Saturday, November 29, 2003

THE STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA according to an article at "World on the Web" reporting on the results of a George Barna poll: SECULARISTS, LIBERALS, AND MUSLIMS DO NOT need to fear conservative Christians, says Dave Shiflett in The Wall Street Journal. Christians, he says, are not all that interested in converting the heathen. They don't really believe that there is such a thing as the heathen, tending to believe instead that every religion is equally valid."Even the most feared of Christians�the dread 'born-agains' who have cost the high priests at People for the American Way so much sleep�often embrace the modern orthodoxies of tolerance and inclusion over the traditional teachings of their faith." The Author, Gene Edward Veith, gives this description of the state of Christianity: Either way, this is strong evidence of how American Christianity is conforming to the dominant secular culture. It is all right to be religious, according to the dictates of postmodernism, as long as your faith exists just in your head. If you start claiming that your beliefs are more than just a private mental state that makes you feel good, asserting instead that what you believe is objectively real and valid for everybody, then you are an intolerant menace to society. Many Christians apparently agree, feeling solace in their own private mental decisions and mystical experiences, without reference to the God outside themselves who is revealed in His Word and in His slain and risen Son. That, in a nutshell, describes the difference between modern-day so-called "fundamentalists" and everyone else. And these "fundamentalists" come in every religious variety, but most especially in "Christian." The article closes with this passage, indicating that the confusion about religion is cultural, not merely Christian: At least Christians are not the only ones addled by their culture into holding contradictory beliefs. Atheists are just as confused about their theology. "Half of all atheists and agnostics say that every person has a soul, that heaven and hell exist, and that there is life after death," reports Mr. Barna. Moreover, "one out of every eight atheists and agnostics even believes that accepting Jesus Christ as savior probably makes life after death possible." They believe that accepting Christ can bring eternal life, even though they don't believe in Jesus Christ. Just like "nonevangelical born-agains." CarrieTomko@aol.com

ORDER OUT OF CHAOS It's the motto of Scottish Rite Freemasonry: The Symbol of the Double-Headed Eagle The double�headed eagle was probably first accepted by Masonry, as a symbol, in the year 1758. In that year the body calling itself the Council of Emperors of the East & West, was established in Paris. The double-headed eagle was in all probability adopted by this Council, which claimed a double jurisdiction; one head inclined to the East to guard any and all who approach from that direction, the other head guarding the West for a like purpose. The Council adopted a ritual of twenty�five degrees, all of which are now contained in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, to which eight more were added subsequently so as to make the thirty�three Degrees of which our Rite is now composed. Now it's also the title of a book by Paul Joseph Watson, a conspiracy theorist who says that every article he has used to make his claims is available online and can be cross-checked. So what claims does he make: -- Both the Clinton and Bush administrations protected Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network before September 11; -- The highest levels of the US government were complicit in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; -- Many of the named 9/11 'suicide hijackers' are still alive and the real culprits have never been officially identified and more. CarrieTomko@aol.com

RAYMOND LULL Married man, Franciscan Tertiary, alchemist, author, missionary, beatified by Pope Pius IX, 1847, according to the Catholic Forum. Krown & Spellman Booksellers describe one of his texts, Opera Omnia Quibus Tradidit Artis: Lull (ca. 1232-1315) Spanish philosopher, alchemist, Catholic martyr. His works on occult philosophy, memory, and alchemy were basic to Renaissance magic. "As the inventor of a method which was to have an immense influence throughout Europe for centuries, Lull is an extremely important figure. Lullism is a precursor of scientific method. Lullian astral medicine developed into Pseudo-Lullian alchemy. The great figures of Renaissance Neoplatonism include Lulliiam in their interests, and naturally so since Lullism was the precursor of their ways of thinking. And from the point of history of religion and of religious toleration, surely we admire Lull's vision in taking advantage of the unique concentration of Christian, Moslem, and Jewish traditions..."{Francis Yates,Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age,1979.] Stephen Hoeller, Bishop of the Gnostic Catholic Church, places Raymon Lull into the same category as Meister Eckhart, Paracelsus, and Jacob Boehme, all recognized alchemists and heremeticists. The Catholic Encyclopedia says this of Raymond Lull: Doctor Illuminatus", philosopher, poet, and theologian, b. at Palma in Majorca, between 1232 and 1236; d. at Tunis, 29 June, 1315. Probably a courtier at the court of King James of Aragon until thirty years of age, he then became a hermit and afterwards a tertiary of the Order of St. Francis. From that time he seemed to be inspired with extraordinary zeal for the conversion of the Mohammedan world. To this end he advocated the study of Oriental languages and the refutation of Arabian philosophy, especially that of Averroes. He founded a school for the members of his community in Majorca, where special attention was given to Arabic and Chaldean. Later he taught in Paris. About 1291 he went to Tunis, preached to the Saracens, disputed with them in philosophy, and after another brief sojourn in Paris, returned to the East as a missionary. After undergoing many hardships and privations he returned to Europe in 1311 for the purpose of laying before the Council of Vienna his plans for the conversion of the Moors. Again in 1315 he set out for Tunis, where he was stoned to death by the Saracens. Also included in the Catholic Encyclopedia's description of Lull: He held that there is no distinction between philosophy and theology, between reason and faith, so that even the highest mysteries may be proved by means of logical demonstration...This of course removed all distinction between natural and supernatural truth. The first part sounds like the claims in Fides et Ratio where we read: 43. A quite special place in this long development belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.(44) 45. With the rise of the first universities, theology came more directly into contact with other forms of learning and scientific research. Although they insisted upon the organic link between theology and philosophy, Saint Albert the Great and Saint Thomas were the first to recognize the autonomy which philosophy and the sciences needed if they were to perform well in their respective fields of research. From the late Medieval period onwards, however, the legitimate distinction between the two forms of learning became more and more a fateful separation. As a result of the exaggerated rationalism of certain thinkers, positions grew more radical and there emerged eventually a philosophy which was separate from and absolutely independent of the contents of faith. Another of the many consequences of this separation was an ever deeper mistrust with regard to reason itself. In a spirit both sceptical and agnostic, some began to voice a general mistrust, which led some to focus more on faith and others to deny its rationality altogether. In short, what for Patristic and Medieval thought was in both theory and practice a profound unity, producing knowledge capable of reaching the highest forms of speculation, was destroyed by systems which espoused the cause of rational knowledge sundered from faith and meant to take the place of faith. The entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia for Raymond Lull goes on to state: Raymond's rationalism was of the mystic type: he taught expressly that, for the understanding of the highest truths, reason must be aided by faith; that once faith has flooded the soul with its radiance, reason, enlightened and strengthened by faith, "is as capable of showing that there are three persons in one God as it is of proving that there cannot be three Gods". Yet despite the similarity to Acquinas and despite the fact that John Paul II says nearly the same thing, this reasoning cost Lull canonization. The Encyclopedia states: The Church authorities, however, recognized the dangerous consequences which follow from the breaking down of the distinction between natural and supernatural truth. Consequently, in spite of his praiseworthy zeal and his crown of martyrdom, Raymond has not been canonized. His rationalistic mysticism was formally condemned by Gregory XI in 1376 and the condemnation was renewed by Paul IV. Lull, however, was never excommunicated. CarrieTomko@aol.com

