Monday, November 26, 2007

Preparing for Advent

I came across the following article today. I wanted to share this because it has some really powerful points and questions to ask yourself. I think everyone can get some benefit out of taking time to go through this. The answers to these questions are really tough, and some are unanswerable for me, yet. I will be spending some more prayer time with these questions.


Setting the Stage For Our Advent Journey, Even Before It Begins.
(From the creighton.edu website. They have a lot of really good stuff, go check it out!)

Getting in Touch with Myself

One of the best ways to prepare for the very special season of Advent is to "get in touch with ourselves." It may sound odd, but one symptom of our contemporary lives is that we can often be quite "out of touch" with what is going on in our very own hearts. We are about to begin our Advent, right at the time our Western culture begins Christmas preparations. It is a busy time, and our heads are filled with details to remember. And, it is a time of emotional complexity that is part of this holiday season - with all of the expectations and challenges of family and relationships: who we want to be with and who we struggle to be with. So, our hearts are a bit tender, if not completely defended from experiencing anything deeply.

We are about to hear some very powerful and stirring readings from Isaiah, the Prophet. We will re-enter the ancient tradition of a people longing for the coming of a Savior. We may remember the days of our childhood when we longed for Christmas to come, because it was a magical time of receiving gifts. As adults, we have to ask ourselves: "What is it I long for now?" The answer won't come easily. The more we walk around with that question, and let it penetrate through the layers of distraction and self-protection, the more powerfully we will experience Advent.

Salvation From

We are about to read and pray about the expectant hope of Israel, as expressed through Isaiah. The images we will be using are about darkness and gloom - about thick clouds covering the people - and about hunger and thirst. They are images that attempt to capture a sense of what we feel when we are distant from our God. There are many images about war and conflict. They express the powerlessness and anxiety we experience when we feel vulnerable and defense-less. Most of all, there are images of a future day - a day that can only be called the Lord's - when all the tears will be wiped away, when there will be plenty to eat and drink, and when there will be no more conflict and no more war. God's salvation will be made known. God's victory will be complete.

These are very precious days for us to come into intimate contact with our own need for salvation. It is a time to make friends with our tears, our darkness, our hunger and thirst. What is missing? What eludes my grasp? What name can I give to the "restlessness" in my heart? What is the emptiness I keep trying to "feed" with food, with fantasy, with excitement, with busyness? What is the conflict that is "eating at me"? What is the sinful, unloving, self-centered pattern for which I haven't asked for forgiveness and healing? Where do I need a peace that the world cannot give?

Coming to know where I need a Savior is how I can prepare for Advent. I am preparing to listen to the promises, listen to these rich texts announcing the liberation I can truly long for. When my heart is open, when my hands are open, when my mouth is open and ready to ask for freedom, healing and peace, then I am ready to begin Advent.

One in a million shot


I think this photo is so great! A smile from God.

I don't know where this photo came from, or if it's real, because it was forwarded in an email. But, if it is real, not just photoshop work, I sure hope this photographer understands how blessed he or she is because then it really is a gift from the Master Artist up above. : )

Friday, November 23, 2007

On humility...


"God is attracted to the man who loves, it is right to love humility and to stay humble," the Holy Father said, quoting Aphraates. "Humble individuals are simple, patient, loving, honest, righteous, experts in what is good, prudent, serene, wise, calm, peaceful, merciful, ready to convert, benevolent, profound, thoughtful, beautiful and attractive."


I have been struggling to really comprehend the virtue of humility since the start of my faith walk. I thought this statement by Pope Benedict, quoting writings by Bishop Aphraates, was great. It gives me a lot to think about...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A little Thanksgiving Day humor

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up, and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.

