Be Ready to Take a Beating: OKC Bishop Emeritus Marched with Martin Luther King, Jr

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Our current leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, and Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran.

Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran was a gift to our state when he led us.

He was always willing to take the hard step up to the plate to defend the human person from the ravages of discrimination and hate.

About 10 years ago, Oklahoma passed an outrageous law aimed at Hispanics. This law made it a crime to help people, even when they were in dire situations, who had entered this country illegally. It was so draconian that it cut right across the mission of every Christian to serve and love the “least of these.” It was, in truth and in fact, a Jim Crow law for Hispanics.

I actually debated this point when I spoke against this law. I dug out the vote on the original Jim Crow law that Oklahoma had passed not long after statehood.

Do you want your name on a list like this, I asked my fellow legislators, pointing to the votes. It did no good. The state Republicans had whipped the public into a mindless and vicious anti-Hispanic hatred in order to win elections, and even legislators who saw that this law was a crime against God voted for it for fear of losing their next election.

My own district, which was a mix of all sorts of people — a true “rainbow” district of skin colors — was in a welter over it. Later, when the pro abortion people tried to defeat me in an election, they made an attempt to use that stand against this law to defeat me.

I had to take another stand, this time in my district, and tell the people there that I would not vote for something like this, and that if they wanted a racist who attacked people for political gain, then they should not vote for me. I won that election by a huge margin, with the full support of every racial group in the district.

What that meant — and continues to mean — to me is that the people of District 89 are far better people than you will find in much of the rest of our good state. They are some of the best people you will find anywhere.

Archbishop Beltran did not have the luxury of speaking to and for the Catholics of a small part of Oklahoma, like my House district. He wasn’t dealing with people who had known him all his life. He had to deal with the irascible and diverse Catholic population of his archdiocese. Many of the Catholics were just as thoroughly whipped up into anti-Hispanic hatred as the rest of the state.

So, when their Archbishop came out against this law with the full force of his prophetic and moral voice as their religious leader, they were irate with him for doing so. He did not let that stop him at all. The Catholic Church in Oklahoma stood tall against this dastardly legislation, just as it had stood for life and human dignity in an absolutely reliable way for years.

The Church was not able to stop passage of the law, but the Church, by taking this stand, raised the issue of the moral responsibility of lawmakers in an arena which was operating by a faux morality that justified harming other people. The Catholic Church was alone in taking a stand against this law. Others joined later, but in the beginning, the only voice against it was the Catholic Church.

The priests who were on the priest council here in Oklahoma all signed a declaration saying that they would not obey this unjust law. The statement declared that they would minister to everyone, regardless of ethnicity or legal status, even if doing so meant that they would go to jail.

These men made me proud to be Catholic. More than that, they made me feel that the Church was a refuge for those who were without other refuge, that Christ really did animate what they were doing as His priests. They sent the message with that statement that the Church was for real.

That taught me a simple lesson that I’ve seen enacted again and again around the world. When people are totally abandoned by everyone; when they become the object of such universal hatred that anyone who stands up for them is taking a big risk, the Church is their refuge.

That is what happened to black people during the long dark night of segregation. The black churches not only created community, they ennobled a people. Their message of Christ saved black Americans from falling absolutely into the pit of rageful despair which would have destroyed them in an absolute way that Jim Crow could not.

Archbishop Beltran was a young priest in Atlanta at the time of the Civil Rights Movement. He knew Martin Luther King, Jr. Father Beltran did in that time what Archbishop Betran did later. He stood with the weak and the hated against the powerful haters who wanted to destroy them. Archbishop Beltran marched with Martin Luther King when it was a dangerous thing to do. He marched with his bishop’s permission, but with the understanding that if he was arrested, his bishop would not try to get him out of jail.

This was a time when jail was a witness to truth. Father Beltran marched with the understanding that he might have to be just such a witness.

Among the many wonderful things that Archbishop Beltran did, he wrote a pastoral letter about violence against women. I treasure this deeply. The Church needs to use its moral and prophetic voice to speak out more decisively against violence against women. It could make such a difference if it did.

The Sooner Catholic recently published an article, discussing Archbishop Emeritus Beltran’s experiences in the Civil Rights movement. Here is a brief excerpt.

