Monday, October 29, 2007

Archbishop speaks on life, truth and relativism

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City has written a very cogent and precise argument regarding the irrationality and dangers of secular relativism as it impacts the abortion debate in First Things: On the Square. Below are a few snippets.

For many in our culture today, tolerance and diversity have become the new absolutes. Certainly, there is much good in such values. Tolerance is an important and helpful civic virtue in a democratic society. And it is consistent with Christian teaching.

In fact, as Christians, we are called to do much more than tolerate others who may be different from us in a whole host of ways. We are called to reverence every other human being as one made in the image of God and one the Son of God deemed of such worth that he gave his life on Calvary. This does not mean, however, that every action is to be approved, much less respected. There are some actions and activities that are against the innate dignity of the human person and that infringe on the rights and dignity of others.
The question that needs to be posed to those who make this claim is: Why are you personally opposed to abortion? Why do so many of the pro-choice politicians even say that they want to make abortion rare? Why want to make something rare if it is truly a valid choice? The rhetoric of choice has been a very clever marketing campaign for something that is of its nature evil and repugnant.
In some of the inner-city neighborhoods where I served as a priest, there was a great problem with gun violence. Could you imagine anyone saying that they were personally against drive-by shootings, but if someone else wanted to do it they should have that right? Yet it is precisely that illogic that has been used now for several decades to defend the legalization of abortion—the destruction of an innocent human life.

Without the acceptance of objective truth, everything becomes negotiable. The moral conscience of society and the individual are impaired. There is confusion in the recognition of good and evil. We become uncertain about such fundamental institutions for family and society as marriage. From the denial of natural truth, a nihilism emerges that we find expressing itself today in art, literature, and films. We become confused about what is good and noble. We question what is worth devoting our life to. This confusion results in a great interior emptiness. We try to distract ourselves with more and more things, divert our attention with more and more entertainment, and numb ourselves with drugs and other addictions.

For the entire article, click here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

Seventh Sunday of the Cross
Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
28 October 2007


Let us, O Faithful, praise and worship the Word coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation. For He has willed to be lifted in the flesh upon the Cross, and to endure death, and to raised the dead by His glorious Resurrection.


O never-failing Protectress of Christians, and their ever-present Intercessor before the Creator, despise not the petitions of us sinners, but in your goodness extend your help to us who call upon you with confidence. Hasten, O Mother of God, to intercede for us, for you have always protected those who honor you.



Do Thou, O LORD, protect us,
guard us ever from this generation.

Help, LORD; for there is no longer any that is godly;
for the faithful have vanished from among the sons of men.


BRETHREN: See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the Cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the Law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God. Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.


I will sing of thy steadfast Love, O LORD, for ever;
with my mouth I will proclaim thy Faithfulness to all generations.

For thy steadfast Love was established for ever,
thy Faithfulness is firm as the heavens.


AT THAT TIME: There came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at Jesus' feet he besought Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As He went, the people pressed round Him. And a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed by any one, came up behind Him, and touched the fringe of His garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased. And Jesus said, ‘Who was it that touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the multitudes surround you and press upon you!’ But Jesus said, ‘Some one touched Me; for I perceive that power has gone forth from Me.’ And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before Him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’ While He was still speaking, a man from the ruler's house came and said, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.’ But Jesus on hearing this answered him, ‘Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.’ And when He came to the house, He permitted no one to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and bewailing her; but He said, ‘Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand He called, saying, ‘Child, arise.’ And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and He directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

Sixth Sunday of the Cross
Twentyfirst Sunday after Pentecost
21 October 2007



The women disciples of the Lord, having learnt from the Angel the joyful announcement of the Resurrection and having rejected the ancestral sentence proudly told the Apostles: Death is despoiled, Christ God is risen, bestowing on the world great mercy.


O never-failing Protectress of Christians, and their ever-present Intercessor before the Creator, despise not the petitions of us sinners, but in your goodness extend your help to us who call upon you with confidence. Hasten, O Mother of God, to intercede for us, for you have always protected those who honor you.



Sing praise to our God, sing praise;
sing praise to our King, sing praise.

