applied to our trade policy require a pragmatism and a commitment to the domestic and national interests of this country in all international agreements. And I believe, as I hope you do, that no international agreement of any kind should ever again be signed by this government without clear, honest understanding of the potentially awesome impact that such agreements have on the lives of our working men and women, our environment, and our quality of life.

I salute and commend you, Mr. Chairman, and this committee for beginning the process of achieving that understanding, and for the first time in a very long time, I am encouraged that this branch of our government is looking upon the United States first as a nation and secondarily as an economy, and is choosing to represent Americans first as citizens, rather than consumers or units of labor.

You have my thanks, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you. I wish you all the best in what I hope becomes a turning point in our great country's history."

Dobbs: We're on a 'fast track' to bad trade policy
POSTED: 11:18 a.m. EDT, April 4, 2007

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charlie Rangel, and I sat down together last night to talk about, among other things, his new book, "And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since."

For 36 years, Rangel has served the constituents of Harlem -- what the new Ways and Means chairman calls "the capital of black America." The chairman's new book is a terrific read and tells the fascinating story of his rise from the impoverished streets of New York to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill.

You'll love the book and the story of Rangel's life. And I suspect you'll have the same thought I did when you finally set the book down: How many more Charlie Rangels will be denied their shot at the American dream because Capitol Hill's corridors are now filled with corporate America's lobbyists, who are working to assure that our middle class and those who aspire to it have as little representation as possible?

Chairman Rangel and other House and Senate leaders face an early test of the Democratic Party's commitment to restoring the vigor of the world's most successful political economy. The test will come in the form of the mind-numbingly dull piece of legislation called Trade Promotion Authority, or "fast track." But there is nothing dull about the impact of the legislation, through which Congress cedes its constitutional authority on trade policymaking to the White House (as cited in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution).

Thirty-one years of consecutive trade deficits and the loss -- in just the last six years -- of millions of manufacturing and good-paying middle-class jobs to outsourcing have been the result of what I consider this unconstitutional ceding of power to the executive branch in the form of fast-track authority.

Last week, I testified to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade that our failed "free trade" of the past three decades has been the most expensive policy the U.S. government has ever pursued.

I also told the committee: "The pursuit of so-called free trade has resulted in the opening of the world's richest consumer market to foreign competitors without negotiating a reciprocal opening of world markets for U.S. goods and services. That isn't free trade by any definition, whether that of classical economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo or that of current propaganda ministers who use the almost Orwellian term to promote continuation of the trade policies followed for the last three decades." Extending fast-track authority assures that continuation.

I'm not alone in the view that free-trade-at-all-costs has harmed American workers. Princeton University economist and former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman Alan S. Blinder has joined Nobel laureates Paul Samuelson and Joseph Stiglitz and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as skeptics of the benefits the faith-based economists in this administration love to tout.

Blinder is now stating loudly that a new industrial revolution will put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk of being shipped out of the country in the next decade or two. Blinder has said, "Economists who insist that 'offshore outsourcing' is just a routine extension of international trade are overlooking how major a transformation it will likely bring -- and how significant the consequences could be. The governments and societies of the developed world must start preparing, and fast."

I hope that Chairman Rangel and the Democratic leaders of both the House and Senate will refuse to renew fast-track authority and demand their constitutional power over trade policymaking and begin representing working men and women in all future trade negotiations.

I'm sure Charlie Rangel would agree with me that every American deserves the right to better days, a promise that is the foundation of our country and the American dream.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

Go here for the link to the video of Mr. Dobb's interview with Rep. Rangel

Dr. Rao on the Freemasons

Freemasonry, Naturalism and the Anti-Semitic Purge

Now I do want to give the Blithe Blogger his proper due. Perhaps he wished to dismiss the whole topic of Freemasonry and Freemasons because he was truly alienated by the argument that they are responsible for the systematic implementation of every single evil development in western (now global) society since the early 1700's. I must confess that if this were the sole grounds for his flippant comments, I would at least understand his initial eye-rolling. I do not believe such assertions of total Freemasonic accountability either. My reading of history convinces me that there have been just too many factors playing intersecting roles in creating our unhappy era to see in it the product of the successful unfolding of merely one supremely well-constructed anti-Catholic plan.

Different movements and human agents with varying, perhaps even opposing motivations and agendas, all contributing to the present chaos, but the intelligence that is able to manipulate and coordinate all these actors is not human, and something we should be aware of, if not respect. I don't think Dr. Rao would disagree about the role of the father of lies, he who was a murderer from the beginning:

Does that mean that I notice no logic in the growth of modern society? On the contrary, it seems to me that modernity has had a highly logical development, due both to the character and consistency of its underlying naturalist principle as well as the influence of superhuman, diabolical intelligence in drawing out that principle's potential for evil. But I do not think that this logical progress is all owed to the conscious work of human beings themselves. That would entail too rationalist an understanding of history; an attribution of too much influence to intelligently-motivated human action, and not enough to the stupidities and passions which frequently would seem to render even the most sublime doctrines and brilliantly evil ideological constructs utterly futile---if, that is to say, there were not a God and a devil to turn them to their advantage. It appears to me that even many of the most enthusiastic architects of modernity have frequently acted very illogically and at cross-purposes with one another. Moreover, their dangerous goals have sometimes been much better implemented by Catholics ignorant or indifferent to the central messages of their Faith, including some who sincerely but mistakenly thought they were actually vigorously fighting naturalism.

More from David M. Walker

The following are all PDF files:
Fiscal Facts and Keeping America Great, The John Hazen White Lecture at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, March 15, 2007, GAO-07-648CG
America’s Fiscal Future: A Call for Citizen Involvement, The Flory Public Policy Lecture, McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas, March 11, 2007, GAO-07-613CG
Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today, Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 9, 2007, GAO-07-624CG
Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today, Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, The Citadel School of Business Administration, Charleston, South Carolina, March 6, 2007, GAO-07-602CG
Fiscal and Health Care Challenges, Federation of American Hospitals' Annual Public Policy Conference, Washington, D.C., March 5, 2007, GAO-07-577CG
Medicare: Taking Care of Your Future?, Pepper Institute, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, February 22, 2007, GAO-07-526CG
more here

Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil

Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil
by Felicity Lawrence

Interview with Frederica Mathewes-Green

Rediscovering Mary
Holy Week holy reading.


Frederica Mathewes-Green, a prolific and wide-ranging writer, is author of the new book, The Lost Gospel of Mary: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts from Paraclete Press. Frederica is khouria (spiritual mother) of an Eastern Orthodox Church, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, that she and her husband founded in Baltimore. In preparation for Easter, she has a Holy Week conversation with National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Frederica, you have a new book out about Mary. Have you discovered a new gospel? Where was it hiding?

Frederica Mathewes-Green: I feel ambivalent about the title — kind of lurid, isn’t it! But my point was that there are many, many ancient Christian texts that are fully orthodox; it’s not only a matter of New Testament versus gnostics. Earlier generations of Christians read the same kind of supplemental and devotional works we do today: biographies, commentaries, letters, sermons, debates with non-believers...pretty much anything you would find in a Christian bookstore today. Except men’s dress socks with little fish and crosses on ‘em.

These works got “lost” mostly because we forgot them — our “family memory” fades after a few decades or centuries. Contemporary Western Christians have a bad case of spiritual amnesia. So I’m hoping to put a few of the more appealing and worthy works back on the shelf. In this book I present three ancient texts concerning the Virgin Mary, with new translations and verse-by-verse commentary. The first is a “gospel,” or narrative biography, of the Virgin Mary’s birth, and early life.

