Saturday, June 07, 2003

THE POST ON 6/5 TITLED "THE MASONIC LEGACY" by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln should have read "THE MESSIANIC LEGACY." Freudian slip, I guess. CarrieTomko@aol.com

I FOUND THE 9/11 SCRIPTURE UPDATE ANNOUNCEMENT from the Guardian Here is another blurb on the subject. This one indicates that according to a Dominican theologian, the changes will be minor and are nothing to be concerned about. CarrieTomko@aol.com

INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE DISCUSSIONS between Powell, Sodano, and Tauran this past week focused on the future rather than the past disagreement about the war, according to John Allen: Powell, Sodano and Tauran also discussed inter-religious dialogue, Nicholson said. �The secretary expressed appreciation for the role of the Holy Father in promoting inter-religious understanding,� Nicholson said. Powell and the Vatican officials discussed ways to promote dialogue and tolerance among the great religions. On Iraq, Nicholson said the exchange was �prospective, not retrospective,� focusing not on the Vatican/U.S. over the war but where things go from here. �They talked about building a new Iraq, with freedom of worship for all, which would of course include Christians and especially the Chaldean rite Catholics,� Nicholson said. Powell, Sodano and Tauran also discussed religious freedom generally, Nicholson said, especially �in countries where it�s difficult.� Though I did not press Nicholson on the point, this language is often a coded way of talking about the Islamic world and China. On the Israeli/Palestinian problem, Nicholson said Powell expressed to the Vatican a basic optimism about the prospects for the road map, while also being realistic that �we�ve been down this road before.� Sodano and Tauran, Nicholson said, greeted the plan with the same spirit of �guarded hopefulness.� Overall, Nicholson rated the Powell visit a success that went beyond his expectations. �It was very upbeat, very positive,� he said. �There was great engagement, real detail.� Just a thought...is it possible that Bush and JPII collaborated on a way that the war in Iraq could move ahead without sparking a religious war, and that the disagreement between them was orchestrated with this purpose in mind? CarrieTomko@aol.com

FREEMASONRY INSIDE THE CHURCH is a frequent theme of traditional Catholic writers. It was, then, with surprise as well as interest that I discovered this website. If you click the section 1 button at the bottom of the page, you will get a picture of the interior of the museum at the Grand Lodge of Costa Rica, complete with the case housing the mitre. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT was the subject of an editorial by Patrick Henry Reardon in the May 2003 Touchstone Unfortunately it isn't on line so I can't link it. The article is an excellent analysis of the nature of the First Commandment. Reardon places this commandment in a category all its own, explaining why the commandment is unique among the ten. A few quotes from the article: The FIRST of the Ten Commandments is the first rather, in the sense that it is the source and fountainhead of the other nine. The commandments are not equal, and the first is formally different from the others. Its priority, that is to say, is not just material but qualitative. Its "firstness" pertains to its essence, not merely to its assigned place in the Decalogue's sequential disposition. It is not only first, but THE first.... Analogously, the first commandment of the Decalogue is the ARCHE, the principle of the other commandments.... God's self-identification makes idolatry necessarily the first sin: "You shall have no other gods in my stead." All other sins are material extensions of idolatry. When men exchange "the truth of God for a lie," all other sins follow, because idolatry is the root cause of "all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness," and so on (Romans 1:18-32). It is always the case that those who worship demons do "not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts" (Revelation 9:20-21). That is the heart of my argument that kissing the Koran, bowing to Allah, and using a religious symbol to commit a heinous immoral act with a child, are equally wrong. All three acts are focused on the First Commandment, and all three use a symbol which is directly addressed to God, and proclaims either the reality of the Second Person in the Trinity or directly denies it. The message of all three acts is that Jesus is not God. Because Islam denies the divinity of Chirst, by bowing to Allah or kissing his book, Jesus is denied. And because the host is the panultimate symbol of Jesus Christ's presence among us, using a host as a "tool" to commit sin denies the sovereignty of Christ. The sin with the child violates more than one commandment. The sin of kissing the Koran or bowing to Allah violate only the First Commandment. But the violation of the First Commandment is the greater evil in all situations because God is greater than man, and hence the First Commandment is in a class by itself. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, June 06, 2003

