Go to #^@*!

These  testimonies of out of body experiences are very difficult to interpret and certainly we don’t base our faith on what one person saw (or thinks they saw) while they were clinically dead. Yet, there was a part of this clip that really got it. It begins at the 5:30 marker when he talks about seeing a sweeping blackness which was completely cut off from everything else and he recognized it as being hell. It’s interesting how he says after that experience he’s never been able to be stand near anyone who says “go to #@*!” to another person.

Truly, nobody in their right Christian mind would be able to say that.

Good sermon, Father

H/T: The Telegraph (here)
November 6, 2011

Catholic priests urged to liven up sermons

Sermons delivered by Catholic priests are often painfully “grey and dull” and need to be livened up with the “scandal” contained within the Bible, the Vatican’s most senior cultural official said.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said preaching in churches had become so formulaic and boring that it risked becoming “irrelevant” to congregations accustomed to the excitement and immediacy of television and the internet.

“The advent of televised and computerised information requires us to be compelling and trenchant, to cut to the heart of the matter, resort to narratives and colour,” said the cardinal, who as the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture is the Vatican’s unofficial minister for culture.

Too many priests employed theological language that was “grey, dull and flavourless” and instead should spice up their sermons with graphic stories contained in the Bible, which used much more forceful imagery.

The Bible was “crowded with stories, symbols and images,” he said.

Speaking at a conference in Rome, he said Twitter was also an effective way of spread the Word of God. “We need to remember that communicating faith doesn’t just take place through sermons. It can be achieved through the 140 characters of a Twitter message.”

Cardinal Ravasi, a champion of new media who writes a blog for the website of Italy’s respected financial daily, Il Sole 24 Ore, said that whether they liked it or not, priests in the pulpit should be aware that their congregations were “the children of television and the internet.”

Happy Easter, I mean…

H/T: UPI.com (here)

Thaci sends ‘Easter’ wishes

PRISTINA, Kosovo, Dec. 25 (UPI) — Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci accidentally wished the Catholic Church and Catholics in Kosovo “a happy Easter,” instead of a merry Christmas this year.

“With special respect I wish happy Easter to all Catholic believers from the international community in Kosovo,” Thaci wrote in his greeting.

On behalf of the government, Thaci wished the holiday would bring citizens more happiness, hope and success, harmony and social progress, KIM Radio reported Sunday.

The Easter message was also posted on the government’s official Web site.

Excuses, excuses

H/T: Mode of Life, Blog of Archbishop Stylianos of Australia (here). For the gospel on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers and those who refused to attend the Great Supper:

Now these were the three worldly excuses as mentioned in the parable:

The first person said: ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it’ (Lk 14:18). The piece of ground here denotes our worldly possessions, the pride of life and the competitive jealousy that comes with governing these assets (our houses, our investments, our holiday houses, new car etc). This person wished to feel like a ruler over these material things and not to have a master, these possessions were a hindrance to their humility, which is required to approach the magnitude of the invitation by God.

The second person said: ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen and I’m going to test them’ (Lk 14:19). The five yoke of oxen represent our five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch) – these senses are the eye of the physical body where we engage with creation, they are stimulated only with what is external to our body. Through these senses of the flesh, earthly things are pursued. Therefore they represent the lusts of the eye: evil desires, uncleanness, passion – this person said: ‘I’m going to test them’, meaning, the curiosity of our senses (e.g. overindulging and feeding the senses with all the entertainment in the world – concerts, casino, pokies, TV, Video games, theatre, movies, shopping,     dinners, holidays, parties, dates, social flirtation). Thus, this person represents those who merely follow the things of the senses, and neglect the spiritual senses, the things of God in one’s heart.

The third person said: ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come’ (Lk 14:20). This person represents those who take pleasure in the delights of the flesh, the lusts of the flesh (fornication), which hinders many.

No Church This Sunday….

….it’s Christmas, remember?

By the way, are these the same people who complain about the “war on Christmas” and how stores refer to the Christmas tree as a holiday tree? Interesting.

H/T: Wall Street Journal (here):

No Church This Sunday – It’s Christmas

David Gibson

Every few years Christmas is on a Sunday and suddenly believers face a dilemma: Stay home hanging stockings and opening gifts, or upend those cherished domestic traditions and go to Sunday church services. That is, if their church is even open.

Nearly 10% of Protestant churches will be closed on Christmas Sunday this year, according to LifeWay Research, and most pastors who are opening up say they expect far fewer people than on other Sundays. Other reports suggest that churches across the board are scaling down their services in anticipation of fewer worshipers.

“We have to face the reality of families who don’t want to struggle to get kids dressed and come to church,” Brad Jernberg of Dallas’s Cliff Temple Baptist Church told the Associated Baptist Press. Similarly, Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va., is planning a short service featuring bluegrass riffs on Christmas music. “I’ll do a brief sermon, and then we’re going home,” said Pastor Mike Parnell.

In the centuries after the Reformation, some Protestants, notably the Puritans in England, sought to ban Christmas celebrations as pagan bacchanals, which they often were. In colonial America, Christmas was celebrated more widely but still as a church-based holiday, with more festive celebrations tending to follow after Dec. 25. Gift-giving was a minor part of the traditions.

By the early decades of the 19th century, however, Christmas began to change. A growing middle class reacted against the custom of poor people knocking at their doors requesting Christmas handouts, so they started shopping for special gifts that would be given as treats to children and loved ones. At the same time, popular stories by Washington Irving, Clement Clark Moore and Charles Dickens provided ready-made traditions—Santa Claus, stockings, flying reindeer, decorated evergreen trees—that would undergird the notion of Christmas as a holiday focused on home and gift-giving more than church.

Today, polls show Americans are much more inclined to put up a Christmas tree and decorations or go to a party than to attend religious services, even though they tend to see Christmas as a religious holiday.

Perhaps it’s a bit puritanical to insist that believers dump their cherished family traditions to march off to church on Christmas morning. But it’s also self-defeating to complain about keeping Christmas holy when churches close on Dec. 25.

When he preached at Christmas, Saint Augustine acknowledged the associations between the still-dominant pagan rites and Christianity’s Feast of the Nativity. But the bishop of Hippo said that such associations should spur the faithful to deeper observance, not to downplaying the holiday altogether or tailoring it to the prevailing culture: “So, brothers and sisters, let us keep this day as a festival—not, like the unbelievers, because of the sun up there in the sky, but because of the One who made that sun.”

Mr. Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service.

Black Friday, Part Deux

The newest shopping frenzy occurred today with the release of the new Air Jordans. I’m beginning to wonder: are there wild shopping events in other parts of the world, where people violently push and shove, not to mention injure, other people?  In Seattle, for instance, it’s reported that the police had to use pepper spray to stop people from fighting. It seems odd that we read about these things, don’t you think? We’re used to the images and stories of bread lines in communist Russia; children starving in Ethiopia; etc. etc. And yet here, the land of plenty, we fight over shoes.

Just saying.