#ShortNews: Facebook blocked, then restored, many Catholic pages

Facebook blocked access to more than 20 Catholic pages on July 18, without any explanation.

By July 19, the Catholic pages were all apparently restored, but Facebook had still not offered any explanation.

Most of the pages that were blocked were based in Brazil. Several English-language sites were also blocked, however. One Brazilian Catholic administrator was told that Facebook had identified “suspicious” activity on his page, but again no further explanation was given.

One popular American page involved in the temporary shutdown was the “Father Rocky” page, managed by Father Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, the executive director of Relevant Radio, which has nearly 4 million Facebook followers. Like other administrators affected, Father Hoffman said that he had received no explanation for being blocked. Relevant Radio issued a statement saying that the sudden action by Facebook was a “wake-up call.”

#ShortNews: Sharp decline in Bosnia’s Catholic population

The Catholic population of Bosnia and Herzegovina has fallen to 400,000—down from over 740,000 before the Bosnian War (1992-95).

“This decline is mainly due to young people emigrating to find better job opportunities,” said Bishop Tomo Vuksic, the nation’s military ordinary.

The prelate told an Italian news agency that Catholics face significant economic discrimination in the Balkan nation of 3.9 million, which is 40% Muslim and 31% Orthodox.


#ShortNews: Central African Republic: Muslims take refuge in Catholic cathedral

More than 2,000 Muslims have sought refuge in the Catholic cathedral in Bangassou, in the Central African Republic, to escape sectarian violence.

The Muslim refugees have fled from attacks by the anti-Balaka militia group. An estimated 100,000 people have been driven from their homes in the conflict that has plagued the Central African Republic for several years. The anti-Balaka forces—composed primarily of Christians, but repudiated by Church leaders—have been condemned for multiple human-rights violations.


When We Are Loved Correctly From The Start, We Are in A Good Place to End this Journey

A lot of our neurosis and baggage in relationship problems that we find in life as we get older have a common starting point. In my encounters with spiritual directees and counselees, I have noticed that if one had been properly loved and tenderly cared for during one’s formative years, there is a certain solid foundation from which one can blossom into without constantly trying later on to either reclaim what should have been given, or getting substitutes or replacements for what was missing.

I have not read the series of Harry Potter books, and must confess that I have not ventured into trying to appreciate the world of the Hogwarts. But I was very delighted to discover something that author J. K. Rowling had woven into Harry’s life. Apparently, Lily Potter, the mother of Harry, did something to Harry in his early childhood that prevented the evil Lord Voldemort from touching him. It was when this villain tried to lay his hands on Harry, that he experienced agonizing pain, thwarting his plans of harming Harry. It was later that when Harry asked Dumbledore for an explanation that something deep was revealed. Apparently, Harry’s mother died trying to save him, showing that love that was as powerful as a mother’s love has an unexplained power that protected and surrounded him from evil. In Harry, this was physically evidenced by the scar on his forehead. But it was not just the physical scar that had power, but the love behind the scar which caused it. Rowling, in my opinion, demonstrated an intuition of what in essence is true power, which is the power of sacrificial and selfless love.

For us Christians who declare that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, this intuition is not a mere story or fable, and not something that is taught implicitly by any means. It forms the very backbone of our belief and the hope of our ever entering into eternal life. But many of us don’t get to this truth in our Christian living on a serious level, and I believe that it is our task as priests and spiritual leaders to reveal this over and over to the flock that is given to us by God to tend and to feed. I am truly confident of this – that when we understand and appreciate this truth of our salvation in Christ, and the lengths to which our loving God went to demonstrate and make this real, our sense of reality will shift on a seismic as well as a cosmic level. Read more…

Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), in Ávila, Spain, from rigid and pious parents. When she was seven-years-old, she convinced her older brother that they should “go off to the land of the Moors and beg them, out of love of God, to cut off our heads there.” They got as far as the road from the city before an uncle found them and brought them back.

After this incident she led a fairly ordinary life, though she was convinced that she was a horrible sinner. As a teenager, she cared only about boys, clothes, flirting, and rebelling. When she was 16, her father decided she was out of control and sent her to a convent. At first she hated it but eventually she began to enjoy it — partly because of her growing love for God, and partly because the convent was a lot less strict than her father and she thought that it was the only safe place for someone as prone to sin as she was.

Once installed at the Carmelite convent permanently, she started to learn and practice mental prayer, in which she “tried as hard as I could to keep Jesus Christ present within me… My imagination is so dull that I had no talent for imagining or coming up with great theological thoughts.” Teresa prayed this way off and on for eighteen years without feeling that she was getting results. Part of the reason for her trouble was that the convent was not the safe place she assumed it would be. Read more…

“God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.”

“God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

#MoralStory: The Secret Ingredient

A girl was watching her mother cooking a dish in the kitchen. On the shelf, there were several containers, neatly labelled, each containing cooking ingredients like salt, sugar, oil, vinegar or a spice. The mother opened the lids of the containers in a definite order and added the required amount of each ingredient into the cooking pot which was heated on a stove. Finally, she opened the last container and looked inside for a while and then closed it without taking anything from it. Then she served the delicious dish to everyone with great love. The children relished the dishes with a smile. This happened every day.

One day, the mother was too sick to cook. Her daughter agreed to do the cooking. She followed the mother’s recipe. The girl examined the labels of every container while trying to follow the directions of her mother. She found that the last container did not carry a label and so ignored it. She placed the cooking pot on the stove and put on the flame.

When the dish was getting ready, out of curiosity, she opened the unlabelled container, which her mother used to open, observe and close like a ritual every day. She was surprised to find there was only one small card in that container, with something written on it; Read more…