Pope Francis Appoints 15 New Cardinals from Everywhere

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

… and the Gospel must first be preached to all nations. Jesus Christ

Pope Francis announced the appointment of 15 new cardinals today.

The Holy Father chose men from all around the globe, representing such places of Xai-Xai, which is the capital of Gaza Province in Mozambique. He appointed new cardinals for Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and Ethiopia.

He also appointed a couple of new cardinals to Italy and one to Portugal. None of the new cardinals were from the United States.

What does this mean? Americans, who are prone to interpret every move by just about anybody in terms of American politics, are quick to denounce/applaud the list of new cardinals based on whether they see the Holy Father’s appointments as “progressive” or not.

However, there is a more accurate way to look at the actions of the Vicar of Christ, and that is through the lens of Holy Scripture. What Pope Francis did is not political in the one-off news cycle way that most Americans see everything he does. It is prophecy, being fulfilled right in front of us.

Turn to Chapter 13 of the book of Mark and let your eye drift down to verse 10. Chapter 13 of Mark concerns what big-word talkers call eschatology. Eschatology, which is a word so unmelodious and awkward that I detest saying it, is the study of what most people call “the end times.”

Right in the middle of Jesus’ prophecy of the end times we find a verse that sticks up in the flow of warnings of dislocations, tragedies and persecution like a rock jutting through white water. It’s almost as if Jesus took a breath and said it, then launched back into the litany of the persecutions to come, But first, the Gospel must first be preached to all nations, he said.

This flat statement, this caveat to the Second Coming, will be reflected later, when He gives what Protestants call The Great Commission just before He ascends into heaven.

… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you until the end of the world. Jesus Christ

It is the leaven in the bread, the mustard seed. This preaching of the Gospel to all nations is the Kingdom coming that precedes His return. It is the first cause, the primogeniture of what must happen. First, the Gospel must be preached to all nations.

First.

If you give up the politics-and-power centric view of all things for just a moment and remember that Pope Francis is in fact and in truth the Vicar of Christ, then these appointments make all kinds of prophetic sense. They are not a political statement about the United States. They are simply an acknowledgement of the fact that the Gospel is indeed being preached to all nations.

These appointments are prophetic, not in the sense that they make prophecy, but in that they are footsteps in the long march of prophetic history from the garden to the day when God will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I’m not someone who gives a lot of thought to the end times. I certainly do not devote myself to Eschatology, which is the formal study of such. My end of time is coming straight at me as I spend the days of my life, one at a time. I will die not too far in the future, and when I do, I will stand before God. I do not fear that day because, to quote St Paul, I know whom I have believed, and I trust that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him against that day.

In other words, when I stand before God, my only defense of my misspent life will be that Jesus died for my sins. Like the lintels of the doorways in Egypt, I am marked by the blood of the Lamb. For that reason, and for that reason alone, death will pass me by.

I don’t obsess over the end times. But I have read the Bible and I am aware of the world around me. I know that the prophetic clock is ticking. I don’t expect that I will see Him descend with a shout in this life. But I would have to be totally ignorant of both Scripture and the events of the last 100 years to be unaware that these prophecies are falling, click, click, click, like a row of slow-motion dominoes.

There is no cause for apprehension or obsession in this. It just is. God will do these things in His time and His way. Our part is simply to do what we are told, to be faithful with what He has given us. Speaking for myself, that’s more than enough.

When we read the political/zeitgeist/temporal interpretations of things like the appointment of these new Cardinals, it’s wise to remember that Pope Francis is not a member of the United States Senate. He is not the head of a brokerage firm, and he is not planning to throw his zucchetto in the ring and run for president, prime minister or any other political what not.

He is, simply, the Pope, which is to say that He is the Vicar of Christ. He’s Jesus’ priest. The only way to understand Pope Francis’ actions is to stop our political confabulating and take a look at The Book. If we do, we will see that Jesus — Who is the real boss of the Church — said quite plainly that the Gospel must be preached to all nations. 

That’s what’s happening. And our universal Church — along with our faithful Protestant and Orthodox brothers and sisters — is a conduit of that ever-widening, all-encompassing circle of grace.

From Vatican Radio:

 (Vatican Radio) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis announced the names of fifteen Archbishops and Bishops whom he will raise to the dignity of the Cardinalate on February 14, 2015. In addition, the Holy Father announced that five retired Archbishops and Bishops “distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church” would also be made Cardinals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: I misquote Bible verses from memory. Since I have read many different translations of Scripture, and since I read the Bible every day, I don’t misquote any one translation.

If You’re Catholic, Christmas Isn’t a Day. It’s a Season.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Catholics don’t regard Christmas as one, big rousing day of overeating and gift giving.

We see it as a joyful season of the Church. It lasts right up until we celebrate the visit the Wise Men paid to the baby Jesus.

