Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Turkey is as Turkey does...

Steven Ray has recently been in Turkey for the filming of the last volume of his highly successful and informative "Footprints of God" video series, entitled "Apostolic Fathers: Handing on the Faith". You can read his blog notes about the experience in six successive posts: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6. While Steven and his crew were there, the senseless slaughter at Virginia Tech occurred. He stated in his third post,

"People often ask us if we are afraid to travel in Israel and Turkey. Are you kidding? I feel very safe here. I am wondering if I feel safe coming back to the USA!"

That was on the 18th. The following day was this news item:

"Three employees of a publishing house that distributes Bibles were murdered Wednesday in the latest attack against Turkey's Christian minority.

The three victims - a German and two Turkish citizens - were found with their hands and legs bound and their throats slit at the Zirve publishing house in the central city of Malatya, reported The Associated Press.

The publishing house has been the site of previous protests by nationalists accusing it of proselytizing in this 99-percent Muslim but secular country, reported Dogan news agency. Zirve's general manager said his employees had recently been threatened."

Additional news and details about the incident can be found here and here.

All of this being just the latest in a long, long series of murderous acts over many, many years from the hands of the Muslim world gives one pause. It also makes Ray's fourth post even more powerful.

"From my window just now, I counted no less than nineteen minarets! What are minarets? They are the tall slender towers above an Islamic mosque from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer... What happened to the churches?...

"[The] Hagia Sophia—the Church of Holy Wisdom... was the glory of Christendom and for over a thousand years it had the largest dome — until St. Peter's was built in Rome... But when the Muslims conquered Contantinople they defaced the church, painted over the golden icons of our Blessed Mother and turned the spectacular church into a mosque. The crosses came down and the minarets went up.

"It has been predicted that within fifty years Europe’s skyline will change. It will become a Muslim empire. Steeples will come down and minarets will go up. No longer will you hear bells – you will hear muezzin wailing from the balconies of slender minarets. And America?"

He summarizes:
"Oh, so you don't believe it can happen to us? Neither did the Byzantine Empire, the powerhouse of Christianity in the East! But, the East fell to Islam and the West may fall as well. Maybe not by military might, but by religious indifference, population control, and secularism. Islam can overtake us by persistence, population growth, and religious fervor.

What was once part of a powerful Christian Empire is now 99% Muslim. Out of a population of about 75 million, there are only 60,000 Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestants, etc.). The past screams to us but will we listen."

Via the Meandering Monk, Fr. Stephanos, comes this post for some further perspective (reminding us that Turkey has been wanting very much to join the European Union). Additionally, Sandro Magister has a thought-provoking insight into the problems within the Muslim world.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Kasparov vs. Putin (Round One)

Way back in March of 2005 I had posted an article about former World Chess Grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, intending to retire from chess tournaments in order to consider a run against Russian President Putin sometime in the near future. Well, Putin may not be running for re-election in 2008, but he's already "thrown the first punch" against Kasparov (as per this article):

President Vladimir Putin ordered the FSB to combat extremism ahead of parliamentary elections in December and a presidential poll in March next year, which he is barred from contesting. Putin boosted the FSB's budget by about 30 percent and told a Jan. 31 meeting of security staff that they had a key role to play in keeping order through the election cycle.

Kasparov and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov organized marches against Putin in Moscow and St. Petersburg over the weekend that ended in Kasparov's arrest. Some 9,000 police were deployed at the Moscow rally, which ended with baton-wielding officers breaking it up. Kasparov said that 400 were arrested. Police put the figure at 130.

The article continues:

"About 75 percent of all officials in Russia today" have links with the FSB or police, Kasparov said. Putin made his career in the KGB, serving for several years in East Germany, and briefly headed the FSB. "Extremist charges are under the umbrella of the FSB," not the regular police, Kasparov said.

The Other Russia, a loose coalition led by Kasparov and Kasyanov, plans to hold more marches, perhaps in several cities simultaneously, Kasparov said. He said this would be a challenge to police, which deployed people from several regional forces for the April 14 march in Moscow.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the Kremlin sees Kasparov as an extremist, while adding that he couldn't comment on the FSB investigation into his activities.

Additional articles about the incident are in the New Zealand Herald, Twin Cities Newspaper (registration needed), Times OnLine (UK), and The Independent (UK). What's interesting is that this article via Yahoo News quotes former Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, as opposing Kasparov and the protesters and supports Putin.

Is that another Cold War chill in the air that I feel? *brrrrrrrrr*

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Partial Birth Abortion Ban...

This is just a small step, but at least it's a step in the right direction. The Supreme Court of the United States today has upheld the partial birth abortion ban with a slim 5-4 vote. Justice Kennedy was the swing vote this time around. But, in order to make further strides, three things need to (must) occur from this point forward:

1) The eventual replacement of at least one if not more of the existing liberal judges on the court (Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg and Stevens),

2) A President who will continue to nominate constitutionally sound-minded, pro-life justices for any future vacancies (Stevens turns 87 next week, and Ginsburg has battled cancer in recent years),

3) A Senate with enough constitutionally sound-minded, pro-life members with a filibuster-busting majority who will vote to confirm said new justices.