Lopez: How important is the life of Mary, especially in her Son’s final days, as a model for Christians?

Mathewes-Green: Mary’s suffering faith during our Lord’s last days is a model and inspiration for all believers. But what I found in these three documents was that the greatest interest for early Christians was in her pregnancy. The fact of the Incarnation was something early Christians continually marveled over; also, it was the grounds on which they had to fight most often, defending the real divinity and real humanity of Jesus. And it was Mary whom God called on to provide the physical matrix for Christ’s appearance in the flesh; she was a regular human being, one of us. That means that on one side, Jesus’ grandmother was named Anna, while on the other see how mind-blowing it is.

Lopez: What does she teach us about sacrifice?

Mathewes-Green: The first text, the “Gospel of Mary,” shows us Mary as an adorable little girl, and then as a teenager coping with a “crisis pregnancy” that could cause her execution as a suspected adultress. This was an extremely popular work among Eastern Christians (that is, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern) in the second century. Many of the stories here made it to Europe, but the intact text did not. A 16th-century scholar who translated it into Latin named it “the Protevangelium of James;” this is how scholars know it today, but it’s not the original title (no one title stuck, actually). In this work, Mary is steadfast under this trial, and teaches us much about courage.

The other two texts illuminate other aspects of Mary’s role. The second is a very short prayer that was found on a scrap of papyrus in Egypt in 1917, and dated 250 AD; it is the earliest prayer to Mary. It begins, “Under your compassion we take refuge...”, and it’s still in use East and West (Roman Catholics know it as “Sub Tuum Praesidium.”) This second text shows us that early Christians believed that she (like all the saints) are alive in Christ’s presence and continually in prayer, so we can call on her as a prayer partner. The third text is a beautiful and intricately complex “sung sermon”, written around 520 A.D., which explores the mystery of the Incarnation and all the ways that Mary’s role is foreshadowed in Scripture.

Lopez: Is Mary of particular importance to women as a spiritual guide?

Mathewes-Green: One of the things that has surprised me, as I explore early Christian spirituality and the Eastern Church, is that there is so little interest in gender division. There aren’t separate types of prayer or spiritual disciplines for men as opposed to women, or for Greek rather than Arab or Egyptian Christians, or for rich versus poor Christians — none of that seems to matter. In Western Christianity, of course, we hear a great deal about tailor-made spirituality, right down to personality type; it fits the grid of our consumer culture. But in these texts there’s very little interest in Mary’s femininity; all the emphasis is on her humanity. She is the Theotokos, the “God-bearer” in the sense of bearing a child; her example invites all people everywhere to be Theophorus, “God-bearers”in the sense of bearing God’s presence like a candlewick bears a flame.

Lopez: It often seems that poor Joseph doesn’t get the coverage Mary and Jesus (natch) get. What should we know of him?

Mathewes-Green: Yes, Joseph is usually relegated to standing in the background and leaning on his staff. There’s a bit more about him in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew knew the story of Mary’s pregnancy from Joseph’s point of view, Luke from Mary’s), and in the “Gospel of Mary” he is an even more developed figure. When he discovers Mary pregnant, he becomes extremely distraught; when the High Priest tells him he must separate from Mary now that she’s pregnant, he weeps openly; when he’s making plans to bring her to the enrollment in Bethlehem, he talks about how embarrassed he is to present this pregnant woman, decades younger than he is, as his wife. Most interesting is the scene when Joseph helps Mary down from the donkey and goes to find a midwife. Suddenly all of nature is frozen: he sees the birds motionless in the air and the stream standing still. The time of Christ’s birth is accompanied by nature’s stillness and awe, just as his Crucifixion will be accompanied by noontime darkness and earthquakes.

Lopez: Could Mary really have said “no” to God?

Mathewes-Green: There’s a toughie! It’s the unanswerable question of how God’s will is done, yet humans aren’t mere robots. I think we have to say, on the one hand, that Mary’s acceptance was free and unconstrained, and all Creation hung breathless on her reply. But, on the other hand, God knew her as well as he knows every human being; he knew her every thought and action, and so he knew that she was the right girl to ask. When my daughter was a toddler, I used to think of this puzzle this way: I knew that if she heard me open the refrigerator, she would come over and reach into the bowl on the bottom shelf for an apple. I didn’t compel her to do that, she was free not to, but I knew my daughter. He knows us that way. And God draws us in a similar way, much like a beautiful piece of fruit draws a little girl: his beauty is compelling, and anyone who’s had even a taste of his presence never forgets it, but continually hungers for more (just like a whiff of cinnamon at the mall makes you crave a cinnamon bun). Christianity is not an institution, not a purveyor of spiritual transactions, but a treasury of wisdom; it’s the “art and science” of gradually, increasingly being able to bear the light of Christ — the thing that we are made for, and yearn for.

Lopez: Are Catholics too into Mary?

Mathewes-Green: When you picture Christ on the Cross looking at his mother, and think about how much he loved her at that moment, and how he said to John (and through him to us), “Behold your mother” — surely no amount of love we give her could ever displease him. But I think that over the centuries her role has sometimes been misunderstood and exaggerated, in ways that must distress her. Folk belief has sometimes held that she can overrule her Son, that she has her own magic powers, that she is something of a demigod. But the leading characteristic of her life was humility and service; her whole goal was perfect union with God’s will! Mary has been sometimes misunderstood over the centuries, and accorded imaginary powers, separate from her Son, things that would probably sadden her. I saw an anti-Catholic comic book once that showed Mary kneeling before God’s throne and asking him to have mercy on people who exaggerate her role, and the thing is, that’s a pretty good picture of what the best of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian belief says about her: that she us praying for us, that she is our friend and prayer partner.

Lopez: Is there a message in your book for non-Christians?

Mathewes-Green: One of the interesting things about the Gospel of Mary, that I hope will intrigue non-Christians, is that it is such a strong depiction of a little girl being loved. When I read Julia Duin’s extraordinary four-part series in the Washington Times about sex-selection abortion in India. I was heartbroken; I had never before visualized the century after century of little newborn girls being strangled, buried alive, left out for wild animals to devour — simply because they were female. Now sonograms and abortion are making this killing a prenatal matter, and the ratio of newborn girls to boys is plummeting. Well, that’s the way much of the world has been, for much of history; the most endangered human being on the planet is a little girl.

But in the Gospel of Mary we see the birth of a girl greeted with a cry of exultation, and watch as the girl is treasured and cuddled and loved throughout her childhood. There’s a lovely 14th-century mosaic icon in a church outside Constantinople, that shows her parents, Joachim and Anna, embracing and kissing her.

Whatever else was going on in the rest of the world, among Christians in the second century it was easy to believe that a little girl was precious. That’s worth thinking about.

Lopez: What about Mary in the Easter story is most revealing?

Mathewes-Green: It’s funny, but the texts I look at in my book don’t focus Easter; they’re primarily concerned with Mary’s conception of Jesus. So many splinter groups at the time were denying either that Jesus was God, or that he was human, and the obvious place to emphasize that he was both was in Mary’s womb. But of course, Mary’s role at the Cross, on Easter and on Pentecost, is resoundingly significant. What most intrigues me is the hints in the Scriptures that at the time of the conception of Christ, she had only a partial idea of what God’s plan was. The hymn she sings after the conception of Christ, known as the “Magnificat,” clearly expects that the Messiah will be a military leader and expel the Roman oppressors. That didn’t happen; very tragically the reverse, and the utter devastation of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. So it must have surprised Mary when Symeon told her, on her first visit to the Temple after Jesus’ birth, that “a sword will pierce your soul also.” In Orthodox Christian hymnography, as Mary sees Jesus carrying the Cross, she calls out to him and asks where he is going; perhaps to another wedding at Cana, to turn water into wine? We know that in a deep sense this moment is, in fact, the entrance of the Bridegroom, and that he is going to feast and he will provide the wine. These hymns, which we sing Thursday night in Eastern Orthodox churches, portray her grief with great intensity; it’s a good idea to bring some tissues to dry your eyes.

