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Ever wonder what the 10 largest gatherings of human beings on this planet have been?
Three are Hindu religious gatherings
one is a Catholic religious gathering
one is a Communist gathering
one is a Muslim gathering
and four are funerals (two of which tied in numbers).
Who knows where and when those gigantic gatherings of people occurred?
Update: Since the first 1,000 visitors weren't brave enough to guess, I'll provide the answers:
1. Ardh Kumbh Mela, January, 2007: India
More than 70 million Hindu pilgrims from
around the world gathered at Allahabad in India for the Ardh Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious festival
and also the world’s largest gathering.
2. Simhastha Kumbh Mela, April 5, 2004: India
30 million Hindu pilgrims from all over the world traveled to Hindu holy city of Ujjain in India.
3. The funeral of C. N. Annadurai in 1969: India
Annadurai was a former Chief Minister of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. I 5 million attended his funeral.
4. Mass Gathering of Red Guards, Beijing, 1966, China:
Eight Mass rallies between August and November of 1966, the height of the Cultural Revolution. 11 million Red Guards gathered in all.
5. Karbala, Iraq, 2009:
9 million Shia Muslim pilgrims visited the shrine of Imam Hussein. Only about 80,000 are non-Iraqis.
6. Sabarimala Pilgrimage, January 14, 2007: India
5 million Hindu pilgrims paid homage at Sabarimala Shrine in Kerala, India.
7. World Youth Day 1995: Manila, Philippines
4 million attend the Closing Mass of World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II.
8. Ayatollah Khomeini Funeral: June 3, 1989: Iran
Two to nine million Iranians gathered for the Ayatollah's funeral.
9. Funeral of Pope John Paul II, April 7, 2005: Rome
Two to four million attended.
10: Umm Kulthum and Gamel Abdul Nasser Funerals, Egypt
February 5, 1975 (Umm Kulthum) and October 1, 1970 (President Nassar of Egypt). Both were in Egypt and drew about 4 million people. Here's a little taste of the fabulous Umm Kulthum in action with convenient English commentary.
Fascinating, how many of the gigantic gatherings are unknown to most of us in the west. I knew about Um Kulthum, Nasser, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and the Shia shrine of Karbala because of my long interest in the middle east. (For a fascinating look at women's lives in 1950's village Iraq, including a visit to Shrine of Hussein in Karbala, read Elizabeth Warnock Fernea's Guests of the Sheik.) And of course, JPII.
But I have never heard of gatherings 1 - 4 and 6. Even in the age of the internet, they might as well have occurred on the moon. Notice the tremendous drawing power of religion. So much for the new atheists.
"The ecclesiastical doctorates of these women mystics-Catherine, Teresa, Therese-are often looked upon as something of a courteous nicety, a concession to feminist sensitivities. Surely they cannot be taken seriously as theologians! Do they-does Catherine in particular-deserve the title on theological grounds?
"It was just over five hundred years later that Pope Paul VI, on the feast of Teresa of Avila in 1967, told the World Congress on the Apostolate of the Laity of his dream that Teresa and Catherine should be the first women to be proclaimed doctors of the church. By December of that same year, the process was in full swing. The Congregation of Rites asked whether that title could in fact be given to a woman, especially in view of Saint Paul's strictures. They unanimously answered their own question in the affirmative the following March; the pope concurred.
There are actually three formal requirements for granting the doctorate in the church. The first, outstanding holiness, already had been attested to in Catherine's case in her canonization. The second, the testimony of popes or general councils, was easily garnered. The third, distinguished teaching, was yet to be judged and would be the chief topic of investigation. Letters of postulation (petition), the affirmation of the Dominican general chapter, and a formal petition from the master of the Dominican Order, Aniceto Fernandez, carried the process forward. Supportive monographs and articles were gathered as resources for the official advocates, censors, and others whose work would lead to the final positive decision. What were the reasons put forward for that decision?"
Some of the responses were unintentionally funny and show that even in 1970, some things were slow to change: As when the Dominican master general asks of Catherine's Dialogue: "How could one imagine or believe that this was written by a woman?"
