Familia- a film by Yvgeniy Vaskevich; a journey into the lives of three monastics (sisters) who inherited the infamous Hogar Raphael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala City

Give to the Hogar HERE

The Father Loves Whom He Chastens

Clement of Rome, mentioned in Philippians 4:3, in his epistle to the Corinthian Church, calls the church to accountability by admonishing one another in love...

Chapter LVI.—

"Let us admonish and correct one another. Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not unto us, but to the will of God. For in this way they shall secure a fruitful and perfect remembrance from us, with sympathy for them, both in our prayers to God, and our mention of them to the saints. Let us receive correction, beloved, on account of which no one should feel displeased. Those exhortations by which we admonish one another are both good and highly profitable, for they tend to unite us to the will of God. For thus saith the holy Word: “The Lord hath severely chastened me, yet hath not given me over to death."; "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” “The righteous,” saith it, “shall chasten me in mercy, and reprove me; but let not the oil of sinners make fat my head.” And again he saith, “Blessed is the man whom the Lord reproveth, and reject not thou the warning of the Almighty. For He causes sorrow, and again restores to gladness; He woundeth, and His hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea, in the seventh no evil shall touch thee. In famine He shall rescue thee from death, and in war He shall free thee from the power of the sword. From the scourge of the tongue will He hide thee, and thou shalt not fear when evil cometh. Thou shalt laugh at the unrighteous and the wicked, and shalt not be afraid of the beasts of the field. For the wild beasts shall be at peace with thee: then shalt thou know that thy house shall be in peace, and the habitation of thy tabernacle shall not fail. Thou shall know also that thy seed shall be great, and thy children like the grass of the field. And thou shall come to the grave like ripened corn which is reaped in its season, or like a heap of the threshing-floor which is gathered together at the proper time.” Ye see, beloved, that protection is afforded to those that are chastened of the Lord; for since God is good, He corrects us, that we may be admonished by His holy chastisement."

Immigration Reform and the Christian

Millions of people living in the United States are illegal immigrants. The vast majority have come from Mexico and Central America. States like Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas have all been seriously impacted by legal and illegal immigration. It has effected education, health care, crime, and even language. The majority of the illegal and legal immigrants who come to the United States come for jobs and we can see these immigrants working in the restaurants, construction, and service industry, childcare and as domestics. The majority of the immigrants have strong Christian values and are active in the Church. Statistics show that the growth in the American Roman Catholic Church is primarily a result of immigration both legal and illegal.

Recently the discussion of illegal immigration has focused on a piece of legislation that allows local law enforcement officers who have suspicion that a crime has been committed and suspect that the alleged violator is an illegal immigrant to check their citizenship or immigration status. This piece of legislation has caused a great deal of controversy. Even Christians are divided as to where they stand on the issue. Some see it as an incredible injustice and denial of basic civil rights, while others have suggested it is merely an enforcement of Federal Law and a protection of the rights of Arizona citizens.

The issue of immigration and the migration of peoples across national boarders is not merely an American issue as nations around the world are struggling with the issue. Europeans nations have been as conflicted as the United States. Countries in areas where there are civil wars and persecution are dealing with ever growing refugee camps, as people flee their homelands merely to survive.

As Christians our response must always be on the side of justice and respect for the dignity of every person. We must always remember that the immigrant, legal or illegal, is a victim of a failed system both of the country they fled and their new dwelling. Most immigrants, legal or illegal, are searching out the basic human needs of food, shelter, medical care, and education. Immigration, whether legal or illegal, is a story of hope – hope for a better future for themselves and their families. Most often immigration is about hope for the lives of children.

The governments have often failed at addressing immigration because the issues are complex. But too often they fail to respond because of underlying political realities, either seeing the immigrants as a new voting block or fearing the loss of re-election because of disenfranchising those who want to halt illegal immigration.

The entire story of Old Testament from Abraham to Moses is a story of immigration of a people seeking the promise of a better life. Our Lord Jesus was in a sense an immigrant to Egypt for a period of time. People around the world today are fleeing persecution, violence, genocide, unspeakable poverty, and oppression. All around the world are refugee camps where there are hungry, thirst and disease yet those in the camps live there because they cannot return to their own homeland for fear of death.

