Monday, July 31, 2006
These facts demonstrate clearly that you cannot re-establish justice, establish a new order and build authentic peace when you resort to instruments of violence. More than ever we see how prophetic and altogether realistic is the voice of the Church when, in the face of wars and conflicts of every kind, it points out the path of truth, justice, love and liberty (cf. encyclical "Pacem in Terris"). Humanity must also cross this path today to achieve the good desire for true peace.
In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence, so that they immediately put down their weapons on all sides! I ask governing leaders and international organizations not to spare any effort to obtain this necessary halt to hostilities and so to be able to begin to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable concord for all the people of the Middle East.
I appeal to all people of good to continue and to intensify the shipment of humanitarian help to those populations so tested and needy. But especially [I ask that] every heart continue to raise the hopeful prayer to the good and merciful God, so that he grants his peace to that region and to the whole world.
We entrust this sorrowful petition to the intercession of May, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Queen of Peace, so venerated in Mideast countries, where we hope to see soon reign this reconciliation for which the Lord Jesus has offered his precious Blood."
(Benedict XVI, Angelus Appeal: 30 July 2006)
Sunday, July 30, 2006
“A large crowd followed Jesus, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.” (John 6: 2)
Do people, likewise, see the signs we are performing in the name of Jesus… on the poor, the migrants and the excluded in the way we live and minister…?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Qur'an repeatedly emphasizes God's extraordinary closeness and proximity to the human heart (e.g., at 8:24, "He passes between the man and his heart"), as well as the uniquely all-encompassing divine knowledge of "what is in their hearts" (4:66, 33:51, etc.).
That divine awareness of what is in the heart extends in particular to people's innermost intentions (especially in contrast to their words and ostensible actions). From the Qur'anic perspective a spiritually crucial dimension of the human heart is the integral involvement - together with God - of our own "will" and intimate intentions, which are portrayed as somehow inseparable from the degree and nature of our awareness of the divine. In consequence, the Qur'an can even speak of the heart (as more commonly of the soul, al-nafs) as the enduring "self" or ongoing seat of our moral and spiritual responsibility, as at 2:225: "...He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned...."
Perhaps most obvious of all in the Qur'an is the consistent stress on the divine "responsibility", indeed the ongoing divine Activity, expressed in all the different states of our hearts, including especially our recurrent failures to "remember" God. In this respect, as those familiar with the Qur'an will recognize, the larger metaphysical "paradox" with which we began this discussion is certainly not, to begin with, Ibn 'Arabî's own invention: almost half of the Qur'anic references to the heart directly mention God's responsibility for its states, often without any explicit reference to the shared role of the human "actor."
In several famous Qur'anic passages, repeated throughout Sufi literature and in popular piety, the enlightened or divinely supported heart (whether in this world or the next) is said to be the locus of true Remembrance of God (dhikr Allâh, at 13:28) and the grace of divinely bestowed Peace and Tranquillity, as well as the receptacle for the sending down of the Spirit and Gabriel and other special acts of divine support. But the Qur'anic references to these special states of enlightened hearts are limited to what in context usually seems like a very small and elect group: Muhammad and other divine prophets, certain of their disciples or saints, or some of the blessed in the Gardens of Paradise...
With far greater frequency, the Qur'an refers instead to God's sealing, veiling, hardening, locking, binding, closing, or frightening hearts - to hearts that as a result (of their own misdeeds or the divine reaction) are "sick" or "blind" and "suffering." Typical of this disproportionate emphasis are the many references to hearts that "fail to understand" (lâ yafqahûn), far more frequently than those who do perceive the divine "Signs," whose hearts are 'âqilûn. In the Qur'an, therefore, the starkly contrasting dimensions and potentialities of the human heart with which we began are, if anything, even more predominant and vividly drawn. The Qur'anic account of the heart and its situation is repeatedly cast in an intensely dramatic and unavoidably existential form. That intrinsic inner drama is certainly presupposed in each of Ibn 'Arabî's own discussions of the heart, whatever the particular language or context of each discussion.
Against that sharply drawn dramatic backdrop, the Qu'ranic verses that indicate the actual ways or conditions for us to move from these "negative" or perverse states of the human heart to full awareness of God and the corresponding divine Peace and understanding are relatively few, but certainly all the more worth noting: these practically decisive verses include references to the "softening" and "humbling" or "purification" and "strengthening" of hearts, to the necessity of a "sound" or "repentant" or "mindful" heart (qalb salîm or munîb), and so on.
