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An excerpt from "Inventing the Crusades" by Dr.  Thomas F. Madden.

"One can never understand the Crusades without understanding their penitential character."

All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars. They came about in reaction attacks against Christians or their Church. The First Crusade was called in 1095 in response to the recent Turkish conquest of Christian Asia Minor, as well as the much earlier Arab conquest of the Christian-held Holy Land. The second was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. The third was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and most other Christian lands in the Levant in 1187.

In each case, the faithful went to war to defend Christians, to punish the attackers, and to right terrible wrongs. As Riley-Smith has written elsewhere, crusading was seen as an act of love—specifically the love of God and the love of neighbor. By pushing back Muslim aggression and restoring Eastern Christianity, the Crusaders were—at great peril to themselves—imitating the Good Samaritan. Or, as Innocent II told the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the gospel, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’”

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"The quality of mercy is not strained..." so begins Portia’s lines from The Merchant of Venice (Act IV, Scene 1) where Shylock is intent on taking a pound of flesh from Antonio who has defaulted on his loan. Portia, disguised as the lawyer Balthasar, tells the moneylender to be merciful.

But in an age of police states and persecution, where "some words can hide others", is that all William Shakespeare is saying?

No.

Clare Asquith, and now Joseph Pearce, drawing on earlier works of Heinrich Mutschmann and Karl Wentersdorf (Shakespeare and Catholicism, 1952) delve again into the 'Catholic code' of the playwright and mine a rich treasure for our day of Christian persecution.

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The ancient Greek, Aeschylus, (Robert F. Kennedy's favorite poet) had this to say in one of his tragedies,

So in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with an arrow,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
"With our own feathers, not by others' hands,
Are we now smitten."

Let us pray for peace in all nations divided by strife, but especially our own.

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In the recent sci-fi film, Arrival, the story's premise pivots on language being a gateway to time. Although such films are esoteric and Gnostic, there is something very true about God who gives us his Divine Word, Jesus Christ, and allows us to see all of creation pivot, and bow, to his coming.In a sense, eternity pauses for our yes, or no, to the Divine Word.

Rick Larson's documentary, The Star of Bethlehem, gives us a lens to see just that -- God's celestial poetry, a language of love that binds together the movement and very existence of all being. A reminder in many ways that Christ came to redeem not just us, but all of creation.

http://www.bethlehemstar.com/starry-dance/coronation/

The Divine Word is the real "Arrival" that gives us a gateway to time? Eternal time.

 

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An Excerpt from 'God's Birthday' by Dr. Taylor Marshall

Dr. Taylor Marsall writes...

Secular magazines and “experts” on the History Channel love to gloat over Christians every December and “prove” how Christ was not born on December 25. Recently, the same “Christ wasn’t born on Dec 25” argument was taken up by Bill O’Reilly in his book Killing Jesus.

You can download the entire (short) book for free by clicking here. Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. How to answer the 3 most common objections against a December 25 Birthday
  2. A Biblical Argument from Luke’s Gospel locating Christ’s birth in late December
  3. An analysis of Church Fathers who defended the birth of Christ on December 25
  4. An explanation of how the Jewish historian Josephus got the dates wrong
  5. How and why Christ was born on Dec 25 in the year 1BC

It seems that the Jews were not the only ones waiting for a Savior. There is a strong tradition that even pagan seers began to prophesy of the coming Christ who would be a heavenly child and king of the world. The prophetic voice of the classical world belonged to sibyls. The word sibyl comes from the Greek word sibylla, which means “prophetess.” The sibyls were women who uttered prophetic oracles at shrines or temples throughout the classical world.

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Here is a page from history that may help us understand the attempts to re-engineer language today.

Keith Michael Baker, in his Inventing the French Revolution writes, "Yet revolutionary actors were indeed particularly conscious of the power of language. They struggled constantly to institute a new social and political order by framing, deploying, and attempting to control radically new discourse of human association... With the Revolution, the sacred center [from kingly crown] was symbolically reconfigured...

Today war is waged against the core of each person and each cell, and the foundation of a natural and biological bond between parent and child. If reality is defined by definitions, and then by mere human contracts, then those in governance have given themselves a god-power to re-engineer life, human identity, and relationships. Children become contractual property; sexual identity a mere license that can be purchased at city hall.

But all this is nothing new O Citizen of the Revolution, O Comrade of the People's Revolution.

