Sunday, August 31, 2014

Get Lost in Christ & Find Yourself - 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today's readings deal with the soul, its relationship with God and carrying the Cross in order to follow Jesus.

In the first reading, we read how Jeremiah says that God "duped" him.  Can you imagine that? God is "duping" or cheating someone?  How is that possible?

Jeremiah is sent to speak on behalf of the Lord and he is mocked, harassed and bullied.  Jeremiah then feels like God cheated him or deceived him.  He feels left out in the cold, so to speak; even to the point of trying to avoid mentioning God, His name or speaking of Him.  However, Jeremiah finds that this is impossible because the desire to continue burns in his heart and he cannot hold it in.

How many times do we feel God has sent us to do something and we think it will be easy but it backfires?  We may try to share our faith to others thinking it will be a smooth "ride" or a calm walk at the park, but instead, it becomes an moment of suffering and disillusionment?  I can speak to this from experience.  Whether preaching on streets, visiting homes and what not, I myself have been met with ridicule and disappointment.  Even on the internet where I have used Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to promote the teachings of Christ in the Catholic Church and have become the topic of mockery and disdain among non-believers and even some believers within and without the Catholic faith.

This is part of the Christian life.  The Christian message will be attractive to some, but will seem disgusting or evil in the eyes of others. You will be made fun of, called outdated, oppressive and immoral just for sharing the faith. Jesus said that His followers will be hated and despised because of Him (Matthew 10:22).  This may not sound fun for the person sharing the faith.  As a matter of fact, sometimes a believer can lose faith.  Like Jeremiah, he or she may feel as if God abandoned him or her.  He or she may not even want to continue sharing the faith, or avoid mentioning God as Jeremiah attempted.  This is called the "dark night of the soul." However, when we are at that point (and it will happen), we will still feel the desire to continue sharing the faith even if it brings pain. We will preach the Word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).  Ironically, it is during mockery and abuse that the Word gets spread faster.

The responsorial Psalm responds to the first reading from Jeremiah with the response: "My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God."  This reminds us that we are constantly desiring God. Even when we feel God has abandoned us or "duped" us, we still seek Him. Everyone is susceptible to this desire, even atheists.  As St. Augustine, whose feast day we celebrated a few days ago said, "Our hearts are restless, until they rest in you." This Psalm encompasses this quote showing how we thirst for God.  Everything God offers is better than life, as the Psalm states. Who else do we have to rely on other than God (John 6:68)?

This ties in with the second reading from Romans where St. Paul tells the Christians of his day and us today that we must offer 'ourselves as living sacrifices' to God in a holy and pleasing manner. This means that we will constantly suffer.  Sacrifices are not pretty.  They are not fun.  These mega-church prosperity preachers who claim God will bring about money and material goods do not understand what Christianity is about.  Sacrifice is necessary. Moreover, St. Paul reminds us not to get used to the world.  We must not fall into the ways of the world but be counter-cultural. We must be ready to give it all up for God's sake even if it pains us greatly.  The will of God must be properly discerned which we know by its characteristics: 1) Must be good. 2) Must be pleasing and perfect.

In the news we sometimes read of our separated brethren in different sects doing things in God's name that bring harm.  They may deny health care to children believing God will heal them, bother snakes, or may protest the funerals of others believing this to be God's will.  In reality, these are not. Denying healthcare to children is not a good.  It is not pleasing nor perfect, so therefore, it cannot be the will of God.  Moreover, protesting the funerals of others is not a good.  It is not pleasing nor perfect, so it too fails to be the will of God.  The will of God is something that is good and brings about good.  It is pleasing and perfect free from human error and nonsense.

Lastly, in the Gospel we read how Jesus tells His disciples that He will suffer greatly, be killed and will rise on the third day.  Peter finds this news unpleasant and tells Jesus "No, God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." Jesus then responded to him strongly, "Get behind me, Satan!"  Here we see how Satan always tries to present itself as a caring humanist who wants humanity to be comfortable.  This is not how it's supposed to be.  Jesus Himself felt like Jeremiah in the Garden of Gethsemane where His humanity stepped in with its anxieties and fears (Luke 22:42).  We too will feel the same as we grow spiritually.  Remember, the closer you get to God and Heaven, the more "out of place" you will feel on Earth.  

Moreover, Jesus continues with some words which are interesting: "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."  These words are powerful and are important in the philosophical debate on evil existing in a universe where a Good God exists, more commonly called: "The Problem of Evil."  How many times do we see atheists use the Flood of Noah, plagues of Egypt and other events to present God as immoral or evil?  How many times do they inquire how God can let children die of hungry, disease; or how can He let innocent people die in natural disasters or terrorists attacks?  They ask these questions because they think as human beings do and not as God.

God brings good out of anything, even evil events. We see events as evil because are finite creatures trapped in the temporal and spatial. We only see the moment and not the entire film of life, so to speak.  This is why it is difficult to understand why evil exists and why it seems to contradict the existence of a Good God. We must trust God and try to find meaning in the events of life in Him. Rationalizing them with human means will do nothing but bring despair.  Suffering is part of being human and especially Christian.  Jesus had to suffer to redeem the world.  We too have to share in this suffering.

As Jesus said:

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”









Readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/083114.cfm

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Michael Sam Rammed By Team

Michael Sam got "rammed" hard by his former team today.  The Rams NFL team has just cut him off the roster after picking him as a draft.

Sam made "history" by becoming the first openly gay football player to be drafted by a professional NFL team. He has been surrounded by controvery due to the way he celebrated his selection by kissing another male who happened to be his "partner." This kiss happened on live television.  ESPN received many complaints for airing this kiss because many young children, especially boys, were with their fathers watching the draft selections and were not prepared to see the offensive image of two males kissing.

Moreover, he received the ESPY award which was also met with controversy.  Many believed that the powers that be were once again trying to force the LGBT agenda down America's throat, so to speak.  This guy comes out of nowhere and is treated like an MVP just for being openly gay.  What has America come to?  Recently, an ESPN reporter did a story on Michael Sam's showering habits!  The whole thing just went too far and I believe this was one of the reasons the Rams let him go.

He was becoming a distraction for the team.  It was all about him being gay than football. Sports is not about promoting social engineering.  It is about sports and entertainment. Michael Sam made it a habit of crying for any little thing which made him a media darling, especially with ESPN. The media itself often aligns with leftist views so it is no surprised that it gave his homosexuality so much coverage as if it were something to celebrate. NBC even has an article where the photo shows his "member" swinging in his under armour...  In contrast, football players like Tim Tebow were mocked for praying on the field.  Others were suspended and fined for voicing their opinions on the presentation of the Michael Sam kiss.



I think the Rams did a good thing in cutting Michael Sam. He was a distraction for them and for the NFL.  We want to watch football, not the promotion of gay lifestyles.  In any event, Michael Sam did make history as the first openly gay draftee and the first openly gay to be cut from a team.  Life does have its irony.