From the Sooner Catholic:

On a steamy Georgia morning in March 1965, Father Eusebius Beltran and three of his brother priests piled into the four-door sedan they borrowed from the Archdiocese of Atlanta and headed south toward Selma, Ala.

 It had been two days since they’d heard news of a police shooting and beatings during a protest march in Selma that would later become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

 The men were not strangers to marches during the Civil Rights Movement, having marched many times through the streets of Atlanta to protest discrimination by schools, restaurants, bus stations and other public venues. But, they hadn’t marched in a protest like this. The Selma marches became a national spark to protest the ongoing exclusion of African-American voters from the electoral process and from the discrimination they faced.

 At the urging of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who they’d spoken with often at his father’s Baptist church, the Catholic priests sought approval from Archbishop Hallinan for the road trip to Selma and use of the archdiocese’s car.

 “He told me that he wanted to see the boys, the priests, who were going with me before we left,” said Archbishop Beltran, who is now Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

 “The four of us went to see Archbishop Hallinan in the hospital and that’s when he asked us ‘Do you guys know what you’re doing? Do you realize you’re breaking the law? Do you know that you could go to jail? And, that if you go to jail, I want to let you know I will not bail you out because part of standing for the truth is you take the punishment, and that’s part of the punishment.’ We said we all knew that, and he said ‘OK, God bless you.’”

 After a nervous 4-hour drive to Selma, the priests each claimed a mattress on the floor of a hallway at the Catholic church and headed to join the crowds at a pre-march pep rally.

 “The whole thing was well-organized and there was always a spokesman up there who was giving directions, reminding people no violence and to be ready to take a beating. It was scary in a way, but when you’re young, you don’t think about it. And, it had to be done too. It was part of the movement at that time. Selma brought together everything we were working toward.”

 The next day, the march began in the same way it had two days earlier. Dr. King led the way across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the group of more than 2,500 marchers were met by state troopers. Since a judge had issued a court order prohibiting the marchers from continuing to Montgomery, Ala., they turned around and marched back to the church without incident. (Later that evening, three white pastors were attacked by members of the Klu Klux Klan, killing one Universalist pastor after the public hospital refused treatment.)

 Following the second march, which became known as “Turnaround Tuesday,” Father Beltran and his crew returned to Atlanta where they continued their meetings and marches for several years – including a march to protest a segregated chicken restaurant owned by Lester Maddox, who later became Georgia’s governor.

Archbishop Coakley’s Homily at the Benediction and Eucharistic Procession in Response to the OKC Black Mass

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This is Archbishop Coakley’s excellent homily from yesterday’s Benediction and Eucharistic procession in response of the black mass that took place in Oklahoma City.

 

September 21, 2014

St. Francis of Assisi Church

The Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley

Archbishop, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Praised be Jesus Christ!  It is my great privilege to welcome you to St. Francis of Assisi Church and to spend this hour together with the Lord in prayer and adoration.  Thank you for being here.  Your presence is a powerful witness of faith in the midst of what has been a particularly challenging time for our community.  I would like to gratefully acknowledge the participation of our Catholic people from around the Archdiocese but also those of you who have come from near and far to join us today.  I am especially grateful for the presence of my brother bishops (and their support), Archbishop Beltran, Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, Bishop Kemme of Wichita and so many priests, deacons and religious women and men.  It is a special blessing to recognize here so many Christian leaders and believers from other churches and ecclesial communities who have come to join us in prayer as well.

We gather today in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord who is the source of our unity, imperfect though it might be, and our bond of charity.  We just heard our Lord proclaim:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” For Catholics these words from the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel are the very heart of our understanding and appreciation of the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus does not speak metaphorically when he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  It is truly Jesus whom we encounter and receive in the Holy Eucharist.

At times, Christians have argued over the theological significance of these words.  Satan, on the other hand, hears these words and trembles.  The Eucharist has been at the heart of the current controversy over the so-called black mass which (which to our shame as a city) is being allowed to proceed this evening at the Civic Center Music Hall. That blasphemous and sacrilegious ritual is a mockery of the Catholic Mass that requires for its consummation the corruption and desecration of the Eucharist.  Why?  Because Satanists, and their master, know who is present.  They acknowledge the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus, not to adore him, but only to mock and to scorn in hatred. 