The article provides a fascinating window into the whole process of determining a doctor of the Church, a process that we may soon be witnessing again with Blessed John Henry Newman.
I just have to end on a very low note cause this has been rumbling around inside for years, screaming to get out.
I was feeling so bad I asked my family doctor just what I had I said "Doctor, Doctor. Missus OP. Now can you tell me what's ailing me? Doctor?
It is stunning what you can find on You Tube.
It is right up there with "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be OP's . ."
"There seems to be two different concepts of parish life that most adhere to, two different visions of what SJN is in itself.
In the first concept, some think of SJN as simply a place, an address, a geography. It is a place where you go to celebrate or "hear" Mass. The parish is a place where your children are sent to receive the sacraments. The parish is a place where engaged couples choose to have their wedding. The parish is a place where the dead are waked and prayed over. In this first concept of a parish, to be a parishioner of SJN means that you come to this address to receive the gifts of God, the gifts of God that are given to you through those that serve the parish in ministry and through ordination. In this first notion of "parish", it's all about what you get when you come here.
In the second concept of "parish", others recognize that SJN, while being a place, an address, a geography, it is also the meeting place of the encounter with God, where the mystery of the Lord's Presence is forming us into a living fellowship, a living community. In this second concept of "parish", parishioners of SJN follow the invitation of the Lord, and trusting in his new Way of life, seek to give of themselves in imitation of the One who poured his life out for love of us. In this second notion of SJN, parishioners seek to live out their faith as active and intentional disciples of the Lord Jesus, sharing themselves out of love... for God... for neighbor. We seek to be good stewards of the gifts of God; and we realize that each of us is called to fellowship with all, as the walls of isolation and separation are broken down by the power of divine love."
Archdiocese of Atlanta. Not a surprise.
Discussion: How do most of your Catholic friends and family regard their parishes? Paragraph number one, paragraph number two - or something else? How do you think of your parish?
CNN is running a piece this morning on the "brainiest" major cities in America. The criteria? What percentage of the population has a bachelor or graduate degree. Washington DC comes in first with 47.3% of adults 25 and older with college degrees. Then San Francisco, San Jose, and Raleigh, NC. Boston, Austin, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle, and New York round out the field.
Now there are all sorts of problems with the idea that a simple concentration of college degrees in a town equals the "brainiest". And these lists seem to change so rapidly. In 2006, my home town of Seattle was labeled the "smartest city in the US" because 47% of adults held a bachelor's degree. And my adopted hometown of Colorado Springs was in the top 10. (And not just because Fr. Mike started to spend a lot of time here in 2006 - although that undoubtedly altered the bell curve.)
But what does the MSM know? All Coloradans know that the city of Boulder, just up the road, is blessed with a population where 56% of adults have bachelor's degrees, which blows DC out of the water and is more than twice the national average. Hey, we're skinny and we're smart. (Sorry, Mark, but "stout and out" just isn't our style in Colorado.)
But enough gloating. The point is, that if we use the same criteria, the average home schooling family is a far brainier place than DC, Seattle, or Boulder.
A survey of nearly 12,000 home-schooling adults, conducted by Dr. Brian D. Ray and published in the peer reviewed Journal of Academic Leadership in 2009, produced some impressive findings. 66.3% of home-schooling fathers and 62.5% of home-schooling mothers have bachelor's degrees or higher. 20% of homeschooling fathers have masters degrees and 8% have doctorates while 11.6% of home schooling moms have masters and 2.5% have doctorates.
Compare those figures to the national average: 26% of US adults have bachelor degrees, 5.6% have earned a master's, and about 1% have doctorates. Women who home-school are more than twice as likely to have masters degrees or doctorates as other American adults and home-schooling dads are nearly 4 times more likely to have a master's degree and 8 times more likely to have a doctorate than their peers.
The image, widely held in some circles, of home-schooling families as intellectual and cultural neanderthals, doesn't hold water. Parents who choose to educate their children at home are much more like to be highly educated themselves, invested in education, and comfortable with it. The confidence that comes with this, no doubt, makes the decision to educate their children at home easier to sustain and accomplish.