Michael Sam tweeted:

















Source:


http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11431047/michael-sam-cut-st-louis-rams


http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2014/08/30/michael-sam-just-got-cut-by-the-st-louis-rams-it-might-be-a-good-thing/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/sports/football/rams-cut-michael-sam-first-openly-gay-nfl-draft-pick.html?_r=0

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-sam-comes-out/final-cut-michael-sam-awaits-fate-st-louis-rams-n192156

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/08/michael-sam-cut-from-st-louis-rams

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/aug/30/michael-sam-gay-nfl-player-cut-st-louis-rams

http://www.thestar.com/sports/football/2014/08/30/michael_sam_cut_by_st_louis_rams.html

http://www.nbcsports.com/college-football/michael-sam-spotlight-missouris-pro-day

Friday, August 29, 2014

Duc in Altum Group



I am happy to announce a new Facebook group entitled "Duc in Altum."  This group is open to Catholics and other separated brethren who seek to learn how to engage atheists and counter their claims. 

As a former atheist, I know very well how atheists operate and what misconceptions and questions they have. I will share their tactics with members and teach them how to refute atheism.  

If interested in these online courses, please message me or contact Mrs. Susan Fox at: @testisfidelis or her blog: christsfaithfulwitness.blogspot.com

This group is only geared towards countering atheism.  No discussions on doctrinal differences or uncharitable behavior will be allowed.    

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Real Free Thinkers I

Atheists often say with a glare of arrogance that they are "Free Thinkers." They insinuate that those who believe in God are not "Free Thinkers." Once such example is that of the Hemant Mehta, also known as the "Friendly Atheist." In one video I viewed on youtube, he sarcastically and arrogant says that to those who say to him that they will "pray for him," he replies, "I'll think for you."

The phrase is as corny as it can get. Atheists make it seem as if they are the only ones that "think." In reality, everyone thinks. Just because someone does not share your views or opinions does not make them less of a thinker than you. The phrase "free thinker" really is debatable as I demonstrated in this post http://www.sacerdotus.com/2014/04/atheists-are-not-free-thinkers.html.  If you watch the "Friendly Atheist's" videos and/or read his blog postings, you can tell he is not well read.  He is far from a "free thinker."

Nevertheless, there have been great free thinkers in history.  Today we in the Catholic Church celebrate one.  He converted to Catholicism, became and bishop and is one of the greatest "Fathers" of the Church. He is also spoken of greatly in philosophy, psychology, history, and even science courses.  His name is St. Augustine of Hippo.  You can read more about him in this post: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2013/08/st-augustine-of-hippo.html

Augustine of Hippo was a true free thinker. His thinking, studies and the prayers of his mother St. Monica led him to realize that the Christian God is the one and only God.  Other gods were just man's attempt to define the one and only God. Augustine didn't rely on arguments of the day in regards to God and faith.  He came to the conclusion by himself. Uniting himself to the one and only God, or the "Logos," allowed him to grow even more in wisdom.  He helped expound upon and formulate with great articulation and reason, many of the Church's doctrines.

Unlike today's atheists who rely on outdated irrational arguments from the 17th and 18th centuries, Augustine thought freely. He applied the Hellenistic philosophies which were in circulation at the time and improved on them with his own thoughts and ideas nourished by the grace and wisdom of God. Atheists of today have difficulty pushing their ideas due to the fact that they are indefensible. The many self proclaimed "rationalists" go about the social networking world posting all kinds of lies and distortions in order to make atheism attractive. These pettifoggers go about using mordant statements meant to bait theists into discussions that seem fruitless.  They get caught in their own circular argumentation.

This is not free thinking. It is merely a bloviating form of discourse that engages nothing but the atheist's ego and inner intellectual insecurity.  Augustine was a true free thinker. He thought outside of the box, so to speak. This is what a true free thinker does. He/she does not regurgitate the codswallop rhetoric of thinkers before him/her.    

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Preachers of L.A.

The cable network "Oxygen" began a reality show entitled "Preachers of L.A." in 2013.  The show chronicles the lives of Protestant six ministers, three who go by the title "bishop" and three who go by "pastor."

The show has had its critics from the Protestant community who claim that these "pastors/bishop" are misrepresenting the Gospel of Christ. A petition was made on change.org boycotting the show.  It gathered over 1,000 signatures.

This show attempts to capture the lives of these "prosperity preachers" who teach that accumulating wealth is what God wants of us.  It is an affront to the teachings of Jesus Christ who always preached poverty and detachment from worldly things.

Hopefully this show will expose these "megapastors" for the frauds they are and help Protestant Christians seek the truth of Christ which is fully found in the Catholic Church. Christians are not supposed to be of this world. They are not supposed to accumulate wealth as if it is some saving grace. Our true wealth is God's grace which transforms us into His image.

It is sad that these men along with others distort the Scriptures and use God in order to make money. To quote Jesus:

" For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"  - Matthew 16:26



Source:

http://thegrio.com/2014/08/26/preachers-of-l-a-discuss-reality-tv-as-a-ministry-tool/

http://www.mycentraloregon.com/2014/08/27/why-preachers-of-las-bishop-noel-jones-wont-marry-girlfriend-after-16-years/

https://www.change.org/p/preachers-of-la-oxygen-network-stop-the-airing-of-oxygens-preachers-of-la-4

https://www.change.org/organizations/christians_against_preachers_of_la

http://www.charismanews.com/culture/44401-is-preachers-of-la-making-a-mockery-of-the-gospel 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rally in Staten Island

On Saturday August 23, a large rally took place in Staten Island New York protesting police brutality and discrimination.  The rally was led by Al Sharpton in response to the choking death of Eric Garner.  Garner was killed by a plainclothes police officer by means of a chokehold. The entire thing was caught on video.

To date, the cop has not been charged or arrested despite the medical examiner ruling the death of Garner a homicide.  This is what is boiling up tempers especially among minorities who feel the police harass them kill them and get away with it. This rally got even more steam due to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The rally was thankfully peaceful and comprised of prayers, song, and chants, "We Will Not Go Back" referring to the Civil Rights era where African Americans were not given a platform to speak and were often hosed down by the police and firemen when they attempted to organize a protest.

Those participating insisted that the rally was not an anti-police march, but an attempt to bring attention to the issue of unarmed minorities being killed and not receiving justice. There was some controversy regarding unions participating in the march.  Others criticize the march describing it as a ploy for Sharpton and other race-baiters to get attention and flame the fires of racism.

The march and rally had people of all races who took to the streets to protest.  Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York called on participants to be peaceful.  He wasn't present at the march. Usually Catholic clergy don't participate in these sort of rallies because they need to be neutral and not take sides.