That kind of season thinking is hard for Americans, tied as we are to jobs and paychecks. We feel lucky if we can get off work long enough to celebrate that one big day. But a “Season?”

No can do.

I understand this well. I’ve never been able to really “do” a Church season. I was too beset by other things. But I’m going to attempt doing Christmas the Catholic way this year, which is to say, that I’m going to do a bit of extended Christmassing.

Our family had the really big deal one-day celebration along with everyone else yesterday. We did mass on Christmas Eve; present opening and feasting on Christmas Day. It was beautiful. And wonderful. And blessed in every way.

Now, I’m sitting here in my housecoat after having cleaned the kitchen floor and eaten a piece of leftover chocolate cream pie for breakfast. I also dusted The Precious and took a look at my office.

My office has become the place I put things I plan to do later. It’s cluttered with stacks of books I plan to read, and paintings, plaques and other framed thingys I brought home from my office at the capitol six months ago.

I walked in there, flush with the anticipation of free time to “do” things and thought, “I need to hang those paintings/plaques/whatnot and I need to buy bookshelves for those books and put them in the music/prayer room that I want to create in the room where The Precious lives.”

Then I thought, “Nope.”

It’s Christmas Season and I’m not going to spend Christmas Season working. I’ll Do It Later.”

Of course “I’ll Do It Later” is why those books are stacked up and the paintings/plaques/whatnots are stacked against the wall.

But it is Christmas Season, the first real, live Christmas Season I’ve had the opportunity to take since I converted.

I am going to do my best to just bask in the miracle of God made human, of a Heavenly Father Who loves you and me so much that He came down here to live in the muck with the rest of us as the adopted baby boy of a humble carpenter. Our Lord and Savior Who was born as an outcast in a conquered land, born in a stable and Who had a stone manger for His first crib, is born again this Christmas season in our hearts.

I want to ponder, without the intrusions of our beautiful day of celebrating, the miracle of His birth. I want to consider that the great I Am Who made everything, everywhere, consented to be one of us, and that He gave us this beautiful message that being one of us, meant, from the beginning, that He was one of the Least of These.

I sit here in my comfortable chair in a house with central air and heat that is so efficient I have to step outside to know if the weather has turned cold or not. I wonder what it was like on that cold desert night, in a cave/stable.

The shepherds came — shepherds, not kings, not even the local rabbi — but shepherds, dressed in the same clothes they wore when herding sheep and sleeping on the ground. They came because the angels sent them, choosing, once again, to emphasize that this newborn King was not a king of palaces and pomp, but the Son of a God Who loves us all, loves us each and every one, and Who is not, never has been and never will be, a respecter of persons.

Angels from on high announced the coming of the Good Shepherd to humble shepherds who were tending their flocks in the fields.

This is our salvation.

This is who we are called to be. We are the leaven in the Kingdom, the mustard seed, the salt of the earth. We have in our hearts and in our knowledge of Him, the Pearl of Great Price, the only hope that exists for suffering, dying humanity.

The Hope of the World spent His first night in a stone manger in a stable with his two humble earthly parents. The Shepherds came, because, out of all the people roundabout on that night, the angels were sent to them to announce His birth.

“In getting and spending we lay waste our powers,” William Wordsworth wrote.

We have to make a living. There is no way around that. Jesus Himself worked for most of His earthly life at the trade of carpenter. He did not eschew work.

But we are not the things we make with our labors, nor are we the sum of our income or our passing achievements. Our “powers” reside in our ability to love and live and create life that is worth living for ourselves, our families and our world.

Labor is part of that, but only a part. The thing which gives it dignity, which makes it worth doing, is that ability to build people by raising our children properly, and by living lives of honesty, love, dignity and faith. Our lives take on value and eternal meaning to the extent that we live them in Him, through Him and for Him. Every good thing follows from that.

I know most of you who read this will be at work today. I also know that, for the first time, ever, I have the opportunity to do it differently from that.

I’m going to take off a few days this Christmas season and ponder the miracle. I’ll pray for those of you who don’ t have this opportunity. Remember that no matter what work you must do, the purpose and the meaning of it is not in the paycheck. The purpose and the meaning of our work is always in our love for Our Lord and the good we bring to this world by loving other people.

I will moderate comments, so feel free to continue your discussions. I’ll be back January 7, after the Epiphany of Our Lord.

 

It’s not the Notes. It’s the Music.

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Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved


A reader at an on-line piano site that I’ve begun to frequent asked where to find sheet music for a composition called “Storm at Sea.”

This composition is required playing for an annual exam given to piano students.

Writing Public Catholic has sharpened my Google skills, so I went out on the internet and found links to the sheet music for this guy. Then, just out of curiosity, I went to YouTube and looked up various performances of it. What I found was a startling exposition of why playing piano is not about the notes. It’s about the music.

