Friday, May 09, 2003

From Stratfor comes this prediction about the political future of Europe. It sounds about right to me. Having abandoned dreams of Russia as a superpower, President Vladimir Putin and his associates appear to be pursuing a more realistic goal: for Moscow -- together with Berlin and Paris -- to become a leading voice within a united Europe, the world's potential second superpower. The big question, then, might be will the Pope be able to keep Europe Christian as he is trying to do? It's going to be an uphill battle! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sinead O'Connor wants to teach religion to primary school children and take up a ministry called "Death Midwives." Ooooook. CarrieTomko@aol.com

The lead story at Raiders is about scientists believing in ghosts. Honest. It says: A survey has lifted the veil on an unexpected secret - many scientists believe in ghosts. The survey of 18 scientists at Waikato University and Britain's Leicester University found that most were not willing to rule out the possibility that "some houses are haunted by ghosts". Many also believed it was possible that "wearing jewellery made out of certain crystals can help to keep you healthy", and that "in the past aliens from some other planet have landed on Earth". But most said astrology and palmistry were "almost certainly untrue", and all agreed there was almost certainly no truth in the ideas that breaking mirrors or "black Fridays" brought bad luck. CarrieTomko@aol.com

While the pope travels around the world enjoying the adulation of young people, this article in L'espresso online by Sandro Magister about a survey of Roman youth paints a different picture. Cardinal Camillo Ruini was flabbergasted when he saw the first results of a survey on Rome�s young people and faith. The idea of commissioning the survey came to him during the Holy Year of 2000 and after the festive show of religiosity demonstrated by the �papaboys,� the name Italian media gave the pope�s tens of thousands of youthful admirers. �Check it out,� he ordered a researcher he trusted, Professor Mario Pollo, teacher of social pedagogy at Rome�s Free University of Most Holy Mary Assumed, known by its Italian acronym, Lumsa. And here are the results, contained in a 400-page book published by Piemme. The book is titled �The Young Face of the Search for God� and contains a preface written by the cardinal who commissioned it. The data that most alarmed Ruini is evidence that the Christian faith is threatening to go extinct in Catholicism�s capital par excellence, the Rome of the popes. The new generations are the indication of this trend � more so among youths aged 16 to 18 than among those in the 24 to 26 age bracket, the two age groups examined in the survey. The vestiges of Christianity are resisting only within the restricted circle of those who are most faithful. But in society as a whole, the desert is advancing. �One is no longer born a Christian, one becomes one,� Ruini told the governing council of the Italian bishops� conference in late March. �And therefore we must draw the conclusions. We must begin evangelizing again.� CarrieTomko@aol.com

The sun should be shining but the street lights are on here. It promises to be a long day as the storms that rolled through Oklahoma yesterday are headed our way. The worst is supposed to arrive this afternoon. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

