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"Nigerian villagers killed in Boko Haram church attack"
"Sudanese Christian woman fears for her life"
"Iraqi Christians Flee Homes In Brutal Conflict"
As headlines like the ones above become more and more common, we must again face the question of whether or not the Islamic vision of the world, as proclaimed in the Quran, allows for a peaceful coexistence between Islam and Christianity.
Writing for Catholic World Report, Michael Coren, examines this question in his article below, "The Quran and Christianity."
For a deeper exploration of this question and related issues, scroll down further to browse our related titles and save 20% on these select titles with the code JULY01 for a limited time* only.
The Quran and Christianity Islam's holy book is filled with intolerant, aggressive language that calls directly for violence against Christians Michael Coren
A boy copies Quranic verses in a Muslim school in June in Timbuktu, the northern Mali city that was seized by Islamist fighters in 2012 and then liberated by French and Malian soldiers in early 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
Islam’s persecution of Christianity has reached a grotesque crescendo in the past few months. Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt—the list goes on and horribly on. There is much that can be said—and I will not refrain from saying it—but if there is to be honest debate and discussion about the issue we have to admit what the Quran, the holy text of Islam, states about Muslim attitudes toward Christians...continue reading
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The “Inhumanity” of the Homosexual Lifestyle | Fr. Paul Conner, O.P. | HPR
To love as a person is freely to wish goodness for someone … Love always wants to affirm, and to better, one’s friend. Through the power of free choice, true love makes the friend, not the self, the beneficiary.
Can there be a more controversial, hot button issue today than the homosexual lifestyle? It is being debated on all levels of society. In this article my intention is not to enter into the debate, but rather to focus on voicing contradictions that are rarely expressed, yet, are embedded in homosexual activity.
Obviously, “inhuman” is in contradiction to “human.” “Inhumanity” in the title of this article is in no way intended to be judgmental of those who choose the homosexual lifestyle. Nor is “inhumanity” meant to address anyone’s motives because these are free choices known only to each individual. I have used the term “inhumanity” solely to draw attention to several consequential contradictions of the homosexual lifestyle to living sexual life in a fully human way. 1
My purpose is not a mere academic exercise. I want only to offer clarity to those confused by their experience of same sex attraction, or to those who are trying to make sense of this complex issue ethically, socially, or politically.
To perceive a contradiction is a tremendous help to understanding anything objectively. This is because contradictions allow our minds to sort out right from wrong, and good from evil. Contradictions cannot be true simultaneously. So, if we can discover, for example, what is either true or false about anything, we know instantly what its opposite is, no matter how confusing the topic we may have been before.
This “principle of non-contradiction” works at the root of all thinking and choosing; it is innate to all persons, no matter their differences, such as differing sexual orientations. Unless consciously disregarded, the force of contradiction determines ultimately how we think, and how we choose.
Two widespread problems, however, can keep the clarity of contradiction from helping us comprehend objectively. If not understood and counteracted, these problems are powerful enough to lead our minds into concluding that what is false is true, or what is bad is good—or the reverse. These two problems are responsible for most of the confusion about “values” and “free choices” that dominate our culture, the media, and us—even those most educated. We must first face and solve these problems, or the clarity about the homosexual lifestyle we are seeking will escape us.
Left: King Henry VIII; right: Pope Adrian VI (Photos: www.wikipedia.org)
Cahill's Self-Serving History of Heretics and Heroes | Dr. Michael B. Kelly | CWR
Outrage-free history has never been easy to write, and Thomas Cahill is not up to the task in his new book on the Renaissance and Reformation
Since publishing the amusing How the Irish Saved Civilization in 1995, best-selling author Thomas Cahill has added five further volumes to his history of the West, the Hinges of History series. The latest volume, Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Changed Our World, contains Cahill’s take on the great European intellectual, cultural, and religious movements of the period now commonly referred to by historians as “early modern”. According to the author, this series aims to “retell the story of the Western world as the story of the great gift-givers, those who entrusted to our keeping one or another of the singular treasures that make up the patrimony of the West.” Such “gift-givers” left behind “a world more varied and complex, more awesome and delightful, more beautiful and strong” than the one they had entered.
“We normally,” Cahill states, “think of history as one catastrophe after another, war followed by war, outrage by outrage—almost as if history were nothing more than all the narratives of human pain, assembled in sequence.” The Hinges series, however, is dedicated to “narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance.”
It seems we are in for a newer, gentler, kinder history of the West.
And yet Cahill’s approach, as advertised, is not all that novel. Hear how an earlier writer distanced himself from conventional historians with their predilection for bloodshed and brutality: “Other historians record the victories of war and trophies won from enemies, the skill of generals, and the manly bravery of soldiers, defiled with blood and with innumerable slaughters for the sake of [their] children and country and other possessions. But our narrative of the government of God will record . . . the most peaceful wars waged in behalf of the peace of the soul, and will tell of men doing brave deeds for truth rather than country, and for piety rather than dearest friends.”1 As the Father of Church History, Eusebius of Caesarea, penned those words in the first half of the fourth century it can be seen that Cahill is, at least in aspiration, in good, and rather well-worn, company.
Outrage-free history, however, has never been easy to write.
The Giver and the Gift | Fr. Charles Kestermeier, SJ | HPR
God is himself the first, and absolutely the most important gift that God gives to us, which implies a second gift: God gives us our very selves.