Source:

http://gothamist.com/2014/08/24/march.php#photo-1

http://online.wsj.com/articles/protesters-head-to-staten-island-for-al-sharptons-eric-garner-rally-1408807227

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/chokehold-death-demonstrators-leave-harlem-bus-staten-island-article-1.1914257

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/nyregion/at-eric-garner-rally-new-york-labor-groups-support-both-police-and-protestors.html?_r=0  

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/08/20/cardinal-timothy-dolan-hosts-meeting-with-mayor-bill-de-blasio-religious-leaders-to-discuss-eric-garners-death/

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/video/10455054-cardinal-dolan-called-to-reunite-city-amid-eric-garner-controversy/

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rock, Keys and the Church - 21th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today's readings gives us some insight on Christ's authority, the Papacy and role of the Church.

In the first reading from Isaiah, we read about how Eliakim the son of Hilkiah will be clothed with a robe, girded with a sash and how authority will be given to him. At the time, Hezekiah was the king of Judah and descendant of King David.

He has a priest named Hikiah who had a son named Eliakim. Eliakim was one of King Hezekiah's ministers. Just like in some nations with monarchs today, the royals had prime ministers or administrators who helped run the kingdom and represented the king. Shebna had this role until ousted because of being unworthy. Eliakim was given this role as prime minister or vicar.  In the reading, we see the attributes one must have in order to be this prime minister:

1) the office or role
2) a robe and sash
3) the throne
4) the keys

Eliakim is given the key of the House of David which will allow him to open something no one can shut and shut something no one can open.  The first three are pretty much self explanatory. The office is the position of prime minister, the robe and sash shows this authority aesthically, and the throne shows authority. What about the keys?

Keys are an important tool in human society. They can lock and unlock things.  Keys are also a sign of possession or ownership.  If I have the keys to a house, car, motorcycle or bank vault; I control them - I own them.  As long as I hold the keys and no one else does, I have absolute authority.  I can also pass down the keys to someone else.

Now hold this thought until I get to the Gospel...

The responsorial Psalm praises God reminding us that His love is eternal and he doesn't forsake the work of His hands; us. Now God doesn't have hands like we do because He is spirit. The use of the word hands is metaphorical using anthropomorphic language to better given a mental image in a way human beings can understand.

The second reading tells us that God is the source of wisdom and knowledge and that no one can understand His judgments or ways. St. Paul asks "who has known the mind of God?  Who has been His counselor?  Who has given to the Lord that He needs to pay back?"  The answer to these question is: no one.  No one can truly understand God, His will, judgments and so forth. This is why atheists, philosophers and others have issue understanding how evil can exist in the world if God is good. They cannot understand the way God handles things or why God allows evil to even take hold in the world.  St. Paul tells us that everything comes from God and that we do everything in Him. This reading is important because it shows us how God sometimes does things that makes no sense to us.  We will see in the Gospel how this is demonstrated.

In the Gospel, Jesus asks the disciples who they think He is and they reply to Him saying that some believe Him to be John the Baptist, Elijah or another prophet.  They didn't really answer the question, so He asks them again who THEY think He is, not what others thought. Simon answers for them saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."  Jesus then tells Him that only God has revealed that to him. No other person could have told him that.  Then Jesus does something strange.  He tells Simon that He is rock and on this rock He will build His Church.  The gates of hell will not prevail against this Church, Jesus says.  Furthermore, He tells Simon that He will give him the keys of the kingdom which will allow him to bind something or unbind it.

Do you see something familiar?  If you thought about the first reading, then you are correct!

Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, what does this mean?  Is Jesus going on vacation and is giving the keys to his place to a mortal?  No, not at all.

Jesus as a descendant of King David is imitating the gesture of King Hezekiah (who is also a descendant) in Isaiah 22:20-22 (first reading).  Hezekiah gives the keys to the kingdom of the House of David to his servant Eliakim.  In the Jewish biblical tradition, this gesture grants royal dynastic authority and shows succession as the leader or prime minister of the House of David.  By giving Peter the keys to His kingdom, Christ is giving Peter the authority to represent Him and the authority to change things or leave them as is.  The key is also referred to in Revelations 3:7.  This is further evidence that Jesus was in fact doing the same as King Hezekiah.  He has the authority to do this.

Moreover, Jesus changes Simon's name to "Rock" or "Peter." This is significant because in Scripture the rock image is always used to represent the Lord (Psalm 18:31).  The changing of one's name shows a promotion of status.  For example Abram becomes Abraham (Genesis 17:5). Jesus did this to show that Peter was to be His representative or vicar on Earth.  This is why the Pope is the "Vicar of Christ."  He does not replace Jesus as if Jesus resigned or was a failure, rather, he stands in for Jesus as the visible head of the Church and chief shepherd.  In Matt. 17:24-25 tax collectors approach Peter asking him if Jesus pays taxes.  Peter here is demonstrated as the representative of Christ, or the Vicar of Christ - the prime minister.

Some claim that the Greek word "petra" means pebble and not rock; however, the New Testament was written in Koine Greek and the word "petra" and "petros" means simply 'rock.'  All scholars agree with this.  Had Jesus wanted to call Simon "small rock or pebble," the appropriate word would have been "lithos."

To further give more evidence to what Jesus actually meant, we must remember that Jesus did not speak Greek.  He spoke Aramaic.  The word Jesus actually used in his native tongue was, "Kepha" which means 'rock.'   Peter is the rock upon which Christ built His Holy Catholic Church.  To my knoweldge, there exists no Bible - with the exception of the Watchtower that alters texts - that states, "You are Peter and on this small stone/pebble I will build my Church."  This is a clear indication that the use of the word "rock" was intentional.

Moreover, have you noticed that Popes wear a sash? This is symbolic of the first reading showing the authority of the Pope via vestments.  This is probably why Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (a theologian) doesn't use the sash while Pope Francis does showing that while he is a Pope, he is not the Pope in power.  Pope Emeritus knows his Bible! :-)  

The Pope is the successor of Peter who is the Rock.  It is not a coincidence that his bones were found underneath St. Peter's basilica.  Jesus was extremely serious when He said that He would build His Church on Peter!  This is exactly what happened!    

     












Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082414.cfm

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Joe Torre #6 Retired

Joe Torre, Yankees manager 1996-2007


Former Yankees skipper and recent Hall of Fame inductee has just had his number 6 retired at the new Yankee stadium. It will never be worn again by any Yankee player.  A monument and plague will now present for all to see at Monument Park. At the ceremony were fellow hall of famer inductee Tony La Russa, former Yankees Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettite

Torre thanked all present, his family, going one by one acknowledging how each player present effected him. His own sister is a Catholic nun/religious sister.  He even described Bernie Williams as his favorite. Joe Torre turned around a failing franchise which has been known for winning decades before. His leadership and baseball know-how brought 4 world series championships to New York during 1996-2000.  The media in New York criticized his hiring publishing front pages with his image and the words "clueless Joe."  He proved them wrong and became a favorite immediately. In 1998, he managed which was perhaps the best baseball team ever since the 1927 Yankees which has its "Murderers' Row" or line up of powerful batters.

He deserves to have his number retired. The Joe Torre years are especially dear to my heart. They were part of my childhood which I will never forget. Boy how time flies...

