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Vatican warns – Muslims will dominate Europe September 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, sadness, Society.
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If Europeans do not return to the practice of the Christian Faith, start having babies, and stop their narcissistic hedonism, Islam will dominate Europe within the space of a generation or two, warns Father Piero Gheddo of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions

Italian Father Piero Gheddo said that the low birth rate among indigenous Europeans combined with an unprecedented wave of Muslim immigrants with large families could see Europe becoming dominated by Islam in the space of a few generations.

“The challenge must be taken seriously,” said Father Gheddo, of the Vatican‘s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

“Certainly from a demographic point of view, as it is clear to everyone that Italians are decreasing by 120,000 or 130,000 persons a year because of abortion and broken families – while among the more than 200,000 legal immigrants a year in Italy, more than half are Muslims and Muslim families, which have a much higher level of growth.”

He said: “Newspapers and television programmes never speak of this. However, an answer must be given above all in the religious and cultural fields and in the area of identity.”

The priest blamed Christians for failing to live up to their own beliefs and helping to create a “religious vacuum” which was being filled by Islam.

He predicted that Islam would “sooner rather than later conquer the majority in Europe”.

“The fact is that, as a people, we are becoming ever more pagan and the religious vacuum is inevitably filled by other proposals and religious forces,” he said.

Father Gheddo also said that Christians who lapsed were also making themselves vulnerable to attacks by secularists.

He said when “religious practice diminishes in Christian Europe and indifference spreads, Christianity and the Church are attacked”.

Is anyone in Europe listening?  I know there are still millions of somewhat practicing Catholics in Europe, although they are generally a dwindling minority, and even those who still practice the Faith tend to have followed the dominant culture and, through contraception or sterilization, had small families.  Even though there are still many brilliant cathedrals and churches, lovely little shrines, and a number of monasteries in active use, in general, the trend for the Catholic Faith in Europe is still one of steady decline.  I think there may remain a small remnant dedicated to practicing the Faith, but as Europe becomes increasingly pagan and, thus, increasingly hostile to the Christian ethos, their influence will likely diminish. 

I don’t know much else to do, for Europe, but to pray, and pray that we do not follow the same path in this country.  The Church will always exist, in spite of the fervent wishes of numerous evangelical atheists, but it could die out in some of its most traditional settings.  Why has this happened?  A number of reasons can be posited, from the embrace of socialism by state and Church, to the shock of two world wars on the European psyche, to the changes instituted after Vatican II.  I would be fascinated to read a history of this time five hundred years hence, but I will be past caring at that point.

I pray the Catholic Faith in Europe can be turned around, it is our seed bed, our home, but it will take much, much work, and a sea change in outlook on the part of most Europeans.   If we can get the Church put on a more solid footing in this country, perhaps we should send missionaries back to re-evangelize old Europe.

A video on the role of the priest September 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic.
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Here’s a video I picked up from New Liturgical Movement that shows, from a variety of camera angles, what a priest does at Mass.  The Mass is Novus Ordo, but with the “Benedictine” arrangement with the cross between priest and laity.  Does anyone find this illuminating?  My friend Steve B has asked me to read a document he’s written on the role of the priest…..one of the most important roles is to act in persona Christi during the Mass, allowing us to receive the Victim for our Salvation as well as offering the only Sacrifice acceptable to God:

On Catholic Charities and cockroaches September 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, scandals.
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Ripped off in its entirety from Fr. Phillip Neri Powell, OP:

Q:  Father, it seems like all the major Catholic charities are giving our money to groups that promote various sins.  Is it possible to give money to these charities and justify the donation by saying that the good they do outweighs the evil?
A:  Let me answer your question with a question.  You discover a large cockroach in your bowl of soup.  Do you just eat around the cockroach?  Or do you believe that the cockroach swimming in your soup has tainted all the soup in the bowl?  Unless and until you can conclusively prove that the cockroach’s diseased presence has inflected only a small, removable portion of the soup, I say:  throw the whole thing out and start over.
Yes, quite

Ecumenism gone insane? September 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, Ecumenism, General Catholic, sadness, silliness.
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Wow, I find this rather disturbing.  Cardinal McCarrick (yes, yes, I know……) and a priest who works for the USCCB have signed their names to a “joint statement” produced by the Islamic Society of North America, decrying the climate of intolerance, hatred, and abuse suffered by Muslims, primarily over the ground-zero mosque  issue:

In recent weeks, we have become alarmed by the anti-Muslim frenzy that has been generated over the plans to build an Islamic community center and mosque at the Park 51 site near Ground Zero in New York City. We recognize that the vicinity around the former World Trade Center, where 2,752 innocent lives were cruelly murdered on 9/11, remains an open wound in our country, especially for those who lost loved ones. Persons of conscience have taken different positions on the wisdom of the location of this project, even if the legal right to build on the site appears to be unassailable. Our concern here is not to debate the Park 51 project anew, but rather to respond to the atmosphere of fear and contempt for fellow Americans of the Muslim faith that the controversy has generated.