John, in desperation, threw up his hands, grabbed the bird, and put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes, the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said to John, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my offensive and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. Just as he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Remember to say thanks to God at all times for every gift he gives, big or small, joyful or difficult, because it is His will for your life. God Bless!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Every Parent (and All) Should Know About "The Golden Compass"

Interview With Pete Vere and Sandra Miesel

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, NOV. 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The film "The Golden Compass" isn't simply about using fairy-tale magic to tell a good story, it corrupts the imagery of Lewis and Tolkien to undermine children's faith in God and the Church, says Catholic author Pete Vere.

In this interview with ZENIT, Vere and Sandra Miesel discuss the movie adaptation of the fantasy novels written by Philip Pullman. The film, staring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, will be released in the United States in early December.
Vere and Miesel are co-authors of the booklet "Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantasy," to be published by Ignatius Press next month on the topic of "The Golden Compass."
Q: The first movie of "The Golden Compass" trilogy is being released at Christmas. For those unfamiliar with the series, what kind of books are these and to whom do they appeal?

Vere: To begin, the books are marketed for 9-12 year olds as children's fantasy literature in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling. "If you're a fan of 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Narnia ' or 'Harry Potter,'" the critics tell us, "you'll love Pullman."

Personally, I just can't see a child picking up these books and reading them. I see them more as books that adults give kids to read.

Having said that, "The Golden Compass" (1995) is the first book in Pullman's trilogy. The second book is titled "The Subtle Knife" (1997) and it is followed by "The Amber Spyglass" (2000).

Collectively, the trilogy is known as "His Dark Materials," a phrase taken from John Milton's "Paradise Lost." This is appropriately titled in my opinion, since each book gets progressively darker -- both in the intensity with which Pullman attacks the Catholic Church and the Judeo-Christian concept of God, as well as the stridency with which he promotes atheism.

For example, one of the main supporting characters, Dr. Mary Malone, is a former Catholic nun who abandoned her vocation to pursue sex and science. The reader does not meet her until the second book, by which time the young reader is already engrossed in the story. By the third book, Dr. Malone is engaging in occult practices to lead the two main characters, a 12-year-old boy and girl, to sleep in the same bed and engage in -- at the very least -- heavy kissing. This is the act through which they renew the multiple universes created by Pullman.

Another example is Pullman's portrayal of the Judeo-Christian God. Pullman refers to him as "The Authority," although a number of passages make clear that this is the God of the Bible. The Authority is a liar and a mere angel, and as we discover in the third book, senile as well. He was locked in some sort of jewel and held prisoner by the patriarch Enoch, who is now called Metatron and who rules in the Authority's name. When the children find the jewel and accidentally release the Authority, he falls apart and dies.

Additionally, Pullman uses the imagery of C.S. Lewis' "Narnia" chronicles. "His Dark Materials" opens with the young heroine stuck in a wardrobe belonging to an old academic, conversing with a talking animal, when she discovers multiple worlds. So the young reader is lulled early on with the familiar feel of Lewis.

Nevertheless, Pullman's work isn't simply about using fairy-tale magic to tell a good story. He openly proselytizes for atheism, corrupting the imagery of Lewis and Tolkien to undermine children's faith in God and the Church.

Q: Many Catholics, including William Donohue of the Catholic League, are speaking out against the movie. What should parents know before they let their children watch this film?

Vere: I don't recommend any parent allow their children to view the film. While the movie has reportedly been sanitized of its more anti-Christian and anti-religious elements, it will do nothing but pique children's curiosity about the books. I'm a parent myself. My children would think it hypocritical if I told them it was OK to see the movie, but not to read the books. And they would be right.

It's not OK for children -- impressionable as they are -- to read stories in which the plot revolves around the supreme blasphemy, namely, that God is a liar and a mortal. It is not appropriate for children to read books in which the heroine is the product of adultery and murder; priests act as professional hit men, torturers and authorize occult experimentation on young children; an ex-nun engages in occult practices and promiscuous behavior, and speaks of it openly with a 12-year-old couple; and the angels who rebel against God are good, while those who fight on God's side are evil. This is wrong. And while it's been softened in the movie -- or at least that's what Hollywood is telling us -- it's still there in the books.
Miesel: Furthermore, there's a great deal of cruelty and gore in the books, not just battles but deliberate murder, sadism, mutilation, suicide, euthanasia and even cannibalism. There are also passages of disturbing sensuality and homosexual angels who are "platonic lovers."

