Saturday, April 16, 2005


your doctor can't kill you yet:

The bill allows doctors to stop giving medical assistance when it "has no effect other than maintaining life artificially".

It had already been approved by the lower house of parliament.

Supporters of the legislation say it stops short of permitting euthanasia, because it does not allow the doctor actively to end a patient's life.

They include the conservative government, the opposition Socialists and the Roman Catholic Church.

It occurred to me recently, though, what the next step would be. Those who would like to sanitize society according to their own definition of worthiness will probably present us with the compassionate position that it would be so much kinder to end your loved-one's life immediately rather than let him suffer through a slow and painful death, and then top it off with a comment about how we treat our animals better than that.

With such an agenda, it could explain why a judge would insist on slow starvation rather than risking that an offered glass of water could end up in a choking episode that the patient doesn't survive. First the cruelty of prolonged death must be made to penetrate the minds of the talking heads and the listening public.

I'm becoming an entrenched cynic. I'm not wrong nearly often enough.


In looking at the alchemists of the 16th century who were the forerunners of the Masonic Lodge,and who studied and used the Kabbalah, I came to John Dee, who is known for his conversations with angels. Dee and his protege Edward Kelley met up with Francesco Pucci, an on-again, off-again Catholic, in Cracow, Poland in 1585. Pucci attempted to persuade Dee and Kelley to go to Rome and conduct their angel raising sessions for the Pope. Dee and Kelley refused.

That information comes from a paper by Ron Heisler at The Alchemy Website. Something else does as well:

Pucci proposed the organization of a secret "republic" of good people in all lands, who would prepare the world for a great council that would reunify Christianity....His objective was the unification of all peoples in a comity that reached even the mosque and the synagogue. His immediate target – the eradication of the Christian schism – would be effected by the calling of a general council of "spiritual persons" and "lovers of truth". At times he contemplated this council being called by the Pope.32

32. M. Eliar-Felden "Secret societies, utopias, and peace plans: the case of Francesco Pucci" Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies vol.14 (1984).

Here's the link.

Meanwhile, from my email box and the Washington Post:

After two decades of contact and dialogue with the Islamic world under Pope John Paul II, the Vatican is rethinking an outreach program that critics say is diluting Catholicism and has brought almost no benefits to beleaguered Catholic minorities in Muslim countries.

The late pontiff undertook the drive as part of a broad effort to open channels to other religions. He applied a personal stamp by stepping into a mosque in Damascus and meeting with Muslim groups more than 60 times. He also visited a synagogue in Rome and Jerusalem's Western Wall.

Do we live in interesting times, or what?

Friday, April 15, 2005


Mass was an Antiochene liturgy.


The Orlando Sentinel speculates on what effect the internet will have on the coming conclave.


I usually don't swear, but...


A Masonic scholar and former Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite in Israel, as well as a Fellow of The Philalethes Society, Leon Zeldis speaks with some authority on Masonic subjects. He has written an article on the social climate in England and on the continent at the founding of Freemasonry in 1717. It is clear in this article that he had no love for the Church of that time period.

Interestingly, he includes a translation of the Kabbalah in his description of the time period:

In 1684, Knorr von Rosenroth published Kabbalah Denudata (Kabbalah Unveiled), a translation of passages from the Zohar and essays on the meaning of Kabbalah (including portions of Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim) examined from a Christian point of view. Rosenroth's work was the most important non-Hebrew reference book on the Kabbalah until the end of the 19th century and it became the major source of this subject for non-Jewish scholars.

In speaking of the establishment of the Scottish Rite, he indicates that mysticism was a part of the picture:

Some Stuart supporters, mainly Scots, followed him in exile and were involved in the creation of the first Masonic lodges in the continent. Here they received the influence of the mystic trends current in Europe, and they created the additional degrees which, not surprisingly, were called "Scottish". Thus, after a long evolution, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was born.