I wonder who will enforce the Church's ban on Masonic membership in this case? From Hoffman Lodge No. 412 F.&A.M., Middletown, NY comes this announcement: I have the distinct pleasure to announce that our Governor, the Honorable George E. Pataki, has accepted my offer to join our fraternity and become a Master Mason. On the cover of the next issue of the EMPIRE STATE MASON will feature him accepting my invitation at our meeting on June 6, 2002. Pictured also will be Brother Kurt Ott, Convention Chairman and Brother William Hetzler, both members of Schiller Lodge in the 9th Manhattan District. Brother William Hetzler is also the Assistant to the Governor for German Affairs and it was through his effort that the meeting was arranged and the Governor agreed to be a member of our beloved fraternity. Governor Pataki is Catholic according to this Online Almanac. This is the Church's position on Lodge membership. The Declaration on Masonic Associations from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says: It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church's decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous code. This sacred congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance is due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories. Therefore, the Church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and, therefore, membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful, who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion. Cardinal Egan, call your office! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Caligula??? What would this USCCB representative have us do, invite terrorists over here to have a blow up US buildings party? There is nothing unCatholic about self-defense! US Bishops' official identifies "ethic of fear" Post September 11 2001 jitters are leading the US to embrace a formula of instilling fear of the United States as a protection from catastrophic attacks that echoes the philosophy of the brutal Roman emperor Caligula, acording to the director of the Office of International Justice and Peace at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Gerry Powers was speaking at a forum to evaluate the legacy of the use of "preventive force" in the recent US invasion of Iraq.... "That formula might work for the New York Yankees, but it did not work for the Romans and it will not work for us," Powers said. "It will not work because it creates a cycle of fear that fuels a cycle of violence." Actually it worked very well for the Romans for a long time, and that was the reason small principalities sought affiliation with Rome. What didn't work for the Romans was decadence within. You know sort of like sexual abuse in the priesthood! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Here are a few more websites dealing with the cosmic rosary. First of all a picture of it. Then an article from EarthLight magazine. And a quote from the article: Science writer Connie Barlow, one of the beads' creators, is simply delighted how the phenomenon is unfolding. She cites the emerging trend as a classic example of the "parallel evolution--the same thing happening independently, in several places, nearly at the same time. The earth calling forth these ways of being," Connie reflected. Sister Gail Worcelo, co-founder of the Green Mountain Monastery near Weston, Vermont, was the first to hear the call. Sister Gail had felt drawn to create a special prayer form, which individuals could use to help heal the Earth. So, tapping into her Catholic heritage, she invented a set of wrist-sized Earth Prayer Beads.... A group of volunteers from Weston make the beads to help support Sister Gail's ecozoic monastery. The crafters use hemp for their handmade bead bags, and the set sells for $15. "Our intention is to bring the power of prayer to bear upon the needs of our planet. The journey around the beads is a way to awaken to the presence of the divine within the total sacred community of life," she said. Moving on, SistersOnline.org has an entry dedicated to the Cosmic Rosary. In that website, Joan Groschen, CSJ, Carondelet, St. Paul Province, says: I have been reading in the areas of spiritual ecology, cosmology and the works of great thinkers and scientists for some time. Lately, while working with the video series by Brian Swimme, Earth's Imagination, I came to envision some of this exploration in the context of the Rosary which offers us 15 mysteries of the life of Jesus. The Cosmic Mysteries pre-date all of these, of course, and offer a new set of mind boggling truths for ones prayerful consideration. All this is best expressed for me in the sentence: "The contemplation of the mystery of our creation from the heart of the mystery of God is the deepest root of all ministerial action." Thanks for Mary Ellen Sheehan, STD, IHM from Monroe, Michigan for this well worded insight. The website goes on to list the Cosmic Mysteries: First: The Big Bang Second: The Birth of the Stars Third: Planet Earth Fourth: Photosynthesis Fifth Earth's Imagination Lastly, there is an article at NCR Online titled "Rosaries Focus on Sacred Creation" by Sharon Abercrombie. Here's a quote from the article which is dated Dec. 13, 2002: Prayer beads, an ancient method for keeping track of one's religious recitations and meditations are evolving to keep pace with the expanding of spiritual consciousness about our planet. Internationally, the shift manifested itself in October when Pope John Paul II announced the beginning of a "Year of the Rosary" by adding five new mysteries dedicated to events from Jesus' public life. Called the Mysteries of Light, the new rosary theme focuses on Christ's baptism, first miracle, his preaching ministry, transfiguration and his institution of the Eucharist. Individuals who are drawn to the ecological spirituality movement now have their own special prayer beads as well. These rosaries are shaped around a growing awareness of the inherent sacredness of the Earth, of the Universe itself--beginning with the original "Mystery of Light"-- the transfiguration of what had been nothingness into the "Big Bang." That first spark of vast radiance that set the universe into motion. Passionist Srs. Gail Worcelo and Bernadette Bostwick have named their rosary "Earth Prayer Beads." Paula Hendrick has named hers, "The Cosmic Rosary." Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd have dubbed theirs "Great Story Beads." Amazingly enough, neither the nuns nor Paul Hendrick knew of the other's rosary. Each rosary evolved independently in several places, at about the same time. "It's the Earth calling forth these ways of being," reflected Barlow, a science writer and author of The Ghosts of Evolution. This calling forth has been an interfaith one. Only Worcelo and Bostwick are Catholic. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, May 04, 2003

