Advent candles lit within my being,
Prayer like a torch,
Calling on the Spirit,
To light the lamp of vigil
And illuminate my soul.
Thanksgiving, a spot light,
Setting blessings all aglow,
While praise as a million votives
Ring Your manger in the night.
Though my soul be steeped in sorrow,
For the sin that went before,
My tears You turn to shining crystal
As the sea before Your throne.
O, Sun of Justice,
In Heaven you replace the shining stars.
Banish all darkness here below,
As once Your Star lit Earth’s long night
Alight all holiness,
As a rainbow green with Life,
Arches ’bout the celestial throne,
While incandescent angels
Sing with haloed headed saints.
Because You come,
This earthy life’s Tomorrows
Are bedecked in Hope
As You knock at ready virgins’ door,
The Promise ever before me,
You stand, an open door.
I, Bold Abandonment,
Before the throne of grace,
Sainted souls gleaming like electrum
Flashing love’s arrows as lightning.
Advent becomes Christmas in my soul.
By Joann Nelander
Here are my snippets from the week:
Come, Lord, Jesus;
Fill your temple.
Come, Breath of Life;
I breathe in the Spirit of God.
I breathe out the world.
I breathe in Jesus.
I breathe out the flesh.
I breathe in the holy.
I breathe out all that is of the Evil One
Come, Babe of Bethlehem;
Make me your manger.
Come, O Incarnate God;
Be born in open hearts, anew.
This poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson seems very appropriate for the New Year -the Advent New Year beginning today.
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Here are my snippets from the week:
Pope Benedict XVI’s opening address to the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East on October 12th,
Feast of the Divine Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Maternal Heart of Our Lady
Dear brothers and sisters,
On October 11 1962, 48 years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. At the time, on October 11, the feast day of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was celebrated and, with this gesture, with this date, Pope John wished to entrust the whole Council into the motherly hands and maternal heart of the Madonna. We too begin on October 11th, we too wish to entrust this Synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Madonna, the Mother of God.
Council of Ephesus
Pius XI, in 1930, introduced this feast day, 1600 years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated, for Mary, the title of Theotokos, Dei Genitrix. With this great word Dei Genitrix, Theotokos, the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine of Christ, of Mary, the whole of the doctrine of redemption. So it would be worthwhile to reflect briefly, for a moment, on what was said during the Council of Ephesus, on what this day means.
Through Mary: Within the Intimacy of God Himself
In reality, Theotokos is a courageous title. A woman is the Mother of God. One could say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human being be the Mother of God, of the Eternal, since we are all in time, we are all creatures? Therefore one can understand that there was some strong opposition, in part, to this term. The Nestorians used to say: one can speak about Christotokos, yes, but Theotokos no: Theos, God, is beyond, beyond the events of history. But the Council decided this, and thus it enlightened the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain in Himself: he went out, He united in such a way, so radically to this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and if we speak about Him, we can also speak about God. Not only was a man born that had something to do with God, but in Him was born God on earth. God came from himself. But we could also say the opposite: God drew us to Himself, so that we are not outside of God, but we are within the intimate, the intimacy of God Himself.
God Born From Woman
Aristotelian philosophy, as we well know, tells us that between God and man there is only an unreciprocated relationship. Man refers to God, but God, the Eternal, is in Himself, He does not change: He cannot have this relation today and another relationship tomorrow. He is within Himself, He does not have ad extra relations. It is a very logical term, but it is also a word that makes us despair: so God has no relationship with me. With the incarnation, with the event of the Theotokos, this has been radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created the relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and remain Himself: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act by Pope John, who entrusted the Council, Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with Her.
Christ Born to Create a Body for Himself
The Council began with the icon of the Theotokos. At the end, Pope Paul VI recognized the same title of Mater Ecclesiae to the Madonna. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, one single icon. Because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born – as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel – to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born – as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians – to summarize the whole world, He was born as the firstborn of many brothers, He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of summation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theos, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of He who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.
Our Lady of the Cenacle: Mary at the Heart of the Church
Saint Luke leads us to understand this in the parallel between the first chapter of his book and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which repeat the same mystery on two different levels. In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth to and gives us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is at the center of Jesus’ disciples who are praying all together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the Christus totus, of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us.