I think many people in our community haven’t understood the persistence of our efforts nor the depth of our outrage over this blasphemy largely because they do not share our faith.  They do not understand, or accept, what we believe to be true.  They do not share our faith in what we Catholics (and many other Christians) acknowledge to be the greatest gift that the Lord has entrusted to the Church:  the gift of his own Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament.  The Eucharist, instituted by the Lord at the Last Supper and entrusted to the Apostles is truly the Lord’s abiding Presence among us.  It is really and substantially spiritual food for our pilgrim journey and the pledge of future glory in the Heavenly Banquet.  It is the bread of angels given to men.

We are not here, however, to protest.  Let us put aside, for the moment, our outrage.  We are here to praise and to adore.  We are here to give thanks for the gift of our faith and the priceless treasure of the Lord’s abiding presence with us in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.  We are gathered before our Eucharistic Lord to listen to his holy Word and open ourselves to the promptings of his Spirit so that we might become more faithful and authentic witnesses of his love and mercy in the midst of our broken and suffering human family.  

We are also here to offer our petitions to the Lord, that he might deliver us from the power of sin and, yes, from all demonic influences.  We are here to offer our prayers in reparation for the blasphemous outrages being committed against our Lord, against his Church and the Eucharist in these days.  Our city has also been the target of these dark forces of hatred that seek not to build up, but only to destroy.  We beg the Lord’s protection through the intercession of his Holy angels and saints.

We are gathered as witnesses to hope at a time when darkness seems to be gaining ground both here and around the world.  We know that Christ is victorious!  He has conquered Satan.  He has destroyed the reign of sin and the power of death through his holy Cross and glorious Resurrection.  Through faith and Baptism we already share in his victory.  The war has been won, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes again in glory to reign forever.  In the meantime we have been enlisted to bear the standard of the Cross and our share of the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his Body, the Church. 

We gather here in prayer.  We gather to adore, to praise and to give thanks, to beg the Lord’s mercy on our city, our nation and our world.  We pray for our own continuing conversion that we might be holy and courageous witnesses.

Our faith is not meant to be (and cannot remain) contained within the walls of this beautiful church.  Our Eucharistic Procession through the neighborhood beyond these walls which will follow in a few minutes is a reminder that we, the Church, are present in the world as light, as salt and as leaven to bring hope and the offer of Christ’s salvation to all we meet.  Let us pray that we might embrace our mandate to live as missionary disciples in the midst of the world so that we might draw all people to Jesus Christ and to safe harbor in his Church.

Oklahoma’s Black Mass Backfires. Opens the Doorway to Christ.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Archbishop Coakley, holding the Host aloft. 

No Person Defines You. Christ Defines You. Know that and be Unafraid.

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I am having a blest life. In some ways, it is almost a charmed life.

I say that, not because everything has come easily to me, or because nothing bad ever happened to me. I say it because, in ways that I won’t talk about here, my life is one gigantic save.

I’m a survivor in that I’ve walked — sometimes crawled — away from a lot of crap.

I’m a survivor in that I’ve walked — oftentimes crying my eyes out — away from a lot of betrayal from people I trusted and loved.

I’m a survivor in that I’ve walked right through — oftentimes bitter and angry about it as I did it — right through repeated barrages of very public slams and whams.

I’m not writing this to talk about my grandiose survivability. In truth, I’ve survived things that should have put me down in the dirt because my surviving was to God’s purpose. I don’t understand it all, but it may have been, in a small part, so that I can write this post and say these things today.

Surviving requires one consistent thing of you, and that one thing is more difficult than all the gritty endurance that goes along with it: You can not allow yourself to be defined by other people.

If you are going to survive in this world you must — must — learn to think for yourself about yourself. You cannot allow any person’s cruel assessments of you determine your fate or your relationship with God.

I am writing today about one specific kind of person and one specific type of cruel assessment. I mean clergy and their condemnations and cruelties toward people who get on their bad side.