We are profoundly distressed and deeply saddened by the incidents of violence committed against Muslims in our community, and by the desecration of Islamic houses of worship. We stand by the principle that to attack any religion in the United States is to do violence to the religious freedom of all Americans. The threatened burning of copies of the Holy Qu’ran this Saturday is a particularly egregious offense that demands the strongest possible condemnation by all who value civility in public life and seek to honor the sacred memory of those who lost their lives on September 11. As religious leaders, we are appalled by such disrespect for a sacred text that for centuries has shaped many of the great cultures of our world, and that continues to give spiritual comfort to more than a billion Muslims today.

We are committed to building a future in which religious differences no longer lead to hostility or division between communities. Rather, we believe that such diversity can serve to enrich our public discourse about the great moral challenges that face our nation and our planet…….yada yada yada

I boldfaced some of the above, because that is a complete strawman argument.  FBI statistics recently released establish that Jews have suffered ten times more “hate crimes” (oh how I loathe that term) than Muslims over the past several years.  In fact, the number of purportedly hostile acts against Islam is vanishingly small – about a hundred a year, mostly incredibly trivial.  There are more instances of “anti-Christian” hostility than anti-Muslim in this country.  So, give me a break, this idea of Muslims suffering under a horrid yoke of persecution in this country is blatantly false and plays more to elite prejudices against average Americans than anything else. 

Secondly….am I the only one to whom it seems that certain individuals in the Church are  far more ready to speak in brazen defense of some other religion, but when it comes to their own faith seem to have to apologize for it?  This press release is less a statement about the proposed burning of korans by some tiny sect in Florida, than it is about the general opposition to the construction of the ground-zero mosque.  You see, we’re being intolerant.  And the Archbishop of Cordoba in Spain is being intolerant for not letting his cathedral be turned back into a mosque.  But Muslims are not intolerant for viciously persecuting Christians from Turkey to Saudi Arabia to the Phillippines.  That’s just an honest expression of their religious fervor.  See how it works? 

Maybe I’ve been reading too much of the Crusades lately, but Islam has been inexorably opposed to Christianity and Western culture for over a thousand years.  If I saw even some slight indication of that historical hostility changing, I could perhaps listen to the plaintive cries offered by this press release.  Until then, I think not.  The thousands of Crusader knight-monks who suffered greatly, lived their rules, and ultimately died in their defense of Christendom – I wonder what they think of the opinion of this great Prince of the Church, McCarrick?  Or perhaps I’m being……intolerant?

Fr. Angelo Geiger on Spiritual Warfare September 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
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Recently at Mass, a local priest dismissed the notion of spiritual warfare, claiming that Christ is so infinitely powerful that satan and his minions have no chance against him.  He encouraged all at Mass to stay away from any books, websites, videos, etc., dealing with spiritual warfare.  While it is certainly true that Christ, through the Father, possesses an overwhelming power against ALL forces, wordly and otherwise, that does not apply to us, very human, very limited, and very fallen.  The forces of evil can array themselves against us, and spiritual warfare is very real. 

Fr. Angelo Geiger of the Franciscans of the Immaculate wrote on this subject recently:

St. Paul tells us that this warfare is spiritual and that our enemies are not flesh and blood (Eph. 6:10-12).  Our conflict is not fundamentally with other men, with the enemies of the Church, or with the practitioners of the occult.  It is worse than that.  In effect, but for the grace of God, we are totally outmatched.  Quoting Heinrich Schlier, Pope Benedict reminds us that the host sent against us, “never stops coming,” and “cannot really be pinned down and have no proper name.”  It starts out with an advantage because of its “superior position,” which is “impenetrable and unassailable.”  Furthermore, that host of enemies wields a malice that is deadly and undying……

The salvific will of Christ, on the other hand, separates light from the darkness.  Prayer must take the form of deliverance.  Spiritual warfare is a healing of the wounds that have been inflicted on us by our enemy.  Our confidence is in God, because we have put on His armor and have been promised victory, but we must, at all costs, remain under the protection of Christ’s Church by accepting and making fruitful her preaching, exorcizing and healing ministries.

Pope Benedict shows that healing is related to the exorcistic characteristic of Christianity.  All of Our Lord’s miracles of healing point to the “entire content of redemption.”  But healing can only come through Him:

The authority to cast out demons and to free the world from their dark threat, for the sake of the one true God, is the same authority that rules out any magical understanding of healing through attempts to manipulate these mysterious powers.  Magical healing is always tied to the art of turning the evil onto someone else setting the “demons” against him.  God’s dominion, God’s Kingdom, means precisely the disempowerment of these forces by the intervention of the one God, who is good, who is the Good itself.

Spiritual warfare is, then, first of all, a matter of the heart, that is, it is a matter of remaining morally free of demonic contamination.  Such contamination we call sin.  Exorcists will tell us that the primary way to guard against extraordinary demonic influence is to resist the ordinary one that takes the form of temptation.  For this the “armor of God,” consists in the faith, prayer and the sacraments.  More often than not, if we are living a faith-filled, sacramental life we will be protected from evil.

