Tuesday, 27 April 2010

'What if the Foreign Office had offended the Prophet Mohammed?'

That's the question I've been burning to ask. The answer? The Foreign Office and their lackeys wouldn’t have dared. And if they had, would they be in hiding now?
Christopher Meyer writing for The Daily Mail invites us to ‘imagine the furore if the Foreign Office has insulted the Prophet Mohammed’, and gives us a new perception; ‘to get some perspective on this: imagine the furore if the jokes had been about the Prophet Mohammed before the visit of an Islamic leader. Don't forget that all hell was let loose, including death threats, when a Danish newspaper caricatured the Prophet a few years ago.’http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1269015/Pope-condom-memo-Imagine-FO-insulted-Prophet-Mohammed.html

Monday, 26 April 2010

April 28th - Day One of the Novena

I propose Wednesday, April 28th, as the start day for the novena. Starting today leaves us little time to get the word out, and tomorrow April 27th is the National Day of Prayer and Fasting for Life, organised by The Good Counsel Network. This national day of prayer and fasting is done in a spirit of reparation; April 27th 2010 marks the 43rd anniversary of the legalisation of abortion. The leaflet from The Good Counsel Network includes a scripture quote from Jonah 3:5:10, 'and the people of Ninevah believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least....God saw their efforts to renounce their evil ways. And God relented about the disaster which He had threatened to bring on them, and He did not bring it.'

Perhaps before starting the novena on Wednesday, we could invite others to recite it with us. I'll be going along to my local churches to give copies of the novena to the priests there.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Join us in storming heaven for our pope!

In the current situation (poison 'leaked memos' by 'civil' servants) we are being exhorted to pray devoutly for our pope, and may I suggest that we do so together and in a unified way by reciting a specific novena to the powerful St. Benedict?
Glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet. I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne Of God. To you I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me. Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor. Inspire me to imitate you in all things. May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His kingdom.
Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Your heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. You never dismissed without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to you. I therefore invoke your powerful intercession, confident in the hope that you will hear my prayer and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore (name it).
Help me, great St. Benedict. to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.
There are two excellent Facebook groups, Clergy, Religious, Seminarians and Laity Who Stand With Pope Benedict XVI and Catholics Who Condemn the Media's Recent Treatment of the Pope that are communicating to like-minded Catholics about our need to pray for our pope. I recommend St. Benedict as he is the patron saint of those who are poisoned, owing to the fact that an attempt was made to kill St. Benedict by having him drink from a poisoned chalice. St. Benedict rendered the poison ineffective by blessing the drink. Perhaps, in praying to St. Benedict, we might especially pray for those UK Catholics whose positive mindset towards the pope has indeed been infected by shoddy media reports and contaminated by this nonsense from state bodies who employ such civil servants. Such ‘servants’ are paid with our taxes.There are four million ‘Romans’ or RCs here in the UK, and is it out of the question that each of us formally question why our toll to the government should not include funding such odious (libellous?) and crass ‘brainstorms’? It’s not as if the civil servants will be sacked, they’ve been moved on from their comfy government job to a new job. Smooth! I would wholeheartedly agree with Jeffrey Steel when he wrote ‘what was shocking to me was the reassignment of those involved rather than something more severe.’ http://frjeffreysteel.blogspot.com/2010/04/all-catholics-should-be-utterly.html

To put a framework to their ‘far-fetched’ ideas; there is something very New Labour and Blairite about the ‘plans’ they had concocted for the pope – with its big emphasis on the pope apologising randomly for anything and to everyone (Blair days revisited) but also the clashing ‘open an abortion ward’ with some idea about the pope changing his ideas on adoption. They surely cannot fail to understand that with over 600 abortions everyday in England and Wales, that..oh my gosh...those same babies that could have been put up for adoption…have been…um…done away with on some ‘abortion ward’?
And ‘the speech on equality’, Harriet H will be pleased, she may even give whoever dreamt it up a stake in NuLab.  Bit of irony there too – if those paltry civil servants knew anything about equality they wouldn’t subject Catholic ideals and our great leader to such playground bullying. I’ll put a stop to my rant, and pencil in each day of the Novena in my diary.