A DISTURBING THOUGHT... In my diocese and in many dioceses across the U.S. a time is fast approaching when we will not have a priest in the parish. Traveling priests will be the nature of parish life of the future unless the trend in ordinations reverses. Dioceses, my own included, have already begun to prepare for this eventuality. There is discussion of parish Sunday rituals which will not include consecration. Consecrated Hosts will, I presume, come from some other source than the ritual we attend. For me, at least, this will raise the spectre of doubt about the nature of the Host I receive. Since there are instances of pagan ceremonies taking place in the church not only in Brisbane as the linked report below indicates, but also in some American parishes. There is also a concern about the proper words of institution being used in various places. If the Host we receive is presented to us as consecrated elsewhere or at another time, what will we rely on as a guarantee that the proper words of institution were used? And without assurance, why would we necessarily assume without question that the Host is the Body and Blood of Christ? If there is doubt, will the ceremony used at a given parish on a given Sunday morning when no priest is available be any different than a Protestant bread blessing ceremony? And if it is no different, why then, would it be wrong to seek out the best Protestant preacher on a given Sunday morning instead of attending the ritual sans Sacrament, at the local parish? CarrieTomko@aol.com

MORE ON ECUMENISM In a message to the Nov. 4 Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Pope John Paul II said "Little by little as we progress, the obstacles are easier to identify and the difficulties are more clearly seen." The focus of the council meeting was the development of a "spirituality of ecumenism" a spirituality which the pope said was necessary especially during this "intermediate period" of ecumenism when so much progress has been made, but new obstacles seem to have stalled the process. What, exactly, is a "spirituality of ecumenism"? Is it a spirituality that replaces "Catholic spirituality," for instance? And how is this new spirituality of ecumenism going to meld Catholic spirituality with non-Catholic spirituality, given that they are frequently at loggerheads? Does one faith or the other have to give up what it believes? Will opposing viewpoints both be incorporated into a single belief system, making "spirituality of ecumenism" the equivalent of "schizophrenic spirituality"? CarrieTomko@aol.com

PAPAL ADVISOR ON INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE FROM 1995-2000 and General Council of the White Fathers in Rome, Fr. Richard Nnyombi expresses his beliefs on ecumenism via an article by Mathias Mazinga at allAfrica.com. Some of Fr. Nnyombi's beliefs: Nnyombi supports Christian-Moslem dialogue, to foster justice and peace, and he wants people to be witness this. He criticises individuals who treat Islam as a monolithic community. He maintains it is wrong to associate terrorism with Islam, because different categories of Islam have made different experiences.... In 1999, while visiting the Tangaza Theological College in Kenya, Nnyombi organised a course under the topic of Christians-Muslims, Co-Pilgrims and Co-Witnesses in today's Society. He also wrote a book called Christian-Muslim Reflections, and articles related to interfaith dialogue.... Interestingly, Nnyombi does not wear a clerical shirt.His argument is that it places him in an exclusive "class."This prevents him from relating freely with the people.... CarrieTomko@aol.com

