This Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem goes back to the 4th century.
As they now stand amid the white-robed multitudes, and behold the Throne of the Almighty One, let us speak their names in prayer. As they shimmer within the great cloud of witnesses, let us — in the Communion of Saints — ask their intercession before the Lamb.
+Holy Martyr Milad Makeen Zaky, pray for us, and for the whole world,
+Holy Martyr Abanub Ayad Atiya, pray for your ISIS murderers,
+Holy Martyr Maged Solaimain Shehata, pray for their salvation,
+Holy Martyr Yusuf Shukry Yunan, pray for the release of all their captives,
+Holy Martyr Kirollos Shokry Fawzy, pray for all in the path of ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Bishoy Astafanus Kamel, pray for the displaced, for those made refugees by ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Somaily Astafanus Kamel, pray for the protection of our Holy Lands and our history,
+Holy Martyr Malak Ibrahim Sinweet, pray for those who act now in resistance against ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros, pray for those in immediate danger from forces of evil,
+Holy Martyr Girgis Milad Sinweet, pray for those infected with the virus of hatred and extremism,
+Holy Martyr Mina Fayez Aziz, pray for families being challenged, throughtout the world, by ISIS,
+Holy Martyr Hany Abdelmesih Salib, pray aid workers may work together unmolested, to give assistance,
+Holy Martyr Bishoy Adel Khalaf, pray for the targeted clergy and religious of the Near East churches,
+Holy Martyr Samuel Alham Wilson, pray for all people of good will, in every religion, every nation,
+Holy Martyr Whose name we do not know — you “Worker from Awr village” — pray for those in leadership, whose names we know all too well, that that their motives may be purified of political intrigue, and for their salvation,
+Holy Martyr Ezat Bishri Naseef, pray for Jews, throughout the world, chosen of God and so despised,
+Holy Martyr Loqa Nagaty, pray for the “two lungs” of Christianity, East and West, to breathe together,
+Holy Martyr Gaber Munir Adly, pray for the illumination of that which is All-Good,
+Holy Martyr Esam Badir Samir, pray that in beholding it, we will wish to serve it,
+Holy Martyr Malak Farag Abram, pray for the generation in power, that their egos may be put aside and their hearts might be opened to the Way, the Truth and the Life,
+Holy Martyr Sameh Salah Faruq, pray for the generations to come.
O new martyrs, now numbering among the ancients through a malevolent force as old as Eden, keep us particularly in your prayers. Once again, we are focused on the mysterious lands where humanity first came into being, and into knowing, and where all will finally be revealed. Pray that we may put aside all that is irrelevant to the moment and, looking forever to the East, prepare our spirits for the engagements into which we may be called, whether we live amid these places of ancient roads and portals, or in the most modern of dwellings.
Mary, the God-bearer, pray for us,
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us,
Saint John the Forerunner, pray for us,
All Holy Men and Women, pray for us.
Written by The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia
Pope Francis and I have something in common. He asks St Thomas More to pray for him every day and so do I.
He also listed “15 diseases of the Curia” in the same address to Vatican officials. Among the “diseases of the curia” are spiritual petrification, existential schizophrenia, spiritual Alzheimer’s, funeral face and gossip.
I think all of us suffer from the same diseases to some degree. They are spiritual diseases of our times, and of the fallen human.
Pope Francis has revealed that he prays to the English martyr St Thomas More every day.
In his annual end of year address to Vatican officials the Pope said that there is a prayer to the saint for good humour which he prays daily saying that a healthy dose of humour in our daily lives is very beneficial.
Pope Francis also outlined “15 diseases of the Curia” which included the diseases of mental and spiritual petrification; existential schizophrenia; spiritual Alzheimer’s and the disease of the “funeral face,” reports Vatican News.
The Pope said that “spiritual petrification” was when men “lose their internal peace, their vivacity and audacity, choosing to hide under papers and become procedural machines.
He also described “existential schizophrenia” as the disease of “those who live a double life” and endure a “spiritual emptiness” which cannot be filled with degrees or academic titles.
He explained to diplomats that “spiritual Alzheimers” was a “progressive decline of spiritual faculties” which “causes severe disadvantages to people”, making them live in a “state of absolute dependence” on their, often imagined, views.
The Pope also appealed to the officials not to give into gossip describing the sin as a form of “satanic assasination” of other people’s good name.
When I was at the Catholic Writer’s Conference last summer, I picked up a book entitled Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Michael E. Gailey, MIC. It bills itself as a do-it-yourself retreat in the Ignitian tradition. I’m going to take the rest of the week off and give it a try. I seriously considered taking off the whole month of November, but just couldn’t convince myself to do it.