(Editor’s note: The short presentation is based on the 28 – page article by James Morris on Ibn ‘Arabi)
Monday, July 24, 2006
The two key descriptions of Jesus’ followers are Compassion and Mercy… Is this NOT the very heart of religion and the very heart of God…? God is Rahmaan and Rahim (“loving-kindness”). This is the very heart of religion and a believer as described in Sura 50:37… A believer who remembers the need for a feeling heart, a hearing mind and a present self… to his/her neighbor… (“…inna fi dhalika la-dhikra li-man kana lahu qalb aw alqa al-sam’wa wa huwa shahid”)
Reflecting on this passage, I wander whether the call for us is, precisely, to retrieve these key description and allow it to bear upon the relationship between the worship that we bring and the behavior that we come by… or putting it in another way, allowing the “coincidence” between the heart of God and the heart of the believer. (Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI)
Friday, July 21, 2006
1. The Importance of the Site in Ephesus
The name Ephesus evokes the ancient Greek city in Asia Minor where the cult of Artemis (Diane), which preceded Christianity, manifested itself by a temple classed among the seven marvels of the world. But it is also inseparable from Saint Paul who preached on the agora in the year 57 of the Christian era, or from Saint John, who lived there (where the Basilica containing his tomb has been found ), and of the third Ecumenical Council when the Mother of Christ was proclaimed Theotokos (Mother of God) in 431 of the Christian era.
Placed under the protection of Saint John, the Virgin would have accompanied him to Ephesus during his apostolate. It is likely that he settled her outside the ancient city on a neighboring hill where it is believed that her house was discovered. It is known today by the name Panaya Kapulu (that is to say, the "Port of All Saints").
2. The Origins of the Devotion to the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus
The devotion dates back to the middle of the 5th century. Seven young people from Ephesus were buried alive in a cave for having refused to deny their faith in God during the persecutions ordered by the Emperor Décius; they woke up after a long sleep of several hundred years and died several hours later after having testified to their experience.
They were seen collectively by the inhabitants who decided afterwards to build a sanctuary dedicated to them. The historian, Honigmann, established that this tradition was common to Melkite, Nestorian, and Jacobite Christians, and therefore precedes their division (5th and 6th centuries). As for the liturgical names of the seven saints, they were already reported in 530 by a Latin pilgrim from North Africa, Theodosis, in a Jacobite list in Nubia. In its liturgical calendar the Eastern Church celebrates the Seven Sleepers twice: October 22nd (Common of prayers to the Martyrs), and August 4th (the traditional feast day), while the Latin Occident celebrates them on July 27th.
But, what is more remarkable, the example of these martyrs for the faith is venerated beyond the limits of Christianity. In fact, Sura XVIII of the Qur'an read every Friday in the Mosques (and thus preceding the death of Muhammed in 632) is entitled al-Kahf, that is to say, the Cave. This Sura exalts the abandonment to God of these seven young Ephesians buried alive, describing their witness to fidelity in the face of an impious demand, then their ‘dormition' which it states was 309 years. Sura XVIII could be considered as the Apocalypse of Islam; not only does it magnify the attitude of the seven martyrs for their faith by their anticipated resurrection, but it also presents the announcement of the Last Judgement.
Muslims make exception for the Seven Sleepers and tolerate the building of sanctuaries to these martyrs because their temporary resurrection made them precursory witnesses of the Last Judgement, saints of the End Time. Shustari, one of the most interesting commentators on the Qur'an, said that, "All Saints lose their normal sleep and enter into the sleep of the Seven Sleepers". (Geneviève Massignon Ph. D)
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the Prophets; and giveth his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God fearing.”
(Ya_ ayyuhal lazina a_manu_ kutiba 'alaikumul qisa_su fil qatla_, al hurru bil hurri wal 'abdu bil 'abdi wal unsa_ bil unsa_, faman 'ufiya lahu_ min akhihi syai'un fat tiba_'um bil ma'ru_fi wa ada_'un ilaihi bi ihsa_n(in), za_lika takhfifum mir rabbikum wa rahmah(tun), fa mani'tada_ ba'da za_lika fa lahu_ 'aza_bun alim(un).)
This is the Qura’nic invitation to all peoples of the Book that they should “excel each other in good deeds” and this constitutes true piety and righteousness…
Bapa Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI
Sunday, July 16, 2006
In his travels as a mendicant preacher and spiritual master, al-Hallaj tried to lead his followers ever more deeply into the reality of the human soul toward ultimate unity with the divine. His writings passionately described divine love as he sought to lose himself in God (Massignon 1983, 2:198).
One of the most compelling themes from al-Hallaj's devotional doctrine is that of the Virgin Heart, which refers to the secret place in the center of the human soul where God alone has access. Al-Hallaj stated (Massignon 1989, 133).
Our hearts are one single Virgin, which the dream of no dreamer can penetrate ... which only the presence of the Lord penetrates in order to be conceived therein.