All peoples, clap your hands;
cry to God with shouts of joy.


BRETHREN: We who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavour to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.


In You, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.

Be a rock of refuge to me,
a mighty stronghold to save me.


AT THAT TIME: As Jesus stepped out on land, there met Him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes, and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before Him, and said with a loud voice, ‘What have You to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech You, do not torment me.’ For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. And they begged Him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged Him to let them enter these. So He gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how He who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear; so He got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with Him; but He sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

(a “Megalynarion” [Hymn to the Virgin] sung after the Consecration)

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God; more honored than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: you who without stain did bear God the Word, you are truly Theotokos: we magnify you.


Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens,
Praise Him in the heights! Alleluia.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Inter-Orthodox Disagreements Impede Dialogue

Moscow Patriarchate Quits Orthodox-Catholic Talks
Churches Issue Document After Meeting Concludes

RAVENNA, Italy, OCT. 15, 2007 ( The Catholic-Orthodox panel that met to discuss the sacramental nature of the Church approved a joint document, but their meeting was marked by the withdrawal of the Moscow patriarchate from the discussions.

The week long 10th plenary assembly of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox ended Sunday. The group studied the "ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church -- conciliarity and synodality in the Church" and agreed upon a joint document, the Vatican reported today.

A communiqué from the panel affirmed that "the document offers a solid basis for the future work of the commission," noting that the work on the statement had already begun in September 2006.

However, a communiqué from the commission, made public at the end of the conference, explained that the head of the delegation from the Patriarchate of Moscow, Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, presented his Church's decision to withdraw from the discussions.

He said his Church was withdrawing because "of the presence thereon of delegates from the Church of Estonia, which has been declared 'autonomous' by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a status not recognized by the Patriarchate of Moscow," the Vatican press office reported.

This happened, the report continued, "despite the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with the agreement of all the Orthodox members present, had offered a compromise solution, that of recording the non-recognition by the Patriarchate of Moscow of the autonomous Church of Estonia."


A statement from the Russian Orthodox delegation said: "Before leaving the meeting, Bishop Hilarion addressed members of the Mixed Commission. In his address he emphasized that the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate is unable to continue its participation in the meeting because it does not recognize 'the Estonian Apostolic Church,' which was invited by the Patriarchate of Constantinople […] Bishop Hilarion also underlined that the Moscow Patriarchate attaches great importance to the dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, and expressed his regret" at the impossibility of the Moscow delegation's participation in the meeting.

The Interfax news service reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke today of the relationship between Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants at the Petersburg Dialogue forum in Wiesbaden, Germany.

"The Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches have certain differences, yet, as far as I understood from meetings with the Pontiff and our patriarch, they think alike on fundamental issues and values," he said. "I did not see any difference in their attitudes to Christian and moral values. That is the foundation for debates."

The Vatican announced that the theme of the next meeting of the Joint International Commission will be the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the first millennium. The date and location are to be announced soon.

The commission statement said its members "strongly commend the continuing work of the dialogue to the prayers of the faithful."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

Fourth Sunday of the Cross
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Commemoration of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council



Let all in heaven rejoice, and all on earth be glad, for the Lord has exerted power with His arm, by death He has trampled upon death, and has become the first born of the dead. He has delivered us from the bosom of Hades and has granted the world great mercy.


O Christ our God, you are infinitely glorified, fl You established our Fathers as radiant stars on earth. Through them, you led us to the true Faith: O Most Merciful One, glory to You.




Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers, and worthy of praise;
and thy name is glorified for ever.

For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us,
and all thy works are true and thy ways right,
and all thy judgments are truth.


MY SON TITUS: The saying is sure. I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men. But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned. When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful. All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.


We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us,
what deeds thou didst perform in their days, in the days of old

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,
and delivers them out of all their troubles.