HENRI TINCQ INTERVIEWS KONRAD RAISER From the archives of the Worldwide Faith News, an interview with the outgoing General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, conducted by Henri Tincq, religion news editor of the French daily "Le Monde." The interview discusses mostly ecumenism and details changing trends in the Orthodox acceptance of it. It also touches on a retrenchment taking place within all Christian religions, summarized in Dominus Iesus, that indicates a crisis of identity is profoundly disturbing. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CELEBRATION CEREMONY FOR CARDINAL PELL'S ELEVATION to the college of cardinals broke with tradition by having a prayer service instead of a Mass, according to Catholic News. The reason for the change was the desire to accommodate ecumenism. The Australian reports that this allowed representatives of Protestant faiths, including Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen and Rev Alistair Christie from the NSW Uniting Church to join the occasion. After the prayer, Cardinal Pell - described by The Australian as "resplendent in scarlet robes and his three-peaked cardinal's cap" - told the packed cathedral of his intention to strengthen ecumenical relations. "Friendship, common prayer, dialogue (and) co-operation between different Christian churches is the future of life in Sydney," he said. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CURIOUS COINCIDENCES An apparently clandestine announcement is made that Fatima will become an interreligious center at the October 10-12 pan-religious conference held in Fatima titled "The Present of Man - the Future of God." The Dalai Lama was a speaker at that conference. Less than two months later Zenit reports that the Dalai Lama has a private meeting with John Paul II for the purpose of discussing interreligious dialogue, without allowing the latter to be conditioned by political motives, as the I story linked yesterday indicates. Now comes this article by Christopher A. Ferrara titled "Fatima Perspectives." From the article: Readers of this column will recall Fidel Castro�s fondness for "ecumenism" (one of those vague post-Vatican II terms whose meaning no one quite understands). Castro is so fond of ecumenism that he insisted an ecumenical center be built in Cuba ahead of schedule. As I wrote in an earlier column: "Why is the old commie so eager to finish the �ecumenical center�? Well, because the �ecumenical center� will not be Catholic, but multi-religious in its activities." ("Castro the Ecumenist," Dec. 2001) ������� Well, it turns out that Cuba�s old commie dictator has something in common with Russia�s new young dictator. Yes, Vladimir Putin is an ecumenist too! As reported by Zenit on November 4, 2003, "Putin said he aims to promote Christian unity when he visits John Paul II on Wednesday." ������� The term "Christian unity" is just another way of saying "ecumenism." You see, "Christian unity" is the goal of "ecumenism," although it seems no one can quite explain how there can be "Christian unity" without all Christians belonging to one and the same Catholic Church. Putin, like all "ecumenists," means something other than conversion to Catholicism when he speaks of "Christian unity." ������� Indeed, the new ecumenical version of the Message of Fatima denies that the conversion of Russia has anything to do with Russians becoming Catholics. Oh no, the Fatima revisionists tell us, Our Lady of Fatima was calling only for "Christian unity" � just like Vladimir Putin. ������� Putin the Ecumenist rather vaingloriously declares: "I believe that my objective is to foster the unification of Christianity, taking the opportune steps and not so much to enable the Pope to come to Russia." So, the Pope won�t be coming to Russia � not that it would make any real difference if he did � but Putin will be taking "steps" to foster "Christian unity." And what "steps" would those be? Don�t expect any concrete answers, for there is nothing concrete about "ecumenism." CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, November 28, 2003