Lopez: What are you doing for Easter?

Mathewes-Green: We Orthodox Christians have about a dozen services in the days leading up to Easter, and many churchs will host all-night vigils on Friday night, as the psalms are read aloud next to Christ’s tomb. We observe Easter (we call it Pascha) with a midnight service on Saturday night. We’ll begin in a darkened church with some ancient hymns, have a candlelight procession outside, and then come back in to find the church transformed with light and flowers. The service that follows takes about three hours! When it’s over we gather for a breakfast feast with champagne and all the foods we’ve been fasting from during Lent. The last person rolls out the door around dawn — just when our neighbors are heading out for their Sunrise Service. It’s a powerhouse of an evening, and I don’t think I could handle it more than once a year!

website for Holy Cross Orthodox Church; an explanation of Byzantine chant

It is a member of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Khouria Frederica has a page at the parish website featuring her books; her website. And her latest book, which was the subject of the interview, The Lost Gospel of Mary.

Interview with Fr. Rutler on the Last Words

April 13, 2006, 7:52 a.m.
Passionate Last Words
Focusing on what Jesus said at the end.

Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Father George W. Rutler is pastor of The Church of Our Saviour in Manhattan (not far from National Review World Headquarters). Author of The Seven Ages of Man: Meditations on the Last Words of Christ, every year on Good Friday, Fr. Rutler walks his congregation through those last words (details here). National Review Online Editor Kathryn Lopez took him from his holy work for a few minutes this week to give us a look in.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: What are the seven ages of man?

Father George W. Rutler: The seven ages are from As You Like it Act II, Scene 7 — they trace the human progression from infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon (retirement), to "second childishness" (i.e. senility).

Lopez: When did you first start meditating on the last words of Christ?

Fr. Rutler: I did it regularly when I was an Episcopalian, in my own parish in Rosemont, Pa., starting in 1970 when I was 25 and elsewhere including here in Manhattan at the "Little Church Around the Corner." I began as a Catholic in the Wall Street parish of Our Lady of Victory in 1984 and have done it every year since — there and then at St. Agnes on 42nd St. When St. Agnes burned, we used the ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel one year and then moved to the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria, and did that for some eight years, even after the church was rebuilt, because of the larger size. I have been doing it here at Church of Our Saviour since 2002.

Lopez: The words you focus on — did they span three hours? What was the timeframe? Is that significant?

Rutler: Each meditation is about 15 minutes interspersed with music and prayer, ending at 3 P.M. Between meditations people are free to come and go. After a 15-minute break the Liturgy of the Passion is celebrated. The three hours devotion from noon to three is an "extra-liturgical devotion" — i.e. not part of the official Liturgy, but a private devotion. It was started by Jesuit missionaries in Peru instructing the native people and quickly spread. It became popular among Protestants until recently, as the denominations began to decline in quality and numbers. It also declined in the Catholic Church but seems to be having something of a revival.

Lopez: Was what Jesus said at the end all part of a plan?

Fr. Rutler: I'm not sure what you mean. All was pre-ordained by Christ, but we do not know how spontaneous the actual words were. The set of seven is a compilation of the narratives in the different Gospel texts, as none reports all seven.

Lopez: Why do you say at one point in your Last Words book that Jesus is not heroic? It seems pretty heroic to die so that the rest can have redemption.

Fr. Rutler: I don't remember saying that. If I did, I meant that his suffering was not just an exercise of heroic virtue in the human order, but an act of the Divine Will working through his human nature. I.e., he was not just a "human hero" or "martyr." He did not die as one of many, but as one for many. The crucifixion is inseparable from the Resurrection.

Lopez: To anyone who has reached the end of Lent having not meditated on the last words — is there something they should focus in on in Jesus' last hours?

Fr. Rutler: A good focus is the Passion narrative at the end of the Gospel According to John (chapters 11 through 21) — and also the Letter to the Hebrews.

Lopez: Is there anything in the last words for non-Christians?

Fr. Rutler: They are for everyone. The whole point of the Passion narrative is that the whole world is at the foot of the cross, and all the characters in the drama represent aspects of every human personality, believer and non-believer. But in the end, the Crucifixion is an absurd suicide for the cynic and at best an edifying tragedy for the virtuous skeptic.

Polychronismos to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

by Lycourgos Angelopoulos and the Greek Byzantine Choir

The Patriarch's website has photos and video of the Holy Father's visit to Constantinople November last year.

Patriarch Bartholomew, with Easter death was definitively defeated

In his Easter message the Patriarch writes that the faithful should no longer fear the end of existence, because Christ is risen and we too, with Him.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Death has been defeated and those of us who believe in Jesus must fear it no longer, instead we should occupy ourselves with having faith and keeping our souls “pure”. The Good News announced by Christ’s resurrection is thus at the centre of the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew Ist message, which will be read this evening by the majority of the Orthodox world.

“Christ is risen! – writes the Patriarch – let the Chitins message of good news sound throughout our society of well-being, for the most part Christian. This society no longer questions itself about the nature of death and instead lives as if death were inexistent and the resurrection useless. And yet there is nothing as tremendous as the mystery of death as Church records and daily reality shows. Fear of death is pervasive, particularly for those who are ill or elderly, despite our efforts to defeat it with various methods; it consumes our peace and fills our souls with an unjustifiable anguish, constant uncertainty making it intolerable”.

“Our Lord’s resurrection – continues the Easter message – put an end to our uncertainties. Death no longer dominates life. It is no longer the inevitable end of our existence. The tomb stone no longer covers our existence in eternal silent. The massive rock that covered the entrance to Our Lord’s tomb was removed and Christ emerged triumphant, victorious over death. Fear of death disappeared for those who followed in his footsteps and they were filled with joy and hope”.

Where are you Death centre of all, where is your victory Ade, exclaimed triumphantly our predecessor St John Chrysostom. Certainly for many our words seem delirious. The Athenians on hearing the Apostle Paul speak of the resurrection of the dead, smiled ironically and turning to him said “we will speak about it some other time”. The same apostles even though they had heard Christ say that he would arise on the third day, had difficulty in believing the women’s message that Christ is risen”.

“We dear brothers and sisters in Christ – writes Bartholomew – live the repeated death and continuous resurrection of the Lord. Not only through the iconography of the Church, but also through the lives of our saints and martyrs. The Lord has risen and gifted us life. Death has been reduced to a mere transition to a new form of life. It has ceased to be the prison of the soul, a dead end, a state of desperation. The bonds of death were broken and those who follow Christ can come back to life with Him. Have faith and hope my dear brothers and sisters give up on fear of death and the anguish of a darkened life”.

“For those who believe – concludes the message – death does not exist. Purify your souls and bodies and follow the Lord, who is our resurrection. The Good News of the resurrection is not strange or indifferent to us, but involves all of us and it must fill us with joy when we hear the exclamation “Christ is risen. Because He truly has, and we too together with Him”.

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa

"There Were Also Some Women"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the Good Friday sermon delivered today by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa during the Celebration of the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's Basilica, and in the presence of Benedict XVI.

