Sunday, March 16

Hmmm....what do you think of this?

An art exhibit at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA called "Manna"

In "Manna," Dehaemers weaves the history of Saint Vincent College and Archabbey with contemporary stylistic and cultural references.

Most straightforward is the representation of Sportsman's Hall, a log building that was the first on campus. Its cover of loaves and slices of bread makes it reminiscent of a gingerbread house, but it gains significance because the Saint Vincent bread is made of flour ground at the Saint Vincent Gristmill, baked on site and eaten daily by the monks who live there, forming a link between the self-sufficient Benedictine founders and current members of the order.

Carrying more symbolic complexity are a three-dimensional representation of the crucified Christ and a large two-dimensional triptych with the faces of Christ, Mary and Boniface Wimmer, Saint Vincent's founder, made of unconsecrated hosts, pressed bread rounds which, in Roman Catholic belief, become the body of Christ during the celebration of the Mass. Use of the hosts may startle some, but while the artworks are current they're also respectful, and the play between the corpus and consecrated Christ -- each heavily symbolic -- brilliantly magnifies the implications of either alone.

A sound-accompanied DVD projection of the monks at Ash Wednesday vespers brings closure to the experience of the piece.

Well, St. Benedict was big on hospitality...

Benedictine monks run a B&B in downtown Chicago (via Integrity)

The historical context of the recently-unearthed Edith Stein letter

Around the world...

In Saudi Arabia..

No churches may be built

Saudi Arabia, as the birthplace of Islam, will not allow churches to be built on its land, according to Defense Minister Prince Sultan. Islam is the only accepted religion in Saudi Arabia, home to the faith's holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. "This country was the launch pad for the prophecy and the message, and nothing can contradict this, even if we lose our necks," Sultan told reporters Saturday. His comments were published by Saudi newspapers and confirmed by several journalists who attended the press conference. Sultan said that foreigners have been allowed to worship freely in their homes since they began arriving in Saudi Arabia in 1951 but permitting a church in the country "would affect Islam and all Muslims." On Thursday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal agency, complained that a new State Department list of countries that severely limit religious freedom omits several that deserve censure, including U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. The commission's annual reports say that religious freedom "does not exist" in the Gulf Kingdom.

On one Indonesian island..

Tolerance is a priority:

Some of my relatives are Muslims," said the Rev. Philipus Tule, the director of the St. Paul Major Seminary, who grew up in Flores and recently completed a doctorate in the anthropology of religion at the Australian National University in Canberra. "We inherited the same land and we still celebrate local customs.""We even pray for our Muslim relatives," he continued. "It is a very advanced theology. I started to do that when I studied Islamic theology and when I understood other believers had the same aim: searching for God."Catholicism arrived in 1914, when fathers from the German-based Society of the Divine Word landed on the coast of Flores and pushed into the malaria-filled mountainous hinterland. They succeeded — where their Jesuit colleagues had failed in the previous century — in converting almost everyone, leaving only scattered Muslim villages and some followers of local pagan beliefs.

From Cuba...

A reminder that at that Castro-attended convent dedication last week, there were no representatives from the actual Cuban Church:

The Mass at the cathedral was presided over by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and was attended by Cardinal Juan Sandoval, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico. John Paul II's message of greetings to Cardinal Ortega and the Cuban people for the occasion was read during the Mass.

The bishops' statement explained that the Catholic Church in Cuba had no part in the renovation of the building for the Bridgettine sisters, nor in its inauguration or blessing. The order's arrival in the Island is due to an initiative of President Castro, who sent a letter to John Paul II, following arrangements made by Mexican ecclesiastical, business and political personalities, the statement explained. Cardinal Ortega said he offered "canonical approval" for the order's establishment in the Island. But he reminded his audience that the Cuban government continues to refuse the permits the Church has requested for the entry of 15 religious congregations that wish to come to the island, as well as for "several priests" and "numerous women religious." The statement also criticized the excessive kindness with which Castro was treated in the public gatherings linked to this event.

In Guatemala...

it's lawless chaos..