THE DALAI LAMA VISITED JOHN PAUL II in a private session, the second such visit. Zenit reports: The private character of the visit -- it was not announced in the Holy See's press bulletin -- is due to the desire to promote interreligious dialogue, without allowing the latter to be conditioned by political motives, Vatican sources stated. That the Vatican spokesman emphasized the "exclusively religious content" was intended to avoid touching upon Chinese political issues. The Dalai Lama had to leave Tibet following the 1959 invasion of the territory by the Chinese army. It is not the first time that the Pope's audience with the Dalai Lama had a discreet character. The Buddhist leader's visit on May 20, 1996, was not announced either, nor was it published in the Vatican press office bulletin. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CATHOLIC SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIMS IN BRISBANE have involved the Sisters of Nazareth House: During this time at Nazareth House, Lizzie claims she was raped by a nun with a flagstick "to get the devil out". The nuns running the orphanage turned a blind eye to her being raped by two different priests. She recalls being forced to eat a nun's faeces and rotting fish crawling with maggots. She was made to drink her own urine. The porridge often had weevils in it, and when she threw it up, she was forced to eat the regurgitated food. She was beaten with sewing-machine cords. She was forced to sleep at night with her arms crossed over her chest and if she moved in her sleep, she would be beaten. Lizzie's allegations have never been tested in a court of law. But some of the horror is corroborated in statements of claim filed on behalf of 16 women and one man in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1999 against the Corporation of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Trustees of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth. The statements are a dismal charter of cruelty and torture, bordering on the macabre. Besides Lizzie, there are other women who say they were sexually assaulted by nuns, as well as by priests. The church and the Poor Sisters of Nazareth have never admitted liability. An out-of-court settlement was reached instead, with compensation of as much as $75,000 each depending on the level of physical and sexual abuse. The victims also received an apology with their cheque. Lizzie says the money means "jack". For another victim, Bobbie Ford, who started the group in 1997 to take the fight to the nuns, the payout, too, means nothing. "It is not going to give us back our souls," she says. "It's not going to mend and heal our souls and the Catholic Church are supposed to be the people that look after children's souls, you know? But they haven't. They have crushed us instead." She feels cheated that the nuns will never face court to answer for their alleged crimes. If she could have had her day in court against the nuns, she says, rather than pick up one dollar, she would have been happy. "I feel they've got off scot-free." Sister Clare Breen, regional superior of the Sisters of Nazareth, has been involved in the process of assessing the women's stories and working out how to help them. She says she has met a number of the claimants. "We have just said to them that we are sorry that they've got unhappy memories of the past. The people who were involved in the care of the children, most of them, all of them, really, are no longer alive so we can only go on the words of the ex-residents so we are just sorry that they've got those unhappy memories." Breen was not aware there were allegations in the statements of claim of sexual abuse by nuns in the orphanage. She also says she knows some women who were in the orphanage at the same time who flatly denied that the alleged incidents occurred. The quest for justice will always be problematic for victims of the Catholic Church because the alleged offences happened so long ago. In many cases, it is unlikely the perpetrators will ever be brought to book. One of the accused, Sister Bernard Mary, has denied the allegations and a Queensland police spokesperson says she is now living overseas. He says the claims were investigated in 1999 but no action was taken. New information has recently come to light and consideration is being given to reopening the case. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE online. Archbishop Bathersby comments at the diocesan website: In May 1843, Archbishop John Polding of Sydney brought a group of Passionist Missionaries to these parts to minister to and learn from the Aboriginal people of Stradbroke Island. 160 years later, as we work through the Synod Outcomes promulgated in July 2003, we seek to remain faithful to our primary mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to all areas of human life. Everything I have heard about the missions in earlier times indicated that they traveled to foreign lands to teach, not to learn. Apparently the bishop promotes charismatic renewal via the program called "Setting Hearts on Fire" or "PrayerFIRE" which has a link on the diocesan website that ultimately takes you to this website. The "Latest News" link in the PrayerFIRE website offers pictures of the Synod 2003 ceremonies. Here they are. I see that the potter is pictured. The Lepanto League of Australia article that I have blogged below says of the potter: It would appear that it was no coincidence that four huge clay pots were positioned in the sanctuary. This is common in druidic practices. The smaller clay pots themselves - which have been distributed to every parish - represent, in pagan terms, the earth mother. These were apparently blessed, (Leader report) to make them "living symbols". The folklorist J. C. Cooper says, "Many old cultures accord a magical or spiritual significance to the making of pots, for in the process, the four elements of earth, air, fire and water come together. When clay is shaped into a vessel, it becomes a universal feminine symbol. A vessel that represents 'the womb of the Great Mother'." And another picture shows the ribbons--being used in liturgical dance--that the Lepanto article speaks of. The message of this webpage in the PrayerFIRE website is a good one. Here is the Synod 2003 website. The potter with one of his creations is pictured here. The Synod hymn is good poetry. It can be interpreted in a very solidly Catholic way. It can also have other interpretations more nature centered. It is very much earthbound. There is no transcendence here. The theme of this Synod is that man is to make his world better. The three visuals for the Synod as pictured at the bottom of this webpage seem to be seriously lacking in Catholic images. Man is plainly present in two of them. And the pot is there, along with the ribbons. But where is an image for God? I get the feeling that they concentrate solely on the activities of man. I see that the stars are there and oriented in a Christian, not a pagan, way. But the lack of God images in these logos is curious. The webpage for the "Second Preparation Day" contains the documents and worksheets used. Lots of paperwork. Lots of stuff to stuff in the file. Is this what we have to do now to improve our spirituality? Fill out worksheets? Hmmm. It's one way to make sure that all those in attendence go away with the "correct" ideas. Some people would call it "busywork." Others might use the term "brainwashing." Returning to the Lepanto League website, a statement on the appalling state of the Archdiocese turns up. Specifically: The remnant 13% of Catholics still attending Mass regularly in the Brisbane Archdiocese have expressed their hopes, their ideas and many of their frustrations with their Church in the submissions they have made to the Synod 2003 Consultation. As well there have been many deep expressions of Faith and love for the Church. However, overwhelmingly the message received by the Archbishop - either directly, or implicit in the content of the submission, is clear. It is this: "Teach us our Faith!" "We are ignorant!" Thirteen percent still practice the faith. And that thirteen percent do not know the faith. Thus pots and ribbons can be offered to them as representative of Catholic images. Earth-focused theology is the concept that is intended to spark a renewal of the faith. Strange. "AD2000 - a journal of religious opinion" offers some commentary on the Synod: One of the proposals, "Building Communities of Faith", includes reference to a need for faith formation through small groups, with formation material requested from the archdiocese. The success of this approach will obviously depend on the calibre and reliability of the materials, e.g., being solidly grounded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Yes, indeed. The thirteen percent who do not know the faith are certainly vulnerable. Coverage of the Synod in Catholic News portrays a gathering similar to the Second Vatican Council as reported in Fr. Wiltgen's The Rhine Flows into the Tiber. This model for change has been around for awhile. Will the Church in Brisbane recover from what looks like near extinction in these reports? Only time will tell. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, November 27, 2003