* * *

There were also some women

"Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene" (John 19:25). Let us leave Mary his mother aside this time. Her presence on Calvary needs no explanation. She was his mother, and this by itself says everything; mothers do not abandon their children, not even one condemned to death. But why were the other women there? Who were they and how many were there?

The Gospels tell us the names of some of them: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, a certain Joanna and a certain Susanna (Luke 8:3). Having come with Jesus from Galilee, these women followed him, weeping, on the journey to Calvary (Luke 23:27-28). Now, on Golgotha, they watched "from a distance" (that is from the minimum distance permitted them), and from there, a little while later, they accompanied him in sorrow to the tomb, with Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:55).

This fact is too marked and too extraordinary to hastily pass over. We call them, with a certain masculine condescension, "the pious women," but they are much more than "pious women," they are "mothers of courage"! They defied the danger of openly showing themselves to be there on behalf of the one condemned to death. Jesus said: "Blessed is he who is not scandalized by me" (Luke 7:23). These women are the only ones who were not scandalized by him.

There has been animated discussion for quite some time about who it was that wanted Jesus' death: Was it the Jews or Pilate? One thing is certain in any case: It was men and not women. No woman was involved, not even indirectly, in his condemnation. Even the only pagan woman named in the accounts, Pilate's wife, dissociated herself from his condemnation (Matthew 27:19). Certainly Jesus died for the sins of women too, but historically they can say: "We are innocent of this man's blood" (Matthew 27:24).

* * *

This is one of the surest signs of the honesty and the historical reliability of the Gospels: The poor showing of the authors and inspirers of the Gospels and the marvelous figure cut by the women. Clearly the authors and inspirers of the Gospels saw the story they were telling as infinitely greater than their own miserableness and were thus drawn to be faithful to it. Otherwise, who would have allowed the ignominy of their own fear, flight, and denial -- which was made to look worse by the very different conduct of the women -- recorded for posterity.

It has always been asked why it was the "pious women" who were the first to see the Risen Christ and receive the task of announcing it to the apostles. This was the more certain way of making the Resurrection credible. The testimony of women had no weight and much less that of a woman, like Mary Magdalene, who had been possessed by demons (Mark 16:9). It is probably for this reason that no woman figures in Paul's long list of those who had seen the Risen Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5-8). The same apostles took the words of the women as "an idle tale," an entirely female thing, and did not believe them (Luke 24:11).

The ancient authors thought they knew the answer to this question. Romanos the Melode exhorts the apostles to not be offended by the precedence accorded to the women. They were the first to see the Risen Christ, he said, because a woman, Eve, was the first to sin![1] The real answer is different: The women were the first to see him because they were the last to leave him for dead after his death when they came to bring spices to his tomb to anoint him (Mark 16:1).

* * *

We must ask ourselves about this fact: Why were the women untroubled by the scandal of the cross? Why did they stay when everything seem finished, and when even his closest disciples had abandoned him and were secretly planning to go back home?

Jesus had already given the answer to this question when, replying to Simon, he said of the woman who had washed and kissed his feet: "She has loved much" (Luke 7:47)! The women had followed Jesus for himself, out of gratitude for the good they had received from him, not for the hope of getting some benefit from him or having a career from following him. "Twelve thrones" were not promised to them, nor had they asked to sit at his right hand in his kingdom. They followed him, it is written, "to serve him" (Luke 8:3; Matthew 27:55); they were the only ones, after Mary his mother, to have assimilated the spirit of the Gospel.

They followed the reasoning of the heart and this had not deceived him. In this there presence near to the crucified and risen Christ contains a vital teaching for today. Our civilization, dominated by technology, needs a heart to survive in it without being dehumanized. We have to give more room to the "reasons of the heart," if humanity is not to fail in this ice age.

In this, quite differently than in other areas, technology is of little help to us. For a long time now there has been work on a computer that "thinks" and many are convinced that there will be success. But (fortunately!) no one has yet proposed inventing a computer that "loves," that is moved, that meets man on the affective plane, facilitating love, as computers facilitate the calculation of the distance between the stars, the movement of atoms, and the memorizing of data.

The improvement of man's intelligence and capacity to know does not go forward at the same rate as improvement in his capacity to love. The latter does not seem to count for much and yet we know well that happiness or unhappiness on earth does not depend so much on knowing or not-knowing as much as it does on loving or not loving, on being loved or not being loved. It is not hard to understand why we are so anxious to increase our knowledge but not so worried about increasing our capacity to love: Knowledge automatically translates into power, love into service.

One of the modern idolatries is the "IQ" idolatry, of the "intelligence quotient." Numerous methods of measuring intelligence have been proposed, even if all have so far proved to be in large part unreliable. Who is concerned with the "quotient of the heart"? And yet what Paul said always remains true: "Knowledge puffs up, love builds up" (1 Corinthians 8:1). Secular culture is no longer able to draw this truth from its religious source, in Paul, but perhaps it is ready to underwrite it when it returns in literary garments. Love alone redeems and saves, while science and the thirst for knowledge, by itself, is able to lead Faust and his imitators to damnation.

After so many ages had spoken of human beings by taking names from man -- "homo erectus," "homo faber," and today's "homo sapiens-sapiens" -- it is good for humanity that the age of woman is finally dawning: an era of the heart, of compassion, of peace, and this earth ceases to be "the threshing floor which makes us so fierce."[2]

* * *

From every part there emerges the exigency to give more room to women in society and in religion. We do not believe that "the eternal feminine will save us."[3] Everyday experience shows us that women can "lift us up," but they can also cast us down. She too needs to be saved, neither more nor less than man. But it is certain that once she is redeemed by Christ and "liberated" on the human level from ancient subjugations, woman can contribute to saving our society from some profound evils that threaten it: inhuman cruelty, will to power, spiritual dryness, disdain for life.

But we must avoid repeating the ancient gnostic mistake according to which woman, in order to save herself, must cease to be a woman and must become a man.[4] Pro-male prejudice is so deeply rooted in society that women themselves have ended up succumbing to it. To affirm their dignity, they have sometimes believed it necessary to minimize or deny the difference of the sexes, reducing it to a product of culture. "Women are not born, they become," as one of their illustrious representatives has said.[5]

This tendency seems to have been overcome. In postmodern thought the ideal is no longer indifference but equal dignity. Difference in general is beginning to be seen as creative, whether for men or for women. Each of the two sexes represents "the other" and stimulates openness and creativity, since what defines the human person is precisely his being in relation. "Man is prideful," writes the poet Claudel; "There was no other way to get him to understand his neighbor, to get inside his skin; there was no other way to get him to understand dependence, necessity, the need for another than himself, than through the law of being different [a man or a woman]."[6]

* * *

How grateful we must be to the "pious women"! Along the way to Calvary, their sobbing was the only friendly sound that reached the Savior's ears; while he hung on the cross, their gaze was the only one that fell upon him with love and compassion.

The Byzantine liturgy honored the pious women, dedicating a Sunday of the liturgical year to them, the second Sunday after Easter, which has the name "Sunday of the Ointment Bearing Women." Jesus is happy that in the Church the women who loved him and believed in him when he was alive are honored. Of one of them -- the woman who poured the perfumed oil on his head -- he made this prophecy that has come true over the centuries: "Wherever in the whole world this Gospel is preached what she has done will be told in memory of her" (Matthew 26:13).

The pious women must not only be admired and honored, but imitated. St. Leo the Great says that "Christ's passion is prolonged to the end of ages"[7] and Pascal wrote that "Christ will be in agony until the end of the world."[8] The passion is prolonged in members of the Body of Christ. The many religious and lay women are the heirs of the "pious women" who today are at the side of the poor, those sick with AIDS, prisoners, all those rejected by society. To them, believers and nonbelievers, Christ repeats: "You have done this for me" (Matthew 25:40).