Cross and Resurrection
Birth in Bethlehem, birth at the Last Supper. Birth of the Infant Jesus, birth of the Body of Christ, of the Church. These are two events or just one event. But between the two lie truly the Cross and the Resurrection. And only through the Cross comes the path towards the totality of Christ, towards His resurrected Body, towards the universalization of His being in the unity of the Church. And thus, bearing in mind that only from the wheat fallen to earth can a great harvest be reaped, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of His disciples reunited in this His Body, dead and risen.
Mother of the Church and Queen of Martyrs
Keeping this connection between Theotokos and Mater Ecclesiae in mind, we turn our attention to the last book of the Holy Scripture, Revelation, where, in chapter 12, we can find this synthesis. The woman clothed with the sun, with twelve stars over her head and the moon at her feet, gives birth. And gives birth with a cry of pain, gives birth with great suffering. Here the Marian mystery is the mystery of Bethlehem extended to the cosmic mystery. Christ is always reborn in all generations and thus takes on, gathers humanity within Himself. And this cosmic birth is achieved in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of martyrs belongs to this cry of the Cross.
The Fall of the Divinities
So, at this moment, we can look at the second psalm of this Hour, Psalm 81, where we can see part of this process. God is among gods – they are still considered as gods in Israel. In this Psalm, in a great concentration, in a prophetic vision, we can see the power taken from the gods. Those who seemed to be gods are not gods and lose their divine characteristics, and fall to earth. Dii estis et moriemini sicut nomine (cf. Psalm 81:6-7): the wresting of power, the fall of the divinities.
The Triumph of the Martyred Children of Mother Church
This process that is achieved along the path of faith of Israel, and which here is summarized in one vision, is the true process of the history of religion: the fall of the gods. And thus the transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the loss of power by the forces that dominate the world, is a process of suffering. In the history of Israel we can see how this liberation from polytheism, this recognition – “Only He is God” – is achieved with great pain, beginning with the path of Abraham, the exile, the Maccabeans, up to Christ. And this process of loss of power continues throughout history, spoken of in Revelation chapter 12; it mentions the fall of the angels, which are not truly angels, they are not divinities on earth. And is achieved truly, right at the time of the rising Church, where we can see how the blood of the martyrs takes the power away from the divinities, starting with the divine emperor, from all these divinities. It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that makes them fall and thus transforms the world.
False Divinities in the World
This fall is not only the knowledge that they are not God; it is the process of transformation of the world, which costs blood, costs the suffering of the witnesses of Christ. And, if we look closely, we can see that this process never ends. It is achieved in various periods of history in ever new ways; even today, at this moment, in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the fall of the gods, with pain, the martyrdom of witnesses. Let us remember all the great powers of today’s history, let us remember the anonymous capital that enslaves man, which is no longer in man’s possession, but is an anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed. It is a destructive power, that threatens the world. And then the power of the terroristic ideologies. Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God, but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked; they are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a voracious beast, extends its claws to all parts of the world and destroys it: it is a divinity, but it is a false divinity that must fall. Or even the way of living proclaimed by public opinion: today we must do things like this, marriage no longer counts, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.
The Marian Mystery
These ideologies that dominate, that impose themselves forcefully, are divinities. And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall, what is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the dominations, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. On this battle we find ourselves in, of this taking power away from God, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of the Apocalypse mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot be harmful. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that does not have a place anymore in front of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple at heart, that does not allow itself to be overcome by these rivers and saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says – the first psalm of the Hour – the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf Psalm 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church. And we have returned to the Marian mystery.
The Unshaken Foundations of Faith
And there is also a final word in Psalm 81, movebuntur omnia fundamenta terrae (Psalm 81:5), the foundations of earth are shaken. We see this today, with the climatic problems, how the foundations of the earth are shaken, how they are threatened by our behavior. The external foundations are shaken because the internal foundations are shaken, the moral and religious foundations, the faith that follows the right way of living. And we know that faith is the foundation, and, undoubtedly, the foundations of the earth cannot be shaken if they remain close to the faith, to true wisdom.
Entrustment to the Mother of God
And then the Psalm says: “Arise, God, judge the world” (Psalm 81:8). Thus we also say to the Lord: “Arise at this moment, take the world in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth”. And we once again entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, to Mary, and pray: “You, the great believer, you who have opened the earth to the heavens, help us, open the doors today as well, that truth might win, the will of God, which is the true good, the true salvation of the world”. Amen
To the Wound in Jesus’ Side
O painless thrust of the spear
forever awaited with passionate love by my Saviour
that thou shouldst repair in the Father’s sight
the terrible wound opened by the sin of Adam
in the heart of humanity!