THE LORD SPOKE THIS PARABLE: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold.’ As He said this, He called out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ And when his disciples asked Him what this parable meant, He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Church and the University -- Naked History Revealed

The Catholic Educator's Resource Website has an interesting article on the Church's relation to the rise of universities. Here are a few snippets:

It was, after all, in the High Middle Ages that the university came into existence. The university, which developed and matured at the height of Catholic Europe, was a new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations, and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, comes to us directly from the medieval world. And it is no surprise that the Church should have done so much to foster the nascent university system since, according to historian Lowrie Daly, it was "the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge."

The papacy played a central if not exclusive role in the establishment and encouragement of the universities. Naturally, the granting of a charter to a university was one indication of this papal role. Some 81 universities had been established by the time of the Reformation. Of these 33 possessed a papal charter, 15 a royal or imperial one, 20 possessed both, and 13 had none. In addition, it was the accepted view that a university could not award degrees without the approbation of pope, king, or emperor. Pope Innocent IV officially granted this privilege to Oxford University, for example, in 1254. The pope (in fact) and the emperor (in theory) possessed authority over all of Christendom, and for this reason it was to them that a university typically had to turn for the right to issue degrees. Equipped with the approval of one or the other of these universal figures, the university’s degrees would be respected throughout all of Christendom. Degrees awarded only by the approval of national monarchs, on the other hand, were considered valid only in the kingdom in which they were issued.

The popes intervened on behalf of the university on numerous occasions, as when Pope Honorius III (1216-27) sided with the scholars at Bologna in 1220 against infringements on their liberties. When the chancellor of Paris insisted on an oath of loyalty to himself personally, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) intervened. Later, when the Bishop of Paris and the chancellor of the university continued to encroach upon the institutional autonomy of the institution, it was the Pope, Gregory IX, who in 1231 issued the bull Parens Scientiarum on behalf of the masters of Paris. In this document the Pope effectively granted the University of Paris the right to self-government, whereby it could make its own rules pertaining to courses and studies. The Pope also granted the university a separate papal jurisdiction, thus emancipating the institution from the interference of what had been an overbearing diocesan authority. "With this document," writes one scholar, "the university comes of age and appears in legal history as a fully formed intellectual corporation for the advancement and training of scholars." The papacy, writes another, "has to be considered a major force in shaping the autonomy of the Paris guild [i.e., the organized body of scholars at Paris]."
Shocking! Especially since Dr Dawkins has assured us all that Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, is no more than an irrational, barbaric and violent institution at odds with logic and free thought.

For the whole article, click here.

Ancient Church Faces Competition from Evangelicals

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — As Ethiopia enters its third millennium, so does its Orthodox church, a venerable state-backed institution whose dominance is increasingly threatened by a myriad of evangelical faiths.

Patriarch Paulos, the current head of the 40-million-strong Ethiopian Orthodox Church, downplays any rivalry and stresses, as one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches, he has invited the leaders of other denominations on numerous occasions.

Millennium celebrations put the spotlight on the church and believers turned out in larger than usual numbers for a September 27 procession celebrating a "Finding of the Cross" festival.

But the church's ages-old stranglehold on Christianity here is now challenged by a growing number of evangelical denominations that have mushroomed all over the continent.

"A lot of people are coming," said David Ibiobamimo, an Addis Ababa-based pastor for one of these churches, the Winners' Chapel International. "Sometimes our new arrivals number 300 a week, most of whom are from the younger generation."

The 40-year-old said that the traditional customs of the Orthodox church -- sometimes perceived as archaic -- were among the reasons why evangelical institutions were seeing a surge in the number of young converts.

"The power of the Orthodox church is breaking, people are seeing the light," he said. "People are questing for new knowledge. They are getting fed up with the old and traditional settings, they are seeking new experiences."

Ethiopian church followers are expected to observe strict practices such as lengthy fasting periods -- practices younger people find out-of-date.

"They are very old traditions. I don't believe that God can be served this way in the 21st century," said 27-year-old Rahel, who gave only her first name.
Note the pejorative term "stranglehold". Of course, the fact that Protestants (mainly backed by Americans) come with money, setting up schools and hospitals while actively proselytising the local Christian population, has nothing to do with the rise of Evangelicalism. The quotes from the Evangelical pastor and the young person color the reporter's perspective. "Ethiopian church followers are expected to observe strict practices such as lengthy fasting periods -- practices younger people find out-of-date." The reporter makes a blanket statement about the views of young people rather than clarifying that it is the Evangelical young people who find fasting "out-of-date". C'est la vie!