"We are living through anarchy," said Bishop Álvaro Ramazzini, who leads the diocese in San Marcos, a state on the Mexican frontier that is plagued by lynchings. "People do not believe in the legal system. Instead, it is the law of the strongest, that violence can solve any problem. They can tell anyone `burn them,' and it will be done."...

Several human rights advocates also said that fast-growing Evangelical churches, whose preachers work independently in small congregations, had frightened villagers about the dangers of satanic cults and encouraged retribution with strict interpretations of Scriptures. Such teachings by locally trained Guatemalan preachers, they said, played a role in whipping up hysteria among the villagers of Todos Santos, a western mountain village famous for its colorful textiles, where a lynching in 2001 claimed the life of a Japanese tourist who tried to photograph a child. Days before he arrived in the town, a religious radio station had warned listeners about rumors of a satanic cult that was snatching babies for grisly rituals, said Guillermo Padilla, who has studied lynchings and is an advocate for indigenous rights in Guatemala.

"The evangelicals like to fish in turbulent waters," Mr. Padilla said."All week the evangelicals warned, `Take care of your children because there will be satanic rituals and children will be carved up and their organs removed,' " he said. "There was so much panic that the school was closed that Friday so the children could stay home. By the time the Japanese tourist arrived, there was a state of paranoia."

Toledo priests want input on their new bishop

Auxiliary Bishop Robert Donnelly, administrator of the diocese, said he has been told by Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Pope’s Washington-based representative to the U.S., that given the large number of appointments to be made, naming a successor to Bishop James Hoffman, who died Feb. 8, could take a year."It isn’t something done quickly," Bishop Donnelly said, adding that because Toledo has a bishop and a retired bishop available for such duties as confirmations and ordinations, filling the vacancy here may be less pressing than in some other jurisdictions where there is no bishop.Today, however, a group of priests was to meet in a private, closed session in Bowling Green to arrive at a consensus about what qualities they would like to see in a new bishop. They planned to forward their ideas to Archbishop Montalvo, who will be charged with submitting a list of three finalists to the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican

Priests and ministers moving out of rectories and parsonages

It's an arrangement that is becoming rare. Nationwide, 58.6 percent of all clergy do not live in a parsonage, according to a Duke University Divinity School study. Even more surprising, the numbers include Catholic priests, who, unencumbered by families, traditionally have lived together in rectories on church grounds.The transition to single-family homes has drawn attention here with the Archdiocese of Miami's controversial purchase of pricey homes, such as the $582,000 house for the new pastor at St. Richard Catholic Church in Palmetto Bay."In all of the newest parishes, this is the trend," says the Rev. Anthony J. Mulderry, who has lived in a single-family house in Sunrise, Fla., since he helped start All Saints Catholic Church there 20 years ago. The house, bought for $80,000, is about a mile from the church.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The village in Syria that's the last place on earth they speak Aramaic

Historians attribute the survival of Aramaic in this farming community, clinging to steep mountains 5,000 feet above sea level, to the village's isolation and harsh climate. Blanketed by snow in winter, residents were traditionally cut off from the outside world for half of every year, leaving them to chatter away in the language passed down by their ancestors.The advances of the modern world are proving more powerful than those ancient conquerors, however. State schools teach in Arabic, the language spoken throughout Syria, and even the villages' ancient churches conduct services in Arabic. No written version of Aramaic survives, not even the Bible, despite the fact that portions of it were originally written in Aramaic.
Half a century ago, 15,000 people lived in Maalula, and Aramaic was the only language spoken in the village. Today, there are just 6,000 residents, and though more than 80 percent still speak Aramaic, barely 2,000 can speak it fluently, according to George Rizkallah, 65, a retired local schoolteacher."Maybe it will survive another 50 years, but after that it will die, unless we do something," said Rizkallah, who has made it his life's mission to save the language.

Pope recalls his wartime experiences

John Paul II surprised pilgrims when he publicly recalled his own experience of war in explaining his opposition to military intervention in Iraq. "I belong to that generation that lived through World War II and, thanks be to God, survived it," the Pope said, after praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered today in St. Peter's Square. "I have the duty to say to all young people, to those who are younger than me, who have not had this experience: 'No more war!' as Paul VI said during his first visit to the United Nations," he added. "We must do everything possible. We know well that peace is not possible at any cost. But we all know how great this responsibility is -- therefore, prayer and penance!" he exclaimed.