O glorious wound,
gushing forth life, love, and peace!
I adore thee inexhaustible wellspring of salvation,
the womb of new children
born of the water and of the blood of the Bridegroom.
Thou art for me an ever open refuge,
the door giving access to the nuptial chamber,
the vestibule of the banquet of the Lamb.
The living water that, at every moment, springs from thee,
invites me with the language of love
to enter, through thee, into the heart of my Saviour
that therein I might take the regenerating rest of new life
and spread it all about me
just as the bride coming forth from the nuptial chamber
radiates among her friends the signs and the sweetnesses of love.
Be thou for me, then, O blessed wound,
my blissful abode.
May I be drawn always to thee,
that in thee I may live and die.
In thee may I find the splendid riches
which eye has never seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart experienced.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
glory of my mind, joy of my eyes,
melody of my ears, gladness of my heart,
and peace of my soul.
I am Thine for time and for eternity;
nothing shall ever separate me from Thee,
for Thou hast espoused me,
drawing me with bands of goodness to Thy open side
and pouring out of Thy heart into mine
the joys of the Spirit
and the mercy of the Father who always hears Thee.
The Medjugorje Webcam produced by Queen of Peace Productions and MedjugorjeVideo.com write:
There is a 6-hour time difference between Medjugorje and U.S. Eastern Standard Time, so, depending on your location, when it is daytime for you, it may be nighttime in Medjugorje, and vice versa.
When it is daytime in Medjugorje, you can see Apparition Hill. At the top right corner of the image is the white statue of the Blessed Mother, which marks the place where the six visionaries experienced their first apparition. According to the third secret that Our Lady entrusted to the seers, the “permanent sign,” prophesied to be miraculous and indestructible, will appear on Apparition Hill.
I just watched this again, It makes me feel so good I end up with tears in my eyes. Guess I’m a sucker for togetherness. Enjoy!
With this instruction of St. Columbanus, I include a prayer I posted earlier this week, because it seemed to apply.
From the Instructions of St Columbanus
Perpetual light in the temple of the eternal High PriestHow happy, how lucky are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes! How blessed it is to be wakeful and watching for God, who created all things, who fills them with being and exceeds all of them in greatness!I am a lowly creature but I am still his servant, and I hope that he will choose to wake me from slumber. I hope that he will set me on fire with the flame of his divine love, the flame that burns above the stars, so that I am filled with desire for his love and his fire burns always within me!I hope that I may deserve this, that my little lamp should burn all night in the temple of the Lord and shine on all who enter the house of God! Lord, I beg you in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son and my God, give me a love that cannot stumble so that my lamp can be lit but can never go out: let it burn in me and give light to others.And you, Christ, our gentle saviour, in your kindness light our lamps so that they shine for ever in your temple and lighten our darkness and dispel the shadows of the world.I beg you, my Jesus, fill my lamp with your light. By its light let me see the holiest of holy places, your own temple where you enter as the eternal High Priest of the eternal mysteries. Let me see you, watch you, desire you. Let me love you as I see you, and before you let my lamp always shine, always burn.Beloved Saviour, show yourself to us who beg a glimpse of you. Let us know you, let us love you, let us love only you, let us desire you alone, let us spend our days and nights meditating on you alone, let us always be thinking of you. Fill us with love of you, let us love you with all the love that is your right as our God. Let that love fill us and possess us, let it overwhelm our senses until we can love nothing but you, for you are eternal. Give us that love that all the waters of the sea, the earth, the sky cannot extinguish: as it is written, love that no flood can quench, no torrents drown. What is said in the Song of Songs can become true in us (at least in part) if you, our Lord Jesus Christ, give us that grace. To you be glory for ever and for ever. Amen.
You, My Lord, light up my darkness. I join my voice to the bright “Hosannas” of adoring angels. With the elect of Heaven here at my side, I call upon these holy saints and angels to remember before the throne of God all who labor in Your vineyard. Make me Your monstrance that I may carry You in my heart and be Your light to all I meet today. Amen.
by Joann Nelander
My mom sang this song for me when she was about 78 years old. She was almost as cute as this cutie. Enjoy! A good way to end the day. Sweet dreams!
Shirley is 82 and still kickin’:
The great religious song I am a poor wayfaring stranger… interpreted by Johnny Cash.