For the entire story, click here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sfeir tries to bring together divided Christians to find a new president

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir has launched an initiative to find common ground among Christians divided between the ruling majority and the opposition to elect the next president who, according to the constitution, must be a Maronite. This “last decisive chance” is designed to their “marginalisation” of Christians and entails meetings in Bkerke next Thursday and Friday with Christian leaders from both sides of the political divide.

The Bkerke initiative, which is reportedly backed by the Vatican, should have brought together warring Christian leaders; however, the two camps objected to a joint meet.

On Sunday, Cardinal Sfeir said that the upcoming presidential election had to be treated seriously and “with a great deal of awareness” since the presidency is an institution that deserves respect and the highest consideration. Should it not receive its due respect, other institutions might suffer as well. For this reason, the patriarch will focus on the need to find a consensus with regard to the next president in accordance with the constitution.

All this, according to the Maronite Church, should become part of a document that both sides would sign. This is impossible under present circumstances, but there is still some lingering hope that separate talks with the patriarch might lead to a joint meeting. (PD)

On Consistency Re Life

Opposition to death penalty and support for abortion are contradictory, says Fundación Vida

Madrid, Oct 9, 2007 / 11:25 am (CNA).- The director of the international office of Fundación Vida, Jose Antonio Retamar, said this week, “Any entity that claims to be against the death penalty but then supports abortion in certain circumstances incur a serious contradiction.”

In response to the upcoming vote of the 62nd UN General Assembly on the worldwide suspension of the death penalty, Retamar said his foundation hopes delegates remember that the basis of the proposal is the human right to life. “You cannot promote the abolition of the death penalty while at the same time you promote the legalization of abortion or you pressure for the introduction of feticide,” he added.

Retamar said he is completely opposed to the death penalty as it is a direct attack on “the human right to life.” “The subject of this right is universal and thus there can be no exceptions, and its object extends from the moment of conception to natural death.”

“Therefore, those NGOs that do not accept the universality of the subject or limit themselves on the object do not base their claims on human rights but on an opportunistic social policy.”


VATICAN CITY, OCT 10, 2007 (VIS) - According to a communique made public at midday today, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," is due to meet with Patriarch Alexis II in Moscow.

"The visit comes in the context of a series of meetings that the president of 'Cor Unum' will make in the Russian Federation between October 15 and 21," reads the communique. "From October 15 to 17 he will be at Novosibirsk, the capital of the region of Siberia where, accompanied by Bishop Joseph Werth, he will visit Caritas, the Franciscan school and the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In this area the Catholic Church has distinguished itself in recent years for the increase of charitable initiatives throughout the territory.

"From October 18 to 21, Archbishop Cordes - as a guest of Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz - will participate in the work of Caritas groups throughout the Russian Federation. In Russia, this sector is at the basis of much fruitful collaboration with the Orthodox Church. The meeting is particularly significant because it is taking place a year and a half after the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's first Encyclical, which was dedicated to charity. It will, then, be an opportunity to verify how 'Deus caritas est' has inspired charitable commitment in this vast country.

"The talks with bishops and volunteers of Russian Caritas on the influence of 'Deus caritas est,' the visit to Siberia and the meeting with Alexis III, make this trip an important stage of the mission of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum'."



VATICAN CITY, OCT 10, 2007 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled how "the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox is currently holding its 10th plenary assembly in Ravenna, Italy, where it is deliberating upon a theological subject of particular ecumenical interest: the ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church - ecclesial communion, conciliarity and authority."

"I ask you to join me in my prayer," said the Holy Father, "that this important gathering may help us to progress towards full communion between Catholics and Orthodox, and that we may soon be able to share the one chalice of the Lord."