More positive Harry Potter stuff from Catholics.

Diabetic man encouraged by his fellow cultists to fast. You know, like Jesus. For forty days.

He dies. Some time later, the police find his decaying body in the house, still being prayed over in the hopes of resurrection.

If you read one article...

Go to this one describing English school systems' decisions to remove hot cross buns from the menu this year:

Officials in the London borough of Tower Hamlets decided to remove the buns from menus this year after criticism over its decision to serve pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. A spokesman for the Labour-run council claimed that there had been "a lot" of complaints but did not have a figure.

The spokesman added: "We are moving away from a religious theme for Easter and will not be doing hot cross buns. We can't risk a similar outcry over Easter like the kind we had on Pancake Day. We will probably be serving naan breads instead."

Naan bread: a traditional Indian bread. From an apparently totally secular Indian culture. Someone over there needs to get busy and find some instance of Naan bread used in a Hindu religious ceremony, don't you think?

In the past, invidivual schools have taken the decision to not serve hot cross buns, but this is the first time local authorities across the country have imposed blanket bans.Liverpool council, which is controlled by the Liberal Democrats, also told The Telegraph that the symbol of the cross had the "potential to offend" and buns will no longer be served to children.

Well.....1 Corinthians 1:17-25. Yup.

Despite this ruling, the council confirmed that it will continue to organise special menus to celebrate events as diverse as the Chinese New Year, Italian National Day and Russian Independence Day.

Other councils not serving hot cross buns include York, where Labour is the largest group, and Wolverhampton, which is Labour-run. Officials in Wakefield, which is also controlled by Labour, have decided it would be more appropriate to tailor the Easter menu to information technology.

Yes. Absolutely the first thing that pops into my mind if I'm looking for an alternative way to think about Easter. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. Fits the age, I suppose. But does one "tailor a menu" to INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY? I guess everything we've ever heard about British cooking is true, after all.

"We are not serving hot cross buns at all," said a spokesman. "Each term we try to come up with a menu which encourages children to think about different issues. This Easter term we chose information technology and did not even consider putting hot cross buns on the menu."

Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary who is a Roman Catholic convert, described the ban as "appalling and absurd". "These people are silly asses," she said.


Light of the World Watch...

A priest ministers to the forgotten victims of the forgotten 39-year long civil war in Colombia:


Like most Colombians, the Rev. Mario Cárdenas is weary of years of terror in his country, the most violent in the Western Hemisphere. A four-decades-long civil war claims about 3,500 lives a year, mainly of innocent civilians, and forces a larger number of Colombians to flee their homeland.

For Cárdenas, who has been serving in the San Antonio Roman Catholic Archdiocese for five years, the untold story is the damage done to the children, especially to those whose parents have been killed in the conflict.

"What will happen to these children?" the 34-year-old priest asked during a recent visit to his country. If these children are Colombia's future, may God save Colombia."...

Cárdenas felt he had to do something to relieve the suffering of these "forgotten victims." With the help of Rafael Duarte, a boyish-looking 41-year-old priest and a longtime friend in Málaga, Cárdenas founded and is overseeing the growth of a nonprofit organization called Children Orphaned by the Violence in Colombia, or COVIC. Created in San Antonio 19 months ago, COVIC's aim is to feed, clothe and educate thousands of children who have at least one murdered parent.

The group, which has its own Web site, estimates that some 40,000 children in the South American nation have been orphaned by the civil war. Some Colombians insist that the figure is low; they say that many families, especially in the countryside, don't report the killings of loved ones for fear of retaliation.

In the shadow of St. Patrick

...unfortunately is St. Joseph, whose feastday is Wednesday, March 19.

(We knew our Joseph was a boy before he was born, and had already named him while he was in the womb, but we couldn't help but hope and pray that he would actually be born on his feastday. Ah, no - he wasn't ready, and he had to wait until April 4.).

One of the more common St. Joseph's Day traditions is the St. Joseph's Altar, brought to this country by Sicilian immigrants, and apparently very strong particularly in Louisiana, especially New Orleans.


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