Presumably, then, since he offers no other source, and since he rejects the Church, this mysticism would have come from the Kabbalah of Rosenroth. And in fact he says that

European thought was strongly influenced by esoteric thinking, the Rosicrucians, the Cabbala, alchemy and tarot. Hebrew was highly regarded, as the sacred language of the Bible, and also as the language spoken by God when addressing man. Some scholars believed that from Hebrew were derived all other languages.

One statement seems to echo the current enfatuation with seeing the world as a living organism. Zeldis says

voices began to be heard proposing changes, making appeal to reason instead of subservience to dogma, these thinkers regarded society as a living organism, they were aware of its defects and wanted to find solutions to improve it.

He indicates as well that "Some of the most prominent founders of the premier Grand Lodge were active in" the Royal Society founded in London in 1662, which provided a platform for researchers and scholars in the newly emerging sciences of astronomy which replaced astrology, of chemistry which replaced alchemy, and anatomy and physiology which were making strides in revolutionizing medicine.

Freemsonry in Israel, a website offering a series of Masonic scholarly papers, one of which, also written by Zeldis, describes the earliest birth of the Lodge in Israel:

The historic origins of Freemasonry in the Holy Land date from the 13th of May, 1868, when M.W. Bro. Dr. Robert Morris, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, directed a Secret Monitor ceremony in the Cave of Zedekiah, popularly known as King Solomon's Quarries, deep under the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.

Dr. Morris worked unceasingly to erect the first regular Masonic Lodge, and in 1873, he finally succeeded in obtaining a charter from the Grand Lodge of Canada, Ontario, for the Royal Solomon Mother Lodge No. 293, working "at the city of Jerusalem or adjacent places." This was the first regular Lodge in Israel. Most of its founding members were American settlers living in Jaffa, belonging to a Christian sect called the Church of the Messiah. In 1866, they had left Jonesport, Maine, for the Holy Land, with the avowed intention of founding an agricultural settlement. Dr. Robert Morris was supposed to be the Lodge's first Master, but, it appears that he could not arrive, and Bro. Rolla Floyd, one of the leaders of the American group, called "The Palestine Emigration Society," took his place. The Lodge had a difficult existence and after a few years, stopped reporting to the Grand Lodge of Canada. It was finally erased in 1907.

This predates the founding of the state of Israel by nearly 80 years. The Israeli lodges were not accepted by the Grand Lodge of England until 1953 when the Israeli Grand Lodge was created. This brought the needed recognition from Grand Lodge of England as well as international recognition. Without this recognition, members of the Israeli lodges were not welcome to visit other Masonic Lodges.

An additional article by Zeldis calls Jerusalem "the symbolic cradle of Freemasonry."

In "Some Sephardic Jews in Freemasonry", Zeldis offers this explanation of Jewish involvement with English Masonry:

In England, where the Jews had been expelled by King Edward I in the year 1290, some "secret" Jews entered the country surreptitiously, under the appearance of being Spanish or Portuguese Catholics. They attended mass in the embassies of Spain, Portugal and France, but observed Jewish traditions in their homes. These Jews were tolerated because of their financial and mercantile contacts with the rest of Europe, and by their assistance in extending the commercial interests of England throughout the world. Enjoying the more liberal environment prevailing in England and Holland, some Jews gradually revealed themselves as such. In 1655, the Sephardic Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel (also known as Manoel Días Soeiro, 1604-1657) from Amsterdam, submitted a petition to Oliver Cromwell to allow the official residence of Jews in England. No record has been found of the result of this démarche, but a small congregation of Sephardim was officially recognized by King Charles II in 1664, after the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy.1

Thus, the new Israelite congregation in England was composed almost exclusively of Sephardim. The first Jews who received nobility titles in England also were Sephardim: Solomon de Medina (c. 1650-1730) and Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), who was knighted in 1837 and made a baronet in 1846.

It is not surprising, then, that the first known Jewish Mason, dating from 1716 (one year before the creation of the first Grand Lodge) was an English Sephardi: Francis Francia, also known as the "Jacobite Jew." He was tried and later exonerated from an accusation of high treason. In an English newspaper of 1877, recounting this incident, Francia is called a Mason.