WHEN CATHOLICS GET TOGETHER TO DISCUSS MUSIC FOR LITURGY it seems that "On Eagle's Wings" usually comes up. A lot of Catholics instinctively dislike it but don't know why. I've always been fond of it...till now. CarrieTomko@aol.com

MARK SHEA AND I HAVE REACHED AN IMPASSE IN HIS BLOG on the subject of the papal kissing of the Koran. It seems that he is rather upset with me and has chosen to reject my arguments from von Hildebrand, Belloc, Kreeft, and Newman that Islam is a heresy and we should not have interface with heresy. I suspect he has resorted to huffiness because he doesn't have a good response. Does that mean I've won the debate? CarrieTomko@aol.com

ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 there was news of a change in the Bible that was passed over because of the events in New York. This article also appeared in The Times and in the Guardian, though neither of these articles are on line any longer. The following comes from The Times article: Vatican allows Scrolls change The Vatican is to abandon decades of secrecy and obstruction to allow changes in the Bible based on revelations in the Dead Sea Scrolls, more than half a century after they were discovered. The extent of the changes is expected to be disclosed this month, but the revised version of the New Jerusalem Bible will take five years to complete. The scrolls have been the subject of controversy betwen Jewish and Roman Catholic scholars since they were found in caves at Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in 1947. The Vatican has been accused of keeping them secret for fear that they would undermine Christianity. In THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS DECEPTION, two British authors, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, accused the Vatican of suppressing the scrolls because they contained material at odds with accepted Christian belief. The quotations from Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln's book that I posted yesterday indicate these authors are hostile to Catholicism. Seeing them mentioned in an article about the Bible that is attributed to the Vatican certainly got my attention. Periodically since the article appeared I've searched the web for more information about this New Jerusalem Bible, but so far I haven't been able to learn anything else. CarrieTomko@aol.com


AN ARTICLE FROM CRISIS MAGAZINE about the war with Iraq which asks the question: This full-court diplomatic press by the Church has puzzled American Catholics, who support Bush�s war efforts roughly two to one. Were they being asked to choose between their pope and their president? To which I can only reply "Yes" and wonder why the Pope would choose to put American Catholics into such a quandry, especially when some of those American Catholics were on the ground in Iraq. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, June 05, 2003

THE CHURCH OPPOSES FREEMASONRY - BUT TAURAN IS DOING HIS OWN THING is the headline of an article at L'espresso today. The Vatican foreign affairs minister, Archbishop Jean Louis Tauran, sees the EU draft Charter article 51 of section I as being no problem for the Church. The pope's vicar, Camillo Cardinal Ruini sees it differently. He believes the article places the Church and Freemasonry on a level playing field and wants the lodges removed from the passage about religion. The pertinent passage in the story is this one: In the end, the positions of Ruini and the CEI appear to be opposed to those defended by the head of Vatican diplomacy, Tauran. Tauran and Valery Giscard d�Estaing, the president of the European Convention that is writing the Charter, are both French. If you read the website linked below for the French Gnostic Church, you will find out why Tauran believes they can be addressed together and why Cardinal Ruini calls the Philosophical and non-confessional organizations" Freemasonry. It looks like the French are going to win this one. That's two strikes against the Pope where this Charter is concerned. He wanted the Christian base of Europe mentioned in the Charter, and it is not going to be mentioned; and now it seems that Catholicism and Freemasonry are being put on a level playing field. CarrieTomko@aol.com