PS - The Knights of Columbanus have already completed a novena for Pope Benedict, which began on April 11 and finished on April 19.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Pope Benedict saved us from Maciel Milieu

During a sermon that meditated on The Good Shepherd, (9AM Mass Brompton Oratory, April 18th) Fr. Bowen bravely developed his sermon to examine the issue of faux shepherds within The Catholic Church, and how the Legionaries of Christ were fanatical about following their leader, Marcel Maciel, to the point where they could not see/refused to acknowledge that he was a very flawed individual. That the idea sold to Legionary recruits was 'follow me and you'll be safe.'
The above sermon was still simmering in my mind when I had the privilege of attending High Mass at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane on April 19th. Fr. Finigan’s homily was a celebration of the milestones (to date) of Pope Benedict’s papacy – that day being the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election. Fr. Finigan, known for his enlightening forthrightness, illustrated that Pope Benedict ‘remains innocens manibus et mundo corde (innocent of hands and of a clean heart) most especially in the scandalous tale of bribery and corruption that enabled Fr Marcel Maciel to be shielded for so long – until Cardinal Ratzinger stepped in against his senior colleagues in the Curia. As Pope, within his first year, he had the man dismissed and sent for perpetual penance. (And we should pray that God may have mercy on his soul.)’ The full text of Fr. Finigan’s sermon can be sought here; http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2010/04/sermon-for-fifth-anniversary-of-pope.html

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our pope, because dismissing Fr. Maciel was no mean feat, and on account of which many were quick to scorn His Holiness. More importantly however, Maciel’s removal from office clarifies once and for all that we cannot follow Maciel, Heaven forbid! Yet, I was nearly ‘sucked into’ the Maciel milieu, (for a brief period – but one that knew a Drastic finish) I became involved with the Legionaries. Everyone that I met in the Legionaries, (the priests and the consecrated lay-people were all very impressive), were holy individuals and they clearly were magnificent examples to all around them.
They did however, have a ‘fanatical’ focus on their founder. Books on Marcel Maciel’s life were given to me with the instruction to read and re-read them. When I tentatively questioned them on ‘the stories which were in the media about Maciel’, the Legionaries defensively told me that ‘those stories are lies. False accusations. That’s all they are – accusations.’ I do not doubt for one second that the Legionaries were fully convinced of this themselves, and their enthusiasm for their founder was infectious – I thought to myself – ‘what’s written about Maciel must be fabricated, how could such good, devout, generous people in the Legionaries be in earnest about following a…pervert?’ 

I pushed my nagging doubts to the side of my mind, and looked further into joining Regnum Christi. My mother had discussions with a Legionary priest about my candidacy for Regnum Christi (I was much younger at the time) and that’s when Mum dropped a bombshell. She mentioned that I had a love of ‘the Old Mass’, and she watched the priest’s face go ashen white. There was some confused discussion about Maciel accepting the New Mass, and that on account of this, I should reject the Old Mass. Things cooled, they regarded me as having a strange predilection for the Old Mass. 

Things stayed pleasant until Mum received a letter from the same priest regarding exhorting that I would have to ‘get with it’ (I kid you not) and more or less forget about the Tridentine Mass in order to reach Legionaries/Maciel standards. Mum was perturbed, ‘It’s odd Mary! Maciel is their primary leader, perhaps to the detriment of serving the pope. They know there are provisions [John Paul II’s indult] for the Old Rite, but chose to ignore this. And how DARE they send me a letter cautioning me because you go to the Old Mass!?’ Years later, ‘that rotten letter’ from the Legionaries is still a red rag to Mum; its mention causes her blood pressure to soar.