One thing that people seem to do in all cultures is to give gifts, and this is always wrapped in all sorts of traditions and expectations. It seems to be a very human activity, one I have pondered for some time, but I have never quite been able to resolve the difference between the way that we give and receive as humans, and the way God gives (and we give to him) yet, I have at least come to some ideas on the subject. To begin on the most fundamental level, we might consider how people give gifts. There is the gift to mark a relationship that doesn’t really exist: a Christmas card to people we can’t remember very well, the aunt who gives her niece and godchild a gift appropriate to a four-year-old even when the girl is 15, the friend who makes fudge for a diabetic, and so on.
We can give a gift as a means of keeping a person in contact with us, out of guilt or gratitude, even though the other person might wish that we would stop. And, we can give gifts because it is customary in our society, or because we are expected to, such as at a retirement party, a distant cousin’s birthday, or a wedding. These can be extremely impersonal and merely keep us in good standing in the community.
Some people, whether they realize it or not, give to control others: a book that will reveal the truth about something, or will change our lives, or a gift card for some store or service that the donor likes, but which the recipient avoids. Some people might think that your apartment or office is too stark and will give a picture or a pillow to make it more comfortable—to their taste, not to yours. Some gifts are simply to create a feeling of debt on the part of the recipient: “I have done all this for you, so now you owe me.” Perhaps, we can all imagine a time we have given a gift out of guilt, a desire to have the other indebted to us, or out of less than charitably noble intentions.
Too often, we can experience all such gifts as annoyances, attempts to interfere with our lives, or a manipulation of our relationships with others. Gifts like that convey no feeling of true gift, no sign of an authentic personal relationship, and they can actually be oppressive.
Memory: Wired for God in the Eucharist | Dr. Joseph R. Hollcraft | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
As we reflect on the principle of memory, we are drawn into what lies at the center of it all, Christ and his words in the institution of the Eucharist: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor.15:25).
No Ordinary Pilgrimage
In the winter of 2007, I got in a car with a close friend of mine, and we made the three-hour drive to the third annual “Walk for Life West Coast” in San Francisco. As I explained to my friend, this trip was not just about going on a “three-hour” pilgrimage to “Assisi by the Bay” (as it was coined by then Archbishop Levada) to witness on behalf of the unborn, but it was also to be a journey into the past. During my adolescence, I lived in the East Bay, and up to that point, I had never gone back to spend any significant time in my old neighborhood. So, it was after the conclusion of walking down Embarcadero Street, and praying on behalf of the unborn—which in itself was a profound experience—that we then set off for my old neighborhood, San Ramon, California.
Initially, my plan was to spend the late afternoon and evening in a few spots where I had a great deal of fond memories growing up. My plans quickly changed. As we drove onto the highway, I was thinking about my childhood, and surprisingly, the first thing that had come to mind were the many days I spent at the local junior college running track. Consequently, we decided to take a pit stop at Chabot Junior College. As we drove up to the college, and I looked over to see the same set of bleachers that were there 25 years ago, something happened to me, quite unexpectedly. I immediately remembered particulars of my time at Chabot that I had not thought of in a very long time—and there was more. As I walked through the entrance into the stadium, and smelled the fresh cut grass, it was almost as if the grass remembered me: calling out to me, as it were, “Do you remember me?” Once again, I remembered details of things that had happened to me long ago at Chabot Junior College. These moments left me overwhelmed, and I dare say, emotional. I could not help but ask myself—what is happening? Why am I being filled with so many memories and emotions, at the sight of a stadium, and the smell of grass? Such an experience was all very new to me. It was then that I started to think about the life of Pope John Paul II, and his reflections on the meaning of a pilgrimage.
John Paul II once spoke of the power of going on a pilgrimage, but not the conventional pilgrimage in which we journey to a holy destination with the hopes of being refreshed and experience renewal.
Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley star in a scene from the movie "The Fault in Our Stars." (CNS photo/Fox)
"The Fault in Our Stars" and the Sacred Heart of Jesus | Fr. Robert Barron | Catholic World Report blog
The question that haunts the entire movie is how can there be meaning in the universe when two wonderful young kids are dying of cancer?
John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books, 2012) has proven to be wildly popular among young adults in the English-speaking world, and the recently released film adaptation of the book has garnered both impressive reviews and a massive audience.
A one-time divinity school student and Christian minister, Green is not reluctant to explore the “big” questions, though he doesn’t claim to provide anything like definitive answers. In this, he both reflects and helps to shape the inchoate, eclectic spirituality that holds sway in the teen and 20-something set today. After watching the film however, I began to wonder whether his Christian sensibility doesn’t assert itself perhaps even more clearly and strongly than he realizes.
The story is narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager suffering from a debilitating and most likely terminal form of cancer. At her mother’s prompting, Hazel attends a support group for young cancer patients that takes place at the local Episcopal Church. The group is presided over by a well-meaning but nerdy youth minister who commences each meeting by rolling out a tapestry of Jesus displaying his Sacred Heart. “We are gathering, literally, in the heart of Jesus,” he eagerly tells the skeptical and desultory gaggle of teens.