To my knowledge, there is no kind of clergy — Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim — who is immune to this dastardly misuse of clerical power. They are especially prone to it when someone challenges what they see as their authority, or when someone does something they find deplorable, or, most damning for them, when their followers get into a group hate of some poor hapless soul and they join in to keep them from turning on their preacher/priest/rabbi/imam.

As I said, this post is not the place where I’m going to talk about my deepest wounds. But I will talk about one very public happening that devastated me at the time. That very public happening was the very public refusal of a number of prominent protestant clergy to accept me as a Christian after I met Jesus. One of these clergy was someone who knew me, knew how sincere I was, and who joined in with his “brother” clergy rather than stand up for me.

I made the mistake of trying to talk to these pastors. That was more damaging to me as a Christian and a person than their initial — and I want to emphasize this, very pubic — attack against me had been.

It was, as I said devastating. I felt as if I had been cast out, banned, from Christianity.

It was one of the only times in my life when I hid in my bedroom for several days and wouldn’t get out of bed and just cried. I stopped going to church and withdrew from everyone but my family.

I stopped everything except believing in Jesus. That didn’t change or weaken. If anything, it grew stronger.

This wasn’t my first time to be attacked by clergy. Being attacked by clergy was my daily meat and bread during my first time in office. However, that didn’t bother me on any deep level. I was in my anti-God period at the time, and they couldn’t touch me inside my soul. I already thought they were cruel, so their behavior was little more than a confirmation.

The ability of clergy to do deep, permanent harm to another person is in direct proportion to how much that other person believes they are dealing with someone who speaks for God. When they cast off someone or “ban” them, they can only actually hurt the person who believes in their authority.

Their followers, the seekers and believers who look to them for leadership and relate to them in trust are the ones they can harm. Because nobody else gives a care what they think.

The fact that clergy can persuade people and that this persuasion can manifest in votes in elections has made them the target of a lot of people who don’t really give a care about what they think. This isn’t a matter of taking them seriously as men of God. It is a matter of tactical power politics. It’s a huge mistake to confuse that with the anguish and broken heartedness of those who believe and are seeking acceptance and love.

The person who saved me from total, absolute and permanent alienation from all organized religion was an Episcopal priest. I cold-called her because she was a woman. I could never have gone to a man. She didn’t know me, but she readily agreed to talk to me, came in to her office one day when the church was empty, just to meet me.

She saved me from the despair I was feeling, not so much by any deep eloquence, as her affirmation that I had a right to be there.

That whole experience taught me a number of lessons. It also deepened and re-taught me things I already knew.

First, I am convinced that women have a profound and necessary place in ministry. Men are only half the human race, and when they deal from positions of power with the other half of the human race, they can be extremely cruel.

Second, I know that surviving requires a refusal to give yourself over entirely to other people, and that includes clergy of all types. Because, in truth and no matter what they claim, they do not speak for God. Not always. They never speak for God when they are defending their power and privilege, when they are limiting God’s love and mercy to those whom they like or want to support. When they do that they are speaking from the depths of their own black and sinful hearts,

Third, no one, of any faith, is ever obligated to accept any other person’s degrading and destroying abandonment or cruel assessment of them as if that degradation, abandonment and cruelty is a judgement from God.

Because it does not come from God and is not His judgement. Degradation, abandonment, cruelty are not of God. Ever.

It is foolishness in the extreme to allow yourself to think that clergy are exempt from these sins. It can destroy your faith in Christ, Who, in the final analysis, is perfectly capable of speaking for Himself.

I want to emphasize that last point because it is so critical. I am a living testimony to that fact that Jesus Christ is absolutely capable of dealing with a fallen person directly and saving them all on His own.

In all my years of anti-Godism, I was roundly and soundly rebuked by various religious leaders. I was lied about and slandered from the pulpit on a regular basis. But I never had a single member of the clergy try to talk to me as one human being to another. I never had a member of the clergy talk to me about Jesus and actually try to convert me. Not once.

Years later, after my conversion, a member of the clergy in my district — who was the only one who had never lied about me — told me that he had once asked his fellow pastors, “Do any of you ever pray for Rebecca?” He said no one answered him.

There were people who did talk to me about Jesus, they even argued with me about my anti-Godism. Both of them were fellow legislators. One of them argued gently, lovingly. The other argued loudly and aggressively. Both of them had an impact on me.