But the letter marked the end of all my formal contact with the Legionaries. They did not possess authority from the Pope to command me to stop attending the Masses organised by The Latin Mass Society. I intuited at the time that there was a clear choice, them or the Tridentine Latin Mass. A choice? Not really; my conscience would never let me ‘give up’ the Mass of my grandparents to reverence Maciel. Years later, there is a musty irony that I would hear stern words concerning Maciel during a Tridentine Mass at the Oratory, and then at Corpus Christi. In my short life, things have come full circle. 

Did I write ‘musty’? Ah yes, that’ll be the search for old missals and the unpacking of old lace.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

‘Stranded Couple Take Vows Over Internet’

I must have made God laugh yesterday – my plans were dashed because I wasn’t able to fly home. Instead, I spent hours on the phone cancelling arrangements and saying in a matter-of-fact voice ‘well, whenever the volcano stops spouting then I’ll book a new flight. We'll see what the volcano is up to next week…’  I missed out on a get-together, a trip to the sea and a meeting with my bank. 
These trivialities pale in comparison to the couple that I read about on MSN. The couple were stranded in Dubai, unable to get a plane to the UK for their wedding reception. The wedding guests assembled in Ealing, West London, and the exchange of vows still went ahead, and the wedding guests were able to see the ceremony (in Dubai), courtesy of Skype.
Could this become more common? Far-flung weddings where parents and guests watch the nuptials with the aid of Skype? It would make a good platform for the greens, they might include in their election manifesto, ‘to reduce carbon emissions, we urge voters to consider the environment before they fly huge distances for a wedding ceremony. Anyway, why travel when you can skype-it?’
I re-produce the MSN report in full:
Wedding guests had to watch a bride and groom take their vows over an internet connection after the happy couple were left stranded by the closure of Britain's airspace. Sean Murtagh, 24, who is originally from west London, and his new wife Natalie, a 30-year-old Australian, were flying back to the UK from their home in Brisbane for Saturday's ceremony.  The couple married at a civil ceremony in Brisbane three weeks ago and were holding a humanist ceremony for family and friends in the UK. Sean's parents and Natalie's mother made it from Australia to London in time but the newlyweds found themselves stranded when they changed planes at Dubai on Thursday. It looked like their plans were in ruins until the couple decided to use Skype to let the ceremony go ahead as their guests gathered in Ealing, west London. The couple asked staff at the Millennium Airport Hotel in Dubai if they could use a laptop in their room, but staff instead became the couple's wedding planners."They have decorated the lobby of the hotel. They made us a three tier wedding cake, set up a laptop with Skype and a projector," said Mr Murtagh. "It's spellbinding the amount they have done for us. It's been an incredible day. We were never going to forget it anyway but we certainly won't forget it now." The couple's parents had brought their wedding outfits to the UK so Mr Murtagh borrowed a shirt, trousers, jacket and even cufflinks for the celebration, while the bride wore a black, green and blue dress which she had packed for their short honeymoon in Singapore on their way to the UK.

Friday, 16 April 2010

‘Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven...' (Genesis)

Just back from 8AM Tridentine Mass at the Brompton Oratory, or ‘Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’. A friend and I walked there in the early morning sun. The Oratory looked radiant, glowing with yellow-gold sunshine.
The silence of the Oratory always smotes my senses when I go into the church, something about coming in from the buzz and the bewildering noise of South Kensington and Knightsbridge into the still and tranquil. This morning, I noted that candles were lit in various places of the church, but couldn't fathom why this was the case.

Before Mass began, Fr. Rupert announced that today, April 16th is the anniversary of the dedication of the church, and that the candles marked the places where the bishop blessed the church. The Mass for today is the ‘Mass of the Dedication’. ‘Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven; and it shall be called the court of God’ reads the Introit from Genesis. The gradual reads ‘this place was made by God, a priceless mystery, it is without reproof.’ The Communion from Matthew, ‘my house shall be called the house of prayer, saith the Lord: in it everyone that asketh receiveth: and to him that knocketh it shal be opened.’
Fr. Rupert was vested in Roman vestments, which were festive and celebratory, instilled in us an instant sense of the joyousness of the occasion. My ordinary vocabulary fails when I seek to describe such vestments. Thank God for digital photography, that the sight of this vestment may be available to anyone on the web, the world over. 