You, My Lord, light up my darkness. I join my voice to the bright “Hosannas” of adoring angels. With the elect of Heaven here at my side, I call upon these holy saints and angels to remember before the throne of God all who labor in Your vineyard. Make me Your monstrance that I may carry You in my heart and be Your light to all I meet today. Amen.
by Joann Nelander
RAnn of This, That and the Other Thing graciously hosts Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival giving Catholic bloggers a chance to share their favorites posts with one another. Join the fun, and leave a comment. Here’s my contribution for this week:
Why apart? From the in-gathering, all embracing Mother Church you flee, to remain apart all the while, calling and yearning for your God. You flee and I run after you, pursuing you at every turn, and twist and fall. I reach and you pull your hand away. Why not stay? My Body yearns for you. My members long to know you.
I wait upon your prayers with angels ready to dispatch.
O, Pardoned Soul, you seek your God in myriad ways, I am here, wedded to My Bride, always at her side. promised never to depart. You hold yourself apart.
You’ve built a chapel in your heart for others that play God,
I call and draw you by Love within the chapel of your heart.
You sigh as I tug at heart strings tight and taunt. You resist Me for fear they’ll break. I woo, I’m told to wait. You say you are not ready for Love’s music.
“Measure me Your Love,” you say. “Give comfort, strength and sure supply, but do not on my ‘Yes’ rely.”
Perhaps the Bride, the Church, who bears My Word forth unto all centuries, has words you n’er obey, in dread fear of the “ought” you can not bear. You will your will be done on earth and choose to judge all heaven. You want only love’s first glance, the sweet embrace and kiss upon the cheek, nothing too dear, nothing too deep. It seems a bitter end, to lose yourself in giving all, O Measured One.
You know Love comes with a Cross, a Cross you fear to carry. You choose to stay apart and skirt the Cross. Alas, the world without has crosses, too. They may come disguised in promised delight, but soon you’ll drag that empty dream uphill. How long one longs and labors longingly and all alone beneath the weight of vanities profane, I do not say. I only await a cry, a plea, glance of recognition. When our eyes meet, then our hearts meet; at long last your leap into the arms of One Who grasps you in your fall.
Be mine as Church joined to Husband. At last the Lord of All can leap the walls you’ve built about yourself to know you now within His Sacred Heart, bearing your cross in His,making all things new and all your burdens light. Count now as joy life without measure.
Fear not my Church. She is My Spouse, My very Body; I ,the Head.
I woo and wait, now, as Groom upon the altar. You must give yourself away.
by Joann Nelander
Thank you, dear Lord, for my life long,
for beloved family and friends,
and all dear hearts touching mine.
My treasure trove of souls
spills far beyond my time
to number as my own
those who have gone before,
your saints of ages past,
the cloud of witnesses on high
and pure angelic beings
in realms veiled from the eye.
There never was a day in which I was alone,
nor forgotten before Your throne.
There, at Your feet,
all heaven sweet anthems raise
to set celestial hearts ablaze.
My heart with choruses
swell my love,
grown great in gratitude.
I make a small return of love beside Your All Love.
You count my debt as paid
and bid me enter courts of praise.
By Joann Nelander
Lord, be the Alpha and Omega of my moments this day.
Be the beginning and end of my every thought, inclination and desire,
the motus primo primi of my every action.
I offer you each breath I draw,
every heart beat.
I expose to Your Merciful Heart my every sin,
failure and fault.
I lay my complaints at your feet and nail my concupiscence to Your Cross.
You, Lord, are my Heart, and my Healing,
You are purest Mercy.
Be my All in All.
by Joann Nelander
Night and day, I dream of heaven.
O, not the dream that slumber brings,
that mirage that is tortuous,
with struggles and comings and goings,
jumbles and journeys
taking me far, far from home.
No, I speak now of the dream of my heart.
I dream of heaven, the cry of my heart.
With longing and yearning and surety of soul,
I labor in love for a home that I know.
Through all life’s long journey,
my days are replete
with a pilgrim’s desire,
that sheds light ‘to my feet.
Though weary, and broken, I no longer doubt,
That all heaven is waiting to welcome with shout,
one miserable sinner, it can’t do without.
By Joann Nelander
Lest we forget:
BBC News reporting on Liu Xiaobo (pronounced Liew Sheeow-boh)
China has angrily condemned the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
The Beijing government summoned the Norwegian ambassador in protest. It called Mr Liu a “criminal”, saying the award violated Nobel principles and could damage relations with Norway.