* * *

The pious women are examples for Christian women today not only for the role they played in the Passion but also for the one they played in the Resurrection. From one end of the Bible to the other we meet the "Go!" of the missions ordered by God. It is the word addressed to Abraham and Moses ("Go, Moses, into the land of Egypt"), to the prophets, to the apostles: "Go out to all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."

They are all "Go's!" addressed to men. There is only one "Go!" addressed to women, the one addressed to the ointment bearers the morning of the resurrection: "Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me'" (Matthew 28:10). With these words they were made the first witnesses of the resurrection.

It is a shame that, because of the later erroneous identification of Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet (Luke 7:37), she ended up giving rise to numerous ancient and modern legends and she has entered into the devotions and art in "penitent" garments, instead of as the first witness of the resurrection, the "apostolorum apostola" (apostle of the apostles), according to St. Thomas Aquinas' definition.[9]

"The women departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples" (Matthew 28:8). Christian women, continue to bring the successors of the apostles and to us priests, who are their collaborators, the good news: "The Master lives! He has risen! He precedes you into Galilee, that is, wherever you go!" Continue to give us courage, continue to defend life. Together with the other women of the world you are the hope of a more human world.

To the first among the "pious women," and their incomparable model, the mother of Jesus, we repeat this ancient prayer of the Church: "Holy Mary, succor of the miserable, support of the fearful, comfort of the weak: pray for the people, intervene for the clergy, intercede for the devoted female sex" (Ora pro populo, interveni pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo sexu).[10]

* * *

[1] Romanos the Melode, "Hymns," 45, 6.
[2] Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, 22, v.151.
[3] W. Goethe, "Faust," finale, part II.

[4] Cf. Coptic Gospel of Thomas, 114; Excerpts of Theodotus, 21,3.
[5] Simone de Beauvoir, "The Second Sex," 1949.
[6] P. Claudel, "The Satin Slipper," act III, scene 8.

[7] St. Leo the Great, Sermon 70, 5 (PL 54, 383).
[8] B. Pascal, "Pensées," n. 553 Br.
[9] St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of John, XX, 2519.

[10] Antiphon to the Magnificat, Common of Virgins.

Benedict XVI's Holy Thursday Homily

Benedict XVI's Holy Thursday Homily

"Jesus Is the New and True Lamb"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2007 ( Here is the homily Benedict XVI delivered Thursday for the Mass of the Lord's Supper, celebrated in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the reading from the Book of Exodus that we have just heard, the celebration of Israel's Passover is described as it was set out by Mosaic law. In the beginning, there could have been a spring holiday celebrated by nomads. However, for Israel, this had been transformed into a feast of commemoration, thanksgiving and, at the same time, hope.

At the heart of the Passover supper, ordained by the specific liturgical rules, was the lamb, as the symbol of liberation from slavery in Egypt. Thus, the paschal "Haggadah" was an integral part of the lamb dinner: the narrative recollection of the fact that it was God himself who had liberated Israel "with a raised hand."

He, the mysterious and hidden God, had been stronger than the pharaoh with all the power that he had at his disposition. Israel was not to forget that God personally had a hand in the history of his people, and that this history was continuously based on communion with God. Israel was not to forget God.

The words of the memorial service were surrounded by words of praise and thanksgiving taken from the Psalms. Giving thanks and blessing God reached its apex with the "berakha," which in Greek is called "eulogia" or "eucaristia": To bless God becomes a blessing for those who bless. The offering donated to God returns blessed to man.

All this erected a bridge from the past to the present and toward the future: The liberation of Israel had not yet come about. The nation still suffered like a small population in the middle of tensions between great powers. The thankful remembrance of the action of God in the past became at the same time both a plea and a source of hope: Bring to fruition what you have begun! Give us definitive freedom!

This supper, with it multiple meanings, was celebrated by Jesus with his disciples on the eve of his passion. Taking into account this context, we can understand the new Easter, which he gave to us in the holy Eucharist.

In the narrations of the Evangelists, there is an apparent contradiction between the Gospel of John, on one hand, and what, on the other hand, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us. According to John, Jesus died on the cross precisely at the moment in which, in the temple, the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. His death and the sacrifice of the lambs coincided.

This means that he died on the eve of Passover, and that, therefore, he could not have personally celebrated the paschal supper; at least this is what it would seem.

On the contrary, according to the three Synoptic Evangelists, the last supper of Jesus was a paschal supper, in its traditional form. He introduced the innovation of the gift of his body and blood. This contradiction, until a few years ago, seemed impossible to resolve.

The majority of the exegetes thought that John did not want to communicate to us the true historical date of the death of Jesus, but had opted for a symbolic date to make the deeper truth more evident: Jesus is the new and true lamb that spilled his blood for us all.

The discovery of the manuscripts of Qumran has led us to a convincing possible solution that, while not accepted by all, is highly probable. We can now say that what John referred to is historically correct. Jesus truly spilled his blood on the eve of Passover at the hour of the sacrifice of the lambs.

However, he celebrated Passover with his disciples probably according to the calendar of Qumran, that is to say, at least one day earlier -- he celebrated without a lamb, like the Qumran community who did not recognize the Temple of Herod and was waiting for a new temple.

Therefore, Jesus celebrated Passover without a lamb, no, not without a lamb: Instead of the lamb he gave himself, his body and his blood. In this way he foresaw his death coherently with his announcement: "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own" (John 10:18). The moment he offered his body and blood to the disciples, he truly fulfilled this statement. He himself offered his life. Only in this way the old Passover obtains its true meaning.

St. John Chrysostom, in his Eucharistic catechesis, once wrote: What are you saying Moses? That the blood of a lamb purifies man? That it saves them from death? How can the blood of an animal purify man? How can it save mankind, have power against death?

In fact, Chrysostom continues, the lamb can only be a symbol, and, therefore, the expression of the expectation and the hope in someone that would be capable of doing all that an animal couldn't do.

Jesus celebrated the Passover without a lamb and without the temple, and nevertheless, he was not lacking a lamb or a temple. He himself was the awaited lamb, the true one, the one that John the Baptist had foretold at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry: "Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

And he himself was the true temple, the living temple, the one in which God lives, in which we can find ourselves with God and adore him. His blood, the love of he who is at the same time Son of God and true man, one of us, this blood has the power to save. His love, this love in which he gives himself freely for us, is what saves us. The nostalgic action, in some sense inefficient, of the immolation of the innocent and immaculate lamb, found an answer in the one who became for us both lamb and temple.

In this way, in the center of the new Passover of Christ, we find the cross. The new gift brought by him proceeds from there. And in this way, it always remains in the holy Eucharist, by which we can celebrate with the apostles through the ages the new Passover.

From the cross of Christ proceeds the gift. "No one takes it away from me; I lay it down." Now, he offers it to us. The paschal "Haggadah," the commemoration of the salvific act of God, becomes a recollection of the cross and the resurrection of Christ, a remembrance that doesn't just recall the past, but attracts us toward the presence of the love of Christ. In this way, the "berakha," Israel's prayer of blessing and thanksgiving, becomes our Eucharistic celebration, in which the Lord blesses our gifts, the bread and wine, to give himself.

