I have a very long post on Pakistan and the Taliban I intend to put up soon, maybe as soon as tonight or tomorrow. It is very, very, very long, but has a lot of useful and relevant material. Hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it!
(For Wednesday, March 28, AD 2007, Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent.)
Today, Sunday, March 25, is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the beginning of the Fifth Week of Lent, the last proper week of Lent. Next Sunday, Holy Week begins: it will be Palm Sunday. A week of mourning and rejoicing, the holiest week of the Christian year leading up to the holiest day of the Christian year: Easter Sunday. This year, it falls on April 8.
Indeed, some remark that Easter – the Resurrection – is not a Sunday at all but the eighth day of the week, an eternal Sunday or Feast of the Lord. Easter does not commemorate or celebrate just the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ but all that Christ has done, all of His victories and gifts, and with this also celebrates the redemption of God’s children and the divine establishment of His Body among us humans.
But March 25 is significant for another reason: it is the solemnity of the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. Yes, just as we are preparing to celebrate the Lord’s triumph, we have reached the announcement to Mary of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ through her. We are nine months away from the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas.
But this year, March 25 offers a complication: it is both the Feast of the Lord (by virtue of being Sunday) and the Feast of the Annunciation (by virtue of being March 25). Both cannot be celebrated as both are high-ranking feasts, and celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation, unlike most feasts commemorating saints, is mandatory and not optional. This is solved by transferring the Feast of the Annunciation to the next day, Monday, March 26. This shows a few things: that Sunday outranks most feasts, and that mandatory feasts can be moved a day or so to accomodate an outranking feast.
I still find it interesting how in the midst of one of the Christian liturgical calendar’s four main seasons (the four being Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter) we are forced to look ahead to an upcoming season: the year goes round and round. Our Lord has not yet died and risen (as far as commemorating His deeds through the liturgical calendar is concerned) and we are forced to recall His birth, which season we just came out of. (Well, almost just came out of: there was a period of Ordinary Time between the seasons of Christmas and Lent.)
And now I go to bed: I have to wake up early if I want to make it to the special 5 a.m. service for the Feast of the Annunciation, the Missa Aurea or Golden Mass, a Tridentine High Mass. (Tridentine: pre-Vatican II version; High Mass: a mass that is sung, usually including a choir, rather than just chanted; a chanted but not sung mass is a Low Mass; other differences exist as well.)
Based on the variable liturgical calendar, today is Saturday of the Third Week of Lent. Based on the non-variable solar calendar, today is the Commemoration of Saint Patrick, bishop. He is remembered because he introduced Christianity to Ireland. Indeed, the prayer recited at the end of Morning Prayer and the Office of Readings says:
God our Father, you sent Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland. By the help of his prayers, may all Christians proclaim your love to all men. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This prayer may be used only in Morning Prayer and in the Office of Readings. Commemorative prayers are not recited in any of the daytime prayers. Evening Prayer on Saturday does not belong to Saturday: it belongs to Sunday. Its technical name is Evening Prayer I for Sunday. Evening Prayer II for Sunday is what is recited in the evening on Sunday. The same principle applies to other significant days: the liturgical day actually begins on the preceding evening. No saint is commemorated on Sundays unless it is a solemnity. Commemorating saints is optional as it is.
From the second reading of the Office of Readings for Thursday in the Third Week of Lent, being an excerpt from “On Prayer” by Tertullian, priest.
We are true worshipers and true priests. We pray in spirit, and so offer in spirit the sacrifice of prayer. Prayer is an offering that belongs to God and is acceptable to him: it is the offering he has asked for, the offering he planned as his own.
We must dedicate this offering with our whole heart, we must fatten it in faith, tend it by truth, keep it unblemished through innocence and clean through chastity, and crown it with love. We must escort it to the altar of God in a procession of good works to the sound of psalms and hymns. Then it will gain for us all that we ask of God.
The Liturgy of the Hours. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 1976, volume II, page 249.
Two related areas that are of concern to me are people leaving Islam and Muslims converting to Christianity.
Some prominent personalities, such as “Ibn Warraq” (a pseudonym) simply left Islam. They did not embrace another religion, nor did they leave Islam because of another religion. (Technically, this is also how I left Islam.) Other examples are Isaac Schrödinger and The Apostate (a very pretty Pakistani girl whose blog I discovered today thanks to Isaac Schrödinger’s blog).