I have just received a thought-provoking letter addressed to Pope Benedict from a very knowledgable, "high" Protestant resident of the Muslim world. His name is Abu Daoud and he asks three things of the Pope that would help Muslims who are spiritual seekers.
1) That Catholic parishes in the west with significant immigrant Muslim populations be ready and willing to give out Bibles in the languages of local Muslims: Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Turkish, etc. "Even in the most fundamentalist Islamic countries, if a person asks for a Bible, it is not considered to be antagonistic to Islam to give him one."
(Sherry's note: I have heard some hair-raising stories of secret brown-paper-wrapped Bible hand-offs between fully veiled women in grocery stores. At least in some parts of the Muslim world, it used to be very dangerous. Therefore, the policy was that the seeker had to ask at least three times before their request was considered. That may have changed. But certainly in the west, it is doable.)
2) "A key reason listed in the conversion narratives of Muslims is a dream or vision. Often this is of Messiah himself, but other times of an angel or saint like John the Baptist or the Blessed Virgin. What if each diocese were instructed, as they are with exorcists today, to discern among their clergy (or laity?) an individual (or several) with the charism of interpreting dreams and visions? If we think this is not a genuine ability imparted from God we need only recall the stories of Joseph and Daniel, both of whom had this gift, and both of whom glorified God in the presence of pagans through it. A small publicity campaign--small ads in local publications read by immigrants, notices at the church doors--letting people know that, if they have had dreams or visions which they cannot explain, that someone with experience in that field is ready and willing to talk with them."
(Sherry's note: As I have noted here before, many "Muslim background believers" have experienced dreams and visions of Christ and sometimes of the Virgin Mary.
In our work facilitating the discernment of Catholics, I can't say that I've come across a charism of "interpreting dreams" as such. And it isn't that we haven't heard some hair-raising stories, including the raising of the dead and experiences of bi-location. But I would think that persons of considerable spiritual maturity, perhaps trained in the Ignatian discernment, with some background in Islam and in what is happening in the Muslim world today, and with charisms of wisdom or prophecy or encouragement might be exceedingly helpful here. They aren't exactly thick on the ground but they do exist.)
As Abu Daoud points out that, this is not an abstract issue.
". . . let me tell you about a Muslima in a Middle-Eastern country who had a dream of the Virgin. She, at no small cost to her own security, sought out a local Roman Catholic priest and told him of the dream. He wept as he listened to her, but his final answer was that this was God's way of telling her to be a more devout Muslima. Is this a legitimate interpretation? Was this decision not led by fear of persecution rather than a genuine apostolic faith? But we do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind."
3) That each bishop have a plan for how to respond when Muslims ask to be baptized.
"In the Middle East (where I have lived for several years) the general practice among Catholics is to refer Muslims who inquire about baptism to evangelicals, or simply tell them (as above) that they must find their salvation in Islam through greater self effort. Of course Muslims requesting baptism are adults, and thus are (ideally) baptized by the local bishop. Catholic bishops in the Muslim world have shown a very strong tendency towards favoring the security of their material goods (schools, clinics, churches) over the sporadic and risky requests posed to them by the Muslim seeking to know Christ, or for that matter the ex-Muslim who does know Christ and is seeking the sacrament of initiation into the church which the bishop oversees."
". . this is not theoretical. I know well a new disciple of Christ who has been seeking baptism for some time. He has suffered for his faith more than most Christians ever will, and he knows the Scripture better too--having read the entire book several times. Yet the local Latin priest in his home city eventually chased him away and said he would call the police if he showed up again. Why? He was from a prominent Muslim family. The priest was correct in suspecting that persecution of the tiny Christian community (of all churches and denominations) would ensue, but what if there had been a quietly-communicated policy in place? What if the believer had been discretely told to visit a certain person in a certain town? All of this, to be sure, after his devotion to and comprehension of the Good News had been certified. As it stands right now, this young man was recently baptized by an evangelical pastor/elder. He was turned away from the church where he first sought fellowship. Is the fault his? With a sensitive policy in place (and here there was absolutely no possibility of the local bishop baptizing him--he controls far too many institutions and properties to make that worthwhile) this young man could have been a new, vibrant Catholic Christian. But he is not, and will never be. "
There has been much discussion of the new Pew "Religious Knowledge Survey" in which atheists and Mormons outpaced everyone else and Catholics, as a whole, came in last.
