When Jesus Comes to Be Baptized

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When Jesus comes to be baptized,
He leaves the hidden years behind,
The years of safety and of peace.
To bear the sins of all mankind.

The Spirit of the Lord comes down,
Anoints the Christ to suffering,
To preach the word, to free the bound,
And to the mourner, comfort bring.

He will not quench the dying flame,
And what is bruised he will not break,
But heal the wound injustice dealt,
And out of death his triumph make.

Our everlasting Father, praise,
With Christ, his well-beloved Son,
Who with the Spirit reigns serene,
Untroubled Trinity in One.

#ShortNews: ‘We have enough of wars,’ Iraqi archbishop says after Iran fires missiles

Iraqis hope the violent attacks by the U.S. and Iran will ease and that moves to decrease tensions will take hold, said an Iraqi archbishop.

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, repeated the overarching concern of the majority of Iraqis, regardless of their religious affiliation: that foreign troops stop using their shattered homeland as a battlefield to settle scores.

On Jan. 8, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases in what it said was retaliation for Washington’s targeted killing of Iran’s top militia commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad Jan. 3. The missiles hit the al-Asad airbase, which houses U.S. troops, and American and coalition forces in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil, in areas not heavily populated.

“We haven’t heard anything about lives lost. Maybe it can stop here — the revenge,” Archbishop Mirkis told Catholic News Service by phone Jan. 8. “The revenge was in all the speech of yesterday. … Now, that it is done, let us go to negotiate.”

Source: https://detroitcatholic.com/news/iraqis-hope-attacks-by-u-s-iran-will-ease-and-tensions-will-decrease

#ShortNews: China on religious freedom

China will enforce new restrictions on religious groups, organizations, meetings, and other related events starting on Feb 1.

The country’s state-controlled media announced the new policy on Dec. 30, after Chinese authorities moved to further suppress Catholics in the Archdiocese of Fuzhou who are refusing to join the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

According to UCA News, the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups,” which consists of six sections and 41 articles, will control every aspect of religious activity within China, and will mandate that all religions and believers in China comply with regulations issued by the Chinese Communist Party, which must be acknowledged as the higher authority.

Source: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/china-announces-new-crackdown-on-religious-freedom-41248

#ShortNews: Pope requests prayers for the people of Australia

Earlier this week, the president of the Australian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, issued a statement about the “unprecedented” crisis facing the country. Like Pope Francis, he too called for prayer, noting that “A genuine Catholic response to a crisis of this magnitude must draw strength from prayer which inspires concrete and compassionate action”.

Archbishop Coleridge announced that the Bishops Conference is preparing a national response to the fires, including assistance to those affected by the fires, collaboration with aid agencies, and a special collection to be taken up this weekend.

“With broad and deep roots across the nation”, the Archbishop said, “the Church stands ready to walk alongside people throughout their journey of recovery”.

Source: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-01/pope-francis-i-am-close-to-the-australian-people.html

Contemplation AND Action

By Fr Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

I used to think that most of us must begin with contemplation or a unitive encounter with God and are then led through that experience to awareness of the suffering of the world and to solidarity with that suffering in some form of action. I do think that’s true for many people, but as I read the biblical prophets and observe Jesus’ life, I think it also happens in reverse: first action, and then needed contemplation.

No life is immune from suffering. When we are in solidarity with pain, injustice, war, oppression, colonization–the list goes on and on–we face immense pressure to despair, to become angry or dismissive. When reality is split dualistically between good and bad, right and wrong, we too are torn apart. Yet when we are broken, we are most open to contemplation, or non-dual thinking. We are desperate to resolve our own terror, anger, and disillusionment, and so we allow ourselves to be led into the silence that holds everything together in wholeness.

The contemplative, non-dual mind is not saying, “Everything is beautiful,” even when it’s not. However, you do come to “Everything is still beautiful” by facing the conflicts between how reality is and how you wish it could be. In other words, you have to begin–and most people do in their adult years–with dualistic problems. You’ve got to name good and evil and differentiate between right and wrong. You can’t be naive about evil. But if you stay focused on this duality, you’ll go crazy! You’ll become an unlovable, judgmental, dismissive person. I’ve witnessed this pattern in myself. You must eventually find a bigger field, a wider frame, which we call non-dual thinking.Read More »

Saint Columban

Saint Columban, [born c. 543, Leinster [Ireland]—died Nov. 23, 615, Bobbio [Italy]; feast day November 23), abbot and writer, one of the greatest missionaries of the Celtic church, who initiated a revival of spirituality on the European continent.