At one of these sessions, Hazel rises to share her utterly bleak, even nihilistic philosophy of life:
Non-believers Make the Best Saint Movies: Monsieur Vincent | Patrick Coffin | CWR
“It is only because of your love that the poor will forgive you the bread that you give them.”
When Christians make movies about saints, they sometimes succeed as hagiography, always make their intended audiences feel good, and almost always fail as art. Christians often can’t resist the temptation to tell the story with a bullhorn and end up, too frequently, with movies that appeal primarily to the choir, the members of which are (understandably) hungry for fare that glorifies the Faith.
When agnostics and atheists make movies about saints or other heroes whose life choices were motivated by the claims of faith, however, things tend to turn out differently. If it’s true that saints irritate us into changing our ways, secular artists often build into their art their own anxious searching, their own “reaching out” to meet the irritating (read fascinating) protagonist, to understand him, and to unveil the mystery of what makes him tick. A few examples would include Therese (1986),the French film about St. Therese of Lisieux written and directed by Alain Cavalier; The Song of Bernadette (1943), written by Franz Werfel; Man For All Seasons (1966) and The Mission (1986), written by Robert Bolt; and The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), written and directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. I argue this would include Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel for Noah (2014).
In this tradition stands Monsieur Vincent (1946), the classic biopic of St. Vincent de Paul. It was directed by Maurice Cloche based on a script adapted by the great French playwright Jean Anouilh, who built a writing career exploring ideas that resonate more with Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre than with Frank Capra and Walt Disney. Interestingly, Anouilh had successfully tackled another saintly subject in his celebrated play Becket, the movie version of which starred Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole.
In Monsieur Vincent, director Cloche and co-writer Anouilh omit the real life backstory of St. Vincent being sold as a slave, and begin the story with the priest’s arrival at the village of Châtillon-les-Dombes (more on this later).
One denied Christ after having been chosen by him. The other was chosen by Christ after he had spent much time and energy persecuting Christians. One was a businessman with a large, impetuous personality. The other was a rabbi whose emotional passion was equaled by his stunning intellect.
Both men were flawed; both were transformed by encountering Christ. Both were martyred for their faith in Christ. Both, according to tradition, died in the city of Rome nearly forty years after the Resurrection of their Lord.
After Jesus, it is Peter and Paul who dominate the New Testament and whose leadership set the course for the early Church. Peter is mentioned well over two hundred times in the New Testament, while close to half of the books in the New Testament are attributed to Paul. The Acts of the Apostles, an account written by Luke of key events in the early Church, is essentially divided between what might be called the “acts of Peter” (chapters 1-12) and the “acts of Paul” (chapters 13-28).
Each of today’s three readings reveals something of how the hearts and lives of these two great Apostles were met, filled, and transformed by Jesus Christ. The reading from the Gospel of Matthew is well known, describing the dramatic conversation that took place in the region of Caesarea Philippi. Standing in front of a massive one-hundred-foot high wall of rock marked with shrines and statues of pagan gods, Jesus asked two questions of his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and “But who do you say that I am?” Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, did not come from superior intellect or human cleverness, but from faith and the revelation of the Father: “For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (cf., Catechism, par. 552).
Peter, of course, struggled with faith, eventually denying Jesus on the cusp of the Crucifixion. But after being reaffirmed as head apostle by the Risen Lord (cf., Jn 21), Peter emerged as a man both humble and assured, his confidence placed fully in Christ, not himself. Pope Benedict XVI, reflecting on this change, said, “From the naïve enthusiasm of acceptance, passing through the sorrowful experience of denial and the weeping of conversion, Peter succeeded in entrusting himself to that Jesus who adapted himself to his poor capacity of love” (General Audience, May 24, 2006). This journey was possible for Peter because “he was constantly open to the action of the Spirit of Jesus.”
That openness is readily evident in the account, found in Acts 12, of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. Like Jesus, he was arrested and imprisoned during the time of the Passover. And although Peter escaped death on that occasion, the episode described by Luke is evidently meant to “echo” the death and resurrection of Jesus, for Peter is delivered from the darkness of prison and certain death by an angel of Lord.
Prior to his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul was a zealous persecutor of the Church. Blinded and lying on the road, the stunned Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (Act 9:5). Given an answer and directives, he spent the rest of his life preaching the Gospel, competing in “the race,” one of his favorite metaphors for the Christian life. “His existence,” stated Benedict XVI, “would become that of an Apostle who wants to ‘become all things to all men’ (1 Cor 9:22) without reserve” (General Audience, Oct 25, 2006).
Both Peter and Paul are key witnesses to the reality and veracity of Jesus Christ. Their witness was two-fold: through living, first-hand encounters with the Lord and through their acceptance of martyrdom. “By martyrdom,” the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council explained, “a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master…” (Lumen Gentium, 42). May their bold witness encourage us to be likewise transformed by and for the Savior.
(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the June 29, 2008, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)
A woman prays during Mass at a church in Seoul, Korea, Feb. 12, 2013. (CNS photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Reuters)
Francis and South Korea | John Paul Shimek | CWR
In his first international visits, the Pope looks to “the ends of the Earth” and to the young.
It’s official. The volo papale, or papal airplane, will take off from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport in mid-August. This time it will be headed for the heart of Asia. Pope Francis will visit Daejeon, South Korea from August 14 to 18. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, made the announcement in a statement issued March 10. The official comunicato reads:
Welcoming the invitation from the President of the Republic and the Korean bishops, His Holiness Francis will make an Apostolic Trip to the Republic of Korea from 14 to 18 August 2014, on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day, to be held in the diocese of Daejeon.