I remember watching the Yankees win the world series after so long. One of the most memorable moments was the announcement of mayor Giuliani to all public school students that they can skip school to attend the parade in Manhattan. I remember my school and many other schools literally walking out of the building to take the subway, teachers and students!  MTA workers even let us get on the bus and train for free!  It was just amazing.  New York City was united, we were happy and having fun all as one.  This was the first time I've seen New York City become a community, not a cold city where no one knows each other and don't care for one another.  If only we can return to those days...

Congratulations skipper!  Thanks for the memories!






Source:

http://web.yesnetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140822&content_id=90872862


http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/nyy/yankees-to-retire-joe-torres-no-6-in-pregame-ceremony-saturday?ymd=20140822&content_id=90937108&vkey=news_nyy

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/nyy/marty-noble-joe-torre-so-much-more-than-player-manager?ymd=20140822&content_id=90847554&vkey=news_nyy

http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2014/08/joe_torres_number_retired_see_all_yankees_retired_numbers.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/yankees-insider-joe-torre-honored-hall-job-article-1.1914146

http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/joe-torre-gets-monument-park-plaque-saturday-1.9129969



Friday, August 22, 2014

"Black Mass" Oklahoma City

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City has been in a battle for a while with a group of satanists who call themselves the "Dakhma of Angra Mainyu" over a planned "satanic black mass" schedules for September in the civic center.

The archbishop has been protesting calling the event a affront to religion and Catholic hate. Adam Daniels who leads this satanic group claimed to have in his possession a communion wafer. He claims to have received it from a priest in Turkey who is really a satanist.  However, this cannot be confirmed nor if the wafer is really consecrated or bought from a religious goods store that sells communion bread.

Nevertheless, taking the situation seriously, the archbishop and others called on the group and the civic center to cancel the event. Neither seemed to comply until the archbishop decided to sue the satanic group claiming that the wafer is property of the Catholic Church. The lawsuit worked forcing the satanic group to return the wafer under the condition that the archbishop drop the lawsuit. Archbishop Coakley did exactly that and the wafer was returned.

I used the word "wafer" instead of host because to my knowledge, there hasn't been confirmation as to whether or not this wafer is indeed a consecrated host from a valid Catholic Mass.

It seems Oklahoma has a problem with satanism. Money was raised on indiegogo to install a statue of a demon at the state capitol. Satanists or those pretending to be them have popped up all over the United States using religion or current events to garner attention.  See: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2014/05/satan-ism-gone-wild.html

This specific group in Oklahoma City seems to be a parody of satanism. Its founder/leader, Adam Brian Daniels is a registered sex offender who committed sexual battery of a person over 16 according to records.

Daniels is seen on video wearing what seems to be a monsignor or bishop roman cassock with an amaranth red lining and piping. It seems that this individual is mentally disturbed and needs our prayers.

So called "black masses" are offensive and a disrespect to religion. They are not real liturgical functions, but attempts to mock and parody the beliefs and rites of others.  This rite has as the main event the desecration by urinating and defecating on it.  Daniels describes the rite:

"The nude altar has to be dressed; there won’t be public urination, We would proceed to do the satanic consecration by forcing Jesus into the bread. At that point there will be things yelled at the bread, talking about how it’s a worthless chamberlain who doesn't do its job and all it does is sleep, doesn't answer any prayers and allows for its own people to be hurt, and because of it it has killed millions of our brethren, meaning pagans and Satanists alike throughout the centuries. At that point it will be dashed to the floor, and the deacon and sub-deacon will be smashing it and stomping on it." 

Adam Brian Daniels
I applaud archbishop Paul Coakley for continuing his battle and being creative in filing a lawsuit to the point of victory.  According to the Catholic League, the "black mass" was cancelled.  Let us continue to pray and contact Oklahoma City officials so that anything similar to this even will be prevented in the future.










Source:

http://www.homefacts.com/offender-detail/OKAFD4D31E04BBD22F9EBCAB20343FC90E/Adam-Brian-Daniels.html

http://www.news9.com/story/13167040/okc-satanic-group-says-they-dont-deal-with-sex-offenders

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/08/10/Oklahoma-Archbishop-Asks-Texas-Catholics-to-Help-Counteract-Black-Mass

http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/satanist-says-friend-mailed-him-the-host-he-will-use-in-oklahoma-black-mass-5892624514809856

http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/eucharist-at-center-of-lawsuit-over-oklahoma-black-mass-5855540987035648

http://www.catholicleague.org/black-mass-nixed-oklahoma-city/

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/08/20/Oklahoma-City-Satanists-Sued-to-Retrieve-Stolen-Consecrated-Host

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/archbishop_sues_satanist_group_seeks_court_order_requiring_return_of_consec/

http://newsok.com/satanist-turns-communion-wafer-over-to-oklahoma-citys-archbishop/article/5334578

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2014/08/21/oklahoma-archbishop-drops-lawsuit-against-devil-worshiper/

https://news.vice.com/article/catholic-archbishop-drops-lawsuit-over-oklahoma-city-satanic-black-mass

http://newsok.com/article/5333988

http://www.ocolly.com/news/article_8c428dee-2a1d-11e4-b367-001a4bcf6878.html

http://www.news9.com/story/26345191/okc-archbishop-drops-lawsuit-against-satanist-group

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/08/22/oklahoma-satanists-return-the-consecrated-host-to-the-catholics-or-do-they/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/oklahoma-city-archbishop-paul-coakley-sues-over-satanist-black-mass/


 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"God Saved My Life" Ebola Patient


Today we learned about something miraculous! Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and Nancy Writebol, 59 who are missionaries and were infected with the Ebola virus have made complete recoveries!

Both worked in Liberia exposing themselves to the harsh conditions there. Unfortunately, they contradicted the deadly disease and were thought to be done for. However, in early August they were flown to Georgia in the United States in order to undergo a treatment using an experimental serum. They immediately began to show signs of improvement and now they are discharged and free to live their lives with lots of health.

"God saved my life," is what Dr. Kent Brantly said today during a press conference. He urged people to continue praying for those suffering of Ebola in West Africa.  Naturally he did thank the medical staff who too care of him. However, he knows that it is God who decides whether we live or not.  God wasn't done with these two generous souls yet.

It gives me great pleasure to know that these Christians have survived.  They deserve to continue in this world in order to continue their service to others. To go to a foreign nation and risk yourself just to care for others is what a real hero is.

Medicine and science made the serum, but God is the one who instills the wisdom and provides the materials in nature to create these vaccines and medicines. Man only manipulates what God already created.

I hope the United States will share this serum with those in West Africa and around the world so that Ebola can be eradicated. Prayer works and this is another account of how powerful it is.  Dr. Brantly who is a man of science acknowledges this and asks all to continue praying for others.


What a sharp contrast watching the helicopter video of Dr. Brantly suited up walking weakly as well as Nancy Writebol's image being carried on a stretcher to now seeing them alive and well as if nothing happened.  Praise God!