I’m going to follow the retreat in this book, read the Bible, pray the Rosary, play my piano, and go to confession and mass. I will also take care of my Mama and find time to run the vacuum cleaner. This isn’t a full stop kind of retreat. It’s more of a shut my mouth about what I think and listen to God kind of retreat.
I plan to come back next Wednesday. When I do, I’ll review Consoling the Heart of Jesus for you. I will continue to monitor your comments so you can continue your discussions, and I will post a video every day.
In the meantime, know that you are in my prayers.
Nuns Off a Bus. Sisters, arriving at the Benediction.
I don’t know what to say about the whole “black mass” deal.
They did their uggidy-buggidy thingamajig.
I didn’t get near it. And I’m not going to get near it now. If you want to read about the uggidy-buggidy black mass and the brain-dead fools who attended it, google is ready when you are. You’ll find none of that here.
I went to the Holy Hour and Bendiction conducted by Archbishop Coakley. I suppose I could begin writing about all this by telling you that, based on what I experienced, this was a real deal.
I had a hard time getting to the Holy Hour and Benediction. All day the day before I experienced the most dreadful spiritual crisis I have been through since I converted to the Catholic Church. My mind was deluged with negative thoughts, to the point that I began to wonder if I even was Catholic or had a right to enter any Church.
Then, at mass that evening, I prayed and prayed and it let up.
Later that night, I got hit with a sudden and rather violent gastrointestinal thing.
It was at that point that I finally recognized old scratch.
The next day, I thought about skipping the whole Benediction. I felt so terrible, and now I was tormented with thoughts that I might meet a particular person there who had hurt me in the past and who I dread ever seeing again.
I prayed, and knew that I needed to go.
I told a friend of mine that all this made me feel as if the devil thought that if Rebecca Hamilton showed up at this Benediction he would be cast back into hell. I told her that if other people were getting a dose of what I was getting, I feared that the church might be empty.
But, despite all this, I went.
And what I experienced was the Presence and Love of Christ.
There were a lot of young people wearing red t-shirts with Oklahoma on the front. The back read Sooner Born, Catholic Bred.
That’s a play on an Okie saying: I’m Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die, I’ll be Sooner dead.
The prayer service was, for me, an exorcism of sorts. I prayed more deeply than I have in many months, and during the praying I went down into the seamy side of my own soul and confessed sins I had walked into that service not knowing I was harboring. It was cleansing, renewing and deeply, deeply humbling in the most beautiful way possible.
I think the reason that the devil had such a good go at me before the Benediction was that he had his claws hooked into me already. Writing about ISIS, seeing the photos of what they’ve done to people, is a gateway for satan. That came on top the raw hurt and anger I have about a gay friend of mine who dumped our lifelong friendship (which was as close as family; he was my brother) and who then went out on the internet to attack me — all over gay marriage. Then, there was that person I mentioned, the one I was afraid I would encounter at the Benediction. I had allowed myself to become a seething pit of resentment because of them.
The first two, personal, things, made me an easy target. But ISIS, which is satanic through and through, raised it to an active rageful anger. ISIS, Boko Haram, and all their stepbrothers, are satanic. Their beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, buying and selling of women and children, church burnings and genocides are just as much a black mass as what happened in Oklahoma City yesterday. When they say they do these things in the name of God, they add unspeakable blasphemy on top of their unspeakable actions.
The difference is that, for all its crudity, satan takes off his mask in the black mass and comes out as himself. When he gets inside people and uses them as his instruments on a governmental scale, what you get is Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, ISIS, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda. I don’t know what you get when he comes out as himself as he did yesterday (except a carny sideshow conducted by a convicted rapist) but I do know that Christ is fully able to cast him down with a flick of the finger. I experienced that in a profound and deeply personal way yesterday.
I don’t know about the other people at the Benediction, but I needed what I got there. I barely managed to force myself to go, and what I experienced was a deeply cleansing encounter with Our Lord. It was, for me, a small and much-needed exorcism.
I was in the overflow in the church gymnasium. I got there an hour early, and the gym was already mostly full. I sat on a folding chair on what was then the back row. Later, they added more chairs behind me.
The Eucharistic Procession. I was near the back of the line.
I took bad photos with my iPhone and settled in. It wasn’t until the Benediction entered into its first time of private prayer that I plunged, head first, into a dialogue with Jesus. I found myself, my real self, in that time of prayer. I saw my sins, my need to forgive and how deeply God loves me. One thing that came to mind is so simple and powerful.