St. Thomas Becket pray for us!

 

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On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception we are reminded of how the pure and ever Virgin Mary, the New Eve, through her humility cultivated by God in the singular grace of her conception -- puts us back within the covenantal 'garden' relationship. Adam pointed the finger at Eve; Eve passed the buck to the serpent. And we their children have been passing the buck ever since.

It is God who takes the first step, more of a constant yearning for us to come back to him, it is He who gives us new fruit -- the Immaculate Conception who will bring forth His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ and offer us Redemption.

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Did you know that the Star of Bethlehem flower, a symbol of purity and love, can be baked into bread. Truly.  So let's take a step back and take that in. Christ was born in Beth-le-hem, the house of bread, and the pure white flower resembling a star in honor of the Christ Child can be made into a floured bread.

How amazingly Eucharistic is that!

Further, it is a bread that one might assume is for human consumption only as the flower is safe to humans but toxic to animals. It may also serve as an antidote to certain diseases.  Here is a little more background...

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Prayer, like a soft spring rain can soften the most hardened hearts and obstinate wills. It encircles the globe like a golden ring, reaching those most in need of its benefits.

In his book, Guides to Holiness, Francois Mauriac writes,

"In each family, on single faithful soul is perhaps enough to draw after it all the others who are not faithful. From one generation to the next, this torrent of love carves out a bed for itself through fatal rocks of heredity. No one ever prays without all those dear to him being caught up in his prayer. The Redemption does not only mean that we are redeemed, but also that we redeem. Each faithful soul in a state of grace is involved in redemption. Whoever understands this is rescued from despair."

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"Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment
in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary,

at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires
(here mention your requests)
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother.
Amen."

The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is often called simply the “Christmas Novena” or the “Christmas Anticipation Prayer,” because it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) until Christmas.

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Today I stumbled, in a good way, upon this quote from Malcolm Muggeridge's daughter-in-law, Anne Roche Muggeridge.

If an angel allowed me one suggestion as to what more than anything else would most quickly restore the sense of the sacred to the Mass, it would be this: to do away with Mass facing the people. I am convinced that the position of the priest at the altar is the single most important liturgical “external” symbol, the one that carries the most doctrinal baggage. To put the priest back on our side of the altar, facing with us towards God, would at one stroke restore the Mass from an exercise in interpersonal relationship to the universal prayer of the Church to God our Father. With the priest facing God once more as leader of the people, the importance of the microphone will diminish, and the priest can stop making faces at us. He and we can go back to thinking only about what is happening in the Mystery.”  

[Anne Roche Muggeridge, The Desolate City: Revolution in the Catholic Church, rev. ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990, pp. 176-77.]

---

Photo: Bishop Conley of Nebraska celebrates Holy Mass ad orientum -- that is, East towards God, with the people.

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An interesting article came across the wire today. Vale Leonard Cohen, high priest of erotic romanticismThe iconic Canadian musician wrote great songs, but does anyone listen to the lyrics?

Reading it renews my cartoon-like desire to dawn a blue cape and swoop down to challenge those people who want to christen Cohen's song, Hallelujah (from the album Various Positions, 1984) and use it for Praise and Worship or even Holy Mass. Like the article's author, Xavier Symons, I too wish people would listen to the lyrics with a modicum of discernment.

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Happy Martinmas!

What you may know about St. Martin, holy bishop of Tours...

In his late teens St. Martin joined the Roman army and was posted to Amiens in Gaul. It was here that the famous incident of his cutting his cloak in half took place. One very cold day, Martin met a scantily clad beggar outside the gates of the city and moved with compassion, he cut his large cloak in two parts and gave one part to the poor man. That night in a dream he saw Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away and heard him say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised and he has clothed me“ (Sulpicius, Life of Martin, 2)

What you may not know...

A number of customs take place in rural communities around the season called Martinmas that are associated with generosity to beggars, cooperation and neighbourliness. For example, a pig or a cow is killed and cooked at this time and shared in honour of Martin. It is also a time for making black puddings and haggis.

To some degree the soldier and the beggar become one in St. Martin. It is a holy transformation that also marks the life of St. Francis of Assisi as it too echoes the path of Christ -- to be a suffering servant king. We should remember that we are all of noble birth, in the baptism of Christ destined to serve and glory only in His work through our hands.