These results were given a poignant concreteness when a commenter on the Dotcommonweal blog decided this morning to ask her son the questions that the Pew surveyers asked. The result?
" I just tried the test on my son, who is in his 9th year of CCD and has been going to Sunday Mass all his life. He believes in God but is not too certain, doesn’t know if the Bible is the word of God, thinks that Jesus was born in Nazareth (”Jesus of Nazareth”), that communion is a symbol, that salvation comes through faith alone, that the gospels were written by Mark, Luke, John and Paul, and has never heard of Job. In terms of factual knowledge, it’s a total failure.
That, after 2 years of CCD in France, 4 years in a suburban US parish, and 2+ years in an urban US parish. One can’t help but wonder: what’s the point of CCD?"
Actually, her son did pretty well. 12% of American adults think Noah and Joan of Arc are a couple. Only 1/3 of American adults know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. One quarter of US adults con't know what is celebrated at Easter. In the Netherlands, 58% of adults didn't know what Easter was about. At St. John's University in the UK, 60% of those asked had no idea what the parable of the Good Samaritan was about. The most widely known Bible verse among both adult and teen believers is "God helps those who help themselves." (II Hezekiah 37: 2a!)
In our culture, such religious knowledge is no longer part of the general culture. In the 21st century, discipleship will be the necessary personal foundation of religious knowledge for the vast majority of people.
The 2009 Pew Faith in Flux survey pointed out that the vast majority of Catholics leave the Church by age 23. Most do so by age 18. And that attending CCD or Religious Education classes, being part of a youth group, and even attending a Catholic high school seems to have little impact on whether or not someone who is raised Catholic will stay Catholic, become a Protestant, or drift off into "none" land.
As Kenda Creasy Dean, Associate Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, points out in her new book "Almost Christian" The single biggest factor in the development of the faith of children is the faith of their parents.
"The religiosity of American teenagers must be read primarily as a reflection of their parent's religious devotion"
It is very simple. CCD is not and cannot be a substitute for the discipleship of parents.
If we don't make adult disciples, we will continue to lose our children and grand-children.
Cardinal Roncalli, on his way to the conclave that would elect him People John XXIII, said,
"We are not here to be the guardians of a museum but the cultivators of a flourishing garden of life."
The gardening image hits home, of course, for me. Indeed, it is at the heart of my "life verse". Isaiah 58: 10 - 12: a verse I first heard someone quote when I was an undergrad. A verse that instantly seized my heart and seemed to name it although I had no idea why.
I accepted it as a call from God and immediately memorized it. And it came to mind today when I stumbled across John XXIII's image of the Church as a flourishing garden.
Every word of those passages has come to pass in ways I could never have foreseen. The light and the darkness, the scorched places, the ancient ruins, and the watered garden.
And if you will give yourself to the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted
then your light will rise in darkness
and your gloom will become like midday.
And the Lord will continually guide you
And satisfy your desire in scorched places
and give strength to your bones,
And you will be like a watered garden
like a spring of water whose waters do not fail
And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins
you will raise up the age old foundations
and you will be called "the repairer of the breach"
Three great Catholic quotes of the day and all new to me!
St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Jesus: I want to overcome all diseases, all poverty, all ignorance, all oppression and slavery – in short all the evils which beset humankind.
Blessed John Henry Newman:
To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living.
Pope Benedict XVI:
Our goals should not be more power and more people, but instead to be at the service of Another – to be servants. But good servants work at it. Good servants are as prepared, educated, efficient and effective as they can possibly be. We can’t claim to be good servants if we don’t invest time in being good at it. It is all tied up together. That means learning from each other, taking risks with new and better ideas, breaking conventions, overcoming fears and doing things that serve others instead of ourselves.
We don’t need to focus on making the Church attractive. We just need to focus on more effectively presenting Jesus Christ to the world. He is the most attractive thing there is.