This combination of enthusiasm in England for the newly translated Kabbalah, a social climate that was just emerging from mysticism into rationalism, and Sephardic Jews instrumental at the very beginning of the Lodge would go a long way toward explaining why the Kabbalah is so prominent in some upper degrees of Freemasonry, and why so much of the symbolism of the Lodge is Jewish.


Crux News reports this to be a "great resource."

Thursday, April 14, 2005


I just got a fundraising letter from Bishop Swing's United Religions Initiative. The letter, dated March 2005, is a 3-page, double-sided screed. The high point of it, for me, was this statement of the current status of the URI and its dreams for the future:

"URI has become an unprecedented global network of interfaith cooperation, launched countless successful projects around the world and become the recognized and respected leader in grassroots interfaith organizing.

Yet there is more work to be done. We aim for the day when:

-- Interfaith cooperation is a recognized norm and religiously motivated violence has ceased to be a global issue;
-- Cooperation Circles [ URI's local chapters ] are a powerful and respected resource for peace in every major city in the world and in many towns and villages;
-- URI is a respected moral authority speaking with a global voice on critical global issues;
-- Women, indigenous people and youth share an equal voice and responsibility for leadership;
-- URI's activities engage over 1 billiion people worldwide."

Yes, you saw that right ... 1 billion people. These guys dream large.

They currently claim 270 Cooperation Circles in 59 countries, and 1 million participants. So they have a way to go yet.

Kyrie eleison.



evaluates the candidates.


ROME - From the Vatican's perspective, America's priest sex-abuse scandal has diminished, and all that remains is to regain the trust of the faithful and clear a backlog of cases that still await official review.

The scandal is not likely to play a big role when it comes to choosing Pope John Paul II's successor, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Vatican expert and editor of the Catholic weekly magazine America.

"The abuse problem needs to be solved at home," he said. "It will not be solved at the Vatican. The Vatican did not move priests from parish to parish."

Thanks guys. I wish you had been willing to take responsibility for the mess you helped create. And to think these are the ones who will elect the new pope.

If they don't care about the American laity, why should the American laity care about them?

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!



There is an outbreak of the Margurg virus in Angola that has the WHO concerned. The virus is hemmorhagic and has no known cure. It is spread by contact with bodily fluids. It has already killed 210 people and changed familiar social practices. This is the second time the virus has made the rounds here. Last time it took two years to contain it.

No doubt they have discontinued communion from the cup.


of the conclave communicating with black and white smoke. (Hey, when the cardinals refuse to talk, you've got to write something to keep the interest alive after a funeral that had the world glued to the news.)

Of course if you don't want to talk about chimneys, you can talk about cardinal photo-ops. Must be tough for the press when the star attraction(s) refuse to cooperate.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


An article at Freemasonry Today describes the presentations at Canonbury Masonic Research Center's Third International Conference. This one is a surprise:

Solomon's Temple and Auschwitz

Professor Robert van Pelt, of Waterloo University, Canada, an historian of architecture, presented a paper on the conceptions of the design of Solomon's Temple.

He had acted as an expert witness in a recent case involving denial of the Holocaust. Because of Professor van Pelt's information it collapsed spectacularly. As a result of his research, Professor van Pelt knows a thing or two about the Nazi death-camps.

"Auschwitz and the plan of Solomon's Temple have close similarities", Professor van Pelt declared. Mouths dropped. Had we misheard?

There had always been speculation about the dimensions and the role of King Solomon's Temple in the Christian monastic tradition; Jewish scholarship remained uneasy about such representations. In the 16th century, a Jesuit, Juan Bautista Villalpando published illustrations of the Temple drawn from details given in the books of Kings and Chronicles and the vision described by Ezekiel (Chaps 40 - 43).