The trip will mark the first papal visit to the Korean peninsula in more than two decades. Pope John Paul II visited there on two separate occasions: in the spring of 1984 and again in the autumn of 1989. For his part, Pope Benedict XVI did not elect to visit South Korea during almost a decade as pope.
Both of Pope John Paul II’s visits attracted record numbers of pilgrims. Traveling to Seoul in 1989 for the International Eucharistic Congress, he led one of the largest outdoor gatherings on the Asian continent: some one million Catholics attended the congress’ closing liturgical celebration on October 8, 1989. However, that record was broken in 1995 when he visited Manila, Philippines on the occasion of the Tenth International World Youth Day. More than five million individuals attended that event—the largest outdoor gathering in human history.
A vibrant Church
Like Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis could attract record-setting numbers of pilgrims. After all, the Catholic Church is alive and well in South Korea. In fact, over the last decade, Catholicism has witnessed an incredible growth spurt there. Church enrollment has swelled some 70 percent. Now, more than five million South Koreans—about 11 percent of the population—are members of the Roman Catholic Church. That number continues to increase.
Defending Devotion to the Sacred Heart | Timothy T. O'Donnell, S.T.D. | Introduction toHeart of the Redeemer
I have attempted not so much to speak with authority of things that I know, as to seek to know them by speaking about them with reverence. -- St. Augustine, De Trinitate, I v. 8
In our inquiry into the devotion to the Sacred Heart and its perennial value, it is best to begin with a proper understanding of what is meant by devotion. St. Thomas Aquinas defines devotion as a willingness "to give oneself readily to what concerns the service of God" (Summa, II-II, q. 82 a. 1). Accordingly, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus appears essentially as a worship of and a response to the Person of Christ as viewed from the perspective of His divine and human love which is manifested through His sacred humanity and is symbolized by His wounded physical Heart. In his masterful encyclical, Haurietis Aquas, Pope Pius XII gives the following definition of this devotion:
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by its very nature is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our love by which we are related to God and to other men.
From this definition it can be seen that authentic devotion to the Sacred Heart is not merely an optional set of pious practices (which may be very helpful) but an essential element of the Christian way of life. All Christians are called to the comprehension of certain truths concerning God and to a response in love to them. In living a life in imitation of Christ, as found in the Gospels and taught by the Church, the Christian should use all the spiritual aids offered to him by God. He should fill his life with an ever growing and deepening love for God and his fellow man. Every Christian will build his own unique spirituality upon this common foundation, which should include a response to the Heart of Christ that gives honor to the divine love and is offered for the sake of that love.
It would be accurate to say that by the middle of the twentieth century the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus had universally triumphed throughout the Church. Everywhere in the world, churches, monasteries and congregations were to be found dedicated to the Sacred Heart. In virtually every Catholic church one would find a statue of our Lord revealing his Heart. Large numbers of the faithful gathered on every continent for First Friday devotions, the Holy Hour and other pious practices associated with the devotion. This triumphal procession, however, was not welcomed in all quarters and the devotion began to draw criticism from some Catholic theologians who began to question certain aspects of these devotional exercises. Some outside, and even within, the Church questioned the theological foundation of the devotion.
Pope Pius XII was well aware of the objections which some were making to the devotion. It is because of these objections that the Holy Father wrote his encyclical on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and in it he exhorted the faithful to "a more earnest consideration of those principles which take their origin from Scripture and the teaching of the Fathers and theologians," which form the solid foundation for the worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Pope went on to call for and stress the importance of "a profound study of the primary and loftier nature of the devotion with the aid of the light of the divinely revealed truth" so that we may "rightly and fully appreciate its incomparable excellence and the inexhaustible abundance of its heavenly favors." The Holy Father ended his appeal by requesting a "devout medita- tion and contemplation" upon the benefits of the devotion.
After the publication of Haurietis Aquas, many books were written on the devotion. These works varied tremendously in size and quality. They included pious or devotional works, popular pamphlets, and mystical writings which described extraordinary supernatural experiences.
Left: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in September 2013 (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters). Right: Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, gives an address at the second annual March for Marriage on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington June 19. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Politicians and Bishops in an Age of Absurdity and Bumper Stickers | Carl E. Olson | CWR
Nancy Pelosi's attempt to stop Archbishop Cordileone from being Catholic and a bishop indicates we are living in a confused, insane time
"Politicians have to be progressive; that is, they have to live in the future, because they know they have done nothing but evil in the past." — G. K. Chesterton, Avowals and Denials, 1935.
"The last citadel in the Western world of God-given moral prescriptions concerning man's use of his sexual faculties is the Catholic Church." — Monsignor George A. Kelly, The Battle for the American Church, 1979.
"Question authority." This well-known slogan, which has a Socratic heritage (more on that later), also has roots in Benjamin Franklin's statement, "It is the first right of every citizen to question authority."