MY SOUL, GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD, all my being, bless His holy name. My soul, give thanks to the Lord and never forget all His blessings. It is He who forgives all my guilt, who heals every one of my ills, Who redeems my life from the grave, who crowns me with love and compassion, Who fills my life with good things, renewing my youth like an eagle's. The Lord does deeds of justice, gives judgment for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses and His deeds to Israel's sons. The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy. His wrath will come to an end, He will not be angry forever. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our faults. For as the heavens are high above the earth so strong is His love for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our sins. As a father has compassion on his sons the Lord has pity on those who fear Him. For He knows of what we are made, He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flowers like the flower of the field; The wind blows and he is gone and his place never sees him again. But the love of the Lord is everlasting upon those who hold Him in fear; His justice reaches out to children's children When they keep His covenant in truth, when they keep His will in their mind. The Lord has set His sway in heaven, and His kingdom is ruling over all. Give thanks to the Lord, all His angels, mighty in power, fulfilling His word, who heed the voice of His word. Give thanks to the Lord, all His hosts, His servants who do His will. Give thanks to the Lord, all His works, in every place where He rules. My soul, give thanks to the Lord. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

PAGANISM IN BRISBANE'S CATHEDRAL A reader sent this website for the Lepanto League of Australia where this article appears, which opens with this disturbing evidence: How could it happen? Pagan and occult symbolism chosen to launch and promote Brisbane Archdiocese SYNOD 2003. If you are puzzled then you are not the only one. If you are one of those Catholics completely bewildered about the significance of a proliferation of clay pots around the place, of all the rainbow streamers and staffs, then you are right to be a little uneasy Are you increasingly fearful that pagan/occult influences are running loose behind the liturgical fa�ade of the archdiocese? Then you are not alone! There are enough signs and portents.It was all dramatically presented at St. Stephen�s Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday, June 3 last year 2001 when SYNOD 2003 was launched, (according to the �Catholic Leader� 3.6.01) �in a blaze of colour and ceremony�.�Four colourful banners representing the elements of EARTH, AIR FIRE AND WATER�, we are told by the Leader, �were used to LEAD people into the Cathedral� �Four large clay pots were a centerpiece of the ceremony for the introduction of each of the elements.� �Four synod issues corresponding with each of the elements, were spelled out during the liturgy�. Many then felt the first shiver of unease. The ceremonial use of the elements of EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER are pagan and/or occult in their significance and have been since time immemorial. They are the core around which most occult ceremonies are based. Is this an exaggeration? Try this: type "EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER" into your internet search engine and see what turns up. We will be surprised if nineteen out of twenty sites listed will not be pagan, magic, wicca, witchcraft, occult and/or satanic sites. EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER are used symbolically in druidic, Masonic and shamanic practices. (�The most important symbol of witchcraft is the Pentacle. The Pentacle � or Pentagram � is a witch�s symbol of protection and positive power. In its most accepted esoteric form (two points down, one point up) the pentagram stands for spirit ruling of the world of matter as represented by the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.)The elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water are referred to in many different contexts in Scripture. But not together as a whole. Together they are recognized as the generic code of the occult. Anyone with the most superficial knowledge of this symbolism, yet knowledge enough and influence enough to propose it and have it accepted for use for the occasion of this Synod would, you would think, have to be aware of these origins. The detailing of these origins is not sensational scaremongering but factual. It leads directly to the "Ancient Wisdom" teachings of Alice Bailey. This occult university is more active than ever these days and continues to be the main training ground for New Age disciples. There appear to be two levels of new agers. Those who simply go along with the drift of social change and are looking for �self-fulfillment� and those students of �Ancient Wisdom�: initiates of Bailey. As far back as 1954 they boasted 20,000 graduates. This is no third rate occult organization. "Lucis (Lucifer?) Trust" is a powerful organization that enjoys �Consultative Status� with the United Nations, including a seat on the weekly sessions and influence with powerful business and national leaders worldwide. How does the Synod prayer go? �Help us to recognize wisdom even from unlikely sources.�Was there any significance in the fact that Holy Mass was not included in the �blaze of colour and ceremony� at the Synod launch? The coding has been double checked in the template. However, if the link doesn't work, I will not be surprised. I'm having problems accessing the website tonight. CarrieTomko@aol.com

GROUND WILL BE BROKEN IN DECEMBER FOR THE NEW FATIMA BASICILA According to a story in Zenit: The growing number of pilgrims to Fatima made it necessary to come up with a plan, among other reasons, to shelter them from the inclement weather. As a result, an international architecture competition was convoked four years ago, which was won by Greek architect Tombazis. In an interview published last Thursday in the Italian newspaper "Avvenire," Tombazis said that his Orthodox faith posed no problem as "an architect must be able to respond to different needs." The new building will face the existing Basilica, on the opposite side of the esplanade. Its inauguration is planned for May 13, 2007, on the 90th anniversary of the apparitions. Hmmm..."among other reasons"...a whole new religion could be contained in those three little words! CarrieTomko@aol.com