Villalpando described Solomon's Temple as an image of the universe - deriving from the desert tabernacle: the twelve tribes around it related to the zodiac, the four classes of the Levites serving it related to the four elements. The Temple itself had seven courtyards which were dedicated to the seven planets. The altar was in the centre which echoed the Ptolemaic universe with the earth at its' centre.

This influenced the design of the Escorial. And, in a dark twist of fate, it also influenced the design of Auschwitz. Most chillingly, the crematoria at Auschwitz were placed at the position of the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple. Professor van Pelt placed a transparency of Auschwitz over an illustration of Villalpando's design. All could see that he was correct. Something deeply disturbing lay behind Nazi architecture.


From the Miami Herald:

The decision by Vatican officials to have Cardinal Bernard Law preside over a high-profile mourning Mass for the late pope is the latest example of the chasm that separates how senior Vatican officials view the priest sex-abuse scandal and the way many American Catholics see it.

While Pope John Paul II and other senior Vatican officials repeatedly condemned child sex abuse by priests and endorsed American bishops' efforts to combat it, church officials in Rome never saw the revelations as the kind of confidence-shattering, life-changing event that many Americans did.

Some senior church officials - including Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez, who's considered a strong papal candidate - continually suggested that the scandal was a creation of the American news media.



From Catholic News Service:

Vatican officials have dismissed press claims that Pope John Paul II could be beatified as early as October after receiving "popular acclamation" as a saint from Catholics worldwide.

"This is complete fiction; although it's possible the process could be speeded up, such dates are totally imaginary," said Jesuit Father Hieronim Fokcinski, an official of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.


including collegiality, inculturation, and an evangelical style of relating to secularism.

Quoting a North American Cardinal he writes:

“I look at the church in northern Europe, and it seems like a mess,” he said. “Aside from pockets of life, especially among the young, it doesn’t look like we’ve succeeded in getting through to secularized culture. We’ve got to find someone who can dialogue with secularity, because in fits and starts it’s becoming the culture of the world.”

That's calling the spade, I guess.


That is one of the prophecies from the approved apparition at Akita.

Yahoo News reports:

A meteorite which residents described as a "huge ball of fire" was spotted over the eastern Spanish regions of Catalonia and Valencia, according to astronomers in the region.

"We received scores of calls from witnesses, who at first thought it was an asteroid flashing past. But judging from its size it was a meteorite," said a spokesman for a Catalonia-based astronomers' association.

The same story is reported at the Mail and Guardian and at the Harold Tribune. There do not seem to be any more details available at the moment.


is a blog titled "While we are all speculating on the next Pope" which offers a candidate I bet no one has heard of:

One of our journalists today reminded me of a story run by CNS back in about 2002/2003 about a group of Argentine bishops on their ad limina to Rome. We looked it up. During their audience with John Paul II they thanked him for making an Argentine bishop a cardinal. One of them said to the Holy Father that the new Cardinal would make a worthy successor to John Paul II. The Pope deadpanned "My successor has not yet been appointed a cardinal."

The next, and last, consistory was in 2003. 30 prelates were appointed Cardinals. Try looking at Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo of the archdiocese of Ranchi in India. He is a tribal, a member of a group who are at the bottom of the social scale in India and historically the object of institutionalised prejudice from all levels of society.

This cardinal believes in bishops living with the poor, wearing clericals in public even in hostile territory, the importance of seminarians being schooled in chastity. Wouldn't he make a dazzling follow-up to a Polish Pope? Would all the American bishops resign?


all day and haven't had time to post anything. Hopefully yet before the day is over I'll have time to blog.


is about the scandal within the Church that hasn't been adequately addressed. It reads in part:

What she feels is so appalling about the abuse itself and the church’s dismissive attitude to it, is that what has been done to these children is not simply the horrible physical and sexual acts committed – abhorrent though they are. The worse aspect from a Catholic perspective, is that the spirituality of the affected children will probably have been harmed or even destroyed, after being so exploited by these paedophile priests. How can one think kindly of God, when one of his representatives on earth has been sodomizing you? People of a non religious disposition might take this concept in their stride but those who actually believe in God are more likely to understand how serious this all is. Not only have these Children lost their innocence on Earth, but after such abuse, they are more likely to turn away from the path, which in Catholic eyes at least, will allow them into heaven.