JOHANNITE CHRISTIANITY is described in this website of l'Eglise Gnostique, the French Gnostic Church. This falls under the heresy opposed by St. Irenaeus. It appeared as the Cathars or Albigensian Heresy in 1209 when a Crusade was launched against it. In the top left section of the website there is a symbol--a snake swallowing its tail, which is called the "ouroboros," a familiar symbol in Gnostic literature and a symbol used by the Theosophical Society. Inside the ouroboros is the rose and cross, which is used in various configurations by the Rosicrucians. For those who object to references to Freemasonry being used in connection with their opposition to the Catholic Church, please note that the Gnostics refer to themselves as Masons in the website. The apostolic succession of the Gnostic Church is given at this link. It relies on Old Catholic consecrations and the Vilatte succession. Tracking the history of Gnostic groups is difficult. They are plagued with schism and schism from schism. This is one of the better histories I've found so far. It does not even remotely cover all of the Gnostic organizations, but for the church in question here, it is a good history. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE MASONIC LEGACY by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln has more to offer than the investigation into the Priory of Sion. In fact, Sion is covered in the back section of the book. What the authors chose to discuss in the front section is a controversy I've come to think of as Johannite (or Gnostic) Christianity vs. Pauline Christianity. Catholics reading this blog are very familiar with Pauline Christianity. This is the doctrine of the faith based on Scripture and the Tradition of the Catholic Church. This is Sunday Mass Christianity, formed in large part out of the Epistles of St. Paul in combination with the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. The doctrines are spelled out in liturgy, in prayer and in our catechisms. Johannite Christianity, on the other hand, is not well defined. It's much more of a "develop it as you go along" Christianity, which posits that the Spirit leads each seeker in a way tailored to that individual. Thus Johannite Christians tend to hold a greater variety of beliefs. They look to the Gospel of John for direction, and to St. John the Baptist as a prophet. They believe that St. Paul and those who follow him hijacked the faith, shaping it to St. Paul's beliefs, and entrenching those beliefs in an organizational structure that in turn made war on those who took a different path. Some of the beliefs of Johannite Christians include: - Jesus did not die on the cross. - Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child or children. - Jesus had a biological brother or brothers. - There were two Jesus children, one of whom became the Christ. - Jesus was not divine. - A substitute or a Jesus twin was crucified in place of Jesus. - One does not seek the grace earned on the cross. Instead one seeks "enlightenment," which is also called Gnosis, through contact with the Spirit. - Jesus was not a carpenter, he was a stone mason or a teacher. - Jesus' family was not poor. They were part of the Jewish royal family. Jesus was truly the King of the Jews in an earthly sense. - Jesus was an Essene or a Nazarene. "Jesus of Nazareth" should have been translated "Jesus the Nazarean." There are many more ideas such as these floating around, but these are some of the main ones; the authors of Legacy have repeated many of them. Gnostic constructions of Christianity have taken a greater hold on the public's imagination since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Scrolls in 1945. Those scrolls which constitute the bulk of the Gnostic Scriptures are the cited source of many ideas the Catholic Church calls heretical. The majority of the ideas have been around since the Early Church and are currently getting a public recycling. Some of the Gnostics trace their organization to the Egyptian mystery schools. One example of this is the Labyrinth Project at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Those Egyptian mystery schools are sometimes claimed to be the source for Egyptian Rite Freemasonry--the esoteric kind found most often in the upper degrees of French Grand Orient Freemasonry. A few quotes from Legacy will give you an idea of the viewpoint of its authors. On p. 77-78 they berate St. Paul saying: Instead of making converts to Judaism, Paul makes converts to his own personal and 'pagan' cult of Jesus, while Judaism as such becomes incidental, if not irrelevant....Paul replaces [Judaic worship of God] with worship of Jesus as God. In Paul's hands, Jesus himself becomes an object of religious veneration--which Jesus himself, like his brother and the other Nazareans in Jerusalem, would have regarded as blasphemous....It is from Paul, and Paul alone, that a new religion begins to emerge--not a form of Judaism, but a rival and ultimately an adversary to Judaism. As Paul disseminates his own personal message, such Judaism as it contains undergoes a metamorphosis. It is fused with Greco-Roman thought, with pagan traditions, with elements from a number of mystery schools. The authors claim that Jesus deliberately contrived events so that they would appear as though they fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. On p. 86: He [Jesus] is not conforming to their pattern by 'miraculous accident'. On the contrary, he is carefully, deliberately, and often methodically and painstakingly modeling his career and his activities according to the statements of the prophets. On p. 89: But it is certainly possible, at least, that he [Jesus] survived the Cross--if, indeed, it was he who was on it in the first place, rather than the substitute claimed by the Koran and by many early heresies. The authors go on to claim that Jewish Nazorean teaching survived the fall of Jerusalem and subsequently appeared under the names Ebionite, Zadokite, Gnostic, Manichean, Sabean, Mandaean, Nestorian, and Elkasaite. (p. 104-105) In some texts they say that Paul is pictured as the enemy. As the Jews were dispersed, this Nazorean teaching dispersed with them, surfacing in Spain, and finding its fullest expression in Celtic Christianity in Ireland. The book discusses the influence of occult doctrine on Nazi Germany, saying: Himmler himself spoke frequently of geomancy, 'earth magic', and ley lines, and he liked to fantasize about Wewelsburg as an occult 'power centre' similar (as he imagined it) to Stonehenge. The official journal of the AHNENERBE--the 'research bureau', so to speak, of the SS--used often to publish articles devoted to such subjects. (p. 160) The book argues that Nazism was conceived as a state religion of Germany, saying: Nazism, as we said before, was not merely a political philosophy or ideology which "duped" the German people. It was a religion, which exercised the hold it did precisely because it performed the traditional religious function of imparting meaning and coherence to a world in which those essentials were appearently lacking. It is in this respect that the Third Reich offers perhaps its most pertinent object lesson today, and its most dire warning. Many people at present, disillusioned with materialism, advocate a state based ultimately on spiritual principles. This appears to be one objective of the Prieure de Sion....'Spirit', running amok, is far more dangerous than mere matter. 'Holy war' can be the most unholy war of all, whether it be waged by Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East or Christian fundamentalists in America. (p. 161-162) The Roman Catholic Church comes under criticism on p. 167: ...the Roman Catholic Church, under Pope John Paul II, has been positively retrogressive. During the last few years, Rome has displayed a blinkered obliviousness, attempting to entrench itself behind outmoded values which are not only inapplicable to the contemporary world, but which impose an ever more onerous strain on credibility and thus authority. To promulgate obsolescent dogma, while studiously ignoring questions pertaining to the role of women, to birth control and abortion, to the prospect of over-population, is to abdicate responsibility. In effect, the Church is no longer ministering to her congregation, no longer discharging her obligations to her flock, no longer providing for their needs. Discussing the nature of religious rituals, the authors say: Its function is to create a state of mind essentially similar to trance, or to light hypnosis. In such a state, the individual's self-awareness is mesmerized into quiescence. He can then be absorbed into something greater--the congregation or the mob, the idea, the atmosphere, the values being promulgated. Very often, this sensation of liberation from oneself, of being subsumed by some other entity, conduces to an excitment so intense it amounts to ecstasy. In its psychological dynamic, if not necessarily in its content, such ecstasy has much in common with what is called the 'religious experience', or the 'mystical experience'. This, of course, is what can be discerned at work in evangelical meetings, for example, when people enter a state of rapture and begin 'speaking in tongues', or break down in tears, or collapse in epileptic-like seizures. It is what sects or cults in almost all religions practice. (p. 175) Developing further their theory of ritual on p. 205: ...magic in its various forms, astrology, alchemy, symbolic systems for divination such as Tarot or the I Ching, physical or mental disciplines such as yoga and the Cabala--has existed for as long as organised religion itself, if not indeed longer. It has, of course, been fashionable, for at least three centuries, to scoff at esoterica. Among scientists and churchmen today, it is fashionable to deplore the eagerness with which the esoteric is often embraced. One even periodically hears self-proclaimed 'moral reformers' muttering darkly of 'witchcraft' and 'paganism'. But the resurgence of esoterica in our own age is not just a fad, a passing trend. It is symptomatic of a profound malaise, and a very genuine need. It attests to how grievously organised religion, science and the programmes of 'moral reformers' have failed to answer that need.. Concluding this front section of Legacy the authors state: On the level of historical fact...there can be little dispute that Jesus, as 'saviour', has proved a singnal failure. That, naturally, is hardly his fault, for he had no intention of functioning as 'saviour' in the sense subsequently ascribed to him. (p. 217) In the final paragraph of this section they introduce their discussion of the Priory of Sion with these words: Society will continue to avail itself of one or another 'crutch'. This being the case, it is a matter of choosing one's 'crutches' wisely. What remains to be established is the kind of crutch--assuming there to be one--that the Prieure de Sion might have to offer. (p. 223) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