My guess, having lived in Eugene, Oregon, for almost twenty years, is that most people in these progressive part of the woods understand "Question authority" as a call to reject authority, and I suspect that holds true for most Americans. I've joked on occasion of how fun it could be to track down a car with the "Question authority" bumper sticker and ask the owner, "By what authority do you advocate that others question authority?" The inherent humor of such subversive inversion is appealing—"See, I'm questioning your authority to tell others to question authority..."—but I doubt the conversation that would likely follow would live up to the irony of it all. Besides, and let me be perfectly clear, most progressives aren't openminded enough to tolerate the question of their authority.
In fact, most people who communicate by bumper stickers aren't usually given to thinking through the logic of those mostly trite, if occasionally funny, statements. But in an age of soundbites, slogans, and snarky one-liners, they can pass for cleverness, even wisdom. They also, in many situations, are meant to stop any and all real thought, a sort of "Oh, yeah!? Take this!" type of remark.
Which brings me to the Most Famous Papal Statement of the Past Three Thousand Years: "Who Am I To Judge?" Of course, as countless folks have noted, Pope Francis originally said something a bit more qualified and specific than that. Even taken out of the larger context, which is quite essential to the sentence in question (made at the end of his July 28, 2013, interview while returning from World Youth Day), the difference should be obvious:
The Real Scandal Behind the Tuam Home for Unwed Mothers | Michael Kelly | CWR
While the media rushed to exaggeration, misinformation, and fabrication, the real societal ills behind the deaths of 800 Irish children were largely overlooked.
For a month now, sections of the Irish and international media have been convulsed by reports of shockingly high mortality rates at a state-funded, Church-run mother and baby home in the west of Ireland. It has been difficult to separate fact from fiction and too few commentators have sought to get to the bottom of the story, with many instead choosing to focus on salacious exaggerations, misinformation, and untruths.
Yes, there was a shockingly high infant mortality rate in the Tuam mother and baby home run by the Bon Secours congregation of nuns. Between 1925 and 1961, 976 infants died. Many of the children, it appears, were buried at an unmarked grave, which was lovingly tended by local Catholic families for decades. Now, the tragic deaths of so many youngsters should be devastating enough in itself to warrant further investigation. But some media commentators and seasoned campaigners immediately sought to exaggerate the story in the most appalling fashion. The children were soon forgotten in the dash to hang their deaths as a crime around the neck of Catholic Ireland.
In media reports, the common grave soon became a “mass grave” and then a “septic tank.” The nuns were accused of “dumping” the children in the grave, and there have been suggestions that police should open up a criminal investigation into the deaths despite absolutely no evidence that any of the tragic deaths were in untoward circumstances. The government has promised a Commission of Inquiry to look at the issue. However, some are wary that the terms of reference may be set so narrowly as to include only Catholic-run institutions, leaving out so-called “county homes” where many unmarried mothers lived with their newborn babies. Former residents of a Protestant-run home in Dublin have also complained that their plight has been ignored.
The world’s media soon arrived, inevitably adding more heat than light. A Washington Times headline screamed, “Catholic Church Tossed 800 Irish Orphans into Septic Tank”; Salon’s stated: “An Irish Catholic Orphanage Hid the Bodies of 800 Children.” More fuel was added to the fire by Father Brian D’arcy, a liberal priest and darling of the Irish media, who likened the nuns’ behavior to that of the Nazis during the Holocaust.
So quick has been the rush to judgment that an eminent media outlet has been forced to roll back on earlier versions of the story. The Associated Press has issued a correction to earlier stories which included claims that were demonstrably untrue. In a response issued at the weekend, the AP admitted that:
The 18th volume in the popular Bible study series leads readers through a penetrating study of the Book of Job using the biblical text itself and the Church's own guidelines for understanding the Bible.
Ample notes accompany each page, providing fresh insights by renowned Bible teachers Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, as well as time-tested interpretations from the Fathers of the Church. They provide rich historical, cultural, geographical or theological information pertinent to the Old Testament book - information that bridges the distance between the biblical world and our own.
It also includes Topical Essays, Word Studies and Charts. The Topical Essays explore the major themes of Job , often relating them to the teachings of the Church. The Word Studies explain the background to important Bible terms, while the Charts summarize crucial biblical information "at a glance".
Scott Hahn, Ph.D., well-known as the author of several best-selling books including Rome Sweet Home and The Lamb's Supper, is a professor of scripture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a very popular scripture scholar and speaker.
Curtis Mitch, a former student of Scott Hahn, is the General Editor of the complete Ignatius Study Bible series.
PRAISE FOR the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible:
"With copious historical and theological notes, incisive commentary and tools for study, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible is outstanding for private devotion, personal study and Bible study groups. It is excellent for evangelization and apologetics as well!" -- Stephen Ray, Host ,The Footprints of God series
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All four evangelists begin Jesus' entry into public life with John the Baptist's emergence from his desert. Matthew leaps straight to John's mission after the return of the Holy Family from Egypt, Luke after the finding of the boy in the Temple. The other two actually begin their Gospel with it, nothing of our Lord's earthly life being told before, apart from John's "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
It is clear, then, that John the Baptist's mission was essential: Jesus' own mission needed it. In his Gospel, St. John interrupts his breathtaking Prologue about the Incarnation of the Word (which we Catholics read as the Last Gospel at Mass) to say: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him." So that the Light of the World, the Light which of all lights could surely not be hid, needed someone to give testimony to him, needed John to give testimony to him!