IT SOUNDS LIKE A BOMBSHELL but there has been little discussion of it that I'm aware of. It's dated Nov. 9. From David Virtue: SECRET DOCUMENT REVEALS PRIMATES EXCOMMUNICATION PLANS SPECIAL REPORT By David W. Virtue A secret document drawn up by Primates of the Global South reveals that continued intransigence by The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada over matters of faith and morals, will result in their excommunication from the world-wide Anglican Communion. Sources have told Virtuosity that even though liberal American bishops seemingly answer to no one, they will be held accountable as this plan moves forward and its proposals implemented. One thing is clear, Dr. Rowan Williams will be forced to decide whether he wants to be the head of a North American denomination, much like the autonomous Methodist Church, or the leader of a world wide Anglican Communion. But he must do something, because to do nothing will be a de facto decision to lead a schismatic denomination instead of a communion. The majority of Primates of the Anglican Communion, more than 25, are fully prepared to break communion with him, as the document suggests, if he himself does not break communion with ECUSA revisionists. This does not mean the end of the Anglican Communion, said a source to Virtuosity. "It will not end because the Global South Primates, and orthodox believers, men and women true to their ordination vows, will in faithfulness and obedience, reorganize the Church without consenting bishops, and that includes Frank Griswold, and Rowan Williams. By Dr. Williams silence and acquiescence the circumstances he creates will preclude him." The timetable stands, and only a full repentance by revisionist bishops before Easter Day will stop this surgical removal from the Anglican Communion of innovators and heretics. The document was leaked this week to VIRTUOSITY and reveals that those who gave consent at General Convention or voted for C-051 (local option and the blessing of same-sex unions) would be reduced to observer status in the Communion (no voice, no vote). Furthermore V. Gene Robinson's ministry will have no standing in the councils of the Communion and those bishops who participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson will have their further participation in the Communion suspended. The bishops also put into place emergency mechanisms to protect dioceses, parishes, and clergy who maintain a commitment to the historic faith and order of the Communion, including those parishes and clergy located in dioceses where the bishop is under discipline by the Communion. The document also said that Bishop Ingham would be reduced to observer status in the Communion (no voice, no vote) and his further participation in Communion affairs would be suspended. The sweeping document was put together following the meeting of the CAPA bishops in Africa just two weeks before the Lambeth Conference met last month in London. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

WRITING ICONS is the subject of a long article from the December 2003 issue of St. Anthony Messenger Magazine online. The following is the opening of the article: Surrounded by religious paintings and statuary, Marek Czarnecki prepares to �write� an icon of St. Faustina Kowalska at Seraphic Restorations, his studio in rural Connecticut. Icons are, quite simply, tangible tools that Christians use when praying, he says. By no means are they merely a pious folk art. Because the artistic language of iconography is so exact, icons are said to be �written� rather than painted. When one of his icons was unveiled at the Springfield, Illinois, cathedral, Czarnecki told the diocesan newspaper, Catholic Times: �Creating an icon doesn�t feel like painting. It feels like writing and, in fact, what is portrayed cannot contradict written Scripture.� He added, �We can compare an icon to a carefully constructed poem. Indeed, this is why we call it icon �writing� instead of �painting.� Every �word� or element of it fits very concisely and precisely to contribute to the overall meaning and integrity of the whole.� The 39-year-old artist begins by mixing his pigment from ground precious or semiprecious stones, such as hematite, turquoise and lapis lazuli, with vinegar and the yolk of ordinary eggs. Working horizontally�tempera can be as runny as watercolor�with sable brushes, Czarnecki begins painting on a board, first glued with linen, then covered with gesso (a kind of paste). Carefully, precisely, he builds up the layers of paint, working from dark hues to lighter ones, whereas the typical artist applies lighter colors first. The religious significance of this counter-intuitive approach is the transfiguring of the world from darkness into light. �If I�m working on a blue robe, for example, I will begin with a layer of dark green paint, followed by a layer of green tempera with a bit of white mixed in and finally the blue itself,� says the unassuming iconographer, clad in plaid shirt and blue denim apron. �The layers of egg tempera give a depth to the colors that makes them almost jewel-like.� The work is slow and painstaking. Commissioned by a Franciscan friary in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the icon of St. Faustina Kowalska, a recently canonized Polish saint, will take hundreds of hours to complete. By the time he is ready to begin, the thoughtful and extraordinarily knowledgeable Czarnecki has done his homework on this visionary nun to whom Christ revealed himself: Czarnecki knows her history, he knows her likeness, he has visited her grave in Poland. He has already completed a prototype on paper. Since St. Faustina died in the 1930s, he was also able to take advantage of photographic images of her. He says, �I always ask myself, �How would this person want to see herself portrayed?�� CarrieTomko@aol.com

HANS KUNG BANISHED FROM CHURCH PROPERTY by Cardinal Ricard Maria Carl�s: Banned Swiss theologian Hans K�ng has challenged the Archbishop of Barcelona to a public debate after he was denied permission to use church property during a recent speaking tour. In explaining the decision, Cardinal Ricard Mar?a Carl�s said that K�ng�s canonical mission to teach as a Catholic theologian had been withdrawn by the Vatican. He castigated K�ng for marking the 25th anniversary of the papacy of Pope John Paul II by publishing an article that is "disrespectful and lacking in objectivity". K�ng had referred to the Holy Father's "authoritarianism" and "senility". The Tablet reports that K�ng's 11 November a talk to promote his autobiography was relocated from the fourteenth-century church of Santa Maria Del Pi to Barcelona University. His presentation was titled The Importance of Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue in my Life. He seems to think he has done nothing wrong, claiming "there has been enough dictatorship." Some folks would say there hasn't been nearly enough, but this is a good sign. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE EIGHTIES TAROT has been blogged by Fr. Bryce Sibley. I assume this is supposed to be tongue in cheek. Not even the occultists would take these descriptions seriously...would they? CarrieTomko@aol.com