Educated in the monastery of Bangor, County Down, Columban left Ireland about 590 with 12 monks (including Saints Attala, Gall, and Columbanus the Younger) and established himself in the Vosges Mountains at Annegray, then in Gaul.

As a young student, Columban was so impressed by the dedicated Irish monks who introduced him to religion and literature that he decided to join their ranks. He entered a monastery at Bangor, County Down, not far from his home, and placed himself under the spiritual guidance of its founder, Comgall. For some 30 years he lived quietly in prayer, work, and study. Desiring greater self-sacrifice, Columban asked his abbot if he could go into voluntary exile, leaving his native Ireland to start a monastery on the Continent. Twelve other monks set out with him in 590 for the land of the Franks.

They settled for a while in Burgundy at the invitation of King Childebert, founding three monasteries. So many young men were inspired by their religious zeal that soon more than 200 monasteries were formed, looking to Columban as their spiritual father. The Irish monks with their new, forceful kind of Christianity, stressing self-discipline and purity of life, presented a striking contrast to the complacent churchmen already living among the Franks. Columban spoke out repeatedly against the cruelty and self-indulgence of the kings and royal families, stressing the necessity of penance and introducing a new custom of frequent personal confession.Read More »

The Touching Story of Young Iqbal Masih

In 1982 a baby boy was born to Inayat Bibi and Saif Masih. They named him Iqbal Masih. Sometime after Iqbal’s birth, Saif Masih deserted the family. While Iqbal’s mother worked, his older sisters took care of him and his older siblings. Iqbal did not go to school. Education was not compulsory or widely available in Pakistan. Very few poor children learnt to read and write. He spent his earliest years playing in the fields until he was ready to help his family by going to work.

To pay off the wedding of Saif’ oldest son, he turned to a local thekedar, an employer who owns a nearby carpet factory. In return for the loan, the employer expects collateral, a guarantee of something of value to secure the loan. Said Masih’s only valuable possessions were his children. Iqbal, a scrappy four-year-old, was considered ready to work. Little Iqbal would weave carpets until all the money, including an undisclosed amount of interest and expenses, was paid back.. From that day forward, Iqbal became a “debt-bonded slave.”

Iqbal’s job at the carpet factory was essentially no different from that of millions of other young people who work day and night to help their families. At four o’clock in the morning, he was picked up by the thekedar and driven to the factory where he was to work for the next six years of his life. He was put in an airless room, big enough for about twenty looms. A small, bare light bulb gave out little light. It was sticky and hot inside the room because all the windows were sealed tight to keep out any insects that might damage the wool.

When Iqbal completed his work as an apprentice, he was then ready to weave carpets. He worked beside twenty other boys. His earnings amounted to one rupee a day (two cents), even though he worked from four o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening. The children in the shop were not allowed to speak to one another. “If the children spoke, they were not giving the complete attention to the product and were liable to make errors,” Iqbal later told journalists. Many other freed child slaves told similar stories.Read More »

Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

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Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem
Shinning far through shadows dimmed
Giving the life for those who long have gone on
Guiding the wise men on their way
Unto the place where Jesus lay
Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope of light
Guiding the pilgrims through the night
Over the mountains ’till the break of dawn
Into the land of perfect day
It will give out a lovely ray
Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star (beautiful, beautiful star) of Bethlehem
Star of Bethlehem
Shine upon us until the glory dawn
Give us a lamp to light the way
Unto the land of perfect day
Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope, the grace
For the redeem of good and blessed
Yonder in glory when the crowd is one
Jesus is now the star divine
Brighter and brighter he will shine
Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

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#ShortNews: Church crisis comes from abandoning God, adapting to culture

“The crisis in the Church is man-made and has arisen because we have cozily adapted ourselves to the spirit of a life without God,” said Cardinal Gerhard Mueller to the thousands of Catholics gathered in Phoenix for the 2020 Student Leadership Summit hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).

He cautioned that even a number of people in the Church are “longing” for a kind of Catholicism without dogmas, without sacraments, and without an infallible magisterium.

“But the one who believes needs no ideology,” he said. “The one who hopes will not reach for drugs. The one who loves is not after the lust of this world, which passes along with the world. The one who loves God and his neighbor finds happiness in the sacrifice of self-giving.”

Source: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/cardinal-mueller-church-crisis-comes-to-abandoning-god-adapting-to-culture-18663