Let us ask the Lord to help us to understand ever more deeply this marvelous mystery, and to love it more and more. And within it, to love him more and more. Let us ask him to attract us more and more to him with holy Communion. Let us ask him to help us not to keep our lives for ourselves, but to surrender them to him, and in this way, to work with him so that all people find life, the authentic life that can only come from he who is the way, the truth and the life. Amen

[Translation by ZENIT]

Raunch Culture is Everywhere

Female Chauvinist Pigs?
Raunch Culture is Everywhere

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Army Uniform Doesn't Measure Up | By Eric Coulson | April 05, 2007
One of the most visible and high-impact changes adopted by the Army since Operation Iraqi Freedom began has been the fielding of the Army Combat Uniform, or ACU. The new uniform replaces the woodland camo Battle Dress Uniform and the "three color" Desert Combat Uniform.

One of the main goals of the change was to have a uniform that worked in all environments - woodland, desert, and urban - and held up to the rigors of combat duty, as well as the strictures of day-to-day work in garrison.

A great deal of time and money was spent on the development of this new uniform and the Army Program Executive Office Soldier did extensive testing with Soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and at home in the United States.

Considering all the testing the uniform went through, it is surprising such a mediocre product finally emerged.

The Good:

The overall layout and organization of the uniform is good, the pockets are generally more useful and accessible in field gear.

Additionally, adoption of the rough-out boot is sensible from the maintenance and appearance standpoint. Soldiers coming out of the field are not going to be immediately gigged for having unshined boots, and while an old Army tradition may have gone by the wayside, no one really misses shining boots - particularly in the field.

The Bad:

Velcro was a good idea, but the execution was simply lacking. This material is just not ready for combat. Putting anything of size or weight in the pant's cargo pocket will often cause the closure to fail if your Velcro has any wear and tear - which in Iraq, it does. Soldiers risk losing belongings and being chewed out by the nearest NCO for an unsightly appearance.

The addition of Velcro on the sleeves to attach patches was intended to keep a Soldier from spending money modifying uniforms with new patches and skill badges. But this savings has been lost in a couple of ways.

First, patches are much more likely to be lost now that they can be easily removed. And, more obviously, Velcro repair kits are beginning to appear in the exchange shops - a tacit admission the Velcro does not last. Instead of shelling out cash to put new patches on the blouse, Soldiers now have to buy new Velcro to replace the material that failed.

The uniform is also poorly constructed. In more than 10 years of active and reserve service, I never once had a uniform "malfunction." Twice in my tour in Iraq I have had the crotch on my pants rip out. Embarrassment was the least of my worries. Had I not been near the end of a patrol it would have been a serious problem if my vehicle had gone down.

And I am not alone. I've talked to many Soldiers that have had this happen. The data is anecdotal at best, but it sure appears to be a problem.

The material itself is a problem as well. The 50/50 blend of cotton and nylon does not appear to have the staying power or the protection of the old 100% cotton or the Nomex of today's flight suits. In fact, Soldiers and Marines that spend a great deal of time in vehicles in Iraq are being issued tan Nomex flight suits to protect them from the possibility of flash fires in their vehicles. The cotton/nylon blend burns very quickly and can add to the injuries sustained in a burning vehicle by melting to the Soldiers skin.

The Ugly:

The ACU in universal camouflage is just not a very attractive camouflage pattern. Admittedly that's a poor reason to choose such utilitarian clothing; especially if I was convinced that it is a highly effective pattern. But I am not.

The pixilation assists in breaking up the shape of the Soldier - particularly through night vision - but in general, it stands out against anything except a concrete wall.

The pattern also shows every last bit of dirt the Soldier's been exposed to. I never once saw my original BDUs stain like my ACUs have, and I was spending more time rolling around on the ground in my earlier days. Even though the new uniform is supposed to stand up to the rigors of daily wear and tear enough that I don't have to buy separate "field" and "garrison" uniforms, a stained ACU isn't going to work in either environment.

Here are some suggestions to improve and complete the ACU:

A new pattern -- Army PEO Soldier is using a so-called "multicam" pattern in its testing of the Land Warrior system. This is a proven all-environment camouflage. It may stand out a tad more in urban environments, but the likelihood is the Soldier has already been detected. I say just adopt this pattern.

New material -- Use Nomex or some other fire-retardant material instead of the 50/50 cotton-nylon blend. The extra cost of Nomex will be more than made up in savings for the treatment and care of burned Soldiers.

Return to sew on patches and buttons -- Velcro is simply not up to the standard needed for combat. A return to sew on patches would also be a morale booster. Soldiers want to have their skill badges sewn on like they were on the BDU and DCU.

When the ACU was first introduced, I was a big fan. Having lived and worked in the uniform for over in year in various field environments - including combat in Iraq - it is clear the goal has not yet been achieved. With a few changes, the Army can complete the process and ensure today's Soldiers have a top-quality uniform ready to take them into combat.

Eric Coulson is an Army officer commanding an Engineer Company in Iraq. He hosts the Badger 6 Blog.

Holy Mother of God Serbian Orthodox Monastery

photos at Lion and the Cardinal (found through Unmitigated Nonsense)

From the Church Directory for the Western American Diocese:
The Most Holy Mother of God MonasteryP.O. Box 496, Grayslake, IL 60030-0496, Illinois, U.S.A.Phone: (847) 223-4311

Serbian Orthodox Church in USA and Canada

Hieromonk Cassian. A Scientific Examination of the Orthodox Church ...

Good Friday

St. Catherine's Monastery


St. Athanasius
St. Tikhon's Bookstore

Varia, 6 April 2007

Actor Jang Dong-gun to Star in Hollywood Film

Actor Jang Dong-gun will make his Hollywood debut in a Korean-U.S. fantasy-action movie called "Laundry Warrior." Hollywood producer Barrie Osborne, who made "The Matrix" and "The Lord of the Rings," will partner with Lee Joo-ick, the CEO of Boram Entertainment and the producer of "The Seven Swords" and "Battle of Wits", to make the US$30 million film.

Jang will act alongside Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi when the movie starts filming in the U.S. next month. Korean director Lee Seung-moo will helm the production. Boram Entertainment and Jang are planning to hold press conferences in Korea and in the U.S. this month to release further details.
( )

I hope this movie isn't a disaster like The Promise.

Pop Idol Ivy Rises Above Simple Sex Appeal
In the prime of her young singing career with the songs "Sonata of Temptation" and "If You're Gonna Be Like This" from her second album topping music charts both on- and off-line, pop sensation Ivy cited modesty as the reason for her success. "I think people like me because I try to be moderate," she said. "I didn't try hard to make myself look beautiful and sexy, I just devoted myself to singing. I think that's the reason for my popularity. Things that go too far tend to turn people off, don't they?"

At a time when it seems as if female singers who substitute sex appeal for talent are being churned out one after the next, Ivy stands apart. If the success of "Sonata of Temptation" is due to its arrangement based on the classical piece "Fur Elise," the popularity of "If You're Gonna Be Like This" proves that the public has begun to recognize her singing skills, rather than underestimate her as one of the many sexy but less talented singers.

Ivy said she still can't believe the enthusiastic response to her songs, although when she released her first album she felt sorry that she drew attention for her image rather than her singing. She has been told that "Sonata" has a powerful force since she first began working on it. "I don't lip-sync except in some unavoidable situations, even though I have to dance while I sing," she said. "I practiced singing everyday on a treadmill for four years when I was training for my debut, and I think that's paying off now."

Four years is a long time to pursue a dream in the hopes of a brighter future, but Ivy said it wasn't that hard to get through because she was both confident and optimistic. "I may look coordinated, but in fact I'm a very clumsy person," she said. "Just a few days ago, I bumped my arm on the edge of my bed as I was bouncing around in joy after reading some complimentary remarks about me on the Internet." She still has the bruise on her left forearm.