INVESTIGATING THE PRIORY OF SION as described in The Da Vinci Code has been a focus for researchers Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, since the 1980s. A second book on the Priory, The Messianic Legacy, was published in 1986. In it they pick up the investigation where it was left at the end of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The authors indicate that once the first book appeared the volume of information received, both factual and faulty, increased by "torrential proportions." One source used for the second volume was a series of Priory panphlets written by the Marquis Philippe de Cherisey. Other sources which were discounted included people who claimed to be of Merovingian descent. The first volume "also seemed to spawn a cottage industry for publishers on the subject of Rennes-le-Chateau," according to the authors. The book recounts a search for the documents supposedly found by Berenger Sauniere in the church at Rennes-le-Chateau in 1891 which involved bank vaults in France and England. There were also conversations with the then Grand Master of the Priory, M. Plantard, who resigned both the Grand Mastership and his membership in the Priory on July 10, 1984. From that date onward information about the Priory dried up. At the time the book was written the authors seemed to believe the trail had gone cold. Some interesting opinions were presented. The book indicated that M. Plantard was influential in bringing Charles De Gaulle to power in his leadership capacity with the French Committees of Public Safety, swaying public opinion to the support of De Gaulle. The Priory had both an English and an American contingent. Several of the Englishmen were members of the Board of Directors of Guardian Assurance, or associated with the company in some capacity. The Knights of Malta, the CIA, the French Internal Security Service, British Intelligence, and the Vatican are all mentioned in connection with some documents that may have been forged. The P-2 Lodge which was heavily involved with the Vatican Bank scandal is discussed, as are Opus Dei, Licio Gelli, Archbishop Marcinkus, Cardinal Danielou, Rosicrucians, the First National Bank of Chicago, and others that investigators into the network behind the scandal are familiar with. Curiously, M. Plantard edited a journal called Vaincre, said to be a French Resistance journal, and the house organ of an organization called Alpha Galates. There were six editions of the journal. Articles contained covered neo-Zoroastrian theosophy, Tibetan initiates, hidden cities in the Himalayas, Celtic 'wisdom traditions', Atlantis. The orientation of the journal was esoteric, pagan and theosophical, drawing on traditions of gnosticism and various forms of heterodox or heretical Christianity. Yet the man who edited the journal was later to become the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion which the authors claim was founded on Catholic principles in its statutes. The book indicates focus of the Priory to be (or to have been as the case may be) to promote a "United States of the West." A stated objective of Alpha Galates was "the creation of a 'new western order' a 'young European chivalry' whose keynote was to be 'Solidarity'. Within each European nation, this organization, known as 'Solidarity', was to represent 'the first stage of the United States of the West'." Further, "According to Vaincre and Alpha Galates, chivalry was to be the instrument of national renewal for France..." In retrospect the book raised many questions and answered few. There are enough loose ends and hints at intrigue to provide subject matter for many more books. Perhaps that was the intention. There is a picture, taken in 2000, of Michael Baigent here in the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre in London. CarrieTomko@aol.com

