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A group blog devoted to the baptismal call, spirituality, gifts, vocations, ministry, work, history, theology, evangelization, formation, bad jokes, and pastoral support of lay Christians seeking to live their faith in the 21st century.

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What Can We Expect of a Resurrected God? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 07:24

Continuing with the "Easter Challenge: Living as Though Resurrection Was the Final Word for the Next 50 Days” theme:

Yesterday's reading for Easter Wednesday raised a profound question: What can we expect of a resurrected God? How does the power of the resurrection manifest itself in us who make up the Body of Christ on earth?

"When Peter and John were going up to the Temple for the prayers at the ninth hour, it happened that there was a man being carried past. He was a cripple from birth; and they used to put him down every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate so that he could beg from the people going in. When this man saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple he begged from them. Both Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us.’

He turned to them expectantly, hoping to get something from them, but Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ Peter then took him by the hand and helped him to stand up. Instantly his feet and ankles became firm, he jumped up, stood, and began to walk, and he went with them into the Temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone could see him walking and praising God, and they recognised him as the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were all astonished and unable to explain what had happened to him."

(Acts 3:1 - 10)

There is a old legend that a 13th century Pope was showing St. Thomas Aquinas around the glories of the Vatican and observed that Peter could no longer say that "I have neither silver or gold". St. Thomas had the ultimate snappy come-back: "Neither can he say "rise and walk".

Of course, throughout Christian history, certain Christians have been been able to say just that. Rome Reports features a fascinating story of a young Mexican boy healed of terminal leukemia, apparently through the embrace of Pope John Paul II.

“He looked like a skeleton, of only five years or so. His skin was hanging off the bone and his cheek was decaying. I was there and I had brought the mother. The pope got off the plane at the airport in Zacatecas. He saw the mother and took the child, which weighed nothing, it was only skin and bones, he kissed the baby and gave it back to the mother. That child was cured after the kiss from the pope.”

This widely known miracle wasn’t used for the beatification process because it happened during the Pope’s lifetime. This healing is simply a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit working through a very human disciple walking the same earth as you and I.

George Weigel made an thoughtful observation about John Paul's imminent beatification this weekend:

“First, I hope we remember that everything he did was the accomplishment of a radically converted Christian disciple. His resistance to the Nazi occupation of Poland; his abandonment of his youthful plans in order to enter an underground seminary; his dynamic ministry in Cracow as priest and bishop; his philosophical and literary work; his efforts at Vatican II; his epic pontificate and its teaching; his role in the collapse of European communism and in the defense of the universality of human rights—all of this flowed from his radical conversion to Christ.

Why is this important to stress? Because it’s his connection to the rest of us. There are over a billion Catholics on this planet; very few of us will enjoy the range of intellectual, spiritual, literary, athletic, and linguistic gifts that God gave Karol Wojtyla. Because of our baptism, though, all of us share with him the possibility of being radically converted Christian disciples. All of us can be Christ’s evangelical witnesses in our families, our work, our neighborhoods. All of us can live as though the truth John Paul II taught—that Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life—is at the very epicenter of our own lives.”

More in a bit. Meanwhile, what do you think?



 
World's Last Typewriter Factory is Closing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 09:01

A sign of the times: the world's last typewriter factory, in India, is closing.

Type-writers had continued to flourish in India because some people preferred to use them and because they were simpler to fix. (My mother just loved her old typewriter!)

For those who can't remember what a typewriter sounded like, listen to this classic Leroy Anderson piece - on a 78 rpm RECORD.


 
He Hath Slain Death by Death PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 07:59

On this third day of the Easter Season, Easter Tuesday,

take a moment to pray along with the Morning Matins of the Orthodox tradition while contemplating

Fra Angelico's painting of the women at the tomb below.

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless one.

We venerate Thy cross, O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we praise and glorify.

For Thou art our God, and we know none other than Thee.

We call on Thy name. O come, all ye faithful, let us venerate Christ's holy Resurrection.

For behold, through the cross joy hath come into all the world.

Ever blessing the Lord, we praise his Resurrection:

for by enduring the cross, he hath slain death by death.


fra angelico resurrection  women


 
Easter Flash Mob in Lebanon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 25 April 2011 10:47

I love it! An Arabic language Easter flash mob in Lebanon. (With English subtitles.) Short, sweet, and very well done.


 
The Easter Challenge: Living as Though Resurrection Was the Final Word For the Next 50 Days PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 25 April 2011 03:31

This year, I want to consciously, intentionally live the whole Easter season. But I don't know how.