Louis Massignon’s writings showed the deep layers of meaning evoked by this image of the Virgin Heart at the center of the human soul. His reflection on the subject revealed that our heart is "ensheathed," covered over by "veils" of illusions, assumptions, judgments, and attachments that prevent us from even imagining a place for the divine within us. This blindness prevents us from recognizing the same virginal point in the souls of others.
At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God ... this little point ... is the pure glory of God in us ... It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody.
I understand this "point of pure truth" to mean that I must be capable of recognizing the sacred in everyone, as al-Hallaj did. To believe in the mystery of the Virgin Heart is to believe in a secret place in every human soul where the sacred is given to us despite our unworthiness, failures, and human limitations. That place cannot be touched by anything I do, and yet it calls me to transcend myself, to see all others as they are -- sacred. Only then can I say with Hallaj (Massignon 1983, 426): “My soul is mixed and joined together with your soul and every accident that injures you injures me.” (Ed.'s note: This a very short summary of a long article on the subject written by Dorothy C. Buck)
Massignon, Louis. 1983. The Passion of al-Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr. Vol. 2. Translated by H. Mason. Princeton, N.J.: princeton University Press.
Massignon, Louis. 1989. Testimonies and Reflections: Essays of Louis Massignon. Selected and introduced by H. Mason. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Jesus’ instruction to his disciples continues to challenge us in both our life style and ministry… We have perfected the art of giving ourselves comfort and privileges in carrying the mission entrusted to us. What a tragedy!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
- Lectio Divina
In the past, the people who embraced the 'path' of St. Benedict transformed not only their lives but also the face of Europe.
The challenge before us today is to become, once again, instruments of a new 'birth' for Europe through PRAYER, WORK and LECTIO DIVINA.
No doubt, St. Benedict's path/tariqa(t) is still VALID today... But what we need is to search for new ways and forms of praying, working and reading the Scriptures.
Monday, July 10, 2006
In life, we often see dead people walking akin to people who are sentenced to die. Life and hope have long passed them by... and they simply plod along.
In these times, we need to feel the touch of Jesus... waking us up from our slumber and "tiredness". Hear his word: "Arise!"
Saturday, July 08, 2006
“When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6: 2-3)
In life’s often mysterious journey, God reveals his/her wisdom and power in people and events that we least expect… It is akin to that “gentle breeze” that reveals God’s “passing by”… Thus beware that we take no offense at the way God reveals him/herself.
Friday, July 07, 2006
The first hard lesson in interreligious dialogue is to LEARN how to forgive and be forgiven... With the hurt and the wars that have often marred interreligious relations, there is the URGENT need to learn how to forgive and be reconciled with our neighbors.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
He did not found a single institute yet there are religious families of men and women born from the profound intuition of Charles. They are called as “little brothers” and “little sisters” and they are spread out in the most remote corners throughout the world. These spiritual children of the “universal brother” have made their priority the poorest populations, the most abandoned, farthest from society.
There are also thousands of priests and laypersons who have discovered through his message a way of living the Gospel more fully to the ends of the earth, in fraternal sharing, caring for the smallest among us, and in silent adoration.
There are finally all those who have discovered the grandeur of this personality and its spiritual dimension that do not belong to his spiritual family or even to his religion.
Blessed Charles, who through his trials and errors, his thirst for solitude and for relationships, his great love of God and of his neighbor, still shows us today the way to universal brother/sisterhood!
He invites us to leave our frivolousness, our reassuring boundaries, our small spiritual comfort, to rise to the numbers of challenges that he confronted without always succeeding. It is up to us to continue the path that he outlined for us”. (Bishop Claude Rault who had served in the Algerian Sahara)
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Fais de moi ce qu'il te plaira.
Quoi que tu fasses de moi,
Je te remercie.
Je suis prêt à tout,
Pourvu que ta volonté se fasse en moi,
En toutes tes créatures.
Je ne désire rien d'autre, mon Dieu.
Je remets mon âme entre tes mains.
Je te la donne, mon Dieu,
Avec tout l'amour de mon coeur.
Parce que je t'aime,
Et que ce m'est un besoin d'amour de me donner.
De me remettre entre tes mains sans mesure,
Avec une infinie confianceCar tu es mon Père.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
In our journey through life, we, too, have experiences of healing touches… Like the woman in the gospel, we do say… ‘if but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.’ And healing begins…!
Saturday, July 01, 2006
The Fatiha is a wonderful summary of Muslim belief that God is the Lord of all being, entirely separate from the world yet forever present and aware, providing a Path from darkness into light and a direction for worship and praise.
“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to God, the Lord of all being.
The Merciful, the Compassionate.
Master of the Day of Judgement.
It is you alone that we serve.
It is only from you that we seek aid.
Guide us on the straight path.
The path of those whom you have blessed.
Not of those with whom you are displeased.
Nor of those who go astray. Amin"
(Translated by Matthew S. Gordon)