The best summary of the Biblical view of immigration is found in Exodus 22.21, “You shall no wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Leviticus 19.34, reads, “the alien who resides among you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” Hebrews 13.2, says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unawares” And, our Lord Jesus tells us in ministering to strangers we have done ministry to Him – Matthew 25.35

The charge of Scripture to the people of God was to show justice to immigrant peoples because they were once immigrants in Egypt. This could apply certainly to Americans who must remember that the vast majority of Americans come from immigrant families. The city where I live history is significantly tied to the history of immigrant people – the Irish, the Italians and now the Asians and peoples from Central America.

The history of immigration has never been an easy one. In America immigrant groups have often been met with violence and protests. Often the immigrant group is forced to live in poverty. The story of the immigrants of the early 1900’s is also the story of the lower east side of York and the poverty of tenant housing. The story of Brooklyn is a story of immigrants leaving the lower east side for a better life. Most of the members of my congregation are descendants of these immigrants – they are the grandchild and sometimes the children of the immigrant community.

The fact is that most of these immigrants came to the United States legally through places like Ellis Island in the New York Harbor. These immigrants came to become Americans and almost all of them spent years learning English so that they could pass the citizenship exam and be sworn in as American citizens.

The story of the Hebrew people in Egypt is a story of legal immigration. Joseph asks permission of Pharaoh for his family to move to Egypt (Genesis 45.16-18). When they arrived, the brothers asked Pharaoh if they could sojourn in the land (Genesis 47.1-4) and Pharaoh allotted them a section of the land of Goshen/Rameses (Genesis 47.5-7).

The story goes on that though the Hebrew people labored and prospered often to the benefit of the Pharaoh, the government began to oppress the people as slaves and eventually enforced genocide on the Hebrews.

The study would teach us that we are to show justice and equality to legal immigrants. The legal immigrants are not to be oppressed or discriminated against but rather have full access to the social networks of the country. The laws of the land were equally applied to both Israelites and legal immigrants.

Justice is a characteristic of our God. Where there is injustice the Church must speak clearly and profoundly for if injustice for one group is allowed then there is injustice everywhere. If there is a group of people without basic human rights, without a voice in government, without legal resources and protection then it places all of us at risk.

The governments of the world have the right to establish boarders, to make immigration regulations, and establish guidelines for citizenship. These boarders must be honored and the governments have the right to enforce their own requirements. It is up to the governments to insure that the regulations and enforcement are just and non-discriminatory.

The debate is how does the government respond to illegal immigration or the plight of refugees. It is not the task of the Church to establish laws. It is the task of the Church to minister to the stranger among us for the Kingdom of God knows no earthly boundaries. The Church should advocate for just humane laws and treatment of all persons. Often the Church will be called to be the voice for those who have no voice. The Church is always called to show compassion and mercy.

The Church must pray for our governments and government officials. We must obey the laws of our nation and call for a change of law when the law is unjust or immoral. It is not the responsibility of the Church to support political campaigns, draft legislation, or enforce law. Christians in democratic nations have the responsibility to vote for persons who will work to ensure that the country is secure so we can live in peace. Persons who ensure equal opportunity. Persons who will protect the rights of all people groups. Persons who will be proponents of justice. Persons who will respect the dignity of every human from conception to natural death.

As individual Christians evaluating the complexity of immigration law or the securing of national boarders we must not be tempted by political expediency, fear, or our own prejudices. We must examine the issue in light of Scriptures and the call for justice, mercy, and grace.

As the Patriarch of the Charismatic Episcopal Church my call is an international call and not an national call. I am the Patriarch of dozens of national churches each facing their own unique set of issues. Some of the nations are involved in long term civil wars, others deal daily with thousands of refugees fleeing genocide or the rape of millions of women, some struggle with the issue of sex trade, slavery, and exploitation of children through kidnapping and forced service in the military. For many of our churches their ministry is to a people who live day to day merely to survive and have a meal or clean water. As the Patriarch I will refrain from making political statements for this reason. I encourage us as Christians to remain informed on the issue of legal immigration reform and illegal immigration. In all of this I remind us to seek the heart of God who is creator and father of all and remember that citizen, immigrant (legal or illegal), or refugee is created in His image not the image of a nation.