You've heard of the Luminous Mysteries. Have you heard about the "cosmic rosary"? But wait minute, I've gotten a bit ahead of myself. In poking around the web to get an update on what the nuns are doing, I came upon the Association of Contemplative Sisters. It sounded good. I remember contemplatives as very holy people. Here is their website where you'll find the following: The Association of Contemplative Sisters is a network of three hundred women whose purpose is to foster, nourish and support the contemplative journey of its members. Past President Ginny Manss explained, "Its primary purpose has been to be an association. Its business is isness. One of its original goals, the one that has endured through the years, is to nourish the contemplative dimension of women (primarily) and men. The ACS was organized in 1969, at that time drawing members from at least thirty-five different Catholic orders of contemplative religious women. In 1986 laywomen were accepted into full membership. Today ACS is comprised of sisters in monastic and other religious communities, married and widowed women, single laywomen, consecrated virgins, hermits and women in lay contemplative communities. President: Sister Rosalie Bertell, G.N.S.H. Married contemplatives? Well, It's not the 50s anymore, I guess. These are the new "contemplatives" apparently, and Sister Rosalie Bertell is their President. I've heard of her before. She's on the International Advisors list of Global Education Associates and is a contributor to their magazine Breakthrough News. Who would ever expect a leader in GEA to be a contemplative! GEA is the group that promotes Earth Literacy and the EarthSpirit Rising Conference, follows Fr. Thomas Berry's "Ecozoic" leadership, teaches 8th graders in Africa to "condomize," promotes the Earth Charter and United Religions Initiative. Sr. Rosalie Bertell has been a contributor to three of the issues of GEA's newsletter which I have on hand. In one of them she says: If I had to name a sector of consumption which the global community could easily eliminate without another thought, it would be the military, whose resource consumption is staggering. Why do we need a military? It has become a parasite on civilization. The proverbial question, "Guns or butter?" may reach its ultimate resolution in our generation. and Certainly our Creator did not make the Earth to become a dead wasteland! She [no, it's not a typo] has given us abundant life and we must cherish and protect it... Well, maybe in the land of OZ, but I tend to think that we have enough enemies in the world to make giving up the military a very risky idea. Sr. Bertell is listed as director of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health in Toronto. Here is Sr. Bertell's bio. For a contemplative, she is a mighty busy lady! I wonder when she has time to contemplate? Sr. Rosalie is mentioned in the ACS Newsletter and so another nun, Sr. Gail Worcelo. From the newsletter: Sr. Gail Worcelo writes: Dear Friends, You have journeyed with us since our beginnings at St. Gabriel's Monastery; when we were welcomed into the Diocese of Vermont you blessed us and sent us on our way. /you were with us in prayer and spirit as we moved our library, greenhouse and vision of a new `Ecozoic Monastery' to the beautiful Green Mountain state and many of you have become part of that vision since our arrival here. We have great news and want to share our joy and excitement with you! After a two year search for land, we have found a magnificent parcel on which to build our dream! A dream that many of you have shared with us of a monastery where spirituality and care for creation come together. A place where we are no longer blind to Earth's suffering and the connection it has to human suffering; where the human and the natural world go into the future as a single sacred community. Now that we have found the land we are asking all our friends for financial assistance to help secure it. " Blessings, Srs. Gail and Bernadette Sisters of the Earth Community PO Box 146 Weston, VT 05161 Sisters of the Earth Community. Ecozoic Monastery. Hmmm. I wonder what the contemplative Sister Gail Worcelo does at an Ecozoic Monastery? Oh, here she is on retreat. Wow, in the first few days of her retreat she is thinking about God and talking about reading the Old Testament. This is good. But wait a minute, she's also talking about Thomas Berry, the priest who says we should put the Bible on the shelf and read the earth for 20 years. Hmmm. By day 7 she is talking about "sitting on my prayer cushion..." Catholics don't usually have prayer cushions, but Buddhists do. But then a prayer cushion is no big deal. I'm not so sure how she plans to "be the monastery she is," but moving on... By the end of day 7 she says: In a ritual gesture I offer the sword to the human community. I step into the center of the mandala which I have created in the woods out of pine branches and golden rod. In this sacred circle surrounded by the song of birds and buzz of insects, I hold an imaginary sword high in the air. May this sword slice through our inability to recognize Earth as a revelation of the Divine. I sure hope she never reads any magic rituals, because if she does she will find out just what sort of thing she has been up to! Swords and sacred circles are a part of occult ritual, and that reference to "Earth as a revelation of the Divine" comes mighty close to calling the Earth God. She ends day 8 with a poem. Here is an excerpt: As Sisters of the Earth Community, we turn to you Mary, in your manifestation as the Black Madonna. We ask you to awaken us to the sacredness of matter in our own bodies, in all of life, and in Earth itself. We call out to the voices of our ancestors � Give us guidance. Black Madonnas will have to wait until another time, but didn't she mean to say "saints" instead of "ancestors"? Maybe Sr. Gail Worcelo attended a retreat given by Connie Barlow or Michael Dowd, since it seems to be their retreat center where she spent the 8 days recounted above. Barlow and Dowd are staunch supporters of Fr. Berry's "Great Work." It seems that Barlow and Dowd are married. Michael Dowd, a former pastor, and Connie Barlow, an author of popular science books, embody the marriage of religion and science as husband and wife, according to the website. They do "stardust rituals." The references in the website in Nos. 6, 9, 15 to the Unitarians is interesting. So is the indication in No. 7 that Michael has a Pentecostal fervor. Seems like strange retreat territory for a contemplative nun. I guess the contemplative nuns have come a long way in their spirituality. This seems even stranger, and it brings me full circle to the "cosmic rosary." CarrieTomko@aol.com

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