No doubt this point has been made before, but it is an important one for Catholics and by treating this matter with so little remorse or real compassion, the Vatican is only going to prove to its critics that it has totally lost its moral, religious and spiritual compass." The betrayal of the Church in this instance is indeed fathoms deep: the abuse was not just an attack on chidlren's psychological and physical health; it was an assault on their religious and spiritual life; and an attack on the church itself. We know how the Vatican really views this by the way Cardinal Law is now an esteemed part of the Roman establishment.

Not only is this a scandal to the people involved, it is also a scandal to the Catholics who are standing on the side and watching the events unfold, a scandal for the very reasons described in this email.

I still have hope that our new Pope will adress the scandal adequately. Slim hope at this point, but I'm still hanging on.

Barbara Blaine of SNAP was one of the protesters in Rome who opposed the Cardinal's Mass. Here is her account of the experience:

But some Catholics said seeing the cardinal presiding over Mass at one of the most significant sites for their faith was another sign that the Vatican did not understand the betrayal parishioners felt that he protected guilty priests.

Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and Barbara Dorris, also a leader of the advocacy group, said the Vatican's choice of Law devastated victims.

"We believe he should take a back seat and stay in the background so Catholics can grieve without having to have the sex abuse scandal in their face," said Blaine, who had flown into Rome just hours before the Mass.

At St. Peter's Square, Blaine planned to distribute fliers, but was quickly surrounded by Italian officers who moved her without incident outside the plaza. The officers did not respond when asked why she was removed, but Blaine said they told her that news cameras were not allowed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


This is the last paragraph:

The third millennium moves forward, and with it moves the plan that the conclave is called to decide upon: a new Papal Revolution for the Church and for the world.

The ones before it are perceptive, as I've come to expect from Chiesa.


from This Is London:

In one of the remarkable stories to have emerged about the death of the pontiff, he was alleged to summoned up enough strength to have whispered "Amen" just before he passed away.

But now doubts have been cast on the accuracy of the story by the Pope's personal physician, Dr Renato Buzzonetti, who has said his patient was so ill he was not capable of speech.


from Yahoo News:

VATICAN CITY - An American Jew cured of a brain tumor after attending Mass with Pope John Paul II. A Mexican boy stricken with leukemia who recovered after a papal kiss. Even a cardinal who regained his ability to speak after John Paul touched his throat.

Italian newspapers have been rife with reports of alleged miracles attributed to Pope John Paul II, fueling speculation he may soon be put on the path to sainthood.

Vatican rules, though, are clear: For a miracle to be considered in the saint-making process, it has to have occurred after John Paul's death. So far, all the reports stem from inexplicable cures that occurred while John Paul was very much alive.

We have a healer in Cleveland who claims to be able to effect cures. If this is grounds for sainthood, perhaps he should be canonized as well. Oh wait, you have to be dead first.


A reader sent in a quote he received in email from Fr. Demetrios:

"... Heretics will seize power over the Church and will place their servants everywhere; the pious will be regarded with contempt. He (the Lord) said, by their fruits ye shall know them, and so, by their fruits, as well as by the actions of the heretics, strive to distinguish them from the true pastors. ... Therefore, my son, when you see the violation of patristic tradition and the divine order in the Church, the order established by God, know that the heretics have already appeared, although for the time being they may conceal their impiety, or they will distort the Divine Faith imperceptibly, in order to succeed better in seducing and enticing the inexperienced into the net. ..."
(New-Martyr St. Anatoly the Younger of Optina, +1922)


of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA. There are pictures here of the redediction after a fire destroyed part of the church. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the thumbnails for a good view of the interior.