Source:

https://news.yahoo.com/hospital-discuss-discharge-ebola-patients-100148319.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/21/ebola-us-patients-brantly-writebol-atlanta/14376997/

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ebola-patient-dr-kent-brantly-god-saved-life/story?id=25060979

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/21/health/ebola-treatment-drug/

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Journalist Beheaded

James Foley, a freelance journalist was beheaded by ISIS Islamists just about a day ago. Foley went missing in Syria for some years and appeared on video wearing what seems to be an orange jumpsuit. In the video, he blames America for the murders in the Middle Easts, trashes America, says that he wished he had more time to see his family and ultimately renounces America. An ISIS member in black with face covered is next to him and speaks on camera with a British accent. He basically trashed America as well voiced his anger against America airstrikes in Iraq.  Shortly afterwards, he then begins to saw off James Foley's head with a knife.  The decapitated body of James Foley is left laying with head on back. The orange suit/shirt seems to be an indirect message to America because that is what prisoners at Guantanamo wear and what prisoners during the Iraq war wore.

The video is just horrible to watch and shows how mentally disturbed and out of touch these ISIS people are. To be able to cut off another human's head like nothing says much about this individual.  He is a psychopath, feeling nothing. The parents of Foley have been grieving and have pleaded to ISIS to release other prisoners they have which they have promised would face the same fate as Foley.

President Obama spoke on the issue and said that no religion or God justifies this kind of violence against human beings and said that movements like ISIS will fail. Obama fell victim to criticism for returning to play golf after giving the statement. Meanwhile on Twitter, accounts posting the beheading of James Foley have face suspension.  This act on the part of Twitter is odd because they are usually lax about what people post. The NY Post even faced criticism after posting a graphic photo on its cover page.

This whole news is tragic and shows the danger of being in a region where ISIS has control. My prayers and condolences go out to the Foley family. Hopefully this video will wake up other nations to the dangers of ISIS and will bring about a united global response to this evil which is more organized and more well funded than Al Qaida.





Source:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/20/new-york-post-james-foley-front-page_n_5694299.html

https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/24769410/new-york-post-front-page-photo-of-james-foley-sparks-outrage/

http://abcnews.go.com/US/james-foleys-parents-recall-sons-big-heart/story?id=25053972

http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/08/james_foley_s_family_begs_ruthless_captors_to_spare_other

http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/articles/2014/08/20/us-officials-confirm-islamic-state-video-of-journalist-james-foleys-beheading

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/08/james-foley-punished-for-suspected-escape-plans-fellow-hostage-says/

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/men-killed-james-foley

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/james-foley/watching-purported-james-foley-video-may-trigger-charges-u-k-n184931

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/08/20/obama-reaches-out-to-parents-of-slain-journalist-james-foley/


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ferguson, MI Riots

Shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown, riots broke out in Ferguson, MI. However, these riots were a sign of something coming: civil unrest. Every day since the shooting, hundreds have gathered nearby to protest the Michael Brown shooting, the treatment of African Americans by Ferguson police, and the delay in releasing information.

The riots have destroyed many stores and led to looting. It is just troubling to see people breaking the property of others and stealing from them. These people are taking advantage of the tragedy of the shooting in order to benefit themselves. This is unfortunate indeed. However, the looters and rioters are not the only problem.  The police, yes the police have been a big problem in Ferguson.  They have demonstrated too much aggression against peaceful protesters which has even the media shaking their heads in disbelief.

Peaceful protesters have been shot with rubber bullets, gassed with tear gas, harassed and even manhandled by police solely for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and speech. It got so bad that the governor of Missouri had to remove  the police of Ferguson from their duty and place State troopers in charge. Captain Ron Johnson has been in charge since.  In his first day in charge, things seem to be calming down. He walked with protesters, shook hands with them and reassured them.  However, this would change the next day. More civil unrest would take place.  Even the media were gassed by police and prevented from capturing the events going on before them. Watching the scenes of police in tank-like vehicles, with army clothing, assault weapons seemed more like a scene from the Middle East, a Communist nation or Egypt during the riots.  However, these scenes were in the United States of America! Is this seriously going on?

Many have voiced their concerns of the abuse of power police have demonstrated in Ferguson.
Others have complained about the heavy armament these officers have.  Apparently, the military give away excess equipment to police departments throughout the United States. Do police really need to be this armed?  The whole situation is scary especially when more and more laws are passed restricting the ownership and use of weapons by civilians.

I don't condone the rioting or looting, but understand why the people in Ferguson are upset. It is clear that these people who are mostly African American have had enough. This protests seems to be creating a movement in America where the people will not take police abuse anymore. I have always been a critic of how the police do their job and the excess protections they have when compared to citizens. Police officers can stop you for any reason, if you argue with them or gesticulate too much you risk being arrested.  Seriously? Moreover, there seems to be a culture where police officers tend to cover for one another making it hard for investigations to carry on without tainting.

Police officers can use "force," but this is not really defined leaving it open to anything which is dangerous and often leads to the death of civilians. Furthermore, if a citizen feels like his/her life is in danger while being arrested, he/she cannot defend himself because if he/she strikes an officer, he/she will be charged with a felony, granted he/she is not gunned down first.  These protections are unfair and leave the door open to abuse.

It is not news that minorities are stopped by police officers. Growing up in the Bronx, I myself have witnessed my friends being stopped just for looking like a typical youth.  I have also witnessed African American and Latino American youth driving trendy cars being pulled over because they are suspect of stealing those rides. This is just horrible.

I don't blame the people of Ferguson for protesting and continuing to protest. They have had enough; we all have! The police system throughout America needs to change. America is becoming a Fascist nation I'm afraid to say. The images on CNN and other networks showing these overly armed cops pointing assault weapons at protesters and even the media is not what America is supposed to be.  This is not just a "minority" thing, but an American issue.  We are losing our freedoms.

 






Source:

http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/2014/08/20/peaceful-night-of-protests-escalates-ferguson/14324613/

http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-ferguson-protests-michael-brown-020140819-story.html#page=1

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ferguson-missouri-peaceful-protests-turn-tense/

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/08/darren_wilson_ferguson_protests_name_of_officer_who_shot_michael_brown_revealed.html

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Ferguson-protests-should-spark-peaceful-uprising-5690000.php


Monday, August 18, 2014

Pope In Korea

The Pope has just visited South Korea and spoke strong words against abortion, discrimination, and pushed for reconciliation, hope and peace.

The visit was important because South Korea has seen a surge in the Catholic populations.  The Korean Catholic Church is growing at an extraordinary rate which has caused some tension with Protestants, Buddhists and other faiths which still outnumber Catholics, but are losing members faster than they can replace them.

Ironically, it wasn't priests who brought Catholicism to the peninsula.  in the 18th century, the laity evangelized the area and baptized converts. When priests did arrive, they found thousands of new Catholics there waiting to receive the rest of the Sacraments which only ordained priests can confer.  The increase of Catholicism in the region has not been easy. 124 Koreans were martyred for the faith and the Pope beatified them to show the importance of their shedding of blood for the faith and that it was not in vain.