I am writing this very personal and somewhat confessional post for one purpose. I want those reading it to realize that no person has the power to cast you away from the forgiveness and love of Christ.

Not only is the love of Christ greater than any sin you can commit, it is greater by far than the self-importance and narrow me-ism of all these bishops/priests/rabbis/imams who lay claim to Him and try to keep Him for themselves and use Him as their personal ticket to unmerited respect and power over other people.

I know this is not a very Catholic post, in spite of the fact that I am, in truth, very Catholic myself. But I am a child of the living God before I am anything else. And no one and nothing defines me other than that. This is the single great lesson of surviving that I have learned and re-learned and then re-learned again.

No person defines me. Christ defines me.

Those two sentences are the bedrock of survival in this world.

Do not let the petty wickedness of clergy and their ego-driven God-ownership issues convince you that you stand outside the circle of Christ’s beloveds. You do not.

Do not accept the cruel things they say to you as anything more than their own sinfulness. Nothing, not even Christ’s own Church, can separate you from the love of God.

Know that, and be unafraid.

ISIS Releases Video of Captured Brit. Says They Want to Play Nice.

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ISIS continues its shameless abuse of helpless prisoners with its latest video of one of its kidnap victims.

This time, instead of a beheading video, they put British journalist John Cantile in front of the camera to tell their “story.” His comments included an indirect demand from ISIS’ for ransom money to secure Mr Cantile’s freedom, as well as a veiled threat that he would be murdered if the ransom is not forthcoming.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I do not hold anyone responsible for what they do and say when they are the helpless pawns of satanic humans. I also don’t take anything they say seriously when they are used for propaganda purposes.

I think ISIS is responding to the brute force of American bombing by trying another tactic. They may also see the British reluctance to join the bombing as a weakness in the Western response to their barbarity that they can exploit.

They evidently are highly successful at communicating with twisted young men who want to join an organization that rapes and murders. But to people with less sociopathic personalities, this mistreatment of their kidnap victims is sadistic and crude.

France Launches First Air Strikes Against ISIS

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France bombed an ISIS depot in northeast Iraq today.  President Hollande issued a statement saying there would be more raids in coming days.

This makes France the first country other than the US to strike ISIS targets.

I watched the Senate hearings about ISIS earlier this week. One point that came up during the hearings is that ISIS is in control of at least one small oil field and that the revenues from these wells are helping to fund the terrorists.

I think that should make that oil field the primary targets for our bombers. We tend to treat oil producing sites as sacrosanct. I still remember the horror expressed about Saddam Hussein’s troops setting fire to wells during the first Gulf War over 20 years ago.

My feeling is that cutting off ISIS’ funding is the first and most important thing we should do. Anything that helps fund them and their murderous actions should be demolished, or if it’s a person, imprisoned for life.

From BBC News Middle East:

French jets have carried out their first strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq, the office of President Francois Hollande says.

A statement said planes had attacked an IS depot in north-east Iraq, and there would be more raids in the coming days.

The US has carried out more than 170 air strikes against the jihadist group in Iraq since mid-August.

IS remains in control of dozens of cities and towns in Iraq and Syria, where it has declared a caliphate.

France is the first of Washington’s allies to strike at IS targets. The mission underscores the perhaps surprising military activism of the socialist French president.

He has committed his country to military interventions in Mali, Central Africa and now Iraq. The French government has made it clear that its air strikes will be restricted to IS targets in Iraq and that there will be no French troops involved in fighting on the ground.

This geographical restriction of French air operations underscores the complexity of President Obama’s stated aim of degrading and disrupting IS activities in Syria too.

That is a mission that US air power may have to take on alone and, despite the fact that Congress is moving to back a “train and equip” programme for the “moderate” Syrian opposition, there are still many questions about how effectively the counter-IS struggle can be extended to Syrian territory as well.

Miriam Ibrahim Interview: My Faith was the Only Weapon I Had

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Miriam Ibrahim gave an interview to Megan Kelly. I pray that Holy Spirit will give each of us faith of this calibre.

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Pope Francis: If You Feel the Call to be a Missionary, Do It!