I realized this morning that, in my 23 years as a Catholic, I've tended to live Easter as if it is just No-Longer-Lent.

After the intensity of Lent and Holy Week, Easter is - for most of us - a one day feast, not a 50 day season. A one day lamb, ham, Easter egg and chocolate blow-out. With great left-overs. And then it's spring. (Or autumn for those readers in the southern hemisphere.)

And then I go right back to my normal, anxious life that I put on hold in order to make room for the extra Lenten effort. Only now, cause it's No-Longer-Lent, I can have that triple grande mocha latte along with my anxiety.

And I'm going to need that latte as I check in around the Catholic blogosphere. Where many are discussing the whole "crisis within the crisis" thesis. Which seems to mean that Catholics who don't talk as if the world is coming to an end and persist in the virtue of hope are not obedient disciples of Jesus Christ but reprehensible enablers of an imminent disaster such as the Church has never seen before.

What tosh. I've written about this before here and here and here and here. In summary

“I'm not saying that we don't face real crisis today. We do. I'm not saying that Catholics didn't face real crisis in the past. They did.

What is laughable is our assumption that things used to be so much better in some golden era in the past. That the crisis we face are unprecedented and can only be explained by a spiritual calamity the like of which no generation before us has endured. We are so pampered. Catholics have faced crisis in every generation and most historical situations and many of those crisis have dwarfed our own.
We have got to get a grip. And a brief dip into real history away from hyperbole of St. Blog's is a salutary slap in the face.”

I'd like to propose an intense and intentional celebration and living of the whole season of Easter right through to Pentecost as one of the best and most fruitful ways to get a grip and restore our hope so that we respond as true disciples of Jesus Christ to the challenges before us. Experiencing and living the reality and power of the Resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit as the first disciples did has always been the ultimate answer to whatever crisis the Church has faced in every generation and every historical situation.

The women in today's reading in Matthew 28 are "filled with awe and great joy" as they run from the empty tomb. And then Jesus meets them. And they fall down and clasp his feet. And he tells them "Do not be afraid".

What if we together dared to immerse ourselves in and then radiate the awe and great joy of the Resurrection? What if we dared to obey our Lord when he says "Do not be afraid." Do I even know what I'm talking about? No - but my experience is that God honors attempts at obedience even when we are clueless.

What if the Catholic blogosphere was filled primarily with stories of awe, conversion, and transformation, healing and resurrection, joy, hope, the Presence of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit for the next 50 days? Not to hide from our challenges but to remind ourselves of how the story ends: that in a truly Christian worldview, the Resurrection is the final word on human sin, corruption, and stupidity.

Would our problems magically go away? No but we would be different and our readers would be different and the conversation would have changed significantly. And I am certain that we’d be astonished at what God would do through our communal act of faith, hope, and obedience.

In any case, here at ID, we’ll be seeking to celebrate the whole 50 days. And we’d love to learn from you how you live Easter and Pentecost.



 
Easter in China: 150,000 Newly Baptized Catholics Each Year? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 24 April 2011 10:28

From CNN comes the story of a very different Easter experience:

“The site of a planned outdoor Easter service at one of China's largest independent "house" churches was eerily silent Sunday as police blocked more than 500 worshippers from leaving their homes and detained more than 36 for attempting to attend religious services in Beijing, church officials said.

The gathering place for worshippers was empty as church-like bells sounded in northwest Beijing. Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers swarmed the site of Shouwang Church and prevented CNN journalists from accessing the area.

Authorities confiscated credentials from CNN crew members and detained them for half an hour.”

Christianity is growing faster in China than anywhere else on the planet – at more than 4 times the national population growth rate. In 2010, there were 4 million additional Christians in China, two thirds of which are converts. During the hundred years between 1910 and 2010, Christians have grown from 1.7 million to 115 million. Most of the growth has happened during the last 40 years.

81% of these first, second, and third generation Christians are Independent Christians and 17.4% are Catholic. Independent Christian leaders have been planning to challenge the state’s rejection of public worship for months.

Asia News is covers the complexity of Catholic life in China but ended today’s article with this exciting news:

"Even in these difficulties and divisions, each community has confirmed to AsiaNews that on the night of the Easter Vigil, there will be dozens of baptisms in each parish or group. A parish in the north will see 40 baptisms. An important fact is the age of the newly baptized (mostly adults between 30 and 40 years) and the reasons that led them to become Catholic. "In a society where there is a lot of lies, they are driven to seek the truth and to find answers to important questions of life, that materialism is unable to meet."