WHEN PARANORMAL INVESTIGATIONS ENTER MAINSTREAM RESEARCH such as they are doing at Cambridge, does that mean that we are taking a delusion seriously or that there is no delusion? What then to make of researchers at an institute set up by the Iowa-based Maharishi meditation movement. They claim that meditation reduces violence in Israel and murders in Washington - and publish scientific papers saying so in peer-reviewed journals? Or publish peer-reviewed studies indicating that prayer lengthens lives, even when patients don't know that someone is praying for them? The few scientists working on paranormal research, often on their own dime, think they are following the rules of science yet being excluded from the playing field. ``There's really strong pressure not to allow these things to be talked about in a positive way,'' said Brian Josephson, a professor of physics at Cambridge University who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in physics for a fundamental discovery in superconductivity and now heads the Mind-Matter Unification Project at Cambridge. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, November 24, 2003

WHAT IS A "GAY JESUIT DEBUTANTE" I'd ask in the Catholic World News blog where I saw it in Diogenes blog "Anybody know which way is up?", but I don't subscribe. Should I be thinking "priest in white strapless formal" here? CarrieTomko@aol.com

GIRM and the ten bulletin inserts provided by Bishop Pilla to the Cleveland Diocese parishes has been a topic of discussion on Amy Welborn's blog more than once. We received insert No. 10 yesterday. It discussed Extraordinary Ministers, and contained no surprises. Also in yesterday's bulletin, in the section that containes a word from the pastor, is a clarification of the changes. I thought it might be of interest here. It says in part: We hopefully have been reading the ten liturgical inserts that have been in the parish bulletins - provided by the Diocese, and you have perhaps heard many various interpretations of this or that. It is admitted that there has been some confusion as to what is required by the instruction from Rome. We have to make a distinction between what is REQUIRED and what is the OPINION or LEANING by certain liturgists. -- We must distinguish between FACT and OPINION and so the following is an ATTEMPTED explanation of what IS and what appears to be some interpretation. As you may realize, some parishes may OPT for some of the OPINIONS of the liturgists. To be honest, there does seem to be confusing variances. More definitive clarifications will be needed as the days go on. And now, the following seem to be required by the GIRM: 1) During the Nicene Creed, please bow at the words "was born of the Virgin Mary and became Man." Please genuflect at these words on the Solemnity of The Annunciation (March 25) and on Christmas (GIRM 275) 2) Please stand after the Offertory at the words "Pray Brothers and Sisters...." 3) As we have always done here..., kneel from after the Sanctus to after the "Amen" concluding the Eucharistic prayer. All should kneel except those who are prevented to do so by reasons of health or lack of space, or some other good reason. (GIRM 43) 4) There should be times of silence during the penetential rite, after the readings, after the homily, and after Communion (GIRM 45) 5) The GIRM does not prescribe any gesture for the people during the Our Father. Some liturgists have suggested using the ancient "Orans" position in which the hands are raised. This is not a time for holding hands as some people have done. 6) At the Sign of Peace, there should be a dignified, symbolic gesture of an embrace, hand shake, or bow to those immediately around you saying "The peace of the Lord be with you." (GIRM 82 and 159)- 7) Effort will be made to distribute the Eucharist consecrated at the particular Mass (GIRM 85) 8) At the present time, the priest or the deacon will go to the tabernacle and pour the Precious Blood. 9) Each communicant should bow his or her head before receiving the Body or the Blood of Christ (GIRM 160) The normal posture in the U.S. is to stand when receiving Communion. 10) After receiving Communion, the communicant may either kneel or sit. (GIRM 43) Those "modifications" begin the first Weekend of Advent, November 29/30. If I, as your pastor, have missed something, it will be corrected in due time. I'm starting to notice more people bowing during the Creed, but bowers are still in the minority. However, the bow before receiving the Eucharist is catching on. Many are bowing from the waist. Others merely bow their heads. I didn't see anyone holding hands during the Our Father yesterday. A couple people used the orans position. It was not common, however. We continue to kneel in the pew after our individual reception of communion. I've also noticed that more people are folding their hands in the position that has the fingers pointing heavenward. It looks more reverent. It obviously requires thought and is not just second nature. I'm not comfortable with doing it, but think I would be a more pious person if I did learn to do it. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE UK has impacted schools in Scotland, where Muslims would like to have state supported religious schools for their children just as Catholics have. But what seems even more bizarre is this: The largest of the four schools - all of which have 90% Muslim pupils at the moment - is the Roman Catholic St Albert�s School in Pollokshields, which has 360 children. The others are Pollokshields Primary, with 350 children, Annette Street Primary in Govanhill, with 200 pupils, and Willowbank Primary in the Woodlands area of Glasgow�s West End.... A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church last night backed the Muslim campaign, and said the Church would have no problem allowing one of their schools to be changed from Catholic to Muslim. He said: "We are in favour of Muslim schools, we support faith schools across the board. In the case of St Albert�s, we see a school in which for 95% of the children the festival of Eid has more significance than Christmas or Easter. It is de facto not a Catholic school." But the local priest, Rev John Gannon, refused to comment on the possibility of St Albert�s becoming Muslim, praising its current ethos. CarrieTomko@aol.com