Others, such as “Abdul Saleeb” (also a pseudonym, from the Arabic “‘abd as-saleeb”, meaning “servant of the Cross”), leave Islam because they have found the truth in another religion (usually Christianity).
The former leave Islam because they believe it be false or wrong, independent of what claims other religions may make, while the latter leave because another religion proved to be the truth if not truer. Small difference, really.
I am not concerned with the numbers. It makes perfect sense to me why more Christians (or Christians-in-name-only, as the case often may be) convert to Islam than Muslims convert to Christianity. This fact does not reflect anything on Islam’s claims to being the truth but rather exists because of sociological elements within Muslim cultures. In short, Muslims are afraid to leave Islam because of repercussions from other Muslims upon them and their loved ones while Christians face no such threat or at least not to the degree in Muslim societies.
Furthermore, there are no restrictions in Christian societies on Muslims to preach their religion while Christians are forbidden to preach Christianity in Muslim societies. Christians allow such discourse while Muslims prohibit or staunchly oppose such discourse.
The way Muslims behave, I feel like asking what they are afraid of. Such behavior seems to be signs of insecurity. Why are they insecure? Are they afraid Islam cannot endure challenges? Are Muslims so rationally or intellectually weak? And what is wrong if a Muslim, for whatever reason, leaves Islam, whether for another religion or not? How does such an act weaken Islam? Is Islam really so weak that the departure of one member threatens it or the Muslim community?
This double standard, celebrating and promoting conversion to Islam but rejecting and resisting and attempting to restrict leaving Islam, irks me.
If someone asked me: “Should people be allowed to convert to Christianity? Should they be allowed to leave Christianity?” my answer would be an emphatic “Yes!” to both. Christianity is practically all about choice: choosing God and Jesus Christ. Just as one is allowed to enter the strait gate and narrow path to salvation by accepting Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God, one is also free to damn oneself to God’s just wrath and punishment by rejecting Him and the free gift He offers in His Firstborn, Jesus Christ. Come or leave, it the person’s choice, and no one ought to interfere either way.
There is more work to be done to establish equality of treatment between Christians and Muslims. As Pope Benedict XVI boldly stated, Muslims need to treat Christians the way they would like Christians to treat them. Enough of demanding us to treat Muslims with kid gloves: it is time we were allowed to live freely and openly as Christians, even to the extent of proselytizing, amongst Muslims. It is only fair, no?
Is it not marvelous how the Internet allows one to learn Gospel truths by providing so many resources and by allowing people to communicate?
Truly it is a miracle!
Thanks to all who have posted and enlightened me!
As the world knows by now, Senator Barack Obama (IL-D) announced that he will run for the Democrat(ic) Party nomination for President of The United States.
This offends me greatly.
As a citizen of the State of Illinois, I expected him to follow through with his promise to complete the senatorial term to which he was elected. (I am, of course, going to limit my indignation as I voted for his opponent.) At least he has a head start on breaking promises.
He says he is running because so many people said they want him to: he is in high demand. What sort of leader will he be if he breaks promises to satisfy the whims of others?
They say he has charisma. I don’t see it. All I see is an opportunistic politician swept away by adulation. And what if he has charisma? Is that a reason to elect someone as president?
President George W. Bush has very little charisma. But people voted for him because he is a principled man: he does what he thinks is right, not what is popular. The last charismatic president we had proved that electing someone on the basis of charisma is quite foolish indeed. (Compared to charismatic presidents, President Reagan, of happy memory, was less charismatic and more connected by virtue of his ability to connect and communicate with the people. He was less a charismatic leader and more a principled, persuasive leader. If President George W. Bush had this knack for communication, he would be recognized as a second Reagan.)
I say: I would sooner vote for Senator Hillary Clinton (NY-D) than for Obama. And if contributing to Hillary’s campaign would mean the defeat of Obama in the Democrat(ic) primaries, then I will contribute. The success of Obama in this field would be inexcusable. It will send a terrible message to politicians and the people alike. At least Hillary has experience under her belt. She has been first lady of a state and of the nation, and a senator for more than one term. Unlike Obama, Hillary will do what she wants to do rather than what is popular. What experience or credentials does Obama have?