Keeping to his disdain of "privileged" statesman treatment, the Pope preferred using the black KIA
Soul which is manufactured in Korea.  He also rode the train shocking passengers who did not expect to be on-board with the Pontiff. Rain and windy weather was a main factor for this decision which would have made helicopter travel dangerous for the Pope, his aides and those on the ground.

The Pope met with Lee Yong-soo who was one of the "Comfort Women" used for sex during World War II by Japanese soldiers.  She and other surviving "Comfort Women" have been demanding that Japan apologize for destroying their youth by making them a commodity for sexually frustrated troops. With the meeting, she hopes to draw more global attention to her cause and the cause of securing respect for women today in the Asian world.

Not everyone was happy to see the Pope there.  Insecure Protestants took to the streets to protest the arrival of the Pope who they labeled as the "anti-Christ." They also criticized the attempt of other Protestants of dialog with Rome in regards to ecumenism. Nevertheless, millions showed up for Mass showing that Catholicism is alive and well despite claims from atheists that it is dying.  

The trip was a success in my opinion.  The Korean people were energized by this visit and will continue to spread Catholicism in the region.  This visit will hopefully bring about reconciliation between North and South Korea.  The protests by Protestants is unfortunately indeed. The hate that these people espouse is completely unchristian. It shows their ignorance and reliance on 16th century anti-Catholic rhetoric which goes against Christianity and the Word of God which they claim to hold dear.

Moreover, seeing the crowds that came show that Catholicism is alive and well. Atheists who claim atheism is on the rise must reflect on their failed "Reason Rally" in 2012 which only had a few hundred-thousand people and was never held again.  Also, the fact that the laity brought Catholicism to Korea shows the importance of the laity in the Church.  They too must evangelize and bring the faith everywhere. In many instances, they can bring it to places clergy cannot.  












Source:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/08/13/Pope-Francis-Visits-South-Korea-Protestants-Protest-North-Koreans-Refuse-Invite

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/19/world/asia/pope-caps-visit-to-south-korea-with-plea-for-reconciliation.html?_r=0

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ap-photos-popes-visit-korea-25010174

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2014/08/pope_francis_in_south_korea.html

http://www.romereports.com/pg156064-vatican-confirms-that-pope-francis-will-visit-south-korea-in-august--en

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2727253/Who-needs-Popemobile-Francis-shuns-personal-helicopter-takes-train-Mass-Korea.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/south-korea-sex-slaves-pope-francis-solace-article-1.1906819

http://www.npr.org/2014/08/18/341283312/running-late-pope-skips-evening-prayers-in-south-korea

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/world/asia/huge-crowds-watch-in-seoul-as-pope-francis-beatifies-korean-catholics.html

Sunday, August 17, 2014

God of All - 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Pope Francis is now in Korea as I write this. The readings for today highlight something important regarding the Pope's visit to this region.

The Catholic Church is everywhere.  She is universal.  This is what the word "Catholic" means. The readings today show how God incorporates all of humanity into His household, not just the Israelites.

In the first reading from Isaiah, we read how foreigners who join to the Lord, follow His commandments, keep His covenant will receive a place on His holy mountain.  The sacrifices they burn will be made acceptable to Him.  Isaiah who was a prophet, is inviting all to come and unite with the one true God of Israel.  The reading closes with the statement, "for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." This is a foreshadowing of the Catholic Church; the new covenant of God made through the blood of Christ on the Cross. This house is the pillar and foundation of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

The responsorial Psalm connects with the first reading reminding us that all the nations will praise God. It is telling us that God's people are from all parts of the world, not just the nation of Israel. All the peoples on Earth will praise God.  This is what we are doing at Mass. Catholics throughout the world from every nation are praising God. No other religion can do this since the Catholic Church is the only faith that is universal.

In the second reading, St. Paul communicates to the Romans and us today that the Catholic Church is the completion of all the things God promised to Israel.  He tells us that his also includes the Gentiles, or those who are not of Israel.  We read in this reading that the Jews rejected Christ just like Jews today. Some did convert and accepted the teachings of Christ; however, St. Paul hopes that all Jews or those of his race would join the Christian faith. Hopefully one day the Jews will recognize Christ as their messiah.

Lastly in the Gospel, we see a few things here. One, Jesus shows us how He includes the Gentiles and we also see how one must have faith and perseverance when praying.  In this Gospel, we see Jesus seem to rudely ignore the Canaanite woman who is asking Him to rescue her daughter from a demon.  The disciples then come and tell Jesus to tell her to go away because she kept going after them.  Jesus replies saying that He came for those who were lost in the house of Israel. The woman was nearby and paid homage to Jesus asking Him to help.  She kept insisting despite Jesus saying that He only came for the Jews.  Jesus was obviously testing this woman's faith to make an example of what true faith is.  After the woman asked Jesus for help, He spoke to her strong words that it's not right to give the food of kids to dogs.  In today's world, we would call that "fighting words." Jesus is pretty much calling those who are not of the house of Israel, dogs! Nevertheless, the woman does not get angry and curse Jesus out or reply aggressively. Instead, the woman tells Jesus that even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from the table.  Jesus liked what He heard and said she had great faith and her request was immediately answered.

As an atheist, reading this passage gave me a different impression of Jesus.  To me, He came across as a jerk or rude. This woman comes to Him asking Him to help her daughter. She probably heard of the miracles He has done or maybe even witnessed one herself and wanted Jesus to do something for her. However, after asking for help, Jesus ignores her and then pretty much calls her and the Canaanites dogs. This text is obviously much richer than that. Here we see Jesus testing the woman who is one of the foreigners we read about in the first reading. Jesus was being cautious. How many people pray to God only to get something and then never utter a prayer again? God to them becomes a genie in a bottle granting wishes. Many atheists today don't understand prayer. They use the "God doesn't answer prayers" or "prayer doesn't work" claim in order to try to corner Christians into a dilemma that doesn't exist.  This Gospel shows how prayer must be a constant.  It must have perseverance and true faith. We must not pray to God as if He were a genie or the Wizard of Oz who grants favors.  God is much more.  He is our Father.

God will not always answer prayers right away.  He many not answer them in the way that we want.  God answers prayers in the way you needed them to be answered; not how you wanted them to be answered.  We know from Genesis (Adam & Eve) and elsewhere that God is like a scientist putting us to the test.  Jesus wasn't intentionally ignoring the woman, nor did He use strong language to offend.  He was testing her faith especially since she was a foreigner or Gentile woman. Obviously she passed the test by showing that despite not being part of the house of Israel, she knew God was real, she knew Jesus was God and she knew how to trust in Him, have faith in Him and wait on Him.  We too must be patient and trust God.  We must not become like Moses who tapped the rock at Horeb again after God took His time to make water flow from it. (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2014/03/third-sunday-of-lent-reflection.html)  God is not our personal genie where He waits for us to ask for wishes to be granted.