The iconographer who wrote the new icons for the iconostasis is Phil Zimmerman. He has been teaching iconography for at least ten years, since other iconographers on the web attribute their skill to his instruction.

He is scheduled to teach an icon writing/retreat workshop in June at the Franciscan Spirituality Center--the center that is having the tree retreat.


are essential to matters of faith because God is beyond man’s physical senses. He is totally "Other". Christ knew that once He left the earth, people would still need something to hold on to, something physical that they could see or hear or touch or smell. He chose bread and wine, substances that are readily available, because the faith He was passing on to us was not meant for an exclusive few, but rather meant for all of the humanity God the Father would create, and so the material that made Him present for these human beings would have to be readily available.

We have other symbols that make the reality of our faith present to us in a physical sense. We have the water of Baptism, the oil of Confirmation and Extreme Unction, we have wedding rings. We can look at these substances and know the reality behind them that is beyond our physical knowledge.

Our faith is enriched by the sacramental symbols. We have other symbols as well, the cross and the crucifix, icons, statues, medals, scapulars, holy water fonts, prayer books, and many others. All of these symbols have the same purpose, to make God present in the moments of our lives.

John Paul II was a phenomenologist. It’s a difficult word to pin down. More than anything else it seems to mean a willingness to look closely at what is present before our eyes. What we experience. He would have told us to see Christ in all of it by looking beyond the phenomena to what lies behind it, what motivates it, what meaning it has in the eternal progression of time. He was not afraid to see what is really there.

Out of what he saw, he developed a philosophy of life that was always focused on the Trinity, on God, on Jesus Christ. His faith was the center of everything else he encountered. He was eager to see God in materiality, or to see where God had been excised from it. He tried to pass that wisdom along to us.

Scripture tells us that the weeds and the wheat shall be left to grow up together until the harvest, and so we know that not all we encounter is of God. Symbols can have meanings that are not conducive to faith. Symbols can be corrupted. Symbols can be redefined. Weeds can choke out the wheat.

In an age that kept religions segregated, this was not important, since we didn’t encounter the symbols of other faiths. Today we have religions in confrontation. This is most especially true on the internet where all religions play an equal part on the web stage, and thus all symbols are presented to us for our consideration.

As we encounter other faiths, we encounter other meanings, sometimes for the same symbol. Now the substance that is meant to help us encounter the Living God has become a symbol that aids us in encountering other gods or other expressions of the same God which are in error. Sometimes the symbol is wheat, but sometimes the symbol is a weed.

What are we to do about the weeds? There are several approaches. We can ignore the other meanings attached to the symbol. We can nuance those other meanings into something orthodox and use the symbols with their new meaning. Or we can confront the reality that our symbols are out there in the marketplace of ideas and new concepts are being attached to them that are not Catholic. There are dangers to the faith in each approach.

If we ignore the other meanings attached to the symbol—remain silent about those other meanings—the risk is that members of the laity will believe that the others who use the symbol mean what we mean by it. The sheep will be lead astray.

If we nuance those other meanings into something orthodox and use the symbols with their new meaning, the risk is that not everyone will get the message and will still go astray by taking up the meaning that lies outside the faith.

If we confront reality as it arrives before our eyes, identifying the fact that the symbol has more than one meaning, providing evidence that there is a danger lurking, we run the risk of having someone accuse us of believing what we have rejected.

Those who use the symbols by attaching non-Catholic or non-Christian meanings to them know fully well what they are doing. They know that the symbol has very great potential of morphing doctrine into something they are more comfortable with. Conveniently, when confronted by the dominant faith, they can easily say “But you have the same symbol, so why does this upset you? Believe about this symbol whatever you wish. We have no rigid doctrine, unlike the fundamentalists.” All the while, of course, they will be talking about what they believe. And they will be talking about the inadequacy of the symbol to completely convey meaning. And then they will add that perhaps both meanings are valid.

This is a relatively new reality for the majority of Catholics. For the most part, Catholics, when confronted with this reality are confused because they do not know what they are encountering. The Church has not yet determined what to do about this because the Church has not yet acknowledged the problem. But it will have to be addressed because too many are being led astray.