LOOKING AT ORTHODOX CHURCHES causes me to reflect on the nature of beauty. What is it? But more importantly, why does man have the need for it and the ability to create it? Why do we value artistic expression? Starting from the premise that the creative instinct is a gift from our Creator, I thought about why, exactly, He gave it to us? What did He intend that we should do with it? That led me to a consideration of the history of art. It doesn't take long when considering artistic expression to realize how much of it is dedicated to things religious. Certainly European art is filled with religious symbols. Oriental art is as well. Could it be that the reason we are creative, the reason we can find beauty in nature and in artistic expression, is that works of art are intended by our Creator to teach us something about Him? The more I thought about it, the more sure I became that there was some truth in that. God gave us the ability to appreciate beauty and to make things that are beautiful as a way of getting to know Him better, and also perhaps as a way that we could express our need to worship Him. Art, then, would be put to its most noble purpose when it is used to glorify God. With that thought in mind, I then reflected on what has happened to Roman Catholic churches over the last 40 years. It seems we have been missing the message. Or perhaps merely ignoring it. Because we have turned a lot of beautiful churches into stark and barren affairs offering no food for the soul. But the world is not bereft of artistic religious expression. The Orthodox offer some very fine examples of it in their church interiors, and particularly in the iconostasis. Here are a few of them: Church of the Holy Trinity at the Russian Orthodox Monastery, Jordanville, New York. Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Smolensk Sts Peter and Paul Parish in the City of Toronto The interior of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, Vilnus Lots of pictures of churches in Saint Petersburg CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, June 02, 2003