Under His mercy,
The Most Rev. Craig W. Bates,
Patriarch, ICCEC

Nun at St. Joseph's Hospital rebuked over abortion to save woman

A Catholic nun and longtime administrator of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix was reassigned in the wake of a decision to allow a pregnancy to be ended in order to save the life of a critically ill patient.
The decision also drew a sharp rebuke from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, who indicated the woman was "automatically excommunicated" because of the action.

Neither the hospital nor the bishop's office would address whether the bishop had a direct role in her demotion. He does not have control of the hospital as a business but is the voice of moral authority over any Catholic institution operating in the diocese.

The actions involving the administrator, mostly taken within the past couple of weeks, followed a last-minute, life-or-death drama in late 2009. The patient had a rare and often fatal condition in which a pregnancy can cause the death of the mother.

Sister Margaret McBride, who had been vice president of mission integration at the hospital, was on call as a member of the hospital's ethics committee when the surgery took place, hospital officials said. She was part of a group of people, including the patient and doctors, who decided upon the course of action.

The patient was not identified, and details of her case cannot be revealed under federal privacy laws.

The Catholic Church forbids abortion in all circumstances and allows the termination of a pregnancy only as a secondary effect of other treatments, such as radiation of a cancerous uterus.

The hospital defended the ethics committee's decision.

In a statement, Suzanne Pfister, a hospital vice president, said that the facility adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services but that the directives do not answer all questions.

"In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother's life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy," Pfister said.

Pfister issued the four-paragraph statement on behalf of the hospital, its parent company Catholic Healthcare West, and the Sisters of Mercy, McBride's religious order.

McBride was part of the discussion about the surgery, described as urgent. It involved a serious illness, pulmonary hypertension. The condition limits the ability of the heart and lungs to function and is made worse, possibly even fatal, by pregnancy.

In a statement issued to The Republic late Friday, the diocese confirmed that Olmsted learned of the case after the surgery.

"I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese," Olmsted said. "I am further concerned by the hospital's statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother's underlying medical condition.

"An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother's life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means."

Olmsted added that if a Catholic "formally cooperates" in an abortion, he or she is automatically excommunicated.

Excommunication forbids the person from participating in church life. Remedies are available through an appeal to the Vatican or confession.

"The Catholic Church will continue to defend life and proclaim the evil of abortion without compromise, and must act to correct even her own members if they fail in this duty," the bishop said.

It is unknown whether the bishop took action against the others who were involved in the matter, and Pfister would not answer questions about the physicians involved in the surgery.

Neither Olmsted nor his spokesman at the Phoenix Diocese would answer additional questions.

Although Olmsted does not have direct control of the hospital, his authority as bishop over Catholic institutions is substantial. For one thing, religious orders work in the Valley at his invitation.

In an e-mail, Pfister said McBride has been transferred "to another position in the hospital to focus on a number of new strategic initiatives."

According to the medical directives that the hospital follows, abortion is defined as the directly intended termination of pregnancy, and it is not permitted under any circumstances - even to save the life of the mother.

On the other hand, a second directive says that "operations, treatments and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted . . . even if they will result in the death of the unborn child."

A letter sent Monday from Catholic Healthcare West, signed by Sister Judith Carle, board chairwoman, and President and CEO Lloyd Dean, asks Olmsted to provide further clarification about the directives. Agreeing that in a healthy mother, pregnancy is "not a pathology," it says this case was different. The pregnancy, the letter says, carried a nearly certain risk of death for the mother.

"If there had been a way to save the pregnancy and still prevent the death of the mother, we would have done it," the letter says. "We are convinced there was not."

James J. Walter, professor of bioethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, a Catholic university, said that is a tough argument to make. He said a pregnancy may be terminated only in limited, indirect circumstances, such as uterine cancer, in which the cancer treatment takes the life of the fetus.