St. Martin pray for us and on this Remembrance Day bring our petitions for peace before the throne of the Almighty.

---
Discover more about this incredible man:

Catholic Encyclopedia | http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09732b.htm

Nov 11 – St Martin of Tours (316-397): patron of France | http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-martin-of-tours-316-397-patron-of-france/

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The Holy Doors are closing soon. It is not too late to receive a plenary indulgence yourself, or offer it for a person in purgatory.

Here are the normal conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence:

It is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.
A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

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Heaven does care about our nations. This day of election in the United States let us ask our dear patroness to intercede for us.

Prayer to Our Lady Immaculate

Most holy Virgin, who wast pleasing to the Lord and became His Mother, immaculate in body and spirit, in faith and in love, look kindly on the wretched who implore thy powerful patronage. The wicked serpent, against whom was hurled the first curse, continues fiercely to attack and ensnare the unhappy children of Eve. Do thou, then, O Blessed Mother, our queen and advocate, who from the first instant of thy conception didst crush the head of the enemy, receive the prayers which, united with thee in our single heart, we implore thee to present at the throne of God, that we may never fall into the snares which are laid out for us, and may all arrive at the port of salvation; and, in so many dangers, may the Church and Christian society sing once again the hymn of deliverance and of victory and of peace. Amen.

In Thy conception, O Virgin Mary, thou wast immaculate; pray for us to the Father, Whose Son, Jesus Christ conceived of the Holy Ghost, thou didst bring forth.

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Cardinal Robert Sarah's prophetic voice comes to fill our screen today -- reprinted here from Magnificat Magazine's article, "Interpreting the Present Time".


"A Godless society, which considers any spiritual questions a dead letter, masks the emptiness of its materialism by killing time so as better to forget eternity. The farther material things extend their influence, the more man takes pleasure in sophisticated, narcissistic, and perverse amusements; the more man forgets God, the more he observes himself. In looking at himself, he sees the deformation and the ugliness that his debauchery has encrusted on his face. Then, to delude himself that he still shines with the original splendor of a creature of God, he puts on his make-up. But the hidden evil is like the glowing coal beneath the ashes.

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We have been working diligently on our new home. This October 7th, 2016 -- Bishop Conley came to bless the Sacred Heart Friary.

Our hearts are filled to capacity as this is a special day to all of the Knights, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

It is with a heart overflowing with gratitude that I write this letter to you!  Your prayerful and monetary support for our new home was a gift from God.  The outpouring of love and support in remodeling our new home was simply a grace filled moment in the lives of the Knights as we are amazed at God and His Majesty.  Thank you for responding.

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We celebrate and give thanks to our gracious Lord for 3 new novices -- Br. Angelo, Br. Augustine, and Br. James who received their habit on October 4th. Here they are flanked on the left by Fr. Gary Coulter and on the far right by Fr. Steve Wilson, CSsR.

Pax et bonum!
Knights of the Holy Eucharist

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Many little goods can distract us from the one good that God is asking of us. If trouble comes, if suffering strikes us down perhaps it is the Divine Gardener thinning our branches so we can produce larger fruit.

There is this roadside apple tree not far away from the house. Passing it this morning I was struck both by how much fruit a little neglected tree can produce, the gift of the garden and the spark of creation still unfolding, and how weighed down it is -- near breaking point.

Like certain fruits, the Reisling grape cultivated initially by the Romans in the Rhine Valley comes to mind, it is said that, “vines need a terrior [an environ of climate and soil] that will gently stress them, so that they produce the best grapes possible, but don't produce too many”. (1) (2)

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What's this about redemptive suffering and the loving wounds of Christ?

Many of us struggle with the idea of suffering, pain, death, even little deaths like missing the bus or having a tooth pulled and reconciling all that, big and small, with God as a loving father.

Recently Dawn Eden defended her PhD thesis on this very topic -- carved from her own heart experience, entitled "The Mystical Body and Its Loving Wounds...". And she gets to the meat rather quickly.

"As I see it, if suffering has no meaning unless it is “productive,” then the sufferer is at best a useful idiot.

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Br. Pio Maria added a new event 4 weeks ago

Seven Capital Virtues: Overcoming the Seven Capital Sins

St. Andrew & St. Mary parishes will be presenting a...

  • Sunday, 12 March 2017 07:00 PM
  • St. Andrew, 186 N. 5th St., Tecumseh, NE 68450

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