Before I went to the Benediction, I prayed and asked if, considering how really lousy I was feeling, I had to go. And He answered me.
Think about that.
God, the God who made the deep reaches of space and time and everything there is everywhere there is, stooped down and answered me. Who am I that God should notice my existence, much less engage in dialogue with me and answer my prayers?
He cares. He cares about us. He loves you and me and everyone else. Think about that, my brothers and sisters. Let it roll around in your mind and consider the magnitude of what it means to say, I prayed and He answered me.
He loves each and everyone of us. He enters into dialogue with us, despite our silly and limited little brains and our flawed and sinful souls. He loves us.
Let me say that again: He loves us.
By their fruits you shall know them.
Jesus said that. And it is true.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. St Paul told us that, and it is also true.
When I read that list, I know — know — how far I am from truly walking with the Lord. God offers me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. I nibble at these things, like someone sampling a salad bar.
But I save a huge portion of my spiritual plate for resentments, angers, self-righteousness, fear, blame and shame.
The truth is, to the extent that we cling to and protect ourselves, we deny ourselves the free gifts of the spirit. We have to lay it all down on the altar and trust Him.
That doesn’t, never has, come easily for me. I am not a trusting person. If I ever was a trusting person, happenings in my life have knocked it out of me. It is as if someone somewhere decided to teach me one thing and then to reteach it over and again throughout my life: You can’t trust people.
People will turn on you on a dime. People will abandon you when you are in disgrace. People will betray your confidences, search out and display your shames and, when you need them most, deny they ever knew you.
Does that sound familiar? It should. I began that paragraph writing about my own life experiences, and ended it with the realization that I was also writing about the Passion of Our Lord.
He wants to love us.
Why, I do not know.
But He does. And He wants it so much that He became one of us and allowed us to treat Him the way we do one another. He allowed satan to gloat and howl with delight as He was humiliated, stripped, tortured and murdered.
If the degradations of humanity that take place at the hands of satan’s disciples in ISIS, Boko Haram and all the other haters of humanity that stalk our world are a black mass, then, they also are, despite their evil intentions, the reenactment of His Passion. The victims of ISIS are the ultimate Eucharist, in human form. When I am writing about the victims of ISIS, and all its evil twins, I am writing about Him, and His Passion.
Satan intended his little uggidy-buggidy carny show to harm Christ. He can’t get at God, so he tries to get at God through us. He can do that because God loves us.
I allowed myself to become so overwhelmed by the evils of our day, and the sadness of humans hurting one another in my private life, that I gave him purchase in my own soul.
If the black mass was meant as a way into our world for satan, it backfired, at least where I am concerned. I experienced a little exorcism at the Benediction yesterday. God brought me back, snug against His side once again.
For this I am both awestruck and grateful.
Archbishop Coakley, holding the Host aloft.
Ndi Nyina wa Jambo — I am the Mother of the Word
Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.
I remember years ago, a constituent of mine, a Hispanic gentleman of great faith, talking to me about all the visitations Our Lady had graced the world with in the past century.
Something’s going to happen. He told me.
I nodded and pretended to understand, but, in truth, I didn’t. It was only later, when I went to Fatima, that the great hidden truth of Our Lord sending His mother to warn and instruct us began to take hold in my thinking.
At that time, I was unaware that Our Mother had visited her children in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. I had never heard of her prophecy of the Rwandan genocide. But she had visited Rwanda and she did warn them. Our Lady spoke to the people of Rwanda 13 years before the genocide. This is from If Only We Had Listened, by Immaculee Ilibagiza:
… in 1982, all the visionaries reported horrid visions of unspeakable violence, bloodshed, torture, destruction, and thousands of dismembered corpses littering the landscape — it was a prophetic warning from the Virgin Mary that if Rwandans did not cleanse their hearts of hatred and fill their souls with God’s love, evil would win out and a genocide would sweep across the land. Sadly, the Virgin’s warning became reality: The terrible Rwandan genocide unfolded exactly as she prophesied. … In 2001, after a twenty-year investigation into the events of Kibeho, the Vatican formally recognized the original three visionaries: Alphonsine, Marie-Claire, and Anathalie. Kibeho has now become the only Vatican-approved Marian site on the African continent, placing the humble village on the same spiritual level … with … Lourdes and Fatima.