I agree with Pete. Avoid both the movie and the books. It would be best if people didn't picket or make a public fuss because that's just free publicity. If the movie fails at the box office, the second and third books won't be filmed.

Q: The author, Philip Pullman, is an outspoken atheist. Does this come across in the books and the movie as a secularist position or more in the form of anti-Catholicism?

Vere: It's not an "either/or" situation. What begins as a rebellion against the Church turns into a rebellion against God. This then leads to the discovery that God -- and Christianity -- are a fraud.

The 12-year-old protagonists -- Lyra and Bill -- discover there is no immortal soul, no heaven or hell. All that awaits us in the afterlife is some gloomy Hades-type afterlife where the soul goes to wait until it completely dissolves. Thus Pullman uses anti-Catholicism as the gateway to promoting atheism.

Q: The trilogy is being compared to "Harry Potter" and "The Lord of the Rings." Is there a comparison to be made with either?

Vere: On the surface, yes. You've got wizards, heroines, strange creatures, alternate worlds, etc. Although for reasons already stated, the real comparison -- by way of inverted imagery -- is to C.S. Lewis' "Narnia" chronicles. Pullman, who has called "The Lord of the Rings" "infantile," has a particular dislike for Lewis and "Narnia." This is reflected in Pullman taking Lewis' literary devices and inverting them to attack Christianity and promote atheism.

As Pullman said in a 1998 article in The Guardian: "[Lewis] didn't like women in general, or sexuality at all, at least at the stage in his life when he wrote the 'Narnia' books. He was frightened and appalled at the notion of wanting to grow up. Susan, who did want to grow up, and who might have been the most interesting character in the whole cycle if she'd been allowed to, is a Cinderella in a story where the ugly sisters win."
Miesel: That nasty quote is factually wrong on both points. Lewis began corresponding with his future wife in 1950, the year the first "Narnia" book came out, and married her in 1956, the year the last one was published. Susan's problem isn't "growing up," but turning silly and conceited. She doesn't even appear -- much less get sent to hell -- in "The Last Battle."

Vere: Thus what we see here is more contrast and corruption than comparison. Also, the work of Tolkien, Lewis and Rowling is primarily driven by the audience. It is the average reader who purchases these works, reads them, and makes them popular.

Pullman's work, on the other hand, appears to be driven by the critics. The only people I know recommending Pullman's work are English majors and university professors. I don't know a single electrician, hairdresser or accountant who recommends Pullman's work by word of mouth. Thus the books haven't resonated with the average person to the same degree as "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia" and "Harry Potter."

Q: Nicole Kidman, a Catholic who stars in the film, has said she wouldn't have taken the role if she thought the movie was anti-Catholic. What do you make of this response?

Vere: The film has not yet been released, so I cannot comment on it. However, Christ asks very pointedly in the Gospels: Can a good tree bear rotten fruit? The movie is the fruit of the books and Pullman's imagination. These are anti-Christian and atheistic at their core. How does one sanitize this from the movie without completely gutting Pullman from his story?

During an interview with Hollywood screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi a couple of months ago, I asked her whether it was possible to tone down the anti-Christian elements for the movie. Nicolosi is the chair of Act One, a training and mentoring organization for Christians starting out in Hollywood.

She had given the question thought. A few years ago one of her friends -- an evangelical Christian -- had been asked by her agent to pitch on the project, that is, propose to write the screenplay adapting "The Golden Compass" to film.