Some estimates state there are at least 150 thousand newly baptized each year in China."

To put this into perspective, if this estimate is correct, China would see twice as many adult baptisms during the past year as the US Catholic Church will see this Easter. But the Catholic numbers would still represents only about 5.6% of all converts to Christianity in 2010.

Here's a short clip of the Lord's Prayer being sung at Ignatius Cathedral, Shanghai.


 
Christ is Risen and Brings the Joy! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 23 April 2011 22:11

Enjoy this fun video with its joyful traditional Easter song from Serbia:

People rejoice, nations hear:

Christ is risen, and brings the joy!

Stars dance, mountains sing:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Forests murmur, winds hum:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Seas bow*, animals roar:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Bees swarm, and the birds sing:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!

Angels stand, triple the song:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Sky humble yourself, and elevate the earth:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Bells chime, and tell to all:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Glory to You God, everything is possible to You,
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!


H/T Glory to God for All Things


 
Wisdom from Julia Child: Forget the Cheap Wine & Never Apologize! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 23 April 2011 14:34

Cooks who are sweating out the details of the Easter brunch or bash can take comfort from the earthy, take-no-prisoners wisdom of the exuberant Julia Child:

1. “You should never apologize at the table. People will think, ‘Yes, it’s really not so good.'"

2. "Dining with one's friends and beloved family is certainly one of life's primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal."

3. "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a 'What the hell?' attitude."

4. “Forget the cheap white wine: go to beef and gin!”

5."In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns, we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

6. "I think the inner person is the most important. . . . I would like to see an invention that keeps the mind alert. That's what is important."

7. “It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it. “

8. “When you flip anything, you really... you just have to have the courage of your convictions.”

9. "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces -- just good food from fresh ingredients."

10. "Life itself is the proper binge."


 
Did Blessed Kateri Work a Miracle in Washington State? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 23 April 2011 14:23

A great Easter story.

The Vatican is investigating the possibility that the intercession of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is responsible for the astonishing recover of a boy in Washington State.

In the last minute of the last game of his 2006 season, Jake cut his lip.

"I fell down and hit my lip on the base of the basketball hoop," he says.

A flesh-eating bacteria raced through his lip and devoured his face. Now 11 years old, Jake recalls the day he he died.

"I went and saw God up in heaven, and it was so beautiful I asked if I could stay. And he refused to let me stay - said my family needed me here on earth," Jake remembers.

His mother, Elsa Finkbonner, says, "That was his day in heaven, our day in hell."

Surgeons couldn't stay ahead of the fast-spreading infection.

"It got to the point where we called in a priest to give his last rites," says Jake's mother.

Here's the rest of the story. H/T Eryn Huntington

One of the joys of living just above Magnuson Park in Seattle was being to walk there in the early morning and watch the sun rise over Mt. Rainier and Lake Washington. And to see the large house on the hill above where St. Francis Cabrini had worked one of the miracles used in her canonization process.


 
Good Friday Bombing of Catholic Cathedral by Terrorists Thwarted PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 23 April 2011 10:55

Per the Associated Press:

A terrorist cell associated with Al Qeada planned to bomb a Catholic Cathedral outside Jakarta during Good Friday services by placing a bomb under the gas lines. Other bombs were found in bags near the cathedral entrance. Altogether 9 bombs were uncovered and defused. Incredibly, the terrorists also planned to film the explosion and resulting inferno and broadcast it.

Indonesian police uncovered and stopped the plot on Holy Thursday and arrested 20 suspects, one of whom was a TV news cameraman.

Christianity has been growing rapidly in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world. In 1910, only 1.4% of the Indonesian population was Christian. Today over 12% are Christian. Jakarta is the epicenter. When we were there in 2002, little evangelical churches filled stripmalls throughout the city.

The Portuguese brought Roman Catholicism to Indonesia in the 16th century and Dutch traders brought Protestant Christianity in the 17th century. There was some missionary effort and the Dutch Bible Society translated the Bible into Malay. However, the Dutch were primarily interested in the economic exploitation of Indonesia and forbade all missionary work among Muslim peoples until 1855.

In the 19th century, the evangelical movement in Europe mobilised new missionaries to Indonesia. Whole ethnic groups turned to Christ from their traditional religions. Nowhere else in the world has so large a Christian community been established in the midst of Islam. The 29 million Christians of Indonesia are second only to the Philippines in south-east Asia. The majority of Indonesian Christians, including Catholics, are ethnic Chinese.