Only a few years ago (when as a visitor to London) I would attend the 8AM, and sometimes there were only a handful of people (one morning in October 2008, I counted seven people), but today I counted 26 seated both in St. Joseph’s chapel, and in the pews directly behind this chapel.
This evening there will be Solemn Benediction (6.30PM) at the Brompton Oratory.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Irish Church: Preventative Actions on Child Abuse. Where are The Times now?

You may not have heard about the new initiatives that are being employed by the Irish Catholic Church to explore the motivations-for-a-vocation of seminarians. It’s of special note considering the current reputation of the Irish Church and that fact that 2009 was the best year for vocations in Ireland for a decade – 36 men became seminarians.  The new measures have been interpreted as strategies to ‘weed out’ paedophiles…before they join the priesthood. I read about them, first on an American website, and when I looked for any reports of these new plans in the British media, I found none.  Perhaps the new initiatives aren’t mastermind, but they are in tune with a serious motivation to only ordain men who have purity of intention.   

So the crucial dichotomy exists, why does The Times fail to even mention efforts made by the Church in Ireland to improve the monitoring of those entering the priesthood? A motif of the London Times is revealing details of Irish religious brothers who abused children, and then slating Pope Benedict.  Holistic reporting? Fair? I think not. 

Getting back to the new developments. This week, for the first time,  a questionnaire (by e-mail) was sent to all of last year’s seminary entrants. Spearheading these changes in the ‘vetting process’ of seminarians is Fr. Patrick Rushe, National Director of Diocesan Vocations.
Fr. Rushe said the questionnaire, "will probe motivations, backgrounds, pastimes, interests, routines, and experiences. We will ask about praying, whether they were part of religious groups or prayer groups before they joined the seminary." Hence, more emphasis on a candidate’s personal prayer life and piety, which can only be a good thing. While the questionnaire has been interpreted as a paedophile screening device, Fr Rushe says, "It's not fair to say it's directly designed with the abuse in mind. There's probably some connection but it's more against the backdrop of the reports we're doing it - to find out their attitudes and motivations in answering the call." Fr. Rushe hopes that this questionnaire will sent out annually. Trained psychologists will conduct exhaustively thorough psychological profiles.  Fr. Rushe states ‘sexuality is part of the profile.’ Following this, each candidate for the priesthood will have an interview with the bishop, after a successful interview, the candidate must present themselves to the Irish police or ‘Gaudaí’ for systematic scrutiny. 

My concern for this is that there seems to be a mix of secular modern psychological, with clearer fact-finding on the candidate’s praying habits. I believe the psychological assessment to be very important. Still, secular psychology does not always hold dear an individual’s relationship with ‘institutional religion’. And it is interesting that the candidate goes to the psychologist before their interview with the bishop. Am I just being cynical or is there an attitude of ‘after the psychologist, the apostles will proceed’? Should it not be the other way round?  I have read that the system was approved by the Irish Episcopal Conference in 2006, but cannot at this time of writing find exact notes from this conference.Fr. Paddy Rushe who is implementing these changes to the lives of seminarians, is from a practising Catholic family where the recitation of the Rosary and participating in parish missions was a staple feature of his up-bringing. Fr. Rushe comes from the sort of background that Pope Benedict extolled as being the societal seedbed of vocations. 

A profile of Fr. Rushe is available at this link to The Irish Catholic. Not that The Irish Catholic is that consistently virtuous – a columnist at The Irish Catholic in another article rubbished Fr. Rushe because Fr. Rushe exhorted the faithful to pray for vocations.