Pope Francis seems to be talking about missionaries who cross borders to share the Gospel. I agree with what he says about that. But I’d like to add that we need courageous people who will be missionaries for Christ to our own fallen culture, here in the “Christian West.”

Do you hear the call to speak more about your faith? Is God asking you to share Jesus with those around you? That is a tough call, but we all have received it by virtue of our own salvation.

We have the way to eternal life. If we do not share it with those who are perishing, we are not being polite, we are being terribly selfish.

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7 Reasons Why Doomsayers About the Catholic Church are Wrong.

 

Brian Cahill, a former director of the San Francisco Catholic Charities, recently wrote an article which was published in National Catholic Reporter claiming that the Catholic Church is headed toward becoming a “shrinking cult.”

It appears that this is the latest in a number of salvos Mr CAthill has fired against the Catholic Church which once employed him. When Mr Cahill retired in 2008, he made a glowing statement about his 8 years of service as the Director of San Fran Catholic Charities. His turn toward bitter criticism seems, at least based on his articles in the National Catholic Reporter, to reflect a rather rancorous disagreement with the Church on issues such as gay marriage and contraception.

He refers to these teachings as the “party line” in one article, and criticizes various bishops for having “followed the party line” concerning them.

He bases his conclusion that the Catholic-Church-is-headed-toward-shrinking-cultism on those same issues. It appears, from the tone of the article, that Mr Cahill has a particular dislike of San Francisco Cardinal Cardileone. One of the more interesting points he raises is that, due to the apostasy exhibited by some high school students (as well as a couple no-spined bishops who backed down, I might add) it is clear that the Catholic Church is out of step with high school students.

Using that conclusion — even if it’s true — as a basis for claiming that the Church is headed toward shrinking numbers and obscure cultism is just, plain, daft. Here are seven quick reasons why.

1. First, the claim that the Church is out of step with high school students is based entirely on the misbehavior of wealthy kids in a few sections of America. We are talking about a few Catholic schools here. There is nothing I’ve seen to indicate that all students who attend Catholic high schools in America are ready to walk out. There is also nothing I’ve seen to indicate that every bishop is as spineless as those this has happened to. Maybe somewhere there is a bishop with the guts to expel the kids and bring in students who actually want the fine future these schools offer. I know a lot of District 89 kids who are stuck in damaging inner-city schools who would be grateful for the chance.

2. Even if every Catholic high school student in America is ready to toss away the Church — which I doubt — high school students have a  habit of getting smarter as they mature. This is the first time in my little life that I’ve ever heard or read anyone seriously claim that we should allow high school students to make monumental decisions for our society.

3. The Catholic Church is growing rapidly worldwide, and it is growing the way Christianity always grows: By voluntary conversion. In 2012 alone, the Catholic Church grew by 14 million people, which outpaces the world birthrate.In 1910, Catholics were 48% of Christians worldwide. In 2013, that percentage had risen to 50%. About a third of the world’s population is Christian, making it the largest religious group.

4. The Catholic population is not declining; it’s shifting and becoming more diverse. In 1910, 65% of Catholics worldwide lived in Europe, and 24% lived in Latin America. Due to the rapid rate of conversions throughout the world, these concentrations of Catholics on one area of the globe are gone. For instance, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa was less than 1% Catholic in 1910. Today, there are 171 million Catholics (17% of the population) in that region.

5. The Catholic Church is always counter-cultural because Jesus Christ is counter-cultural. A church that follows the world — much less a bunch of over-privileged high school students — is not following Christ. This fact, despite its inherent capacity to raise difficulties for Christ’s followers, seems to have worked rather well for Christianity as a whole. What began as a mustard seed of 11 bedraggled fishermen, tax collectors and their former prostitute, misfit fellow believers has grown into a world-wide, universal Church. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, you will always find two things: A MacDonald’s and a Catholic Church.

6. The Catholic Church has a two-thousand-year history of standing for the sanctity of human life, the sacrament of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman and the value and power of the family. Somehow or other, it’s survived this counter-cultural prohibition against killing your unborn, exposing your born and dumping your spouse.

7. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said to Simon, You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I don’t now how the “gates of hell” stack up against a group of spoiled high school students and their rich-dad parents, but I’m willing to bet the Lexus that the gates of hell are worse.