The Norwegian Nobel committee said Mr Liu was “the foremost symbol” of the struggle for human rights in China.Continue reading the main story
US President Barack Obama called for Mr Liu’s immediate release.
“We call on the Chinese government to release Mr Liu as soon as possible,” Mr Obama, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, said in a statement.
“Over the last 30 years, China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.
“But this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected,” Mr Obama said.
Other Western countries have also urged China to release Mr Liu.
‘Insult’Mr Liu, 54, was a key leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
Last year he received an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion” after drafting Charter 08 – which called for multi-party democracy and respect for human rights in China.
Announcing its 2010 peace prize in Oslo, the Nobel Foundation said: “Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China’s own constitution and fundamental human rights.”
I was surprised when Beijing decided to celebrate (!) the thirtieth anniversary of the One-Child Policy this week. I thought, quite frankly, that the declaration of a national day of mourning would have been more appropriate.
But I was even more taken aback when the head of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, a woman named Li Bin, announced that China would continue to enforce this same Draconian policy for “decades” to come.
Decades? This is, after all, a policy that has led to a slaughter of the innocents of Biblical proportions. Hundreds of millions of women have been forcibly aborted and sterilized. Homes have been razed, livestock confiscated, and exorbitant fines levied. In all, 400 million people are missing from the Chinese population as a result of the one-child policy. Like previous Chinese Communist Party-orchestrated disasters such as the Great Leap Forward, or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, this policy, too, has been a disaster for the Chinese people.
I should know. I was in China when the one-child policy began 30 years ago.
What I saw then, living in an agricultural commune in rural Guangdong, rivals anything that happened in Nazi Germany. One day in 1980 several hundred young mothers, all pregnant with second or higher-order children, were ordered to attend population control meetings. There they were told that they would all have to abort their pregnancies. Those who refused were arrested for the “crime” of being pregnant and locked up until they, too, buckled under the pressure and submitted to an abortion.
At that point they were taken to the local medical clinic and given a lethal injection into their uterus. If their bodies did not expel their dead or dying babies within two days, they were subjected to a cesarean section abortion. Most horrific of all, babies born alive were killed by means of an injection of formaldehyde into the ”soft spot” on the crown of their heads. Those few women who managed to escape arrest and had their babies in secret were assessed heavy fines.
Everything that I witnessed then, from the forced abortions of women in the third-trimester of pregnancy to government-sanctioned infanticide, is still happening now. Those women who manage to avoid the dragnet by going into hiding are now subjected to even heavier fines, which currently run three to five times the family’s annual income. Those who can’t pay this huge amount have had their homes destroyed and their possessions and livestock confiscated.
Moreover, such a child remains a “black child,” that is, one who does not exist in the eyes of the state. Such children are nonpersons, turned away from the government clinic if they fall ill, barred from attending a government school of any kind, and not considered for any kind of government employment later in life. They are not allowed marry or start families of their own, since the government has decreed that “black children” will not be allowed to reproduce. One generation of illegals is enough.
The Chinese government, supported by foreign population control zealots, believe that its program should be held up as a population control role model for the rest of the world. In reality, it should be roundly condemned for its widespread and systematic violations of human rights, especially the rights of women.
But even those who shy away from defending China’s brutal repression of its population sometimes argue in favor of the one-child policy on other grounds. China is often held up—by the UN Population Fund, for example—as a positive example of a county that has been able to slow population growth rates dramatically, and which has achieved prosperity as a result. But to praise the country that has become the ugly poster child of forced abortion and coerced sterilization for the economic growth that these inhuman policies have supposedly generated is not only inconsistent, but also wrong.
China is clearly worse off economically as a result of eliminating from its population 400 million of the most productive and enterprising people the world has ever known. China’s astonishing economic performance—its annual GDP growth over the past three decades is close to 10%—is not only a tribute to the tremendous work ethic of the Chinese people, but also has led to labor shortages in China’s coastal provinces. Every baby born in China today is a net economic asset. How much more would China have been able to achieve with an even larger population?
Some would argue that adding people would overburden the Chinese environment, but the PRC has been an ecological disaster zone from the time of Mao’s forced-pace industrialization programs in the 1950s. The same remains true today, as the Chinese leadership remains far more concerned about the economic growth rate than about ensuring that the populace has clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Witness the government-mandated shutdown of all factories in the Beijing region in the days leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Once the athletes (and the foreign journalists) were gone, the smokestacks resumed spewing out their plumes of black smoke. Nothing had changed. This is to say that the sorry state of China’s environment has far more to do with misguided political decisions, and the lack of public accountability for the actions of both government and privately owned businesses, than it does with the number of people.