I didn’t know of this when my constituent talked to me about these things. Later, I only knew about Fatima, and what I knew about that was mostly from my personal experience. I knew that the place was God-soaked, and I knew that God had spoken to me there. From that vague nothing-much of an understanding, I began to learn.
What I learned was that Jesus repeatedly sent His mother to warn her children of the coming conflagrations of the 20th century. In each of these warnings, she spoke of the horrors of hell and of the great numbers of people who were going to end up there. She encouraged prayer for the conversion of these people.
Then, she gave what I tend to think of as political warnings: Of the fall of Russia into Communism, of the genocide in Rwanda. Along with the warning, she also provided a solution. Each time, this solution centered on prayer.
Pray the Rosary, she said at Fatima. Consecrate Russia to my Immaculate Heart, she instructed. She added a call to pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows at Kibeho. Turn to God and cleanse your hearts of hatred, she instructed Rwanda.
It is interesting — and powerful — that Our Lady spoke of the Divine Mercy when she spoke at Kibeho. The Divine Mercy comes to us through an obscure Polish nun named Faustina Kowalska. Sister — now Saint — Faustina was visited, not by Our Lady, but by Jesus Himself.
The one who turns to God in this world, and lives according to God’s will, can, through Divine Mercy, shorten and even avoid his time in purgatory, Our Lady said at Kibeho.
Repentance, prayer, love and mercy: Can these things really be the answer to our miseries in this life? Mary said this at Kibeho:
When I visit someone and speak to them, I am openly addressing all people. If I am now turning to the parish at Kibeho, it does not mean that I am concerned only for Kibeho or for the diocese of Butare, or for Rwanda, or for the whole of Africa. I am concerned with and turning to the entire world. … Repent! Repent! Repent! … I am speaking this appeal to the whole world. Today man empties all things of their true value. Those who are continually committing sins are doing so without ever accepting that what they are doing is wrong.
The things Our Mother tells us do not change one word of the Gospels of her Son. They do not add to His teachings. They apply His teaching in a direct way to the challenges of our times. I think of them as the best sermons, the greatest Christian teaching, available to us in this world today.
Christ has sent us His own mother to teach us how to follow Him in these challenging times when, as the Anchoress said yesterday, the “center does not hold.” I both agree and disagree with what Elizabeth Scalia, aka, the Anchoress, said in that post.
Yes, we are flinging ourselves off into chaos, destroying our civilization with the glee of an angry child, knocking over a tower of blocks it took him all afternoon to build. But the center itself is unchanged by this. The center is Christ, and He is holding. We are simply refusing to take the outstretched hand of our Savior and be saved. We would rather thrash around in our self-centeredness and drown for eternity in the final and bitter desserts of our own caprice.
Repent! Repent! Repent! Our Lady tells us.
Devote yourselves to my Immaculate Heart, pray the Rosary, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. Cleanse your hearts of hatred. Fill your souls with God’s love. In other words, chose life, not death.
Because, Something’s going to happen.
My constituent told me that, and I nodded in agreement without understanding what he was saying. Now I can answer him more honestly.
Something’s going to happen.
Yes. It is.
If You Don’t Like Black People, You’d Better not Plan on Going to Heaven, Because There’s Going to be a Lot of Them There
Opio Toure was my friend.
We knew one another before either one of us was elected to office, back when we were both young and full of ourselves. Then, for a few blessed years, we served together in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
We differed, as people always do, on a couple of issues. But our hearts walked the same path. There was a time, and it wasn’t so long ago, when being black in the Oklahoma House meant taking a lot of guff. It was subtle guff, but guff, just the same.
Opio, back when we both were young and full of ourselves.
I remember one time when a battle of some sort of ugly guff-ism was coming down, I got overwhelmed. I turned to Opio in disgust. “You need to make me an honorary black person,” I said, “because I’m sick of these white folk.”
He looked at me and said, “Oh, you black. You black.”
That remains a treasured memory for me, and it will until I see Opio again.
When things got tough, Opio and I used to leave Bible verses on one-another’s desks. Those verses are also among my most treasured memories.
Opio was a Baptist preacher, who had Catholic relatives. One of his favorite items was a Rosary that had belonged to his aunt. He carried it around on the House floor, fingering the beads for comfort. We talked about the holiness of that Rosary, soaked with years of the prayers of his God-fearing, God-loving aunt.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I love Opio Toure, my brother in Christ.
Linda Richardson, prayed my asthma away.
Then, there’s the God-fearing, God-loving black women who grace this world.