Little is said in the New Testament to show why John's work was thus essential. Our Lord praises him indeed: "Amongst those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist" (Luke vii.28): and he was not lavish of praise; pause a moment and try to think of anyone else he praised. But although Jesus says (you will find it in the verse before) that John was to prepare his way, it is hard to find any hint from him as to why any preparation at all was necessary for a mission as powerful in word and as studded with miracles as his. We are not shown in the Gospels mighty things flowing from John's work into Christ's. And in the rest of the New Testament nothing much is made of St. John's mission either. St. Paul never refers to it at all, though he must have known about it, since the only description we have of John's origin is given by Paul's companion and disciple, Luke.
Thanks to Luke, all the same, the Church has been intensely aware of John ever since. He is one of that small and immeasurably select band to whom we say the Confiteor at every Mass and daily in our own prayers. Great saints have been named after him—St. John Baptist de la Salle, for instance, who founded the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the seventeenth century; St. John Baptist de Rossi, the eighteenth-century saint whose own instincts were rather like those of his namesake; in the nineteenth century the Cure of Ars, Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianaey, who would have loved a desert but was never allowed by God to go to one. The number of not spectacularly saintiy persons. who bear his name is, of course, beyond counting—the great French writer of comedy, Moliere, for instance, was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin.
But all that this means is that the parents of the saints, to say nothing of the parents of the dramatist and of the unnumbered others, had a great devotion to the son of Zachary and Elizabeth, not that they had any clear understanding of why it was essential that Our Lord should have him for a Forerunner, or why be should have anybody for a Forerunner. What herald could he possibly need? Their devotion was almost certainly not to the prophet without whom Christ's mission would have lacked an essential element: it was to the child whose birth had been foretold by Gabriel, the child who had leapt in his mother's womb at the sound of Mary's voice as she entered the house of his parents with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in her womb: it was to the man who had paid with his head for telling the truth about Salome's mother.
In this beautiful book of meditations, illustrated with full-color reproductions of Giotto's famous Scrovegni chapel Frescos (c.1305), discover the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and contemplate with her how the mysteries of Christ's life answer the deepest questions of our lives.
A deep contemplation of Christ's passion through the eyes of his Blessed Mother, and a profound and lively reflection on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, this book is an invaluable companion to pray and meditate with during Lent and a beautiful resource you will return to throughout the year. It is also an ideal gift for Catholics and for those who wish to understand the mystery of our own salvation and is well-suited for adult catechetical instruction and RCIA.
A Review of Watcher from the Shore by Ayako Sono | John Herreid | IPNovels.com
Novels often fall into the trap of offering easy redemption. The wayward soul sees the error of his ways, has a quasi-mystical experience, and sets off on the road to the straight and narrow. It’s what we want to happen—even if it sacrifices some of the reality of human behavior in doing so.
Watcher from the Shore doesn’t offer any of this sort of catharsis. Written by the Japanese Catholic novelist Ayako Sono, it is about as unsentimental a novel as you could imagine. Her novel offers a glimpse into a culture that can appear to be rigid and emotionally repressed to Western eyes. At the same time, the book allows the reader to view Christian morality from the outside, stepping into the shoes of an agnostic gynecologist who sees his participation in abortion as balanced somewhere between moral neutrality and a positive good for society.
Sadaharu Nobeji operates his clinic near the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In the not-so-distant past, it was common for people in this part of rural Japan to discard newborn infants if they had birth defects or were otherwise unwanted. Sadaharu tells himself that it’s a good thing that he is now there to offer the more humane alternative of abortion, yet despite his insistence upon a clear conscience he keeps bringing the topic up in conversation with his best friend, a widowed Catholic woman named Yoko Kakei. During a dinner visit, Yoko introduces him to a Catholic priest, Father Munechika.
In his first conversation with Father Munechika, Sadaharu gives one of many of his defenses of performing abortions:
“Let’s suppose I become a Christian. I borrow a cross from the church, without paying, Father, and set it up on the roof of my clinic in place of the lightning rod. My patients arrive, and when they see the cross I will say: ‘Look there! I’m so afraid of God I certainly will not perform abortions.’ Now, Father, I ask you; What will that solve? …I’ll tell you what would happen. They would skip the sermon and go to another clinic for their abortions. That’s all. And though I say it myself, if you will pardon me, I’m clever with my hands and my operations are good. Frankly, it’s better for the patients that I do their operations instead of some other doctor.”
The clinical distance Sadaharu cultivates between himself and objective morality is mirrored in his distance from his wife.
Bring Mary of Nazareth to a parish or school near you!
Fresh from an extremely successful sponsored theatrical release and seen by tens of thousands in theaters across North America, the highly acclaimed MARY of NAZARETH, an epic motion picture on the life of the Blessed Mother from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus, is now available to be shown in your own church or school!
IGNATIUS PRESS is pleased to announce the MARY of NAZARETH Parish Screening Program.
Now you can bring the life of the Mother of Christ to the “Big Screen” in your own facility to entertain, evangelize, educate, change hearts and even raise funds for your own worthy cause!
Father Donald Calloway MIC, considered one of the foremost experts on the life of Mary, had this to say about the film, “Mary of Nazareth offers the best presentation of Our Lady I have ever seen. Mary of Nazareth is an absolute theological and Mariological masterpiece! It will make you want to love her more than ever. Mary's beauty is pure and ageless; her feminine mystery filled with wonder and virtue, and her divine motherhood is both tender and captivating. Without a doubt, this is the most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film!”