Catholic teaching, he said, is that a pregnancy cannot be terminated as a means to an end of saving the life of a mother who is suffering from a different condition.

Asked if the church position prefers the mother and child to die, rather than sparing the life of one of them, Walters said the hope is that both would survive.

Not all faith groups see things the same way.

The Jewish tradition, the Mormon Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are among the groups that frown on abortion on demand but permit it when the life of the mother is at stake or if the mother is impregnated by rape or incest.

McBride declined to be interviewed. She was the highest-ranking member of the Sisters of Mercy at the hospital, which the order founded in 1895.

Vatican Hall of Shame

A Friend sent this to me and I found it quite humorous- Enjoy-

The scandals may be coming thick and strong from the Vatican at the moment, but the Church has always waged a losing battle with its own vice-ridden staff.

The problem was that transgressions from official policy often began at the top.

Fellow priests put one of the first popes, Sixtus III (432-40), on trial for seducing a nun. He was acquitted after quoting from Christ in his defense: “Let you who are without sin cast the first stone.”

In the centuries to follow, political skullduggery and a corrupt election process thrust one improbable candidate after another into the position as god-fearing believers looked on in impotent horror.

In fact, so many Vicars of Christ have been denounced as the “Worst Pope Ever” that we have to settle for a Top Ten list.

1. Sergius III (904-11), known by his cardinals as "the slave of every vice," came to power after murdering his predecessor.

He had a son with his teenage mistress — the prostitute Marozia, 30 years his junior — and their illegitimate son grew up to become the next pope.

With top Vatican jobs auctioned off like baubles, the papacy entered its “dark century.”

2. The 16-year-old John XII (955-64) was accused of sleeping with his two sisters and inventing a catalog of disgusting new sins.

Described by a church historian as “the very dregs,” he was killed at age 27 when the husband of one of his mistresses burst into his bedroom, discovered him in flagrante, and battered his skull in with a hammer.

3. Benedict IX, (1032-48) continually shocked even his most hardened cardinals by debauching young boys in the Lateran Palace.

Repenting of his sins, he actually abdicated to a monastery, only to change his mind and seize office again. He was “a wretch who feasted on immorality,” wrote Saint Peter Damian, “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest.”

4. After massacring the entire population in the Italian town of Palestrina, Boniface VIII (1294-1303) indulged in ménages with a married woman and her daughter and became renowned through Rome as a shameless pedophile.

He famously declared that having sex with young boys was no more a sin than rubbing one hand against the other — which should make him the patron saint of Boston priests today.

The poet Dante reserved a place for him in the eighth circle of Hell.

5. All pretense at decorum was abandoned when the papacy moved to Avignon in southern France for 75 years. Bon vivant Clement VI (1342-52) was called “an ecclesiastical Dionysus” by the poet Petrarch for the number of mistresses and the severity of his gonorrhea.

Upon his death, 50 priests offered Mass for the repose of his soul for nine consecutive days, but French wits agreed that this was nowhere near enough.

6. Decamping back to Rome, the papacy hit its true low point in the Renaissance. (Church historian Eamon Duffy compares Rome to Nixon’s Washington, “a city of expense-account whores and political graft.”) Sixtus IV (1471-84), who funded the Sistine Chapel, had six illegitimate sons — one with his sister. He collected a Church tax on prostitutes and charged priests for keeping mistresses, but critics argued that this merely increased the prevalence of clerical homosexuality.

7. The rule of Innocent VIII (1484-92) is remembered as the Golden Age of Bastards: He acknowledged eight illegitimate sons and was known to have many more, although he found time between love affairs to start up the Inquisition. On his death bed, he ordered a comely wet nurse to supply him with milk fresh from the breast.

8. The vicious Rodrigo Borgia, who took the name Alexander VI (1492-1503), presided over more orgies than masses, wrote Edward Gibbon. A career highlight was the 1501 “Joust of the Whores,” when 50 dancers were invited to slowly strip around the pope’s table.

Alexander and his family gleefully threw chestnuts on the floor, forcing the women to grovel around their feet like swine; they then offered prizes of fine clothes and jewelry for the man who could fornicate with the most women.