"We read [the book] and there was just no way we could come in on this," Nicolosi told me. "Pullman's fantasy universe is nihilistic and rooted in chaos. You cannot fix that in a rewrite without changing the story Pullman is trying to tell -- which is atheistic, angry and at times polemical."

But let's suppose it is possible. Let's suppose Kidman is right and that the movie has been sanitized of its anti-Catholicism. The books remain saturated with bitter anti-Christian polemic. So why promote a movie that will only generate interest in the books among impressionable young children?

For the Christian parent, the movie cannot be anything but spiritual poison to their children -- for the movie is the fruit of the book.



I agree with the statement that people shouldn't make a public fuss because that just promotes the thing being fought against. I just want people to be informed so they can make a wise decision to not see the movie, then inform all of their family and friends to do the same thing. If the first movie gets no attention or audience it will fade away and the other 2 sequels won't be made. That would be the best outcome to this sad situation. God bless!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A funny for today

video

A coworker sent this to me. I got a good laugh out of it and thought you might too. Especially cat owners/lovers. : )

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Martyr's Letter to His Girlfriend


"Let My Memory Always Remind You There Is a Better Life"

MADRID, Spain, NOV. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a letter from Bartolomé Blanco Márquez, written to his girlfriend from prison the day before he was executed during religious persecution in 1930s Spain. Márquez was beatified Oct. 28; the letter is published in the “Summarium Super Martyrio” of his beatification cause.

Bartolomé Blanco Márquez was born in Cordoba in 1914. He was arrested as a Catholic leader -- he was the secretary of Catholic Action and a delegate to the Catholic Syndicates -- on Aug. 18, 1936. He was executed on Oct. 2, 1936, at age 21, while he cried out, “Long live Christ the King!”

* * *

Provincial prison of Jaen, Oct. 1, 1936

My dearest Maruja:

Your memory will remain with me to the grave and, as long as the slightest throb stirs my heart, it will beat for love of you. God has deemed fit to sublimate these worldly affections, ennobling them when we love each other in him. Though in my final days, God is my light and what I long for, this does not mean that the recollection of the one dearest to me will not accompany me until the hour of my death.

I am assisted by many priests who -- what a sweet comfort -- pour out the treasures of grace into my soul, strengthening it. I look death in the eye and, believe my words, it does not daunt me or make me afraid.

My sentence before the court of mankind will be my soundest defense before God's court; in their effort to revile me, they have ennobled me; in trying to sentence me, they have absolved me, and by attempting to lose me, they have saved me. Do you see what I mean? Why, of course! Because in killing me, they grant me true life and in condemning me for always upholding the highest ideals of religion, country and family, they swing open before me the doors of heaven.

My body will be buried in a grave in this cemetery of Jaen; while I am left with only a few hours before that definitive repose, allow me to ask but one thing of you: that in memory of the love we shared, which at this moment is enhanced, that you would take on as your primary objective the salvation of your soul. In that way, we will procure our reuniting in heaven for all eternity, where nothing will separate us.

Goodbye, until that moment, then, dearest Maruja! Do not forget that I am looking at you from heaven, and try to be a model Christian woman, since, in the end, worldly goods and delights are of no avail if we do not manage to save our souls.

My thoughts of gratitude to all your family and, for you, all my love, sublimated in the hours of death. Do not forget me, my Maruja, and let my memory always remind you there is a better life, and that attaining it should constitute our highest aspiration.

Be strong and make a new life; you are young and kind, and you will have God's help, which I will implore upon you from his kingdom. Goodbye, until eternity, then, when we shall continue to love each other for life everlasting.



Wow, faith and love... there's nothing more I can say!

Monday, November 05, 2007

My favorite scripture passage



Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12: 9-21)

That just says SO MUCH! It gives all the basic guidance you need to get through your time here on earth as a weak, sinful human. We can only pray that God will grant us the graces to live by these words in order to attain our final great reward of making it to heaven to see God face to face as one of his saints. To hear him say, "well done, my child..."