Packages will include the following:
Site License – allows licensee to show the movie unlimited times at one venue for 12 full months from date of purchase. License cannot be shared with another church, school, individual or organization.
Mary of Nazareth DVDs to sell (MSRP $29.95) or gift. Each DVD case contains two discs – one is the Mary of Nazareth movie in English with Spanish and English subtitles. The exciting contents of the second bonus disc includes an interview with Alissa Jung, who starred as Mary; an interview with Fr. Donald Calloway MIC, author and Marian expert; “behind the scenes” footage; a film photos slide show; segments from Mary: Mother of God, part of the acclaimed “Footprints of God” DVD series; “Pieta” song by M.J. Poirier; and testimonies from the San Francisco premiere of Mary of Nazareth. Plus, there is a 24-page collector’s booklet with study questions included in each case.
Mary product brochures to give out with each DVD.
One additional Mary of Nazareth DVD for screening purposes
13x19 full-color promotional posters with write-in space for event place, date and time
full-color souvenir tickets
1 full-color 24 x 36 souvenir poster
Downloadable event planning guide and other downloads will be available at www.MaryFilm.com
Packages are available in 10-, 25-, 50-, and 100-DVD sets and, for a time until mid-October, license holders will have exclusive sales of the DVDs.
To see a trailer of this film, package contents and prices, endorsements from prominent Catholics and much more, check out the www.MaryFilm.com website.
Bring this incredible movie to your community for the first time or bring it back! Many are asking where they can see it again!
A boy copies Quranic verses in a Muslim school in June in Timbuktu, the northern Mali city that was seized by Islamist fighters in 2012 and then liberated by French and Malian soldiers in early 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
The Quran and Christianity | Michael Coren | Catholic World Report
Islam's holy book is filled with intolerant, aggressive language that calls directly for violence against Christians.
Islam’s persecution of Christianity has reached a grotesque crescendo in the past few months. Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt—the list goes on and horribly on. There is much that can be said—and I will not refrain from saying it—but if there is to be honest debate and discussion about the issue we have to admit what the Quran, the holy text of Islam, states about Muslim attitudes toward Christians.
In a previous column I briefly mentioned one or two Quranic references to followers of Jesus, but let us go further.
In the Quran, Christians are generally referred to as “people of the book” and then in the various suras and ayahs (or chapters and verses) a number of references are made. In 2:120, “Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion. Say: ‘Verily, Islamic Guidance is the only Guidance. And if you were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge, then you would have against Allah neither any protector nor helper.”
In 3:56: “As to those who disbelieve, I will punish them with a severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers." In 3:85: “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” In 3:118: “O you who believe! Take not as your helpers or friends those outside your religion since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed we have made plain to you the verses if you understand.”
3:178 states: “And let not the disbelievers think that our postponing of their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness. And for them is a disgracing torment.” Hardly encouraging for the basis for a peaceful co-existence and a comfortable pluralism.
Sometimes the Quran changes emphasis or flavor, but it must be remembered—and this it vital—that the parts of the book written later supersede and abrogate those composed earlier; not necessarily those that come later in the Quran itself but those written earlier even if listed later in Islam’s holy book. This means that the Quran can be quoted to appear more liberal and progressive than it is intended to be.
Regarding Christianity, however, the approach seems to remain static and constant.
Among the “LGBT” activists and their allies who have lately been so successful in transforming our culture’s understanding of love, marriage, and sexual integrity, Reilly’s book will be hated and denounced. It is likely that many of those who denounce the book most strongly will not actually read it. They will certainly not squarely confront or refute its arguments.
By contrast, among those who feel beleaguered by the culture war over same-sex marriage, who have shrugged and decided to live with the fraud of “marriage equality” in hopes of obtaining some civil peace, Reilly’s book will probably just be ignored. That is unfortunate, because Making Gay Okay is a very powerful account of how LGBT activists have so successfully conquered—or at least subdued—the hearts and minds of such people. It is also unfortunate because LGBT activists will not allow for a civil peace on any terms that friends of a free society can accept.
Here are a few more excerpts from Franck's review:
This is not a book that relies on revelation or scripture in any way. As Reilly notes, it was the ancient Greek philosophers who first came to the insights about nature on which he relies. By contrast, the idea that our nature is malleable, that we can remake ourselves to suit our desires, was ushered in by Rousseau. Only with the dominance of this distinctly modern notion did it become possible for age-old moral strictures on sexual behavior to be burned to the ground and replaced by new strictures of our own making. Only a Rousseauian view that nothing about human nature is fixed could give rise to a culture in which it is possible to redefine marriage to include relationships once considered to be intrinsically immoral. ...
Reilly rightly notes that “it would be wrong to assign the major share of blame” for the legal somersaults of recent years “to the homosexual apologists.” The blame largely belongs to the partisans who gave us the “privacy” jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, which began in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) by breaking “the first link in the chain connecting sex and diapers” and declaring a right of married couples to use contraception. The progression continued in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1971) and Carey v. Population Services (1977), which declared single adults and minors had the same right. Most horrifyingly, Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) declared and reaffirmed a right to kill the unborn child in the womb. “Abortion,” Reilly remarks, “brings to completion the denial of procreative sex by nullifying its effects, which are seen as accidental.” ...