Here is another example of what I’m talking about. Notice the rose above the cross. What does it mean?

It actually can have a truly Catholic meaning, though the juxtaposition of the rose is illogical. The rose represents the Rosa Mystica—the Blessed Virgin. The cross, of course, is Christ. Mary would never rise above Christ, so the symbol is faulty even from a Catholic perspective. But there is an even more heretical meaning to the symbol. A rose and cross represents the Rosy Cross, symbol of the Rosicrucians. Who has borrowed what from whom in the case of the Franciscan website is anybody's guess.

Monday, April 11, 2005


For more than one hundred years, Metepec has been known for its ceramic art and artists. At the turn of the century the town was known for its black glazeware. Today its most distinctive product is the Arbol de la Vida, or Tree of Life, a clay sculpture covered with flowers and leaves and biblical figures. The inspiration for the trees has been attributed to Aztec customs and designs plus the teaching of Franciscan monks.



in Mexican chapel. No funds requested.



Our Franciscan Tree of Life was created to give you the opportunity to make a lasting tribute to honor or memorialize loved ones, both living or deceased, by inscribing their names on the tree.



To have your family's name or the name of a loved one engraved on Franciscan University's Tree of Life, you can make a gift of cash, stock, or property. Our staff would be pleased to help you with any questions you might have concerning your gift.



by Dr. Robert O'Neill

Problems within the Franciscan order started soon after the death of Francis. The Pope wanted the Order to take on new responsibilities that would require them to own property and handle money. This was vehemently opposed by many Friars as violating Francis’ vision. This opposition caused a split, resulting in a number of independent groups breaking away from the Order and forming the heretical Spiritual Franciscans and Fraticelli. The new groups were centered in Provence and Italy--and we find ourselves back on the main topic of how Catharism was transmitted to the Italian Renaissance.

Over time, the Spirituals wandered further and further from orthodoxy. They came to reject the Church as an evil force preventing them from following the strict rule of Francis. To justify their claim to authenticity, the Spirituals became the major commentators and propagators of Joachim’s theory of history. About 1240, an abbot from Fiore carried the works of Joachim to the Franciscan house at Pisa (Reeves, 1976). The Spirituals immediately focused on Joachim’s description of the transition to the New Age of the Holy Spirit.

Joachim was taken as justification for the claim that an extreme crisis was about the occur. The transition would be marked by the emergence of the Anti-Christ in the form of an evil Pope (Reeves, 1969). The evil pope was, of course, identified as the current persecutor of the Spirituals and the proper response was the total rejection of the Church. In the New Age, this evil Church would be overthrown but the transition would be traumatic and the righteous should expect great suffering. This served to give a theological significance to the persecutions that the Spiritualists were experiencing (Reeves, 1969). ...

In Italy, Ubertino da Casale (1253-c1341), a student of Olivi, wrote “Arbor Vitae” based on the “Lignum Vitae” of Bonaventura (Douie, 1978). Using the imagery of the Tree of Life from Joachim (Reeves and Hirsch-Reich, 1972) the manuscript was widely circulated in the venacular and was extremely popular. One suspects that when the 16th century Christian Cabalists started representing the QBLH tree, they were influenced by such Joachimite documents. Indeed, this is the closest I have ever come to finding a connection to a QBLH Tree diagram that would have been readily accessible when the Tarot appeared in 15th century Italy: Joachim’s tree, influenced by his Spanish Jewish friend, Petrus Alphonsi (Reeves, 1976), and transmitted by the Spiritual Franciscans. In the 14th century, the Joachimite treatise, Breviloquium, arrived in Catalonia (Lee et al., 1989). Scholem (1962) notes that this was probably too late to have influenced the QBLH doctrines of the millenium.



Clinton Franciscans Canticle Chapel Doorway.