Lotta Links:
Websites where I first learned about the new measure:

Link with particulars concerning the 36 applicants for the priesthood (2009)

The Times have a monotone moan about Pope Benedict’s letter.

The Times reporting on the new initiatives? We’re still waiting. 

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Priests are the new abuse victims

I found it very taxing to write/blog in the last week. I had to recuperate after researching and writing an article for a secular Irish newspaper. The original e-mail that my editor sent me directed this piece of journalism; 'I am looking for a devout Catholic to explain how they feel about the Pope's letter [to the Irish people] and the abuse crisis that has engulfed the Catholic Church, here and abroad. Has it knocked your faith at all and made you think about attending Church, or do you remain a steadfast supporter of the Church? Did the Pope go far enough? How do you reconcile the core beliefs of your faith with the scandals that have taken place? What do you say to your fellow Catholics who are deserting the Church in light of the scandals?'

Needless to say, I had to wade through the reports on child sex abuse in the Irish Catholic Church, and reports on child abuse in a general, international context. I wouldn’t blame anyone for downing vodkas when reading those reports. Still, the Catholic Church, the abusive priests and the laissez-faire handling of the cases did not relate at all to the Catholic Church that I know and love. What if I had never known the Bride of Christ, and were not a practising Catholic? What if I read the reports and experienced the media hysteria in isolation? Than like so many others in our society, I would think that the Catholic Church was a hospital ward for the sexually depraved. My experience of the Catholic Church would be solely dictated by salacious media coverage. And fatally, that may be the only experience many will have of the Catholic Church.

Many of our contemporaries are conditioned to believe that child abuse is a standard feature of life in the Catholic Church. And that the Catholic Church and child abuse are metaphors for each other. To address the many misconceptions about child abuse in our society, The Carmelites in Kensington organised an information evening on this exact subject.

Present at the meeting was Fr. Matthew Blake, Fr. Ian Matthews and a large room full of parishioners. Fr. Matthew, like me, is from Cork, and he opened the discussion by frankly stating that child abuse is not a recent phenomenon, but a sad fact of human history. Fr. Matthew reminded us that St. Patrick in the early centuries was a victim of abuse when, as a young boy, he was captured by the Irish and enslaved for six years. To follow, psychologist Franca Bren delivered a lecture where she gave a very good overview in 'broad lines' of 'the complex area' of child abuse. Franca Bren detailed child abuse as falling into four chief areas: physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. Some integral research findings were woven into her presentation; that abusers come from any section of society and may be of any racial or professional background. She profiled three types of abusive personalities, 'the aggressive abuser' and 'the fixated abuser' and 'the regressive abuser'. The 'fixated abuser' is the most insidious abuser in that they are usually very law-adiding, function very well socially, and are most likely 'to pick vulnerable children' and 'groom' them. Another characteristic of the 'fixated' is that they may stop abusing for several years at a time, leading others to think they have been 'cured'. She further embellished the sinister profile of the fixated abuser in that they may be attracted to joining a religious order because the ‘status’ of being a priest and the ‘trust’ that others put in them may give them pretexts for finding victims.

To focus on child sex abuse as perpetrated by religious figures, Franca Bren noted that a wide range of research findings from male religious communities (including many religions) found that 1.5 - 5% of the members of religious communities could be abusers. 'So it is by no means exclusive to Catholic tradition' she noted, and Fr. Matthew added that 'one case is still one case too many.' To centre on the abused, Franca Bren detailed how in most abuse cases, more girls are abused than boys, but in the case of children abused by clergy, the statistic available is that 80% of the abused were boys.In finishing her presentation, Franca reminded us of Pope John Paul II’s words from 2003 that ‘there’s no place in the priesthood for those who would harm the young’.