Violence between Muslims splinter groups and Christians has been common for years but this would have been a dramatic escalation. Let's add the Catholics and all Christians in Indonesia to our prayers this Easter.


 
Governor of Texas Asks for Three Days of Prayer for Rain PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 23 April 2011 10:34

The governor of Texas has asked all Texans to pray during the three days from Good Friday to Easter Sunday for rain. Wildfires in Texas have burned 1.8 million acres, killed two fire fighters, and burned nearly 400 homes since last year. 70% of Texas is suffering from extreme drought.

How about the rest of us joining them in prayer on this Holy Saturday?


 
The Day That Has Made Us Greater Than We Know PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 23 April 2011 07:02

icon-of-the-resurrection

As the time for the Easter Vigil approaches, it is a good thing to meditate on this excerpt by Blessed John Henry Newman: on the "Difficulty of Realizing Sacred Privileges"

"This is the Day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm cxviii. 24

And thus we Christians, though born in our very infancy into the kingdom of God, and chosen above all other men to be heirs of heaven and witnesses to the world, and though knowing and believing this truth entirely, yet have very great difficulty and pass many years in learning our privilege.

Not any one, of course, fully understands it;—doubtless; but we have not even a fair, practical hold of it. And here we are, even on this great Day, this Day of days, on which Christ arose from the dead,—here are we, on this very Day as infants, lying helpless and senseless on the ground, without eyes to see or heart to comprehend who we are.

Snip

Alas, that while we thus grow in knowledge in matters of time and sense, yet we remain children in knowledge of our heavenly privileges! St. Paul says, that whereas Christ is risen, He "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." [Eph. ii. 6.] This is what we have still to learn; to know our place, position, situation as "children of God, members of Christ, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven." We are risen again, and we know it not. We begin our Catechism by confessing that we are risen, but it takes a long life to apprehend what we confess. We are like people waking from sleep, who cannot collect their thoughts at once, or understand where they are. By little and little the truth breaks upon us.

Such are we in the present world; sons of light, gradually waking to a knowledge of themselves. For this let us meditate, let us pray, let us work,—gradually to attain to a real apprehension of what we are. Thus, as time goes on, we shall gain first one thing, then another. By little and little we shall give up shadows and find the substance. Waiting on God day by day, we shall make progress day by day, and approach to the true and clear view of what He has made us to be in Christ. Year by year we shall gain something, and each Easter, as it comes, will enable us more to rejoice {100} with heart and understanding in that great salvation which Christ then accomplished.

Snip.

And now, to conclude, for it is hardly befitting on this Day to speak much, when God has done His greatest work. Let us think of it and of Him. Let us rejoice in the Day which He has made, and let us be "willing in the Day of His Power."

This is Easter {103} Day. Let us say this again and again to ourselves with fear and great joy. As children say to themselves, "This is the spring," or "This is the sea," trying to grasp the thought, and not let it go; as travellers in a foreign land say, "This is that great city," or "This is that famous building," knowing it has a long history through centuries, and vexed with themselves that they know so little about it; so let us say,

This is the Day of Days, the Royal Day, the Lord's Day. This is the Day on which Christ arose from the dead; the Day which brought us salvation. It is a Day which has made us greater than we know. It is our Day of rest, the true Sabbath. Christ entered into His rest, and so do we.


 
The Triduum Live From Rome PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 22 April 2011 13:34

HD quality livestream broadcast of the Vatican's Triduum. The video quality is beautiful. In Italian, of course.


 
Faith Requires Love; Otherwise, Even as Faith, It is Dead PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 21 April 2011 19:42

A stunning excert from Pope Benedict's Holy Thursday homily that I'll be meditating on the rest of the evening and tomorrow:

Jesus also knew about guests who come to the banquet without being robed in the wedding garment – they come not to rejoice in his presence but merely out of habit, since their hearts are elsewhere. In one of his homilies Saint Gregory the Great asks: Who are these people who enter without the wedding garment? What is this garment and how does one acquire it? He replies that those who are invited and enter do in some way have faith. It is faith which opens the door to them. But they lack the wedding garment of love. Those who do not live their faith as love are not ready for the banquet and are cast out. Eucharistic communion requires faith, but faith requires love; otherwise, even as faith, it is dead.


wedding garment


 
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