Alexander’s other hobbies included watching horses copulate, which would make him “laugh fit to bust.”

After his death — quite possibly poisoned by his pathological son, Cesar Borgia — this pope’s body was expelled from the basilica of Saint Peter as too evil to be buried in sacred soil.

9. Julius II (1503-13) is remembered for commissioning Michelangelo to paint the Sistene Chapel’s ceiling. He was also the first pope to contract “the French disease,” syphilis, from Rome’s male prostitutes. On Good Friday of 1508, he was unable to allow his foot to be kissed by the faithful as it was completely covered with syphilitic sores.

10. Incurable romantic Julius III (1550-55) fell in love with a handsome young beggar boy he spotted brawling with a vendor’s monkey in the streets. The pope went on to appoint this illiterate 17-year-old urchin a cardinal, inspiring an epic poem, “In Praise of Sodomy,” probably written by a disgruntled archbishop in his honor.

Poisoned chalice? Swine flu hits church wine.

The archbishops of Canterbury and York are recommending that churches stop sharing the chalice at communion over swine flu fears, the Church of England said Thursday.

The Church of England's leaders are recommending parishoners don't share the chalice.

The archbishops wrote a letter to all Church of England bishops with the recommendation. It follows government advice not to share "common vessels" for food or drink so as not to spread the virus.

In the Anglican Church, worshippers commonly drink from the same chalice during communion. The chalice is wiped before the next person drinks from it.

For churches that still wish to offer both bread and wine, the archbishops recommend the priest dip communion wafers in the chalice before handing them out to those taking communion.

"The Department of Health have recently advised us that 'in a pandemic it makes good sense to take precautions to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink,'" the archbishops write in the letter.

"In the light of this advice, we recommend those presiding at Holy Communion suspend the administration of the chalice during this wave of pandemic flu. For those who still wish to offer in both kinds, we recommend the practice whereby the presiding minister, whose hands should have been washed with the appropriate alcohol-based rub before handling the elements and the vessels, personally intincts all wafers before placing them in the hands of communicants."

The archbishops note that this practice is widely observed in Anglican churches throughout Africa. "Communicants receiving in this way need to be confident that the clergy and all assistant ministers follow the relevant guidance on hygiene," they write.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Church, the second-largest Western Christian denomination after the Roman Catholic Church.

Ash Wednesday- T.S. Elliot


Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is
nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to sateity
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each
Under a tree in the cool of day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jaggèd, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond
Or the toothed gullet of an agèd shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind
over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy

but speak the word only.

Who walked between the violet and the violet
Whe walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke
no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny
the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,
time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit
of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Dante's Inferno

Minos Judging the damned with his tail

I know this is a little early and the Lenten season is weeks away; but I found an e-book of Dante's Inferno, on project Gutenberg's website, with the illustrations by Gustave Dore... enjoy this as we walk the life of Christ this Year...

The Divine Commedy

By Dante Alighieri,
Illustrated by Gustave Dore

The Magi-

"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

There is some speculation surrounding the "Three Wise Men" or Magi of Matthew 2;

Who were they...?
Where were they from...?
And when did they come to see the new born Christ...?

The Bible states that the Magi were from Midian and Sheba

A multitude of camels will cover you,
The young camels of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba will come;
They will bring gold and frankincense,
And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.
-Isiaih 60:6

Also the Magi came from Tarshish

Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
-Psalm 72:10

Midian and Ephah were tribes that resided in northwest Arabia on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. Ephah being a sub-tribe of Midian. Archeological evidence also indicates that the tribes may have extended from the eastern shores of the Sinai peninsula to the deserts east of the Gulf of Aqabah into Edom and Moab.