The one-child policy has been a social disaster as well. Two generations of Chinese have grown up with no siblings, no cousins, and no aunts and uncles. This radical shrinking of the boundaries of the family is, in itself, is a great poverty. Then there is a problem of female infanticide and sex selective abortion, which has eliminated tens of millions of little girls from the population, leaving an equal number of young men without brides to marry. Prostitution, homosexuality, and gang activity are on the rise as a result.
Finally, there is the demographic snare that the one-child policy has set for the Chinese people. Because of the radical cutback in births, the Chinese population is aging faster than any human population in human history. The worker/dependency ratio is unsustainable. How can an only child support two parents and four grandparents in retirement? I am afraid that this will lead the Chinese government to embark upon a “one-grandparent policy” in years to come, in which tens of millions of elderly Chinese will be urged to accept euthanasia, perhaps in return for their only grandchild being allowed to go to college. Forced abortion and forced euthanasia are two sides of the same debased coin.
For all its failings, I do think that the one-child policy has served one important purpose as far as the Chinese Communist Party is concerned: It has helped to maintain the muscular rigor of the one-party dictatorship that rules China. China is a police state, after all, and such a state, to remain strong, must have something to police. Economic controls have been loosened over the past 30 years, so control over other aspects of life must be tightened. The brutal one-child policy is one consequence of such a system’s relentless drive for control over people’s lives.
Do I think that the Chinese Communist Party really intends to continue, as Li Bin asserts, its one-child policy “decades” into the future? Absolutely. And it will certainly never admit that the policy was a mistake. One-party dictatorships don’t make mistakes of such consequence—at least if they want to stay in power.
One of the best things we can do in reference to protecting our own lives from the culture of death is to fill out the “Will to Live” document. These documents have been prepared by our friends at National Right to Life, in conjunction with legal experts, to conform to the laws in each of the 50 states. I would like to send one to you, and you can order it at http://www.priestsforlife.org/store/p-250-will-to-live.aspx . There is no charge. This document is meant to protect you. The danger in our day is not that we will have treatments we don’t want; the danger, instead, is that we will not have treatments that we do want. The “Will to Live” lets you indicate in advance that you want the care that is morally obligatory, that you do not want your life to be taken, and that if you cannot speak for yourself, a person you appoint and who shares your values and understands your desires will speak for you. This arrangement can not only spare your life, but can preserve your loved ones from the confusion and anguish that can happen if they don’t know your wishes. The case of Terri Schiavo, in which I was deeply involved, is an example, click here for an eyewitness account of that case. Because illness or tragedy can strike at any time, the “Will to Live” is for adults of all ages. The “Will to Live” is important, because we cannot predict the future, or know in advance what form of sickness or disease we may be afflicted with in the years ahead. We do not know what treatments we will need or what will be available. We do not ever want to pretend, therefore, that we know what kind of medical treatments we will want to use or avoid in the future. It makes no sense to decide on treatments before we even know the disease. Not every medical treatment is always obligatory. But to figure out which treatments are obligatory, morally speaking, and which are only optional, one must know the medical facts of the case. These facts are then examined in the light of the moral principles involved. But to try to make that decision in advance is to act without all the necessary information. People already have the right to make informed consent decisions telling their family and physicians how they want to be treated if and when they can no longer make decisions for themselves. Doctors are already free to withhold or withdraw useless procedures in terminal cases that provide no benefit to the patient. Some people fear that medical technology will be used to torture them in their final days. But it is more likely that the ‘medical heroics’ people fear are the very treatments that will make possible a more comfortable, less painful death. A safe route is to appoint a health care proxy who can speak for you in those cases where you may not be able to speak for yourself. This should be a person who knows your beliefs and values, and with whom you discuss these matters in detail. In case you cannot speak for yourself, your proxy can ask all the necessary questions of your doctors and clergy, and make an assessment when all the details of your condition and medical needs are actually known. That’s much safer than predicting the future. Appointing a health care proxy in a way that safeguards your right to life is easy. Order your “Will to Live” today at http://www.priestsforlife.org/store/p-250-will-to-live.aspx . Please be sure to indicate what state you want it for, especially if you are getting one for someone who lives in a different state than you. Please also let others know of this offer.
