Friday, May 23

Pardon me... if I'm a little verklempt this week. My second-to-the-oldest son David graduates from high school next Friday and will promptly move away to go to college. A sign of my state: I pulled out Where the Wild Things Are tonight and read it to Joseph for the first time. The very same copy I'd read to Christopher (20) and David (almost 18)...I usually don't tear up until last page (...and it was still hot..) - which I do every single time, and have for 18 years - but tonight, I just opened the darn book and started reading, and they started. Time goes so fast, and the worst thing about it is that God may lead them away on their own path, as He should, and as they must go, but for some reason, He doesn't see fit to take away a mother's stubborn, unyielding passion to make everything all right in her children's lives, to leave that supper waiting....even when they're out of reach and really should be making everything all right all by themselves, on their own, out of their own strength.

...and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him...

and it was still hot.

A Christian enclave in Iraq

Tucked in a corner of this ancient, somber Muslim city is a neighborhood that wears skimpy clothing, eats cheeseburgers and drinks beer.It is called Ankawa and it is home to a small but lively community of Assyro-Chaldeans, or Assyrian Christians, one of Iraq's smallest — and proudest — ethnic groups. They number 1.3 million in Iraq and are descendants of the indigenous people of Mesopotamia, with a language that dates back to 3000 B.C.

An equal number of the Assyrian Christians have settled outside the region, mostly in Chicago and Detroit."We are the remains of the original Iraqis," said Yonan Hozaya, a senior official in the Assyrian Democratic Movement, a political party. "You must take care not to lose us."The neighborhood here is in no danger of disappearing. It is the main meeting spot for many in this city. A steady stream of slowly cruising cars flows past on the main thoroughfare, referred to by locals as Champs Élysée for its lively shops. Young men sit low behind the steering wheel of their cars. Women walk arm in arm. Liquor stores abound.

Ankawa stands in contrast to the rest of Erbil, a Kurdish Muslim city where alcohol is not for sale and most women wear a hijab head covering. Young people are not allowed inside the city park at night without being accompanied by a family member.

Here's a link to the Jesuit's "Standing for the Unborn" statement.

As far as I can tell, it's only available in .pdf form on the internet, which is a pain, but it's also in the May 26 issue of America magazine if you want to go search it out:

It's a good statement, and I have no argument to make with it, nor do I have snide anti-Jesuit remarks to make.

One thought did pop into my mind while I read this, however, and it applies not only to this statement, but to all official Church statements on abortion.

They could all use a little contrition.

Seriously. This would be nice to see in the midst of all of this inspiring verbiage:

We believe in the right to life that begins at conception...we are sorry for our obvious failure to communicate this belief powerfully and clearly through our institutions.

We're sorry for being silent when other Catholics misrepresent the teaching of the Church on this issue or try to diminish its importance.

We're sorry that we don't spend more of our resourceds directly helping women and girls in need..

We're sorry that every single Catholic college and university doesn't have an officially sponsored, well-funded program for students facing this problem in their lives.

We're extra sorry that students leave these same Catholic colleges and universities not understanding the value of human life at every stage of development.

We're sorry that so many defenseless human beings, real and unique, have been killed. We're going to stop writing documents now, and we're going to try do something concrete about this...one child killed in abortion is too many, brings us sorrow, and moves us to action.

Okay, I really don't know what I think of this:

McDonald's helped sponsor papal visit to Spain

Microsoft thinks it has a good thing going with Xbox headlining Lollapalooza this summer. But McDonald's quietly scored an even more divine sponsorship coup this month, teaming up with the Roman Catholic Church in Spain to sponsor Pope John Paul II's visit there.

A highlight of the Pope's trip was a massive pray-in at a Madrid aerodrome, with tickets going for between $11 and $45 apiece. According to a report in The Guardian, believers received a backpack (dubbed the "pilgrim's bag") full of papal merchandise, including a "You Will Be My Witness" tour cap, CD, rosary and prayer book, plus vouchers for dinner (a burger, fries, soft drink and an ice cream or baked apple pie) at McDonald's.

Despite the absence of a Soccer Jesus figurine in the package, more than half a million people showed up for the event, ensuring that Catholic leaders would more than offset the estimated $1.5 million cost of the visit (profits beyond that are going to charity) and that McDonald's would have lines out the door in the evening.

The Pope and other Vatican officials speak of the dangers of globalization; Spain's RC chuch involves THE symbol of globalization in sponsorship of the papal visit. Is there a Spanish word for chutzpah?

And paying to go pray with the pope? Is this typical on papal visits? The only factor that would even come close to excusing such a thing is if parishes and other groups bought up tickets and then distributed them, but even then......


From a Baghdad parish

St Elya's stands next to a Shia mosque, whose minaret soars high above the simple cross on top of the squat, white church. This is a country where religious and family bonds are tight, and where Christians and Muslims are still expected to marry within their own communities. But despite fears of a Muslim state, I saw no tensions on the ground between the two communities. During the bombing of Baghdad, both Christian and Muslim families took shelter in the basement of the church. Fr Basha supplied the mosque with its generator, and I saw how, throughout the day, Muslims wander into the yard of the church to fill up plastic containers with clean water from the two tanks beside the grotto to Our Lady. In common with other Christians I spoke to, Fr Basha does not believe that Christians face any danger from a militant Islamic regime. The Americans may not have brought security and stability to Baghdad, his reasoning goes, but they will not allow Shia extremists to seize control.

"After so many years of having one voice and one party, it will be a challenge to live with diversity", Fr Basha told me. "There is a possibility of exchanging ideas if we accept each other. As Christians, we should be tolerant and our Christian culture should remind us that we are peacemakers. This is not a principle to be declared but a reality to be lived."

But there was less optimism at the headquarters of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) where I was taken by Bishop Jaques Isaacs, the portly, chatty rector of Babel College....


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