Ravenna: Dialogue Between Catholics and Orthodox

VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2007 (VIS) - From October 8 to 15, the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox is holding its 10th plenary assembly in Ravenna, Italy, according to a communique issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

This session is the second to be held since the reactivation of dialogue during the 2006 plenary in Belgrade. The commission was established in 1979 by Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I, and held its first assembly in Patmos-Rhodes in 1980.

The document to be analyzed by the commission at its current gathering is entitled "the ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church - conciliarity and sinodality in the Church." The study of this document, the communique reads, "was part of the program agreed at Patmos-Rhodes in 1980" but was "suspended to make way for questions concerning the relationship of Orthodoxy with the Oriental Catholic Churches following the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. With the plenary of Belgrade, the commission reactivated its normal theological agenda."

The commission is made up of 60 members, 30 Catholics and 30 Orthodox, and is jointly presided by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and His Excellency Ioannis (Zizioulas), metropolitan of Pergamo. The Catholic members are cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and lay experts in various fields. The orthodox members represent - in the order indicated by Fanar - the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Serbia, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Romania, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Bulgaria, the Orthodox Church of Georgia, the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the Orthodox Church of Greece, the Orthodox Church of Poland, the Orthodox Church of Albania, the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and of Slovakia, the Orthodox Church of Finland, and the Orthodox Church of Estonia.

VIS 071008

UPDATE: Russians leave ecumenical talks in rift with Constantinople

Ravenna, Oct. 10, 2007 ( - Russian Orthodox delegates have walked out of a joint session of Catholic and Orthodox theologians, highlighting the sharp disagreements among the world's Orthodox leaders.

A delegation from Moscow left the meeting, being held in Ravenna, Italy, after learning that a delegate from the Estonian Apostolic Church would be included in the ecumenical talks. The Estonian Apostolic Church has gained canonical recognition from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, but the Russian Orthodox Church, which still claims authority over the Orthodox community in Estonia, disputes that status.

The dispute calls attention to enduring conflicts over authority in the Orthodox world, with the Moscow patriarchate resisting the power of Constantinople. Although the Russian Orthodox Church is by far the largest of the Orthodox churches, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has traditionally been recognized as the "first among equals" of the world's Orthodox leaders.
For the full update from Catholic World News, click here.

One might add that this trouble, which nearly led to a world-wide schism in the Orthodox Church in the 1990's, is indicative of the authority vacuum at the center of Orthodoxy, unless one takes into account the Successor of St Peter.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

Third Sunday of the Cross
Nineteenth Sunday of Pentecost




When You descended to death, O Immortal Life, You put Hades to death by the splendor of your Divinity; and when You raised the dead from below the Earth, all the heavenly Powers cried out to You: O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You.


O never-failing Protectress of Christians, and their ever-present Intercessor before the Creator, despise not the petitions of us sinners, but in your goodness extend your help to us who call upon you with confidence. Hasten, O Mother of God, to intercede for us, for you have always protected those who honor you.




The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.

BRETHREN: The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for ever, knows that I do not lie. At Damascus, the governor under King Arêtes guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands. I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows -- and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. Though if I wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong. I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these superlative apostles, even though I am nothing.


The LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!

Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.


AT THAT TIME: Jesus went to a city called Na'in, and his disciples and a great crowd went with Him. As He drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ And He came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And He gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!’

(a “Megalynarion” [Hymn to the Virgin] sung after the Consecration)

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God; more honored than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: you who without stain did bear God the Word, you are truly Theotokos: we magnify you.


Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens,
Praise Him in the heights! Alleluia.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Holy Father Promise Cooperation to New Patriarch

Pope Promises Catholic Help for New Patriarch
Romanian Orthodox Leader Enthroned

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2007 ( Benedict XVI told the newly enthroned patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church that he can count on collaboration from Catholics.

The Pope sent a delegation to Bucharest on Sunday to participate in the solemn enthronement celebrations of Patriarch Daniel Ciobotea, the new leader of 19 million Romanian Orthodox.

The Vatican delegation was led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and included Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the same dicastery, and Archbishop Jean-Claude Périsset, apostolic nuncio to Romania.

