Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tomb of St. Paul Discovered 

I have a certain fascination with the Apostle Paul. I lived through a period of time when I believed some of the analysis which claimed there was a war between Paul and James for control of the early church. I was, at the time, fascinated with the idea. Well, archeologists have now discovered the Tomb of St. Paul.

A second excavation, under the main altar of the basilica, brought the Vatican team to the sarcophagus, which was located on what would have been ground level for the original 4th-century building. Under the altar a marble plaque was still visible, dating back to the 4th century, and bearing the inscription: "Apostle Paul, martyr." Filippi remarks that surprisingly, "Nobody ever thought to look behind that plaque." When the Vatican team looked, they found the sarcophagus. As an archeologist, Giorgio Filippi says that he has no special curiosity to learn whether the remains of St. Paul are still inside that sarcophagus. The tomb should not be opened merely to satisfy curiosity, he insists. There is no doubt, he says, that St. Paul was buried on the site, "because this basilica was the object of pilgrimages by emperors; people from all around the world came to venerate him, having faith that he was present in this basilica."

St. Paul, of course, raised Eutychus from death after he fell, thus my blog-name. I hesitated linking to the article on the two ways of the first century church, but decided to go ahead. I don't want to lead people astray with thoughts I don't believe are true, but perhaps it's a good lesson. I also read a lot about the possibility that John's Gospel might have really by written by Mary Magdalene. In both instances, some discrepancies in the wordings of the New Testament here and there lead people off into the woods. As the Clueless Christian wrote the other day, Jesus didn't write us a Bible, he left that to the Church He founded -- and if you start doubting the truth of the Word, then there is no bottom to your faith. Those doubts are behind me and I hope others who are distracted by the Magdalene or by invented in-fighting among the Apostles realize eventually how groundless such doubts are in the face of the teachings of the Magisterium.

Why Now? 

After a few months of manageable work load at work, we are suddently inundated with immediate and crucial requests which must be fulfilled now; no, Now; I mean NOW. And so, rather than a leisurely weekend focus on the Rites of Sending and Election, I face a weekend of work away from home into which I will fit writing my name into the book of the Elect and having it ready to Bishop D'Arcy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Death of the Swedish Church 

I was unable to put this article down...
Since my fifteenth year, the year of my baptism, I have been a communicant member of the Church of Sweden. I have gone to communion regularly for forty-five years in what I thought was the real church. During these years I have at the inside lived with and through all the changes that have taken place, I have seen them being prepared, I have heard the arguments, listened to the debates, seen the campaigns, encountered the propaganda, the threats, the intimidations, the promises, the deceits, the lies, the marginalization and the elimination. I have seen how the church has changed, how is has been occupied and been taken over from the outside and the inside. I have seen all the small steps leading to where the Church Sweden is now. And I have not been able to stop it. Together with many others I have been in the burning oven. And I have had enough.
Folke Olofsson, a pastor or priest in the Swedish church, goes on to talk about not considering himself a martyr because nobody's getting killed, but the woman bishop says, of the Christian traditionalists:
“My opinion is crystal clear: those who do not approve of the ordination of women must leave the Church of Sweden. Those who do not want to share worship communion with women priests have excluded themselves. The problem with these priests is that they want a severance payment at the same time as they want to be martyrs. There is no rule in the Church of Sweden which states that martyrs should have a golden parachute”.
and after a trip to the US and Canada:
Thirteen years, ago when I returned after a one month's trip to Canada and the U.S., I met with the Archbishop, Dr. Bertil Werkström, at his office to report to him what I had observed and experienced. I told him about the progress in Ecumenism, about practical cooperation between Lutherans and Catholics, something which really interested him as he soon was going to meet the Pope when he was visiting Uppsala during his Scandinavian trip. I also told him about the Gay and Lesbian agenda, about Feminism and about Inclusive Language being in my view the verbal and conceptual crowbar with the help of which the traditional Christian faith could be broken up. After my report, the Archbishop looked at me seriously and said: “Its it really that serious”, and I responded: “It is much worse, and in ten years we´ll have it here”. It was true. Now it is here for everyone to see.
It's long read, but well worth the time.

The Sevens 

The seven works of spiritual mercy: 1) convert the sinner, 2) instruct the ignorant, 3) counsel the doubtful, 4) comfort the sorrowful, 5) bear wrongs patiently, 6) forgive injuries, 7) pray for the living and the dead.

The seven works of corporal mercy: 1) feed the hungry, 2) give drink to the thirsty, 3) clothe the naked, 4) shelter the homeless, 5) visit the sick, 6) visit those in prison, 7) bury the dead.

The seven virtues: 1) humility, 2) liberality, 3) chastity, 4) meekness, 5) temperance, 6) brotherly love, 7) diligence.

The seven vices: 1) pride, 2) covetousness, 3) lust, 4) anger, 5) gluttony, 6) envy, 7) sloth.

The seven sacraments: 1) baptism, 2) confirmation, 3) The Eucharist, 4) penance, 5) anointing the sick, 6) ordination, 7) matrimony.

Arlen Specter 

Arlen Specter has Hodgkin's Disease.