The current make-up of the Senate will make it difficult for Bush to nominate such a justice should an opening occur between now and January 19, 2009. Come January 20, 2009, we'll need the beginnings of a serious a change in the Senate, as well as a President Duncan Hunter or President Fred Thompson.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 9

"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 8

"Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice."

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 7

"Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 6

"Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence."

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 5

"Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church*, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 4

"Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 3

"Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness."

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 2

"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard -- upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Divine Mercy Novena ~ Day 1

"Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Musically... something old, something new...

... something borrowed, something blue.

Thanks to the wife of a friend and colleague, I've been infected with an earworm.

I haven't been able to get rid of an old tune from between my ear canals for several days. Her husband's jazz trio was performing last weekend, and she said that they should add the 1972 Focus tune "Hocus Pocus" to their repertoire. And, if they can pull it off, musically, it would knock everybody out... because that song just rips! But it's also one of THOSE songs. Think I'm joking? Can't quite remember what that song was like? Go to iTunes and listen to the brief demo. You can thank me later.... and you can also hate me even later than that after you struggle to erase the song from your brain cells. It got so bad for me that I had to pick up a copy of The Best of Focus at my local CD shop (it's also available via

Focus is an old progressive rock/classical/jazz fusion band from Holland, and "Hocus Pocus" was their big hit that mixed blazing guitars with... yodeling, and what can only be described as a vocal visitation from the "Family Guy's" character Quagmire. You come away with both jaw-dropping awe at their sheer talent and yet also a strange queasiness at their infusion of oddball whimsy.

That was the "something old." The "something new" was a copy of John Legend's latest CD, "Once Again." I've only listened to it once, so far. It's got some nice grooves and John has good chops, vocally (when he stays within his pocket). A couple tunes were a bit repetitious, but for the most part it appears to be a good CD. It's nice to finally hear more of these neo-soul artists as they finally edge out the tired and way-past-it's-expiration-date rap/hip-hop scene.

The "something borrowed" was also the "something blue"... a used copy of Duncan Sheik's "Brighter/Later" best of double-CD. I already have his 1996 self-titled CD as well as the 2002 CD "Daylight". This collection includes some tracks from those releases, as well as a few from Humming and Phantom Moon (and a few unreleased tracks). A few of the tracks are a bit too esoteric and maudlin (it's his style, and he doesn't shrink from it), but you always come across a nice handful of hauntingly beautiful tracks, including a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Frank talk about Baby Boomers and the WWII Generation that preceded them...

Late last month, Alan Capasso at Chesterton and Friends had an interesting post with regard to Baby Boomers, society at large, and the Church. He explains:

Our parents grew out of a very rough time of the Depression... then WW2, and they did not want their kids to suffer in any way. We became the focus of their entire attention - we asked for something, we got it - we felt bad, they held us, and they became the servants - we were the masters. The world got turned upside-down. We were placed center stage.

He added links to posts by both the Catholic Exchange and Barbara Nicolosi. Barbara doesn't hold back any punches, as this excerpt attests:

I know I must be missing some really positive great things that have come from all the Boomer’s innovations in the Church. But I don’t think we are going to be able to save those unless we have a real, real, real serious “Come to Jesus Moment” on the part of the grey-haired revolutionaries. I think, the Baby Boomer Crusaders need to shake off the self-righeous denial and help us out here by admitting where they went wrong. They need to say, “We over-stepped here.” “We lost a value there.” “This was a big mistake. HUGE.”

It also reminded my of another post from Alan Capasso back in January. It's a wonderful post that triggered distant memories in my brain... vestiges of my childhood and, even more so, of my parents' early adulthood. Below are excerpts from the posting (I urge you to read it in full):

It was a time when the standard form of family entertainment was impromptu ‘get-togethers’. On any given evening the doorbell might ring and a neighbor or two would pop in or we might walk next door and do the same. Saturdays were the best when several families might just decide to all gather at our house. I do not remember my parents making any calls or plans in front of us; people would just show up. I always enjoyed these little parties, it meant extended playtime with my friends but most of all they provided me an opportunity where I could spy on the mysterious world of adults. None of the parents minded we were in the room, as long as we practiced the manners we were vigorously taught or kept the noise to a “dull roar”.

These parties would always follow the dramatic form of a 3-act play. The first act was the “meet-and-greet”, several conversations at once, quick jokes and family updates... One of my father’s top sources of pride was being able to say, “No one leaves my house hungry and if they do it’s their own fault”...

The second act was when the men would separate from the women. It was then that the men could talk man stuff and the women could talk woman stuff. The rule for us children was the prepubescents could wonder between both groups but after puberty we had to separate too or “disappear”...

The third act was when the adults would all do the clearing up and putting away with some last jokes, promises to do this again and herding up the kids. The announcement for this last act to begin was when one of the men would say, “Let’s go join the ladies.” And my dad would always say, “Yes let’s, so we can make one big lady”.