SANDRA MIESEL'S CRITIQUE OF THE DA VINCI CODE IS GETTING AROUND This article appeared originally in the South Bend Tribune. Brown's scenario of conspiracies and codes treats the Catholic clergy like a pack of sinister liars who covered up truth. He recycles propaganda from folks who dislike orthodox Christianity and favor the ancient world's rival secret-knowledge ("Gnostic") sects. ABC might have avoided embarrassment by scanning the article "Dismantling the Da Vinci Code" in Crisis, a conservative Catholic magazine. Free-lance writer Sandra Miesel provided one of the few serious historical analyses of this pop culture phenomenon. That's important because Brown's novel purports to draw upon historical research, though much of it came from Gnostic fans. The article goes on to list several of Sandra's points. CarrieTomko@aol.com

DID I READ THAT RIGHT? It's an article from the Irish Times that talks about the bombing at the British consulate in Turkey, and about the phone call in which a man claimed the bombing was the "joint work of al-Qaeda and IBDA/C." Right there in the middle of the article is this sentence: "Our attacks on the centres of international freemasonry will continue," he is reported to have said. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A COVER-UP IN LOS ANGELES, OR CHURCH PERSECUTION? The Los Angeles Diocese is still accused of stonewalling an investigation of priestly sexual abuse. Nothing new there, but this comment from the article is worth a second look: The case has astounded some legal experts for its level of secrecy. "They better have something important to cover up," Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said. "Otherwise, they are wasting a lot of good will. The more secret it is, the more tarnished the church will become." The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office and a team of media lawyers are challenging the archdiocese in the case, which is scheduled for a hearing Monday before the California Second District Court of Appeals. Lawyers for the archdiocese say their effort is not a cover-up, but rather a simple matter of law. They are asserting a First Amendment privilege of freedom of religion, an extension of priest-penitent confidentiality to cover communications between priests and their superiors, and adherence to the grand jury process that mandates secrecy. The archdiocese's attorneys characterize the legal battle over the church documents as "religious persecution." CarrieTomko@aol.com

ExWITCH MINISTRIES Ministering to those who wish to come to Christ. CarrieTomko@aol.com

PRIVATE MEETINGS BOTHER ME. ESPECIALLY TOP LEVEL PRIVATE MEETINGS What might Cardinal Law and the Pope have discussed in this private meeting? VATICAN CITY (AP) -- He has met several times with the pope, including on Friday, showed up at a Latin rite Mass in a Rome basilica and participated in the state funeral for Italians killed in Iraq. Nearly a year after resigning as archbishop of Boston to quell an outcry over the sex abuse scandal, Cardinal Bernard Law has emerged as a more visible figure in Rome than in his home country, where he lives in a Maryland convent. Cardinal Law did not relinquish membership on any of the nine Vatican congregations and councils that he belonged to before resigning in Boston. The Vatican press office announced Law had met Friday with Pope John Paul II, but said the meeting was private and that no details would be provided.... "Many believe, in essence, that Cardinal Law is banished, is persona non grata," Clohessy said. "It's been clear for a while that's not the case. It simply rubs salt in the wounds of many people who were needlessly victimized on his watch." Law didn't attend the July installation of his successor in Boston, Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley. But he is a familiar figure around the Vatican. One could certainly interpret this as a sign of approval in the Vatican. Very strange. Law doesn't announce his comings and goings and has not responded to interview requests. Shaughnessy and other defenders contend Law "got a raw deal" from the media and that he has much to offer the Church. "I can't believe the Holy Father would not take advantage of his skills," he said. Clohessy, however, said: "I believe he's forfeited the opportunity to use what skills and talents he has within the Church hierarchy." CarrieTomko@aol.com

U.S. HYPERSONIC WEAPONS PROGRAM The US military has begun development of an ultra-high speed weapons system that would enable targets virtually anywhere on Earth to be hit within two hours of launch from the continental US. Ten companies have been given grants by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Pentagon for six-month "system definition" studies. If the Pentagon likes the results, a three-year design and development phase will begin. CarrieTomko@aol.com

REMEMBER DIGITAL ANGEL? Now comes VeriPay. PALM BEACH, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 21, 2003--Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. an advanced technology development company, announced that the Company's Chief Executive Officer, Scott R. Silverman, in his speech today at the ID World 2003 in Paris, France, revealed the Company's newest subdermal RFID solution called VeriPay(TM). VeriPay is intended to be a secure, subdermal RFID (radio frequency identification) payment technology for cash and credit transactions.... In announcing VeriPay to ID World delegates, Mr. Silverman expressed his belief that VeriPay has enormous marketplace potential and invited banking and credit companies to partner with VeriChip Corporation in developing specific commercial applications, beginning with appropriate pilot programs and other market tests, for the VeriPay subdermal RFID solution. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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