As you all know, my little sister is in the midst of breast cancer treatment – halfway through radiation, after a radical double mastectomy, left arm lymphadectomy, and a couple months of chemo. She is halfway through the final treatment of this marathon of horrors. The past week or so she has been struggling with swelling and pain with the radiation (she has to hold her arms above her head for 10 minutes, every day). Yesterday they did an ultrasound to rule out blood clots, which was negative. However, after she went home, she had a “cardiac event”. She is now in the ER getting a CT and angiogram. They fear a pulmonary embolism.
Please PRAY for her; she is in urgent need.
WOW!!! Now that is some effective prayer power, people! I finally got to talk to my sister this evening and she hasn’t experienced any further heart snafus since last night. She spent all day long, from 8 this morning until 4:30 this evening in the ER undergoing every test they could come up with to scan her chest, lungs, heart etc. and everything came up negative. No pulmonary embolism. No metastic tumors. Nada. She goes back in tomorrow for complete CT scans of her neck, head, and arms, as, in addition to the frightening heart arrhythmias and chest pain early this morning, she also experienced severe neck/jaw/face pain on the left side and a headache that lasted about 20 minutes. They are still thinking that she may have passed a small clot through her heart, or lung, that could not be picked up by the scans.
We are still concerned about a clot somewhere in her neck/head, and what is causing this. However, Sara, her husband Bill, and I, have all experienced a dramatic decrease in anxiety despite the lack of information – undoubtedly thanks to the prayer avalanche you all have so wonderfully provided!
And here’s another odd thing… One of you intercessors must have inspired a bend in the time-space continuum because last night I woke up out of a dead sleep to a wide-awake, broad daylight state at about 4 in the morning and started praying Hail Mary’s…for no discernable purpose. I literally had no intention, just did it. I thought I would be up all night I was so wide awake, but after about 20 minutes, I simply went back to sleep. As it turns out, this happened at exactly the same time my sister was having her cardiac episode. They receded about 20 minutes after they started and she wasn’t that worried until she went in for her radiation this morning and the docs freaked out. No kidding. I didn’t even remember waking up until she told me the chest pains woke her up from sleep at that same time. Woooo. Makes my hair stand on end. So, whoever sicced the Holy Spirit on me, THANKS! It may have saved a life. Wow.
Our prayer needs for tomorrow are:
That we get some answers from all the tests she has to go through, or at least a sense of peace about the lack of answers, which is one of the great burdens of cancer, alas.
That the medical tape, electrodes and such that they stick to her tomorrow won’t tear off too much more of her radiated skin (big problem today).
That she get a strong sense of meaning/purpose in her suffering. A new convert this past Easter, she has been feeling really guilty and bad about being too tired to finish her rosary at night. In the middle of cancer treatment! She even feels guilty everyone is praying for her.
Anyway, thank you SO much. I will continue to keep you posted.
this is a partial re-post from original article posted on: Thursday, 26 April 2007 08:06
My Precious Friend,
I know that sometimes life can be difficult and depressing. There is still much darkness in the world because My people have not come to Me as I have asked—yet I love them (and you) with a love that is without end. Every stinging bite of the soldiers’ whips, every jagged cut from my crown of thorns, each terrible kiss of the nails driven hard into My body—all of it was for you. I endured every second upon the Cross for your sake, because I love you.
Do you think, then, that I don’t hear you when you cry out to Me in your time of need? Truly, I do hear you. If I hear the final cry of every sparrow that falls in death, would I not hear you? Do you wonder if I listen when you pray to Me for an answer to the troubles that weigh you down? Indeed, I listen. If I listen intently for the very heartbeat of every baby conceived in the womb, would I not listen when that child prays? I listen, and I remember precisely the instant that your heart took its first beat; the moment that you took your first gasping breath upon leaving the security of your mother's womb; the contented sigh of relief at your first belly full of warm milk. And, though you've grown up, I still listen with My whole Heart for every word you whisper to me.
I am with you always, through whatever storms and struggles that you face. Trust in me, and I will guide you through the darkness. If you take one faltering step toward me, I shall run ten thousand steps toward you. My love for you is so deep, that I once traveled the distance between Heaven and Earth to find you. I will not abandon you now.