I found several young people who were obviously playing this piece as part of their exam. I won’t use them as examples. What I’ll do instead is show you two highly competent versions of this simple little piece.

The first is by Kathleen Theisen.

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Does that interpretation make you want to run out and get a copy of the sheet music so you can play this yourself?

It doesn’t me. There’s nothing wrong with this, not a single note out of place. But it sounds like a music exercise, or at least it does to me. There’s nothing interesting or intriguing about it.

Now, here is the same music, played (complete with toy whale) by the man who wrote the piece; Steve Nehrenberg.

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It’s still a simple piece of music, but, all of a sudden, it is music. This is something it would be fun to play.

The difference is story, which is to say the difference is music. Notes are what you practice at the beginning of learning a piece of music for the purpose of getting to the point that you can actually play it as music. So long as you’re just playing notes, no matter how accurately, you are not making music.

I need to apologize to Kathleen Theisen. She has many videos on YouTube, which demonstrate her enormous musical artistry. It’s just that in this particular piece of music, and in my uneducated opinion, Mr Nehrenberg brings the music to the notes. He tells the story.

The reason I love playing the piano is that search for the story in the notes. I’m working right now and have been since last June, on a piece of music that was far above my abilities when I began it. It has been a matter of learning the music note by note, measure by measure, of playing it slowly one hand at time until my mind knows where the notes fall, then putting the hands together, and then slowly beginning to tell the story in those notes.

After six months, I am still piecing it together and working toward the day when I can, as Mr Nehrenberg did with this piece, bring the music to the notes of the whole piece. In the meantime, I’ve learned an enormous amount of music theory, just by studying the underlying structure of this piece.

Listen to the ways that these two people play this simple music. Do you hear a third way you would like to play the notes, another, slightly different, story you would make them tell?

It’s not the notes. It’s the music.

And the music is in you.

 

This Christmas is Going to the Dogs

The girls are heading out for last-minute Christmas shopping. The patio-destroying pup is on the left.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

The Skinny on Christmas

Photo Source: morgueFile.com

Photo Source: morgueFile.com

The Skit Guys give us the skinny on Christmas.

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Left the Puppy. Pet Her and Stuff

My son left his puppy in our back yard early one morning before anyone got up.

He texted this message: Left the puppy. Pet her and stuff.

The rest was rock n roll.

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Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Billy Graham: Are You Ready for Heaven?

This is longer than most videos I post. But it’s well worth the watch.

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Victim Blaming and Catholic Hating: What is Our Response?

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Photo Source: by Chodra from MorgueFile.com

It starts as soon as we can toddle out of our cribs. It rears its ugly head on playdates and in day care and mother’s day out.

By the time we’ve gotten to first grade, “it” is full-blown and set in concrete.

The “it” I’m referring to is the sad human practice of setting aside a member of our group for isolation which turns neatly into group attacks and shunning. Anytime there are more than two people in a group, one of them is going to be the outsider.

When we allow ourselves to give full vent to our Lord of the Flies side, this ugliness rapidly and inexorably becomes bullying and attacking the ones we’ve singled out. There is almost no low to which people will not sink when it comes to group attacks on the hapless outsider.

That, and not lust, is what leads to outrages such as groups of high school jocks, gang raping the mentally challenged girl. It was behind an incident I remember from my own high school years. Several of the the school football players, (why is it so often athletic teammates?) held down a mentally challenged boy and shaved his head in the school hall.

That incident taught me a lot about people, and what it taught me has proven to be ever-true.

I didn’t know what was happening while it was going on. I rounded the corner to go to my journalism class and found the hall completely blocked by a crowd of students. They were yelling and jeering; shoving and jostling.

My journalism teacher, a smallish young woman, was on the periphery, trying to fight her way to the center of the crowd. She was yelling “Stop!”

No one paid attention to her. At one point, one of the jocks reached out and shoved her back. Meanwhile, our school principal and vice principal, both good-sized men, stepped around the corner, saw what was happening, and turned and walked away.

I didn’t know what was going on until the crowd quieted and broke up. Then, I saw the boy, lying on his side on the tile floor, crying like a broken child.

He was mentally challenged. From what I saw, he spent his days in school alone, drifting through his “education,” by being passed on by teachers who just gave him grades. A few weeks before this happened, he had taken to wearing an odd haircut. Nothing really outlandish, just long and, as was his wont, kind of klutzy.

Now, he was lying there crying, with his head shaved, bits of his hair lying on the floor beside him.

It was a huge school. I don’t know this boy. Didn’t know him then. I have no idea where he is now or if he ever got past this assault and the awful humiliation those jocks visited on him. I never saw him again after that day. For all I know, his parents removed him from the school.