An instruction by St Vincent of Lerins
The Development of DoctrineIs there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of one and all, of individuals as well as of the whole Church, ought then to make great and vigorous progress with the passing of the ages and the centuries, but only along its own line of development, that is, with the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import.The religion of souls should follow the law of development of bodies. Though bodies develop and unfold their component parts with the passing of the years, they always remain what they were. There is a great difference between the flower of childhood and the maturity of age, but those who become old are the very same people who were once young. Though the condition and appearance of one and the same individual may change, it is one and the same nature, one and the same person.The tiny members of unweaned children and the grown members of young men are still the same members. Men have the same number of limbs as children. Whatever develops at a later age was already present in seminal form; there is nothing new in old age that was not already latent in childhood.There is no doubt, then, that the legitimate and correct rule of development, the established and wonderful order of growth, is this: in older people the fullness of years always brings to completion those members and forms that the wisdom of the Creator fashioned beforehand in their earlier years.If, however, the human form were to turn into some shape that did not belong to its own nature, or even if something were added to the sum of its members or subtracted from it, the whole body would necessarily perish or become grotesque or at least be enfeebled. In the same way, the doctrine of the Christian religion should properly follow these laws of development, that is, by becoming firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.In ancient times our ancestors sowed the good seed in the harvest field of the Church. It would be very wrong and unfitting if we, their descendants, were to reap, not the genuine wheat of truth but the intrusive growth of error.On the contrary, what is right and fitting is this: there should be no inconsistency between first and last, but we should reap true doctrine from the growth of true teaching, so that when, in the course of time, those first sowings yield an increase it may flourish and be tended in our day also.
“relied on an extensive study of early Church Fathers in tracing the elaboration or development of doctrine which he argued was in some way implicitly present in the Divine Revelation in Sacred Scripture and Tradition which was present from the beginnings of the Church.” (Wikipedia)
From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot
We should meditate on the mysteries of salvation
The child to be born of you will be called holy, the Son of God, the fountain of wisdom, the Word of the Father on high. Through you, blessed Virgin, this Word will become flesh, so that even though, as he says: I am in the Father and the Father is in me, it is still true for him to say: “I came forth from God and am here.”
In the beginning was the Word. The spring was gushing forth, yet still within himself. Indeed, the Word was with God, truly dwelling in inaccessible light. And the Lord said from the beginning: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Yet your thought was locked within you, and whatever you thought, we did not know; for who knew the mind of the Lord, or who was his counselor?
And so the idea of peace came down to do the work of peace: The Word was made flesh and even now dwells among us. It is by faith that he dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of him in his heart? By nature incomprehensible and inaccessible, he was invisible and unthinkable, but now he wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of.
But how, you ask, was this done? He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory; and finally in their presence he ascended to the sanctuary of heaven.
How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety and holiness? Whatever of all this I consider, it is God I am considering; in all this he is my God. I have said it is wise to meditate on these truths, and I have thought it right to recall the abundant sweetness, given by the fruits of this priestly root; and Mary, drawing abundantly from heaven, has caused this sweetness to overflow for us.
Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the Gate, Christ the Heav’nly Way!
Mary the Root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the Grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the Wheat-sheaf, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the Rose-Tree, Christ the Rose Blood-red!
Mary the Font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Chalice, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the Temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the Beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the Mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son.
Both ever blest while endless ages run.