In the statement, Specter said: "I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents; and I'm going to beat this, too. I have a lot more work to do for Pennsylvania and America."

Specter has kept his post as the head of the Judiciary Committee despite criticism by conservatives of some of his social positions, including Specter's pro-choice stance on abortion.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Clueless Christian:
How I Came to the Catholic Faith 

The Clueless Christian has a very nice post on becoming Catholic. (Via Pontifications)
We Protestants, especially those of us who call ourselves “Orthodox” are big on authority. Isn’t that what this whole Anglican schism is about? We believe we are fighting to preserve the authority of Scripture. We all agree that Scripture is an authoritative, and infallible guide, yet Christ did not write Scripture, Christ founded a Church who wrote and compiled Scripture instead. These writings included two “infallible” Epistles from St. Peter, making it clear that St. Peter could teach “with infallibility”
Update: A discussion about the above over at Pontifications.

I Have a Dream Today 

OK, I really like Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, but that's not what I'm talking about. Even though this is an anonymous RCIA blog, I still won't write about the things I'll be confessing next week. Suffice to say they consist of points of weakness and points of pridefullness. So there I am, asleep and minding my own business, when I have a dream consisting of a unique and utterly frightening combination of my specific weakness stabbed in the heart by my specific pride. This was not a nice dream. Awakened early and unable to turn on the TV because I gave THAT up for Lent, I prayed for strength and forgiveness.

I think it's a mistake, generally, to see the devil in every flat tire and God in every penny found. But get thee behind me, Satan, I'd rather not dream like that again.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Business Session 

We had a good 'business' session at RCIA tonight. We didn't talk very much about Lent, though, beyond that it is a time of purification and enlightenment. We talked mostly about our upcoming Rite of Sending, Rite of Election, Reconciliation and the Scrutinies.

After the Rite of Sending (which we're having on the 2nd Sunday of Lent instead of the 1st Sunday because of our Bishop's scheduling conflicts) our teacher said many in our congregation will be praying for us, some by name and some for us as a group. She said we need to focus and quiet ourselves and seek the Spirit over these next few weeks. We need to spend time in prayer and realize we're representing all those people out there in the pews.

The Scrutinies are prayers our priest will say over us in front of the congregation on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent. The prayers will be read out of one of Father's prayer books. Our sponsors will stand behind us, or with their hand on our shoulder, and the priest will read the prayers and perhaps make signs of the cross on our bodies at different points. The readings for the week will match (somewhat) the scrutiny prayers: 1st Scrutiny, the Woman at the Well; 2nd Scrutiny, the Blind man is healed; and 3rd Scrutiny, Lazarus is raised from the dead.

We received a seating chart and name tags to wear to meet the Bishop at the Rite of Election next Sunday. Catechumens (not yet baptised) will sit on the left and Candidates (baptised) will sit on the right and will have their names called and meet the Bishop separately.

Lenten Prayer 

Our RCIA class tonight will cover Lent. I don't think I can add much to all the posts on all the Catholic Blogs and other web sites concerning Lent and its meaning. I do like The Lenten Prayer Of St. Ephraim The Syrian:
O Lord and Master of my life
take from me the spirit of sloth
lust of power
and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity,
and love to thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King
grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother;
for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages.

And if you click on the link to the prayer above, there is a nice discussion of Lent.

I don't think we'll be covering the last chapter of Michael Pennock's "This is Our Faith," which is a chapter on prayer. The book covers the Catechsim pretty well, but overall, I liked Alan Schrek's "The Essential Catholic Catechism" better. Both books say that humility is the foundation of prayer. We (humanity) don't know how to pray as we ought and God comes to aid us in our weakness with the Holy Spirit. We should pray simply, be precise and persistent. The "Our Father" is the perfect prayer, containing blessings and adoration for God, petitions for ourselves, intercession for others, thanksgiving for God's blessings and praise for God just because "He Is." We should follow the acronym A.C.T.S. in prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Pray for us Now and at the Hour 

Sister Lucia Marto, the last of the children who spoke with the Virgin Mary during the miracle at Fatima, Portugal, has died at age 97.

Lucia and two of her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco, said in 1917 that the Virgin Mary had been appearing to them once a month and predicting events, such as a world war, the fall of Russian communism, and the eventual persecution of Catholics and the Pope. The appearances took place on the 13th day of each month in Fatima, a town about 70 miles north of Lisbon.
Pope John Paul II has visited [Fatima] three times since becoming pontiff, spending a few minutes with Lucia during a 1991 trip to the site. He has claimed the Virgin of Fatima saved his life after he was shot by a Turkish gunman in St Peter’s square in 1981. The May 13, 1981, attack coincided with the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, and John Paul credit’s the Virgin’s intercession for his survival.

In 2000, he visited Fatima to beatify Jacinta and Francisco.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Fatima, in Lucia's own words.

The Third Secret.

From the 2nd Secret of Fatima in 1917:

"This war is going to end, but if people do not cease offending God, not much time will elapse and during the Pontificate of Pius XI another and more terrible war will begin. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know this is the great sign from God that the chastisement of the world for its many transgressions is at hand through war, famine, persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father."
And from history:
The Fatima Prophecies.

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