My friend, I know that you are discovering yourself—your own gifts and talents—and the world that I created for you. I know that you are beginning to make plans for your life. Will you not let Me help you? The Father and I have a very special plan for you, one that we created before you were even born. Let us discover this plan together, you and I. For there are others in the world who do not know Me, who hurt and cry out, but who have no one to help them. I want to send you in My place, to go to them and do the work I have created you for.
My love, I desire nothing more than that you would come to Me, not just when you are sorrowful or struggling, but also when you are satisfied and happy. I would have you share your life with Me, as I share My life with you. I especially desire that you come to Me in the Eucharist—you dwelling with Me and Me dwelling with you—for that is My greatest gift to you.
This day, and every day, I stand at your heart's door, knocking and asking entrance. Will you not let me in?
An LA friend sends this rare and wonderful video of Catherine Doherty, founder of Canada's Madonna House, and one of the great pioneers of the lay apostolate. She is speaking in 1979 to a group that many Catholics around the blogosphere today would regard as an oxymoron: Eastern Catholic Charismatics.
And why not? Eastern Christianity possesses a remarkable and deep understanding of the Holy Spirit. The Church is so much larger than our shibboleths! It was so unexpected, I couldn't help but laugh.
Catherine is radiant. but her accent is not as strong as I had thought from biographies about her.
And boy, had she earned the right to speak about God and being a prayer. What a life!
Born into the lower ranks of the Russian nobility, Catherine lived through and survived the Russian Revolution, wealth and dire poverty, near starvation, immigration to North America, being a battlefield nurse in the First World War, the Spanish civil war, the Nazi invasion of Poland, an unfaithful and abusive husband, life in the segregated slums of Harlem, and violence at the hands of well-to-do, white Catholics in the American south. She was married twice - once miserably when she was only 15 years old, and again very happily at 43. In a note that sound so very contemporary, her only child was abused by a Catholic priest in his boarding school and she knew nothing about it.
Catherine was a big woman with an in-your-face personality and an out-of-the-box call from God. She founded two movements: one was a pioneering civil rights movement in the US, which she was eventually forced to leave, and the second, Madonna House which she founded at age 51 and which continues to flourish today. Throughout her life, she inspired ardent devotion and fiery opposition while she lived the inner life of a mystic.
She strove to bring together the Russian Orthodoxy of her childhood with her adopted Catholicism and lived spiritual ecumenism.
Watching the video will be well worth 6 minutes of your time.
The full transcript of the Pope's interview during his plane flight to Britain is out and I found this exchange particularly thought-provoking.
Q. - The UK, like many other Western countries - there is an issue that you have already touched on in the first answer –it is considered a secular country. There is a strong atheist movement, even for cultural reasons. However, there are also signs that religious faith, particularly in Jesus Christ, is still alive on a personal level. What can this mean for Catholics and Anglicans? Can anything be done to make the Church as an institution, more credible and attractive to everyone?
A. (Pope Benedict) - "I would say that a Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power.
The Church is at the service of another: she serves, not for herself, not to be a strong body, rather she serves to make the proclamation of Jesus Christ accessible, the great truths and great forces of love, reconciling love that appeared in this figure and that always comes from the presence of Jesus Christ. In this regard, the Church does not seek to be attractive in and of herself, but must be transparent for Jesus Christ and to the extent that she is not out for herself, as a strong and powerful body in the world, that wants power, but is simply the voice of another, she becomes truly transparent for the great figure of Christ and the great truth that he has brought to humanity. The power of love, in this moment one listens, one accepts. The Church should not consider herself, but help to consider the other and she herself must see and speak of the other.
In this sense, I think, both Anglicans and Catholics have the same simple task, the same direction to take. If both Anglicans and Catholics see that the other is not out for themselves but are tools of Christ, children of the Bridegroom, as Saint John says, if both carry out the priorities of Christ and not their own, they will come together, because at that time the priority of Christ unites them and they are no longer competitors seeking the greatest numbers, but are united in our commitment to the truth of Christ who comes into this world and so they find each other in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism."
Discipleship, not churchmanship, comes first. The Church is his body, his bride. True ecumenism arises out of being disciples together. United in the following of Christ.