“All Will Be Well”
As a young woman, Julian prayed for three graces from God: (1) a greater comprehension of Christ’s Passion to increase her knowledge of Jesus; (2) an experience of bodily sickness to the point of death in order to remove her reliance on earthly creatures or comfort, and (3) three wounds to lead her to deeper union with God. (Ch. 1)
God answered her prayers at age 30 when she suffered a bodily illness that brought her to the very brink of death. In this feeble state, she asked to have her upper body elevated so she could contemplate God in her final moments. At this time, the Parson came, accompanied by a boy with a crucifix. As Julian focused on the crucifix, everything around it grew dark. Julian’s pain became so great that she believed she was going to die, when suddenly, all her pain disappeared. Taking advantage of this new turn of events, Julian prayed that God would fill her body with the pains of Christ’s Passion. At this point, her visions began. (Ch. 2 – 3)
In her first revelation, she sees six things: (1) blood trickling down from the crown of thorns on the crucifix before her; (2) a vision of the Virgin Mary; (3) a “spiritual sight” of Christ’s all-embracive love and goodness; (4) a small ball in the palm of Christ’s hand, representing creation, demonstrating its goodness and yet its “smallness” in relation to Christ; (5) three properties in the ball which reveal to her that God is her Creator, lover, and protector; and (6) three “nothings” demonstrating that God is the source of all good and should be sought above all created things. (Ch. 3 – 5)
Next, she has a vision of Christ’s face being battered and bruised. This leads to a revelation that God is present in all things, wisely and providentially working out his purpose. As the body of Christ spews forth blood, Julian sees God’s bountiful provision of forgiveness through Christ’s blood. It is this blood that overcomes the devil and his fiends. Because of God’s overarching providence in all things and Christ’s conquering blood, the devil stands completely defeated in everything he does. This leads Julian to laugh over the devil’s miserable predicament (Ch. 7 – 8).
The laughter leads to a vision of three degrees of bliss in heaven resulting from the joy one experiences upon hearing God’s praise announced publicly in the hearing of all — a joy that once received is everlasting. The vision of bliss is immediately followed by an experience of sorrow and despair. This pattern of bliss and sorrow is repeated again and again, teaching Julian that God loves us and keeps us safe at all times. (Ch. 9)
In the final vision, Julian sees Christ shrivel up in thirst. She cannot imagine a greater pain. The love of Christ demonstrated in his willingness to endure immense pain for the sake of his beloved fills Julian with great joy, so that Jesus becomes “her heaven.” (Ch. 10 – 11)
Suddenly Christ’s appearance becomes joyful and he reveals three heavens to Julian — the joy of the Father, the bliss of the Son, and the endless delight of the Holy Spirit. The three heavens demonstrate God’s infinite delight in his work of salvation. (Ch. 12)
Christ then gives Julian a vision of St. Mary, and in contemplating her bliss and God’s love, Julian realizes that the only thing that hinders her desire for Christ is her own sin, causing her to wonder why God would allow sin in the first place. Jesus replies that “sin is necessary” but that in the end “all will be well.” (Ch. 13)
Julian is disturbed by this revelation. How can all things be well in light of the great harm sin brings? Christ replies that Adam’s sin brought the greatest harm to the world, but now, this harm has been overcome by Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Our lot in life is to embrace the Lord while humbly admitting that some aspects of the Lord’s counsel are closed and hidden to us. (Ch. 14)
Christ concludes by assuring Julian he can and will make all things well in the end. This truth will one day satisfy Christ’s spiritual thirst, when he possesses us wholly as his own. Even though we can’t comprehend this fully now, it is God’s will that we should be confident that “all will be well.” (Ch. 15 – 16)
Lord be the alpha and omega of my moments this day.
Be the beginning and end of my every thought, inclination and desire, the motus primo primi of my life.
From a letter written to all the faithful by Saint Francis of Assisi
It was through his archangel, Saint Gabriel, that the Father above made known to the holy and glorious Virgin Mary that the worthy, holy and glorious Word of the Father would come from heaven and take from her womb the real flesh of our human frailty. Though he was wealthy beyond reckoning, he still willingly chose to be poor with his blessed mother. And shortly before his passion he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Then he prayed to his Father saying: Father, if it be possible, let this cup be taken from me.
Nevertheless, he reposed his will in the will of his Father. The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross. This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made, but for our sins. It was intended to leave us an example of how to follow in his footsteps. And he desires all of us to be saved through him, and to receive him with pure heart and chaste body.
O how happy and blessed are those who love the Lord and do as the Lord himself said in the gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul, and your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, let us love God and adore him with pure heart and mind. This is his particular desire when he says: True worshipers adore the Father in spirit and truth. For all who adore him must do so in the spirit of truth. Let us also direct to him our praises and prayers saying: Our Father, who art in heaven, since we must always pray and never grow slack.
Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God’s sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father’s children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Santa Fe – Candlelight Procession
Beautifully captures and conveys the authenticity and vigor of Sante Fean culture and religiosity.
About this video:
We didn’t know they were setting up at the cross for ceremonies at the end of a candlelight procession from the cathedral in the main square. In addition to the sunset, we ended up with some bonus pix and video clips of the procession.
I used Photo Story 3 to string together some pictures and MM2.6 on a Windows 7 laptop to edit and produce the movie.” Papa John