Fr. Matthew invited those in attendance to ask questions, and rather suddenly an elderly man alongside me started to rant at the priests present. He shouted, ‘because of the abuse committed by priests, the name of Catholics has been dragged down in society! Father I could have given that presentation when I was in a Catholic school. I knew there were little boys being fondled by priests when I was seven and away at Catholic boarding school!’ Turning his attention to Franca Bren, he fumed ‘whatever the priests are paying you to give this talk – it’s too much! It was boys who were abused and therefore I as a man should be giving this talk. Girls were not abused. You should not be giving this talk!’

I shot my hand up, and said ‘thank you Fr. Matthew and Fr. Ian and Franca for holding this evening. It’s an opportunity for Catholics to come together and get practical information and put the crime of sex abuse into a global context. In response to my fellow parishioner who spoke abuse that happened in his school…’ I said and nodded to the man on my right. ‘I would like to say that as a young Catholic I come into contact with many priests, and none of them are abusers. You can’t label them all as abusers; it's simply not true. I try in my own way to go to Mass each day, and meet many saintly priests. We must look at the whole picture and see that the abuse victims in the media glare, at present, are those that were abused by priests. Why aren’t those who were abused by their fathers, brothers, uncles and visitors to their homes in the media gase continuously? Does it mean that child abuse does not exist elsewhere? Or that all other abusers, non-priests I mean, have stopped abusing? As Catholics we need the irreplaceable role of priests, but retaliating against all priests, haranguing all of them as being child abusers, and hen-picking them like the liberal media is to be guilty of the abuse of priests.’

A very lively discussion got underway. A teacher in the group expressed the opinion that the reason the reported cases of abuse is decreasing is because ‘there’s so much sexual permissiveness and so many barriers dropped’ that the lines between abuse and sexual experience are increasingly blurred. Another lady felt aggrieved that ‘you wouldn’t put an alcoholic in charge of a pub or into a wine tasting session. Why were paedophiles put to work with children?’ We were given an information sheet with a host of websites and contacts where we could seek further information, including details of organisations that help the abused.

The irate gentleman who had earlier shouted at the priests rushed into the discussion again, and this time referred to a sermon given at Sunday Mass, April 12th. Giving a grievously unfair description of the priest and his sermon, the man insinuated that the priest was guilty of ‘covering up for other priests’, merely because the priest had announced that there would be an information evening. Thankfully, many parishioners in the room turned to the man and said that they had been at the same Mass, and that the priest was not guilty of ‘covering up’ just because he had announced that there would be an information evening.

I resisted the temptation to call the man a bully. I said to him, ‘that is an outrageous accusation to make.’ Why he believes taking out his troubles and twisting the words of a sermon will do any good to anyone is beyond me. Nonetheless, in my everyday existence, I witness a creeping acceptance of bullying behaviour towards priests, be it the priests who are spat at or be it those priests called ‘child abusers’ whenever they walk down the street. But it does confuse me that there are a few individuals who are very impassioned about seeking justice for abuse victims, and speak so much about the agonies endured by abuse victims, yet at times feel it their right to publically strike out (and in an abusive tone and manner) at good and holy priests. It’s not consistent that they can argue that there must be an end to all abuse, but then torment priests.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Drinks all round? Irish Good Friday ban is lifted

The lifting of this ban is a historical bookmark. For all my life in Ireland, pubs did not open on Good Friday and the parts of the shops that sold alcohol were covered up, or marked off. Once, aged about 17, I was in a supermarket located in a housing estate on Good Friday, an elderly lady who seemed to be in her dotage was asking why she could not find the aisle where the sherry was kept – she wanted it for her Easter trifle! Some sales assistants kindly explained to her why it was illegal to sell alocohol - on Good Friday.  Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean played in the background, interrupted every now and then with announcements for discounts on Easter eggs, and that extra points were being given to loyalty card owners. 

‘Oh God in Heaven!’ she said and clapped her hand to her mouth, ‘sher I know! I know! It’s Good Friday, and at my age you’d expect me t’know I shouldn’t be buying drink today. I’ll get the sherry tomorrow. You must think me a right alco!?’ She put back her basket, turned around and said to them, ‘but to be honest, it’s Good Friday, I can’t buy sherry, but should ye be working today? I get in a tizzy – can’t remember you can’t buy drink - with all the shops open all ‘bout the place.’