Those of seven reasons why I think Mr Cahill is wrong in his declaration that the Catholic Church is doomed to irrelevance if it doesn’t get with what’s happening now and change those 2,000 year old teachings to be more simpatico with the teachings of Catholic high school students.

I know it’s hard to deal with these teachings. The cost, especially if you run in the social justice circles of trendy San Francisco, would almost certainly be facing a barrage of insults, jibes and spiteful attacks on your character and good name.

But that is what we are called to do. Every day every Christian is called to stand for Christ. The brickbats that may come with this are what Jesus described as  our “cross.” I know this cross can be heavy. However, when I look at the price other Christians in other parts of the world are paying for refusing to renounce Christ, I lose patience with all of us pampered American Christians, including myself.

I’ve whined as much as anyone over the nastiness I’ve encountered because of my faith in Christ.

But no more.

I have photos that are branded into my mind of the price other people have paid for my Jesus. It’s way past time for American Christians to get real.

As for those who want to consign the faith to the garbage bin of what was but ain’t no more because it refuses to get with their trendy little sins, pay them no mind. They’re just engaging in wishful thinking.

Iraqi Ambassador to Holy See: ISIS Wants to Assassinate the Pope

 

Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See says that stories of ISIS’ plans to assassinate the Pope are credible.

My personal reaction is that of course they want to murder the pope. They are evil right down to the ground, their real god who animates all they do is satan himself, so of course they would like to murder Jesus Christ’s own Vicar in the world.

But we don’t have to guess about this. According to an article in the The Telegraph, ISIS has said in plain language that they want to extend their “caliphate” to Italy, and their goal is to “plant the flag of ISIS atop the St Peter’s Basilica.” After watching the sadistic manner in which the murderer of James Cawthorne Haines laid his hand on his shoulder before beheading him, I believe these people are capable of anything.

The murderer who appears in these videos reeks of evil. He gives it off like an ice cube gives off steam. As do the ISIS fighters in every photo and video I’ve seen. They are sadistic murderers who take pleasure in degrading their victims as much as they possibly can. One of those photos in particular — I won’t describe it — haunts me for the massive cruelty and utter degradation these scum subjected their victim to, both before and during her death.

Every time I think of ISIS, I think of that photo. Their actions are evil absolute.

So am I surprised to hear that the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See has gone public with his warning that the Holy Father is in danger?

No. Given that the Holy See has publicly denied that there is a threat, I would guess that he felt honor bound to take the next step and speak out.

I don’t know how you are going to respond to this, but I will pray daily for Pope Francis’ safety.

From The Telegraph:

Pope Francis is at risk of an assassination attempt by the Islamic extremists of Isil, the Vatican has been warned, ahead of his first visit to a Muslim-majority country this weekend.

As the 77-year-old pontiff prepares to travel to Albania on Sunday for a one-day visit, Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See said there were credible threats against the pontiff’s life.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church could also be vulnerable when he travels to Turkey in November, the ambassador said.

Jihadists from Isil have in recent weeks boasted of wanting to extend their caliphate to Rome, the heart of Western Christendom, and have talked of planting the jihadist black flag on top of St Peter’s Basilica.

Habeeb Al Sadr said there were also indications of a more specific threat against Pope Francis, who recently spoke out in favour of the US and its allies halting the advance of Isil in Syria and Iraq.”What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible,” the ambassador told La Nazione, an Italian daily, on Tuesday.

“I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of Isil who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians.”Isil could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe.”The ambassador said the Pope had made himself a target by speaking out against the human rights abuses committed against Christians in Syria and Iraq, as well as by his approval of attempts by the US to try to roll back Isil.

“In cases like this, where there is an unjust aggression, then it is licit to halt the aggressor,” he said in an interview during his flight back from a visit to South Korea last month.”But I stress ‘halt’. I don’t say bomb, or make war, but rather stop him,” the Pope said.

The ambassador, who has been stationed in Rome for four years, said: “This band of criminals does not just issue threats – in Iraq they have already violated and destroyed some of the most sacred sites of the Shiite faith. They have struck at Yazidi and Christian places of worship. They have declared that whoever is not with them, is against them. Either convert or be killed. And they are doing it – it is a genocide.”


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