I have asthma. A few years back, the asthma almost did me in. It got worse and worse, until every step I took felt like I was walking through knee deep mud. Then one day, my assistant, Linda Richardson, reached out with the authority of the Spirit-filled and laid her hands on me and prayed, rebuking the asthma in Jesus name.
This was totally spontaneous on her part, we were just talking when she did it. But I felt the power immediately. From that day forward, the asthma began backing off. It’s still there, but it’s quiet. I don’t need medicine for it, haven’t needed medicine for it for a long time.
Kurt David English
I remember when I was working on my Master’s degree. My fellow student, Kurt David English, and I teamed up to help each other through the degree process. Kurt is a black, Spirit-filled man. We prayed together and talked about Jesus together and supported one another through that degree process. I don’t think either one of us would have made it without the other.
Representative, soon to be Senator Anastasia Pittman, carrying a Martin Luther King sign.
Then there’s my seat-mate, office mate and best legislative bud Representative, soon to be Senator Anastasia Pittman and our assistant, the incomparable Miss Trena Byas, as well as Gracie Monson. These praying women have gotten me through a lot of deep water. During tough times in the legislature, they formed a kind of retreat around me, a safe place. They made a home for me when being a pro life Democrat left me otherwise homeless.
Representative Anastasia Pittman and Miss Trena Byas, my legislative homies.
The powerful praying woman of God, Gracie Monson
This is just the tip of it. I could write a book on the powerful praying black people who have blessed my life. In this world of politically-correct weak-and-worthless Christianity that tries to make itself small enough not to be a target of those who hate Christ, black Christians are the unafraid and anointed.
Democratic Floor Leader, Representative Opio Toure
I once asked Opio (I was pretty mad when I asked it) why it was OK for a black Democrat to be an outspoken Christian but a white Democrat Christian who talked about Jesus got slapped around by the party.
He laughed and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. Even though he didn’t have an answer, the acknowledgement of what I was facing helped me enormously.
Back when Democratic activists were putting out flyers in the district I represented denouncing me directly for my Catholic faith in the most bigoted manner possible, it was Opio who said “This is outrageous.” No one else would stand with me.
This post is more reminiscence than anything else. But it does have a message: If you don’t like black people, you’d better not plan on going to heaven, because there’s going to be a lot of them there.
Saint Josephine Bakhita, captured by slavers, freed in Christ.
Another message I’d like to pass along is that if you’re a white Christian and you haven’t found yourself a few Spirit-filled, black, praying friends, you need to get out more, because you are missing your blessing.
Black spirituality, including Black Catholic spirituality, is different from white spirituality in the precise ways that we white folks need to improve ourselves. Black spirituality is unashamed of the name of Jesus. Black Christians don’t mess around trying to hide their Jesus so that no one will accuse them of all the things that Christians get accused of in this post Christian America. They aren’t afraid of being harassed and criticized for Christ. They step right out there and proclaim the Lord and His power, and they mean it. Nobody talks their Jesus down to them. They won’t allow it.
Black Christian power was shaped in the crucible of hundreds of years of slavery and second-class citizenship. It was black faith and that powerful black praying that allowed them to walk right out of those ghettos, to march through the fire-hoses and police dogs and cops with truncheons and lead this whole nation to a rebirth of equality.
Mother Mary Lange, founder of the Oblate Sisters of Providence
Faith alone explains the power of the Civil Rights Movement that fought and won a war without bullets or guns against an opponent who had and used both those things.
We don’t make enough of what black people have accomplished for themselves and for this country by enduring and winning the Civil Rights fight. We emphasize the wrong things. The evil of their persecutors was true evil. But the focus should be on the nobility and power of the fight that black Americans made against that evil.
The Civil Rights Movement was faith with legs. It was truth spoken to power. It was, in a way that we don’t acknowledge, our finest hour as a nation.
And it was Spirit-filled from bottom to top. It was an expression of black Christianity and the power of a praying people.
White Christians need black Christians. We need to learn from them.
Try spending time in a black church once in a while. I promise you, you will be blessed.
James Foley’s family and friends celebrated a memorial mass for his life in the family’s home parish this weekend. His funeral mass will be in October, on his birthday. His parents said in an interview I posted earlier that they did not expect ISIS to return Mr Foley’s body.
Watching these videos makes me proud to be an American, and a Catholic.
For more details about the memorial mass, check out Deacon Greg Kandra.
This video starts with a small bit from James Foley’s Memorial Mass and moves to a longer discussion about the British Jihadists, one of whom is thought to be the James Foley’s murderer.
James Foley’s Memorial Mass
James Foley’s parents speak of praying for other hostages.