Born to a mother who studied singing at university and a father who played the drums in the Navy symphony, Ivy grew up with music. She remembered how proud she was of her father when she saw him perform at the Navy band¡¯s annual concert.

It may be difficult to swallow, but Ivy said the biggest obstacle to her success was dancing. She is a seriously bad dancer, she said. She also confessed that she's been nervous about performing in front of people since childhood. "It's still hard for me to dance, but I'm trying to enjoy it."

So what does she think about her voice? "Almost all my vocal teachers told me that I don't have bad singing habits. I think that's both my strong and weak points. I try to obey basic rules when I sing." she said.
( )

Hmm... from what I've seen of her live performances, I don't think she's totally immune from industry efforts to sell through sex appeal.

Kim Yun-jin's New Role Gets Int'l Attention
How Ethically Advanced Is Japan?
Korean American to Star Alongside Robert De Niro

How to Choose the Right Tea

How to Choose the Right Tea
Tea Is Art of Life, Culture

By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter

``Better to go without salt for three days than without tea for a single day,'' a well-known Chinese proverb says.

Although Asian countries share a tea-drinking culture, tea culture differs in accordance with the way tea is grown and how people interact with the calming drink in their own cultural setting.

People commonly enjoy tea at social events or in casual dining places. In Western countries, people usually enjoy afternoon tea or a tea party. However, in oriental countries, tea is often part of a traditional, ceremonial ritual.

Japan is known for its formal and serene tea ceremony, emphasizing spiritualilty, while China incorporates artistic performances such as delicate hand gestures.

Koreans are also becoming more ardent tea lovers, in accordance with their rising standard of taste.

With the warm weather and dust storms blowing in from China and the Gobi Desert, many Koreans are turning to tea for health reasons.

In summer or in warm climates, tea is believed to dispel the heat and bring on an instant cool sense of relaxation.

There are four basic types of tea: black tea, oolong tea, green tea and white tea. Herbal tea usually refers to any herbal infusion other than from tea leaves.

Different regions add different ingredients to tea such as milk, sugar and honey. The temperature of a tea drink also varies according to the type of tea.

Chen Cui, a Chinese tea sommelier visiting the Chinese restaurant ``Cheon San'' at the Imperial Palace Hotel in southern Seoul, said that teas are generally good for one¡¯s health and help women who are on a diet.

The 24-year-old tea connoisseur helps customers choose the perfect tea for their meals in the same way a wine sommelier would do. She said that as Korean foods are spicy and hot, teas are required to soothe the taste buds.

Flower teas are recommended as the right tea to refresh the mind and body during spring as they are rich in vitamins. /Courtesy of Amore Pacific

``Teas are very helpful for our health when you drink before and after meals. Pu-Erh teas are highly recommended for Korean dishes,'' Cui said in an interview with The Korea Times.
She said that Pu-Erh teas protect the stomach from hot and spicy foods and reduce high blood pressure.

She said that Pu-Erh teas are also good for losing weight. Pu-Erh teas are regarded solely as a post-fermented tea. Unlike other teas that are supposed to be consumed right after production, the teas can be drunk after aging for many years _ like a fine wine.

The Pu-Erh teas are often classified by year and region of production much like vintage wine.

She said that there are more than 100 nutrients in teas, and teas are especially rich in vitamins.

Cui recommended the right tea for the spring season. ``In spring, people get tired easily as the weather gets dry and warm. So flower teas rich in vitamins are suitable,'' she said.

Flower teas are made up of dried flowers, which have been traditionally harvested.

Flower teas are believed to have a wide range of health benefits as well as being a refreshing and enjoyable drink at any time of the day, especially in spring.

Flower teas are known to improve the immune system, prevent heart disease and even help fight tooth decay.

``There are a variety of flower teas available including jasmine teas, which are believed to be good for the skin. It is much better to drink flower tea with a sweet candy. It's a good match,'' Cui said.

Flower tea products are also available to consumers. Amore Pacific offers dried flower teabags at 30,000 won for 30 grams.

Lipton offers pyramid-shaped teabags for flower teas. Lipton Rose-Green Tea is 3,500 won for 10 teabags, while Lipton Chamomile Tea is 4,000 won for 10 teabags.

Dongwon F&B sells ``Siwolae Kunhwacha,'' or Chrysanthemum tea at 2,000 won for 470 milliliters.

Cui also mentioned oolong teas, which are good for those with dry skin.

Many Koreans drink green teas, which are good in summer and are full of flavonoids, she said.

These flavonoids, called polyphenols, are antioxidants, which are known to prevent the aging process.

Green teas are one of the most favorite teas enjoyed by Chinese, Japanese and Koreans for its health benefits and mild flavors, she said.

Cui advised consumers to throw away the first infusion of tea and drink the second infusion for more flavor.

The second infusion of tea offers a better taste because the first infusion sterilizes possible toxic substances, she said.

What is a Tea Sommelier?

Do wine and teas have something in common? They look and taste totally different, though they are both beverages.

But in fact, wine and tea share many things in common. They both come in a wide variety of flavors and require particular climate conditions for optimum taste.

There is also a tea sommelier, similar to a wine sommelier, who is an expert on all things tea, and who tastes the teas daily to ensure quality and consistency of flavor.

A tea sommelier is responsible for sampling, recommending and pouring different teas and tisanes served in a hotel or a restaurant.

He or she is supposed to be an ardent tea drinker, as becoming a tea expert is something of a challenge. An aspiring tea sommelier has to learn everything about the soothing drink.

Over the last several years, the popularity of the ``tea sommelier'' has risen in luxurious restaurants and tea cafes in Korea.

The term ``sommelier'' usually refers to a wine expert, but as for teas, the sommelier's task is to help consumers choose the most appropriate tea for their tastes and dishes.

Cui said that her duty is not only to help consumers pick out the right tea but also to introduce the right tea culture.

``Tea culture in China is a kind of art,'' Cui said. During her visit to Seoul, she is introducing traditional Chinese ways of tea drinking.

Cui, who will return to China on April 13, said that when she presents a tea menu, people really get exited.

``I ask them about their preferences, and then I give them an explanation of the tea. They want to know about the teas' history and many more details,'' she said.

While serving tea, she performs a kind of a ritual or tea ceremony involving preparing the tea as each type of tea requires a different water temperature to maximize flavor.

She said that there is an increasing number of Koreans who want to become tea sommeliers as Korea has no official educational institute to give a certificate in tea arts.

``Many Koreans are coming to China's tea schools as part of hotel catering educational programs,'' she said.

Cui said that at least two years are required to finish the course to become a tea sommelier in China.

Currently, in Korea, Korean tea sommelier Sung Eun-young, works at the Chinese restaurant, ``Toh Lim'' in the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul.

In Korea, many Korean tea sommelier aspirants are learning the art of tea from an individual tutor who studied in China because there is no formal tea art institute.

04-05-2007 19:04

An Arid West No Longer Waits for Rain

Via EB

An Arid West No Longer Waits for Rain
Randal C. Archibold and Kirk Johnson, NY Times
A Western drought that began in 1999 has continued after the respite of a couple of wet years that now feel like a cruel tease. But this time people in the driest states are not just scanning the skies and hoping for rescue.

Some $2.5 billion in water projects are planned or under way in four states, the biggest expansion in the West’s quest for water in decades. Among them is a proposed 280-mile pipeline that would direct water to Las Vegas from northern Nevada. A proposed reservoir just north of the California-Mexico border would correct an inefficient water delivery system that allows excess water to pass to Mexico.