Moreover, we as Catholics must not fall into triumphalism, or believe that we are better than anyone else of another religion or believe that our faith is superior to others.  This unfortunately seems too common among those who are still angry about the changes done by Vatican II.  They often misinterpret "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" as meaning that the Catholic Church is an elitist club and if you're not a member, then too bad, you're going to hell.  This is NOT what the phrase conveys.  The Catholic Church is the normative means for salvation via Jesus Christ because she was founded by Him.  However, this does not mean anyone outside of the Church cannot be saved nor does it mean other religions have it completely wrong.  The catechism states:

843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332    
"Outside the Church there is no salvation" 
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336 
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337 
848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338   
Source: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm 

The Catholic Church is for all peoples. She is Universal. God brings all peoples of all nations to praise Him in His House.  No one should be excluded from the Church or made to feel like he or she does not belong.  As St. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."



Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081714.cfm

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Atheist TV II



Since the launch of "Atheist TV," the network has received nothing more than bad reviews, even from atheists themselves.  My own former professor who is an atheist has tweeted on it via twitter:



The quote he tweeted comes from the salon article which describes the horrific experience of watching this channel.  If you haven't watched the programming, then you are in for a comedic treat. The programming there is a disaster. Those on the network present smugness, intolerance, arrogance and ignorance in their monologues.  We have hosts saying to call in and "say how stupid your God is" as well as ignorant statements regarding Scripture, the attributes of God and theology.  Those who host their own shows on this channel are clearly uneducated and make the programming look like it is hosted by a KKK member trying to convince his audience that White people are superior.  The shows hardly have anyone calling in which gives an indication that no one may be watching at all.

Atheist TV is an absolute failure.  If you have ever run into Twitter atheists with their caricature accounts posting ill informed memes and other tasteless things, then you will pretty much see the same on Atheist TV.  The network is comprised of intolerant uneducated bigots who rely on misconceptions, rhetorical zingers, sarcasm and the like in order to posit sophism as fact.  Atheist TV will only cater to immature youthful minds who seek an outlet of rebellion where nothing is sacred and can be bashed without consequence.  The network disregards facts, promotes errors and creates an atmosphere of hostility which demonstrates the desperation the atheism movement has in order to keep the spotlight on itself.

We know that kids often behave badly due to a desire to get attention.  Atheist TV is no different. These angry individuals who speak on the network only seek attention.  They offer nothing to intelligentsia and instead replace it with special pleading fallacies and misconceptions that show that these people did not do their research on the topics they criticize.

On the network, you will not find scientists, scientific programming or serious theological and philosophical discussions.  It is merely comprised of "average Joe" reactionaries wasting time promoting diatribe and overall stupidity.  The use of derogatory epithets such as "sky fairy" or "zombie Jew" clearly shows the people we are dealing with.  Rumor has it that even "Aron Rah" will be having his own show on the network.  

In any event, if this network continues to exist then it will help theism.  People who are intelligent will see this programming and will seek the alternative.  No one can take a network full of clowns seriously. Those on the network clearly do not have a grasp on basic logic or anything for that matter. I assume that a visit from a theologian or even Dr. William Lane Craig will really bring out the stupidity of the hosts on this network.  Unfortunately, this network is propagating the stereotypes regarding atheists who are seen as social trolls. There are in fact intelligent respectful atheists out there who do not get air time.  Instead, we are stuck with the personification of comic relief representing atheistic ideas and opinions.  In the end, those who are intelligent and educated will see this network as comedy instead of something serious and stimulating to the mind.  

Perhaps I will call in one day when I have free time to bring them ratings. :)








Source:

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/09/i_spent_a_day_watching_atheisttv_and_it_was_horrifying/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/arts/television/atheist-tv-has-its-premiere-on-roku-and-online.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpSumSmallMedia&module=pocket-region&region=pocket-region&WT.nav=pocket-region&_r=0

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Michael Brown - Ferguson, MI

Last week in Ferguson, Missouri a young African American was shot and killed by a police office.  According to accounts circulating around.  Michael Brown, 18 was in scuffle with the police officer and was killed.

The officer claims that Brown and his friend were trying to take his gun away.  However, his friend and others who claimed to have witnessed the altercation state a different story.  They claim that the cop was "stalking" them with his patrol car and nearly hit them with the door when he opened it aggressively. Both Michael Brown and his friend lifted their hands up to surrender, but the cop fired at Brown killing him, according to his friend.

The Ferguson police department is obviously siding with the officer and refused to release his name citing concern for his safety.  Meanwhile, riots and looting have taken place at Ferguson. Many citizens, mostly African American have been destroying businesses and looting from them.  Michael Brown was schedule to start college this past Monday, August 11. Yesterday, peaceful protesters were attacked by the police with tear gas.  Among them were journalists who were arrested at the scene and later released.  The journalists claim that the police disrespected them and their constitutional right of freedom of the press.  They say that the arresting officers refused to show their badges or give their names.  One of the journalists who was arrested inside a McDonalds while charging his cell phones said that the officer slammed his head on the door and then sarcastically apologized.

President Obama just addressed the situation at noon stating that the police must respect the people's right to peaceful protest.  He stated that they must respect and not arrest journalists who are doing their job and that looting and violence should not be used to make points.  Obama is having the Dept. of Justice and FBI investigate the death of Michael Brown and called for peace and calm.  Furthermore, the hacker group "anonymous" claimed to have the name and information of the officer, but Ferguson police said they got the wrong person.

This whole situation is complicated indeed.  To my knowledge, there are no video captures of the incident so it's a he said/he said thing.  It will be difficult to prove who did what and what exactly happened.  Nevertheless, an unarmed 18 year old was killed and this must be thoroughly investigated.  It is not new that America has a problem with its policing system. The killing of minorities by police who in many cases were not even a danger to police must be stopped. Unfortunately, racism is alive and well in America. Studies show that minorities are often looked upon in a negative light by the police.  This was what lead to the take down of "stop and frisk" in New York City where the majority of those who were stopped and frisked were African and Latino American youth.

In Missouri, the governor there has removed the Ferguson police from the investigation.  He has been critized for taking days to address this situation.  The excessive force demonstrated by the police is unecesssary and adds to the problem. If police continue to abuse their power then they must expect the people to rise up and fight back.  It is in our history as Americans to fight back against tyranny. This is why the freedom to bear arms exists in our Constitution. Our nation in its infancy faced the oppressive British forces and had enough. Our Founding Fathers knowing how human nature does not take know how to use power well made sure that citizens had the right to bear arms to defend themselves even against their own govenrment.

This is why many protest laws such as the one passed in New York state against assault weapons. It is not fair that the police and armies have access to assualt weapons while citizens cannot.  This opens up the door to having police forces and even the government abuse the people they are supposed to serve leaving the people outmatched if they need to defend themselves. Our first President George Washington said, "A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined.." in his First Annual Message to Congress on January 8, 1790.