As a "pledge to search for full communion," Cardinal Kasper gave the patriarch a chalice in the Pope’s name. He also delivered a letter from the Holy Father, written in French, which told the patriarch that "Catholics are standing with their Orthodox brethren, with prayer and availability, to offer useful collaboration."

"The one and only Gospel waits to be proclaimed by everyone together, in love and reciprocal esteem," wrote Benedict XVI.

The message recalls the good relations established by Pope John Paul II and the then Patriarch Teoctist.

For the full article, click here.

Check Your Faith at the Door

Hat tip to Catholic World News.

A New Form of Discrimination
By Chuck Colson

Imagine you own a small business—let’s say a donut shop—and you have an employee who is late for work everyday and is rude to customers. When you fire him, he claims it is really because he is gay—and sues.

Or imagine you run a daycare center in your church basement. One day a homosexual applies for a job. When you turn him down, he says you broke the law.

Today, both of these stories are simply scenarios. But by the end of the week, they could be reality.

Under intense goading from the gay-rights lobby, the House of Representatives is poised to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, called ENDA. This legislation would add “sexual orientation” to civil rights law. If passed, ENDA would cut deeply into the religious rights and freedoms of all Americans.

For the entire article, click here.

Visit the Holy Land, Melkite prelate pleads

Visit the Holy Land, Melkite prelate pleads

London, Oct. 3, 2007 ( - A Melkite Catholic archbishop has urged Christians of the Western world to "visit the living stones of the Holy Land, the Christians who live there," the Fides news service reports. Speaking at Westminster cathedral in London, on the 60th anniversary of the Catholic relief organization Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Elias Chacour recalled that Jesus was born in Galilee and that Christians in the Holy Land are the direct descendants of "the first men and women who heard the Good News."

"My forefathers were the first to listen to Jesus and be fascinated by what He had to say," Archbishop Chacour said. "We have kept the faith for over 2000 years." Acknowledging that violence and bloodshed have cast a shadow across the Holy Land, the archbishop reminded his listeners that "there is also the news of the empty tomb, where Jesus the Christ was laid and is risen."

"It is important to visit the holy places, but it is even more important to visit the living stones, the Christians living in the Holy Land today," the archbishop continued. "Come and visit us, make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will make you welcome. Come and see."

Full article here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Interesting Blog on Patriarch Bekkos

I came across a very interesting blog called De unione ecclesiarum. The blogger, Professor Peter Gilbert, focuses on Patriarch Bekkos of Constantinople, who attended the Council of Lyons (1275-1282). Professor Gilbert is working on a book, which will undoubtedly be read by yours truly. Sayidna Bekkos, vilified by Orthodox theologians and historians to this day, found the same evidence for the primacy of Rome in the Church Fathers that contributed to my homecoming.

It's definitely worth checking out.Click here.

Not All in the Mind...

MercatorNet posted an interesting article this weekend on the reality of spirituality versus the 'impulses of the brain' hypothesis. The article is an interview with Canadian researcher Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary, entitled, Challenging the prejudice of materialism.

Below are a few snippets; for the entire interview, click here.

...if you think ideas are circuitry, which ideas would you be prepared to die for? Materialism cannot ground a doctrine of human freedom that supports human dignity. At best it can say that people should be free to follow their inner drives, rather than restrained by social forces. Very well, but what follows? People who are willing to risk their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis are unlikely to risk their lives to defend the local Triple X Adult Video store. In a materialist setting, freedom starts to slip away because it is not worth serious risks. People are, by definition, not free to do or be anything significant. That was the message of Aldous Huxley’s prescient Brave New World.

Regarding the liberal/conservative brains, I gather from Sharon Begley’s blog that the test was done in Greenwich Village, a very liberal place. A conservative who lived there and wished to remain conservative would need to ignore many, many signals from the environment. I would be interested to know what would happen if they did the same test among people who had started and run successful small businesses in very conservative Utah. Success in small business requires one to pick up signals and adapt rapidly. The biggest challenge of social psychology research in general is the need to be quite clear about what you are measuring. And, as Begley notes, the brain is very plastic anyway.