As Robert Reilly underscores in this searingly effective book, what we face today is a movement to accomplish, on a collective and society-wide basis, what those who embrace morally condemned behavior have always sought to accomplish for themselves as individuals: rationalization that what's wrong is right. If we are to remain true to the cumulative wisdom of our civilization about human nature and the conditions of human flourishing, we must respond as fearlessly as the author of Making Gay Okay and say—it’s not.
The best thing about the book is that Reilly explains what’s happening within the gay agenda with an objective, critical stance. He simply reports what’s going on. Just the facts ma’am. The most brilliant thing is that he does so without reference to the Catholic faith, the Bible or any other religious connection. This makes his argument all the stronger for he allows the facts to speak for themselves and never has to pose or get preachy.
You can read the Introduction to Making Gay Okay here on Insight Scoop. Or the Introduction and opening chapter on Ignatius.com as a PDF file. And, finally, here is the video trailer for the book:
On Learning From Not Having Learned | Fr. James V. Schall, SJ | Catholic World Report
What I call “another sort of learning” is the finding and reading those seminal books that take us to the truth and order of things
Editor's note: The following was originally given as an address at the Bosque School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on May 8, 2014.
“It (disappointment) occurs when the boy who has been enchanted by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It comes when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing.” — C. S. Lewis, from the second Screwtape Letter, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmilllan, 1962), 11.
“No man had a more ardent love of literature, or a higher respect for it than Johnson. His apartment in Pembroke College…was over the Gateway. The enthusiasts for learning will ever contemplate it with veneration. One day, while he was sitting in it quite alone, Dr. Panting, then head of the College…overheard him uttering this soliloquy, in his strong emphatick voice: ‘Well, I have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I’ll go and visit universities abroad. I’ll go to France and Italy. I’ll go to Padua—and I’ll mind my business. For an Athenian blockhead is the worst of all blockheads.’” — From James Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1730 (London: Oxford, 1931), I, 49-50.
“Bosque” is evidently the Spanish word for a forest. Here in the southwest it refers especially to woods along river bottoms. In this school, the river is the famous Rio Grande. One can speak of being educated in a forest or even, I suppose, of being educated by a forest. Tolkien, who had a special love of trees, used to speak of what the forest taught. Our Scriptural heritage speaks of a “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” with a Garden as the original place of the First Parents. The relation of gardens to parks and forests is an interesting one. I believe that the City of St. Lewis has a large “Forest Park,” as does Everett, Washington.
In one sense today, we must almost say that all of our national forests spread throughout the country are cared for as large scale gardens and parks. In the middle of Munich Germany, is a lovely park called “the English Garden.” We probably have no “forests primeval” left. Even the jungles in Brazil come under governmental control. We go out of our way to prevent development of certain woods and lands. In a way, nature becomes more nature when it comes under the scope of human understanding. Nature was not meant simply to be nature. It was also meant to be understood as nature. The things of nature have their own intelligibility.
A school in a forest setting is designed, in the first place, to be a school, not a forest. This particular school was founded in 1994, so it is a mere twenty years old. Its first graduates are still not nearly into what Cicero called “old age.” The state in which this school is located is not in “Old” but in “New” Mexico. New Mexico entered the Union on January 6, 1912. My father was born in Iowa in 1904. In the beginning, I cited a passage from James Boswell writing in 1730. This was forty-six years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence and one hundred and twenty-seven years after the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. I taught in a university in Rome founded in 1551. The usual date given for the founding of the City of Rome is 753 B. C. Thus, in terms of Roman dating, this year, 2014 A.D., is listed as Ab Urbe Condita 2767. That is, from the founding of the City of Rome, two thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven years.
I used to insist that students knew, among others, the dates of the deaths of Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, and Aquinas. From the time of Abraham to the time of Socrates was approximately eight hundred years. From the time of Socrates (d. 399 B.C.) to the death of Augustine (d. 430 A.D). was another eight hundred years; from Augustine to Aquinas was eight hundred years (1274 A.D.). From Aquinas to our days is likewise about eight hundred years. These are time sequences and dates that anyone can remember from early youth if he but learns them. They serve to give some time proportion and structure to our history. We also know of ancient Chinese, Hindu, and Inca calendars. The age of the universe itself is said to be around 13.7 billion years. We like to know what went on, where, and involving whom.
Some education in time and space statistics, in history and geography, is appropriate to the young whose memories are still alert. It is good to know the where’s and when’s of things. If we do not take the trouble to know what happened in time and space, we will not be able to place things in relation to each other. Everything will come together as if time and space were collapsed into one blurry time and one fuzzy place. Knowledge of times and places is not the most profound kind of learning. But it provides the context and arena for what are the highest things. Again, I mention this point here as such things are best learned when we are young. We do not waste our time when we know more than our own time and place.
But can we not just look up times and places on our cell phone? No one needs to remember anything. The machine will do it for us. Yet, machines do not know relationships, how the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is related to the Plantagenet House of English monarchs. No machine knows that it knows. Yet, there is too much to remember, no doubt of it. Why not let the machine do it? The machine is a helpful tool to memory, no doubt of it. But if nothing is actually in our heads, we will not see how this relates to that. That is what we have a mind for, to see the connections, the order of things.