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, formerly of Human Life International, is an exorcist who has described his experiences of spiritual warfare vividly.  He agrees with Fr. Geiger, that if we keep to the Sacraments, avoid sin, stay away from sources of darkness in our culture (the occult, new age practices, seances, and their numerous representations in modern society in “harmless” things like heavy metal death  music, etc.,) we are almost certainly to remain substantially protected from these dark forces.  But, if we turn away from the Sacraments, become embroiled in sin, and start dabbling in the occult, perhaps, we can find ourselves in more trouble than we can imagine.  While spiritual warfare is one of those salacious topics of Faith that some people may tend to focus on too much, it is real, and should not be discounted.  We have powerful enemies, and our own fallen nature can make us enemies to ourselves.  That is why we should try to cling to the Saving Blood of Christ all the more tightly – it is our best, our only, protection.

Perseverence September 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, scandals, Society.
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I received a real treasure of a book for my birthday.  This book had been referred to me by my wife’s aunt Agnes, mother of Sister Miriam James Heidland, SOLT.  It is called Divine Intimacy, and was written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD.  The book is a year long devotional and meditative reader, apparently much preferred by Carmelites.  Fr. Gabriel dedicated his life to the study of union with God and the ways of life that lead to holiness, in pariticular guided by those two great Carmelites, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.  I found the section on the virtue of perseverence, from the fifteenth week after Pentecost,  particularly valuable:

What most distresses souls of good will who are seriously trying to live a spiritual life, is to find themselves falling so many times, despite their continual and sincere resolutions.  When they begin a program of ascetism [or any program of spiritual development, I would think  – ED], they are usually very brave and have no doubts concerning their success; but being still inexperienced, and not having yet faced the demands of more advanced virtue, they know nothing of the struggles that await them on this way.  And herein lies the danger: meeting with new difficulties, they fall; they rise and fall again; again they rise, and shortly after, find themselves prostrate once more until they are, at a certain point, attacked by that most dangerous temptation: to give up the undertaking which henceforth seems impossible.  How many soulds have fervently begun the ascent of the mount of perfection, but discouraged by their continual falls, have stopped halfway up or even turned back, because they lacked the courage to begin anew every day and every moment?

Humility is needed for the exercise of courage; we must be convinced that in spite of our lofty aspirations, we are fallible men like all the rest.  Sacred Scripture affirms that the “just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again” (Prv 24:16); how then, can we, how are not just, pretend never to fall?

The real evil is not so much in falling, as in failing to rise…….

This treatise on perseverance goes on, but that is enough.  Like so much great spiritual wisdom, this seems particularly written for me.  Not too long ago, someone tried to cut me deeply by telling me that I was “arrogant and hypocritical.”  It did not have the intended effect, because I am very well aware  of these failings, and many more.  But what is truly discouraging, is when I think I may be advancing in some area of virtue and the elimination of vice, I find that, while perhaps that is true, and some small advancement has occurred, a new vista will reveal itself and I realize just how many faults and shortcomings remain –  a seemingly endless number, constantly threatening to multiply and grow beyond my ability to contain them and beat them back down to a manageable amount.   I may pat myself on the back for no longer being in active addiction, for having greatly reduced if not quite eliminated tendencies towards concupiscence, and then I realize that a) any advancement I have made has been due solely to the Grace of God, and b) I am not nearly so good as I would like to believe.  I have found that when some of these other vices have been knocked down quite a bit, others want to raise their head, and I find myself dealing with gluttony and other forms of intemperance.  When I read about the lives of the saints, there is a sense of inspiration, but also a sense of woeful inadequacy, almost a panic at the great distance between the conduct of my life, and theirs.

But, I know that it is also impossible to give up, that I must continue to try to go forward and advance in virtue to the extent I allow God’s Grace to triumph over my own miserable human nature.  Talk about countercultural – is there anything more countercultural in contemporary American culture to try to lead a life of self-denial, even self-abasement, and to live as fully as possible for Christ and serving others?  But it has always been thus.  It was countercultural to lead a faithful Christian life during Roman times, during the Dark Ages, during the Middle Ages, the Baroque period…..in any time.  God’s call to us, His challenge, if you will, is to see past the crude vaguaries of this matter that we think means so much, of which we are made and which surrounds us, to the true reality that is the existence that is totally consumated in serving Him, who should be our All. 

That is the amazing aspect of the Catholic Faith, the true Christian Faith, that is, in my experience, largely ignored by protestant sects and megachurches which seek to bend the Word to the service of men, rather than the other way around.  And, sadly, there are many Catholics who would do the same, who try to turn the Church into some sort of social benefit society and bend the unchangeable Doctrine of the Faith to be more pleasing to the whims of “modern” man.  But Christ doesn’t want us by halves, he doesn’t want us to come to Him conditionally, predicating our approach to Him by the dictates of our “conscience.”   He wants all of us, He wants us to throw ourselves at him without condition, and to cast off all the elements of our fallen human nature that we can, to lead a life as totally devoted to Him as possible.

It is an endless challenge.  I pray that with God’s Grace I may please Him in some small amount.