ORTHODOX CHURCHES, of which St. Basil's is probablyone of the more spectacular examples, have always intrigued me. Usually the pictures of this church in Red Square are black and white. This one in color is quite stunning. [The scenery in the foreground isn't bad either. :) ] CarrieTomko@aol.com

FATHER C. JOHN McCLOSKEY EVANGELIZES in the shadow of the White House. "Call it evangelism. Call it evangelization. It's just what we're supposed to do." But words like "conversion" and "evangelism" draw attention when a priest's pulpit is located on K Street, only two blocks from the White House. The flock that flows into the center's 100-seat chapel for daily Mass includes scores of lobbyists, politicians, journalists, activists and executives. So it's no surprise that McCloskey's views have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today and elsewhere. His feisty defense of Catholic orthodoxy has landed him on broadcasts with Tim Russert, Bill O'Reilly, Paula Zahn, Greta Van Susteren and others. This is a classic case of location, location, location. McCloskey feels right at home. The 49-year-old priest is a native of the nation's capital, has an Ivy League education and worked for Merrill Lynch and Citibank on Wall Street before seeking the priesthood through the often-controversial Opus Dei movement. He arrived at the Washington center in 1998.... Many disagree. Slate.com commentator Chris Suellentrop bluntly said that while the urbane priest's style appeals to many Washingtonians, ultimately he is offering "an anti-intellectual approach. All members of the church take a leap of faith, but McCloskey wants them to do it with their eyes closed and their hands over their ears." It is also crucial that McCloskey openly embraces evangelism and the conversion of adults from Judaism, Islam and other world religions. For many modern Catholics this implies coercion, manipulation, mind control and, thus, a kind of "proselytism" that preys on the weak. In recent discussions of overseas missionary work many Catholics have suggested that they no longer see the need to share the faith with others and invite them to become Christians. The bottom line: Protestants do evangelism. Protestants try to convert others. In the wake of Vatican II, Catholics have outgrown this kind of work. "That's pure trash. That's a false ecumenism," said McCloskey. "That's simply not Catholic teaching. The Catholic church makes exclusive truth claims about itself and cannot deny them. It doesn't deny that there are other forms of religion. It doesn't deny that these other forms of religion have some elements of truth in them. ... "But we are proclaiming Jesus Christ and where we believe he can be most fully found and that's the Catholic church. We cannot deny that." CarrieTomko@aol.com

FRENCH PRIEST REFUSES TO MARRY couple who refuse to have children. Playing by the rules, a priest in the Metz Diocese has told a couple he will not marry them because they admitted to him that they do not intend to have children, due to an illness of the bride's which the couple do not wish to risk passing on to another generation. CarrieTomko@aol.com

KIND WORDS FROM BUSH FOR JPII have been spoken from Wawel Castle. Will it pave the way for repaired relations between the US and the Vatican when Colin Powel meets with the Pope today? CarrieTomko@aol.com

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