They might as well have because it was clear from the first moment that no one except that one hapless and ultimately helpless female teacher was going to come to his rescue. In fact, what happened afterwards was, even though I didn’t know it at the time, a classic of victim blaming/shaming.

No one reproached the letter guys (what we called the school jocks, named for the “letter” on their athletic jackets) for what they had done. The talk around the school, with the single exception of that one journalism teacher who was outraged, was all about how he “deserved” it, how he’d been “asking for it,” by showing up with that hair cut.

It was a lesson that the girls of the school knew well. Those same football players who had shaved the boy’s head lined up outside the cafeteria every day before lunch. The girls of the school had to walk a gauntlet to get to their food.

Letter boys lined both sides of the hall, leaning back and watching the girls go by. There were catcalls and harassments to swallow before we got to our mashed potatoes and jello salad.

A number of the girls complained about this, in fact they complained several times. But those same male principals who turned around and walked away when the jocks were attacking the boy, also turned studiously deaf ears to requests to bring an end to the line up.

That’s what we called it. “The line up.”

Things are no better today. The bullies and jerks of this world still feel free to isolate and attack with impunity. And the rest of us still take a look, turn and walk the other way.

Cowardice in the face of group censure is as strong in the human psyche as the fear of falling. We human beings are not the fastest or the strongest. We don’t have 3 inch claws or fangs jutting down. At the same time, we are big. We can’t be satisfied with a repast of small prey. We’ve got to go after the big stuff.

God made us, from our beginning, reliant on our wits and on one another. The devil does the rest.

The need in each of us to be liked and accepted, to be part of a sheltering group, quickly becomes a keening wail when it is denied. That’s why blaming the victim is such ubiquitous fiction. Because it shelters the group from taking on the group leader, and in far too many instances, the group leader is the bully on the block.

We don’t just find ourselves by accident as part of groups that are run with ruthless disregard for the weak by the biggest and meanest. We tend to actively chose it.

We do this first by following whoever moves. The male psyche in particular is inclined to follow action of any sort. I’ve spent my working life in the company of groups of men and I’ve seen this dynamic play out many times.

We do it second by feeling threatened ourselves when someone else becomes the group goat. We know, whether we will admit it or not, that the ubiquitous “they” who is leading the attacks on this person, can and will turn and attack us if we try to come to their rescue. Besides, we secretly like seeing people get whittled down to size and put in their place. As they shrink, we feel bigger by comparison.

Victim blaming is nothing more nor less than a form of cohesion building within a group. It is a kind of exemplary discipline meted out not so much to the hapless victim as to the group members who line up and join in the victim blaming/shaming. The message is, get with the program or, next time, it will be you.

The Lord of Flies dynamic is the basic dynamic of human groups. It is the single most potent organizing structure we possess: That of uniting against a common enemy. If there is no common enemy, we create one out of the weakest or the easiest to isolate among us.

The internet, with its anonymity, challenges our need to be part of a group. So we form groups around tiny bits of our personalities, such as a single belief or attitude. Then we begin the process of identifying who we can single out and attack as a group activity.

The Vatican recently called internet bullying “a new form of violence.” In that same discussion, internet bullying was defined as “repeated verbal or psychological harassment carried out by an individual or group.” It includes, “mockery, insults, threats, rumors, gossip, disagreeable comments or slander.”

Does that sound familiar? It should, because one group of people who have been singled out for more than their fair share of this stuff is Christians, in particular Roman Catholics.

I could give you quote after quote, headline after headline, in which, if you replaced Catholic with any other group, the public outrage would be over the top. But not us. We are the new people that it’s fun to hate; the new organizing common enemy of quite a number of internet groups.

The question for us — and it is a question that speaks to our survival — is whether or not we will allow the bullies to cut individuals out of our group and then harry them down to the ground. Are we going to join our attackers when they play blame the victim?

Because if we do that, we might as well hang it up. We are salt that has lost its savor. And we are going down.

Breaking: ISIS Murders 150 Girls and Women in Iraq. Boko Haram Kidnaps 100 Villagers in Nigeria.

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Photo Source:  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ISIS, the Taliban and Boko Haram seem to be in a race for the title of most barbaric terrorist.

Boko Haram specializes in attacking schools and churches and killing, kidnapping, raping and selling children. Four hours ago, Boko Haram attacked a village in Northern Nigeria, killing at least 33 people and kidnapping at least 100 others.

The Taliban attacked a school in Pakistan this week, killing 141 people, most of them children. Now it turns out that ISIS has murdered 150 women and girls for refusing to have sex with them and for refusing to enter into “Jihad marriage” with them.

“Jihad marriage” sounds like another name for rape. So, I guess that makes them mass murderer/rapists. No need to fancy this up with talk about jihad and such.

They’re murderers. They’re rapists. They are satanic. All of them.

What Do You Hope For?

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