In Yuma, Ariz., federal officials have restarted an idled desalination plant, long seen as a white elephant from a bygone era, partly in the hope of purifying salty underground water for neighboring towns.

The scramble for water is driven by the realities of population growth, political pressure and the hard truth that the Colorado River, a 1,400-mile-long silver thread of snowmelt and a lifeline for more than 20 million people in seven states, is providing much less water than it had.

From Denial in the Desert, by Mike Davis :

Persistent drought, like melting ice, rapidly reorganizes ecosystems and transforms entire landscapes. Without sufficient moisture to produce protective sap, millions of acres of pinyon and ponderosa pine have been ravaged by plagues of bark beetles; these dead forests, in turn, have helped to kindle the firestorms that have burst into the suburbs of Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Denver, as well as destroyed part of Los Alamos. In Texas the grasslands have also burned--nearly 2 million acres in 2006 alone--and as topsoil blows away, prairies are reverting to desert.

Some climatologists have not hesitated to call this a "mega-drought," even the "worst in 500 years." Others have been more cautious, not yet sure whether the current aridity in the West has surpassed the notorious thresholds of the 1930s (the Dust Bowl in the southern Plains) or 1950s (devastating drought in the Southwest). But the debate is possibly beside the point: The most recent and authoritative research finds that the "evening redness in the West" (to invoke the portentous subtitle of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian) is not simply episodic drought but the region's new "normal weather."

In startling testimony before the National Research Council last December, Richard Seager, a senior geophysicist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, warned that the world's leading climate modelers were cranking out the same result from their super-computers: "According to the models, in the Southwest a climate akin to the 1950s drought becomes the new climate within the next few years to decades."
The Southwest is not sustainable -- those living in Southern California and Arizona (like my relatives) should get out while they can, before nature makes its limits felt. Who wants to break the news to them?

Meanwhile our politicians continue to be ignorant in their pursuit of power.

Peak coal by 2025 say researchers

Via EB

Published on 28 Mar 2007 by Energy Watch Group. Archived on 5 Apr 2007.
Peak coal by 2025 say researchers
by Dr. Werner Zittel and Jörg Schindler

The report by the Energy Watch Group, Coal: Resources and Future Production

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Thursday

More: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Maundy is from a Latin word meaning "Mandate" or Commandment. It reminds us that on the Thursday before Jesus Christ was crucified he instituted the Holy Communion at the Last Supper. At that Supper he commanded his disciples to continue with this celebration of Holy Communion as a way of remembering what
his death accomplished. He also commanded his disciples to serve others by using the image of the washing of the feet of his disciples.

Photos: Elizabeth Mitchell

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Joy and conversion this Easter in Japan

Joy and conversion this Easter in Japan
by Pino Cazzaniga
A PIME missionary describes his journey among the desolate and resigned to celebrate Palm Sunday with a community of rare peace and serenity. Sunday in Tokyo Japanese and Koreans unite in their Easter celebrations in a sign of reconciliation which the Japanese government has long sought.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) Two weeks ago Fr. Miyashita, pastor to Matsudo's Catholic community, invited me to participate in the Palm Sunday liturgy in his Church. But he added, ¨You will have to give the homily." The thoughts of preaching before a Japanese priest of his literary stature was a price that I was reluctant to pay, however, I decided to accept.

It took me three hours to reach Matsudo city, adjacent to Tokyo, quite a paradox if one considers that the super rapid train only takes 5 hours to cover 1200 kilometres. The panorama of the world's most efficient city is boring to say the least; neither did the spectacle of fellow passengers add any cheer. There was no mummer of conversation, as people feared being a nuisance to their neighbours. But faces speak volumes. I was standing in the carriage and seated directly in front of me in places reserved for the elderly were two men, more or less of my same age (76). They bore expressions of sadness, icons of that resignation which the Japanese consider a virtue. One of the men attempted to overcome his ill humour by sipping beer.

Waiting for me at the station was Fr. Oscar (31), a Philippine of my same order, who had just completed a language course that entailed 8 hours of daily study for two years. Tokyo, desert is the chorus of a pop song in vogue at the moment. Here the sand is called concrete. Matsudo is no exception. We walked for over 10 minutes among the supermarkets and high rise apartment blocks, without ever seeing the sky. On reaching the Church I had the distinct impression of leaving the arid desert behind and entering a cool fresh Oasis.

The first homily of vespers mass. A little intimidated by the energetic directions of Miyashita, a true maestro of ceremonies and liturgical music, I tried to do my best. Once the mass had ended and tired from my exertions I made towards the rectors house to rest myself, but Oscar presented me with a Korean lady who desired to greet me. Terrorized because I can barely stammer in the language of the Land of the rising sun I attempted to mask my fear with the usual Japanese grin, and passed the test.

That good lady's greeting was just a prelude to events. Sunday morning, shortly before the main ceremony, I found myself surrounded by Korean men and women who were seeking a penitential service. It confirmed my conviction that Asia's future missionary colonies are Korea and Vietnam.

In the meantime a large number of faithful gathered in the courtyard adjacent to the Church in perfect order. The ceremony took place in a completely natural atmosphere. Miyashita, who is a born leader and has the will to put it into use, limited himself to the part of a priest. The ministers of the Eucharist, readers and choir carried their roles with perfect competence allowing the congregation to enjoy their participation in the rite. Japanese culture lends itself spontaneously to the faith.

Despite the Church's notable dimensions, it could not contain the number of faithful: some assisting from the atrium. From my position on the altar I deliberately observed the expressions on the congregation's faces: no sign of boredom or duty, but the intense expression of those who participate willingly in a long awaited event.

Opening my Homily, I found it difficult to overcome my emotions. My carefully prepared scheme had completely vanished, not from sudden amnesia, but rather because I sensed it was not appropriate to the event in which I was participating. Because it was a true event, no mere ceremony.

So I built my speech around the passage from darkness to light, projecting it onto the figures at the forefront of the last lines of the passion according to Luke as proclaimed a few moments before: the revolutionary assassin who begs forgiveness from an agonized Christ, the Jerusalem crowd which turns from Golgotha beating their chests, and above all the military official of the terrorist Empire, who on seeing how Christ dies exclaims: "He truly was the son of God." In that episode those Christians could clearly read the parable of their life; they too had passed from darkness to light in their desire to contemplate the Crucified.

Thanks to that rite, repeated year after year, like an ever increasing spiral, the Christian community has become an oasis in the arid desert of that dormitory city of 200thousand. I had the impression that these people were very careful, but what struck me the most were the expressions of the elderly, serene and peaceful, compared to the gloomy desolation of their contemporaries whom I had met on the train days before.

They were also foreigners in the assembly, Philippines and above all Koreans. The Tokyo government is frantically attempting to establish a psychological, not just political or economic, understanding between the populations of Eastern Asia, including the Chinese. But its attempts are failing. In the Christian assembly at Matsudo, during and after the rite, friendship between the nationalities was already a concrete fact.

Every Sunday at midday the Tokyo Cathedral is reserved for the capital's numerous Korean communities. But at Easter, the Church will be packed with Japanese and Koreans will participate with one single heart and in a spirit of reconciliation in the mass presided over by Archbishop Pietro Okada, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio Msgr. Alberto Bottari de Castello. In 1989 Korea's Catholics chose the biblical expression "Christ is our peace" as the theme for the International Eucharistic Congress celebrated in Seoul. At the time they were probably thinking of their brothers in the North. Next Sunday the two communities, representing both populations, will underline that reconciliation is possible, because there are not only days made by men, there is also "the Lord's Day", which is of course, Easter.