I also say: if Obama is such a wonderful guy and potentially a wonderful president, what is there that he must run now and not when he completes a term or two as senator? What will change? Why the impatience? Will his star set? What does this say about his qualifications and characteristics as a long-term leader? Or real leadership qualifications and characteristics for that matter? A rising star a leader doth not make.
After all, we don’t know anything about him, how he will act in government, what he stands for. Is it wise to let such an inexperienced and unknown opportunist run for president?
There are far more arguments against Obama than persuasive and rational ones in his favor. I simply fail to comprehend what is going on.
In any case, my anti-Obama campaign shall continue as things get moving for the 2008 presidential elections. I am not looking forward to the elections. I don’t see much to be happy or optimistic about. Feh.
I came across an interesting passage from Isaiah (Isaiah 33:14-15) in the canticle for today’s Morning Prayer. According to KJV (emphasis added):
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil
The official translation for The Liturgy of the Hours has it (again, emphasis added):
On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious; “Who of us can live with the consuming fire? Who of us can live with the everlasting flames?” He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil.
(The Liturgy of the Hours. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 1976, volume II, p. 1424.)
This is sort of confusing. Why is it good to stop one’s ears from hearing of bloodshed? Are we not obligated to hear of bloodshed so that we can boldly speak up on behalf of victims of violence, so that we can admonish the oppressor and, if need be, end the oppressor’s evil acts? Isn’t stopping our ears to ignore such acts? It seems almost the opposite: ignoring news of bloodshed makes us shirk our responsibilities to defend the weak and oppressed.
The WordPress board works on my phone browser again!
One of my projects, which I may share here although my intention is to publish it, is to begin writing an introduction to Christianity (and an introduction to Judaism perhaps) for Muslims. Because of the propaganda that is spewed by their media and because of misinformation or misunderstanding of Christianity in Islam’s authoritative sources, Muslims have a very poor understanding of what Christians believe. This needs to be rectified. After all, if they expect us to understand them, we should expect them to understand us as well. The same goes for Judaism, whose image in Islam is perhaps even more distorted.
To my dear readers: please let me know if you would like me to post installments of such guides or introductions as I write them.
In a related comment: I thank God I do not read any local Muslim newspapers. I picked one up and my blood pressure began to soar. Such dreck they print in there! I am glad that if I do investigate Muslim propaganda, it’s in Urdu or Arabic. That is enough idiocy for me to handle.
So, if Muslims are idiots (which many, though not all, are), the people to blame are those who are running the media (sermons, newspapers, television programs, publishers, et cetera) to which Muslims are exposed. They are stultifying Muslims.
For Monday, March 12, anno Domini 2007, Monday in the Third Week of Lent, the twentieth day in Lent, the seventeenth day of penitence of Lent.
By the way, Sundays (and the Commemoration of Saint Patrick, bishop, observed in The United States) are days during which penance or penitence — what normally is observed during Lent — are suspended. Hence the count of days in Lent and days of penitence of Lent.
I have often wondered what is meant by fearing God. The obvious meaning seems to be afraid of God. But if God is our Father, and He seeks to be close to us, how can He demand we be afraid of Him?
In the second reading of today’s Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours, Saint Hilary gives us one interpretation of what “fear of the Lord” may be referring to (italics in the original):
But of the fear of the Lord this is what is written: Come, my children, listen to me, I shall teach you the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord has then to be learned because it can be taught. It does not lie in terror, but in something that can be taught, it does arise from the fearfulness of our nature; it has to be acquired by obedience to the commandments, by holiness of life and by knowledge of the truth.
As such, perhaps fearing the Lord is a reverence towards Him that develops from cleaving close to His word and will. And so while anyone can be afraid of God, it takes a faithful one to properly fear Him.
For Thursday, March 8, anno Domini 2007, Thursday of the Second Week of Lent, Commemoration of Saint John of God, sixteenth day in Lent, fourteenth day of penitence of Lent.
For some time, I was able to write and submit posts using my mobile device’s browser. But then, suddenly, my mobile device’s browser began disliking WordPress’s admin features: the browser would lock up and the phone was slow down dramatically.
But I have found a solution, so now I should be able to post more often, if not daily.
For Wednesday, March 7, anno Domini 2007, in the season of Lent.