Sheba is slightly harder to nail down; the actual location of the historical kingdom is disputed, with modern evidence tending toward Yemen in southern Arabia, but other scholars argue for a location in either present-day Eritrea or Ethiopia. Seba was uncle to Sheba as seen in Genesis 10:7

The Ethiopian Orthodox Christians (Copts) claim that they are decendants of the tribes of Sheba. The Biblical tradition of the "Queen of Sheba" in 1 Kings 10, describes her as travelling to Jerusalem to behold the fame of King Solomon. Owing to the connection with the Queen of Sheba, the location has thus become closely linked with national prestige, as various royal houses have claimed descentcy from the Queen of Sheba and Solomon. The most vigorous claimant has been Ethiopia and Eritrea, where Sheba was traditionally linked with the ancient Axumite Kingdom.

In the Bible Solomon setup a trade with Tarshish and received ivory, apes, and peacocks from Tarshish which are all native to the jungles in India. (2 Chronicles 9:21, 1 Kings 10:22) The Bible also indicates that Jonah also attempted to sail to Tarshish. His rebellion against the LORD led to his being tossed overboard by sailors, swallowed by a large fish, and vomitted out onto dry land by God's command. He then made his way to Ninevah, now known as Mosul, in Iraq.

We must look at the Biblical record and to the stars to see when the Magi came...

in Numbers 24:17 it states that a star shall come forth

I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob

The Star of Bethlehem is a fulfillment of the prophecy from Numbers 24:17 of a "Star out of Jacob". Several people over time give their explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. In the 14th century Albert Magnus noted that the constellation Virgo rose above the horizon at midnight on December 24th at the reputed time of Christ's birth.

In 1606 the German astronomer Johann Kepler suggested that the "star" was the conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn on May 22nd, October 6th and December 1st, 7 B.C. Jupiter & Saturn would have been separated by a relative distance of two diameters of the moon — so they could have appeared as a single star. Jupiter & Venus actually overlapped on June 17th, 2 B.C., but this would have been after the estimated 4 B.C. death of King Herod.

A supernova explosion occurred in the constellation Capricorn in 5 B.C. and Halley's comet was visible in 11-12 B.C. Also Chinese astronomers of the Han Dynasty recorded a comet visible for seventy days in 5 B.C.

Natural explanations cannot account for a star being directly above a 20-meter radius on the surface of the earth so that it could be followed to a specific location, unless the star was not very high above the earth: "... and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was." (Matthew 2:9).

It was the 6th century monk Dionysius Exiguus who created the B.C./A.D. system of dating based on the birthdate of Christ. Dionysius had Christ born on December 25, 1 B.C., seven days before January 1, 1 A.D. (no year zero). Luke 3:23 says that Christ was age 30 in the 15th year (about 27 A.D.) of the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius (Luke 3:1). Modern scholars now date Christ's birth between 7 BC and 4 BC. The census for taxation described in Luke 2:1-5, can be used as a guide to the date of Christ's birth. Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar had a census in 28 B.C., 8 B.C. and 14 A.D. There is also a record of a census in Judea in 6 A.D.

Matthew 2:11 describes the wise men as entering a house rather than a stable, and finding a child rather than an infant.

In Luke 2:21-22 the Bible states that Jesus was circumcised, and that Mary waited for her purification days to be complete, 30 days according to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:1-8) and then the Holy Family went to Nazareth

So there's the facts...

We know from Matthew 2 that the Magi came to Jesus as a child, but it must have been before he was 38 days old because that is when Jesus was presented in the temple because they moved back to Nazareth after that.

So Is it safe to say that Mary and Josheph found a home "in the mean time" and then the Magi came...?

I mean really are you gonna have a Briss in a stable. They just got to Bethlehem and they still have to do all if their paper work for the census and who knows what kind of nightmare that was; standing in line holding a baby for hours, everybody having to get something to eat and then having to find a nice place to stay... possibly getting on a list at the local inn to see if someone gets bumped... then finding a house... that takes some time, if you have ever had to move in a hurry you will see how everything takes too much time and never works out like you planned...

It would have been nice if the inns in Bethlehem took reservations.

We know from scripture that the Magi visited the Christ child, now what time of year this occurred, and in what year this occurred, we will have to leave that up to the theologians and their hypotheses...

In the Bleak Mid-Winter...

A friend of mine turned me on to this ole' Christmas hymn... Here it is for your listening enjoyment...

In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.