It bothers me to see police officers looking like soldiers with heavy artillery shooting at our own people! This is not what America is supposed to be about. In my opinion, the entire police system throughout the 50 states must be revamped. Psychologists must be involved to evaluate officers regularly and prepare better MMPI exams to test for emotional maturity and personality traits before possible candidates are hired.

Protesters must protest in peace and not use violence or destroy property. Radical groups such as the Black Panthers must not advocate and encourage the killing of police officers. Journalist must be allowed to report on the story.  People shouldn't have to rely on Twitter to find out what's going on in their own nation!

Let us pray for all those involved.        






Source:

http://nypost.com/2014/08/14/missouri-governor-set-to-relieve-st-louis-cops-report/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/14/despite-reports-name-of-officer-in-michael-brown-shooting-still-unknown/

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ferguson-police-shooting-08132014-story.html

http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/08/anonymous-says-its-released-the-name-of-the-officer-who-shot-michael-brown/376057/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/if-trayvon-martin-eric-ga_b_5674633.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/huffington-post-reporter-arrested-ferguson_n_5676829.html

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/michael-brown-death-tear-gas-more-arrests-ferguson-missouri-n180166

http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/2014/08/13/michael-brown-ferguson-shooting-no-criminal-background/14023731/

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/11/justice/michael-brown-missouri-teen-shot/

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michael-brown-shooting-who-shot-the-teen/27450258

















#Ferguson #mediablackout

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Thoughts on Robin Williams' Suicide

I like many others are still taking in the news of the death of Robin Williams.  He was a great actor and a genius in comedy.  His ability to improvise in any situation was admirable and very rare.  This type of acting is second nature, not taught.  

Robin Williams brought many laughs and tears to all of us who watched his movies and programs.  However, the question remains: How can someone who seemed so jovial be so depressed?  There are no simple answers to this question. Perhaps the fact that he always seemed to have a need to make a joke of something was his way of masking the inner pain he had.  

We may never know what was going on in this man's mind.  He suffered from alcoholism, drug abuse and had a heart surgery.  These factors can weigh in on the stability of one's brain. Alcohol and drugs are known to alter how the way the brain works.  Many philosophers describe the brain as the hardware while the mind is the software.  If this is true, then if the hard drive is damaged, then the software cannot operate in its total capacity. This was probably why Mr. Williams took his own life.  He brain and mind were just not working right together.  It is obvious that he had no real reason to "opt out."  He loved his family, especially his three children.  He seemed to love his career and according to his neighbors, was a very humble man.  That being said, it was most likely his altered state of mind that caused him to see reality differently bringing him to committing suicide.

His children should not feel like they weren't important enough for him to stay.  I've read that one of his kids wrote something to that effect.  Again, drugs, alcohol and biological issues does alter the way the human brain and mind work.  There is no way around this.  Drugs and alcohol rewires the brain.  They make you perceive things differently than others who don't use those substances. Growing up in New York City, I saw alcohol and drugs all around me.  Some in my own family have abused those substances and are suffering the effects now.  As a kid, I vowed never to imitate what I saw around me.  Instead, I relied on books, music, video games, sports and especially family and good friends in order to keep me focused.  I cannot stress enough the harm drugs and alcohol abuse does to the user and those around him.  It pains me to see on social networks photos of people at clubs or even house party holding up red plastic cups or liquor bottles as if it were something to be proud of; an accomplishment.  Some even take pictures holding weed in their mouth or blowing smoke as if it were "cool."  This mentality has to stop.  These things are not cool.  They are not things to be proud of.  These things can kill you one way or another.

Drugs and alcohol distort the flow of neurotransmitters in the brain.  They create false connections in the reward center of the brain linking the use of them seems as a "good."  When deprived of them, the brain goes into a chaotic mode of withdrawal.  This extremely alters a person's psychology and can cause all kinds of illnesses in the body as well.  These are testament to the power these substances have over the human brain and why they are dangerous.  Again, there is nothing "cool" about being "high" or drunk.  There is nothing "cool" about being "out of your mind," so to speak.

Mr. Williams obviously was going through this chaotic mode in his brain.  I can't even imagine what the man was going through as he struggled with his brain's attempt to cope with the rewiring done from his substance abuse.  This man was so funny.  He could make those British soldiers guarding Buckingham palace crack a smile.  The fact that these substances triggered depression in him that was so strong that he committed suicide should be a loud message to all of us.  If this can effect a funny man like Robin Williams to the point of forcing him to end it all, then imagine what it can do to anyone else.

It pains me to hear some Christians say that he is in hell for taking his life.  While killing is a mortal sin, suicide is different and must be looked at carefully.  A person who commits suicide just for the heck of it obviously was in his/her right mind and fits the criteria for mortal sin.  However, if a person is not in his/her right state of mind, then it is this chaotic mode of the brain that is killing the person, not the person himself.  Williams was not himself.  He was not thinking rationally.  We must not judge whether or not he went to hell or not.  The catechism puts it well:


Suicide 
2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of. 
2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. 
2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. 
Source:  http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a5.htm

If you are reading this now and are thinking about suicide or have thought about it, please reconsider.  You are needed in this world.  You exist for a reason.  You were not a mistake nor a creation of chance.  There is no one in the world like you and there will never be one like you. You are unique and have a lot to offer to this world.  If you are feeling depressed, hopeless as if there is nothing more to do than to end it all because you feel you are losing the battle, then reflect on this: You are winning the battle!  The fact that you are there thinking further delaying suicide shows that you are winning and capable of defeating depression or whatever it is that is making you feel hopeless.

SNOWFLAKE
Moreover, each one of us is like a snow flake.  No two snowflakes are alike.  Each snowflake is
unique with its own pattern and symmetry.  A snowflake begins in the clouds as condensation. It falls and begins to crystallize due to the cold weather.

As these crystallized droplets of water fall, some of the water evaporates and creates the flake's pattern based on how its molecules are formed. Each flake is unique because each falls into a different path with different atmospheric conditions effecting it.

Once it reaches the ground, these flakes collect and create a beautiful scenery worthy of a postcard.  The scene of snow on trees, bushes, mountains with its appearance as crystals sparkling is breathtaking.  When it's time, the snowflakes melt, evaporate and return to the sky from whence they came.  You and I are like these snowflakes.  God sends us down to Earth. We have our own unique patterns due to our molecules and DNA.  Each path we're on alters us a bit making us unique flakes.  Once we are on Earth, we decorate this world and give this world meaning and beauty.  Then when it is time, God calls us back to Himself up above.

You are special, you are unique!  Please don't deprive our world of your unique presence and existence.  You exist because you are important and God wanted you here.  There will never be anyone else like you ever again.  You are irreplaceable so continue to bless this world with your presence.  Seek out the help of family, friends, priests and psychologists.  There is always hope!

Eternal rest grant to Robin Williams o' Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May through the mercy of God, may he rest in peace.  Amen


O captain my captain, rest in peace!        

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