I can still remember her walking out of the shop, shaking her head, drawing her cardigan close to her, cross that the open supermarket blaring 1980’s pop music, had made her forget Good Friday, and probably bothered that she had been caught out as doddery. Maybe someone should tell her that she can buy all the sherry she likes on Good Friday now. But somehow, little old ladies and their trifle making on Good Friday was probably not the reason that ‘they’ lifted the ban.

This week, a court order lifted the ban that formerly prohibited the sale of alcohol on Good Friday; its sale is now permitted. Both the triumphant welcome that greeted the lifting of ‘the Irish Good Friday ban’ and the couldn't-care-less-attitude - are actually quite disturbing. Furthermore, journalist David Quinn, who I have long admired for his frank and intelligent insights, doesn’t shy from asking; ‘was it merely coincidental that a decision was made to hold the Munster-Leinster match in Limerick on Good Friday?’ David Quinn’s very balanced view is available at: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/david-quinn-easing-pub-ban-isnt-progressive-its-just-immature-2122204.html
T-shirts celebrating the lifting of the ban, and the rolling-with-liquor rugby match went on sale after the court decision. Discussion of money is vulgar, but is it integral to the scrapping of the ban, that Irish rugby administrators sometimes rely too heavily (as in the UK) on companies that make adult beverages for sponsorship?  The drink companies are obviously profiting – but it’s actually too easy to blame them per se. Who’s buying the rugby tickets and the pints? Individual Irish people – many of whom if the stats are correct - are from families where their grandparents were very devout and fulfilled their Good Friday devotions with a solemnity of spirit. Perhaps, the adage 'the past is a foreign country - they do things differently there' is appropriate here. My nationality is Irish, but this 'let's have drinks all round' addition to Good Friday makes me feel uneasily alien this Easter. 

PS – This is a tad melodramatic – but when I read the t-shirt slogan, ‘officially bigger than the Catholic Church, Munster Rugby, Good Friday’ I couldn’t help but think of the slogan ‘God Himself couldn’t sink this ship’ on the Titanic.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

'...forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross...'

A Catholic doctor, whom I esteem highly, forwarded the e-mail that I re-produce in full here. I do not know who wrote the e-mail entitled 'The Scientific Death of Jesus', but I admire their sincerity-in-faith and spirit of evangelisation.
60 seconds with God...For the next 60 seconds, set aside whatever you're doing and take this opportunity!  Let's see if satan can stop this.
At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty. 

At the time, crucifixion was the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus. Unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion Jesus was to be nailed to the cross by His hands and feet. Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long.
The nails were driven into His wrists...not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There's a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder.
The image above is available in a better format at: 

The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist that tendons would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breath. Both of His feet were nailed together.  Thus, He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross.  Jesus could not support himself with His legs because of the pain so He was forced to alternate between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breath.  Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage. Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours.            

Yes, over 3 hours! Can you imagine this kind of suffering? A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding.  He was simply pouring water from his wounds. From common images we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side.  But do we realize His wounds were actually made in his body?  A hammer driving large nails through the wrist, the feet overlapped and an even large nail hammered through the arches, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear.   But before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten.  The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body.  The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face.  The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp.  Most men would not have survived this torture.  
He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds.

The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood.

Jesus lost all 3.5 liters of his blood. He had three nails hammered into his members, a crown of  thorns on his head and, beyond that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into his chest.

All this - without mentioning the humiliation. He passed after carrying his own cross for almost 2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones. (The cross was almost 30 kilograms of weight.) He died for you! It is easy to pass jokes or foolish photos by e-mail, but when it comes to God, sometimes you feel ashamed to forward to others because you are worried of what they may think about you.
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