The Divine Comedy and Kabala

If the first canto of Inferno is understood as an introduction to his entire work, then there are 33 cantos that relate specifically to Inferno. So what does 33 mean? Obviously, it alludes to the age of Christ at his crucifixion and resurrection. A superficial reading of the Divine Comedy suggests a parallel in Dante’s own life experiences. However, 33 also alludes to the kabalistic Tree of Life. There are 32 internal paths on the Tree and then there is the external 33rd path that leads to God.



Marytown Eucharistic Monstrance

The Tree of Life in Paradise
(Gen. 2: 9). As God planted in the midst of the garden of paradise a tree to whose fruits He imparted a special and wonderful virtue, so too did he give us the Eucharist, the source of true spiritual renewal and life.



But Vatican II was only a beginning! The tree must be carefully fed and watered. It must be protected against the saws and axes and poison of those who fear change and prefer brittle leaves in reliquaries and gilded dry branches to fragile new shoots. It must be keept safe from the torches of others who are motivated by misguided love for what they consider the one and only "True Church." It must be allowed to become what it is meant to be, a life-bearing, life-giving, growing tree that links earth and heaven and welcomes an endless variety of flocks of believers to build nests in its vast network of branches, a genuine Tree of Life that is first and foremost a Tree of Love.


at Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center:

During the Middle Ages, it was common for a traveler to entrust one’s health and safety to a tree spirit. These trees were called guardian trees and it was believed, that as long as they were healthy, the journey would go well. In the Kabbalah, a Hebrew text of mystical teachings, the tree of life is the symbol of creation governed by Divine Principles. Humans are called forth to mirror the qualities of the tree of life. In Jungian terms, the tree is a symbol in dreams and a drawing of the growth and development of psychic life - a link to the collective unconscious, and therefore a key to spiritual growth.

So what do trees teach us? One quality of trees, namely deep rootedness, teaches us to connect with that which nourishes our growth, to find our balance and ever return to it and to keep ourselves grounded in that which feeds our spirit. For it is then that we can reach outward and beyond, then that we can expand our horizons, then that we can generate hope and abundance for the world in which we live.


Santificarnos and Spero Forum have merged into a single website. The site went active today. Check it out.

Communication in today’s world requires openness and a new approach with respect to media. Spero News is that new approach.

Initially in English, and soon expanding into Spanish, Spero News is a bi-lingual weekly electronic magazine and community spanning the globe providing premium content submitted from its nearly 100 collaborators. Spero News aims to enhance society by creating a premier, alternative network for readers seeking quality news, information and interaction through the Internet by providing news, commentary, and analysis that encourages citizen participation. In that respect, Spero News is a unique experience towards creating a constructive dialogue between media and readers with the aim of promoting a correctly informed and discerning public opinion as reflected in Judeo-Christian values. By melding journalists, citizen journalists and sector professionals, Spero News also guarantees that its news is by the people and for the people.

Spero News´ collaborators from various countries are united in an electronic format that will enable the creation of long-lasting relationships with a large audience of discriminating users. Spero News is already receiving contributions from writers in Australia, Canada, Cyprus, England, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, the United States and Wales, with more expected to soon join.


Mystical Encounters
New exhibition at Houghton shows how Renaissance scholars used ancient Jewish Kabbalah to prove Christian doctrines
By Ken Gewertz

Gazette Staff

The term "Christian Kabbalah" -- the subject of a new exhibition at Houghton Library -- is apt to create some confusion.

How and when did the Kabbalah, the body of Jewish mystical speculation that originated in Europe in the 12th century, become Christianized?


by H. P. Blavatsky.

Reuchlin, John. Nicknamed the “Father of the Reformation”; the friend of Pico di Mirandola, the teacher and instructor of Erasmus, of Luther and Melancthon. He was a great Kabbalist and Occultist.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


The word appears in the Decree on Ecumenism "Unitatis Redintegratio". I've just come upon the same word in another source:

"FlensqiouredaV. Hoc est Redintegratio," addressed to "The Brotherhood of the Rosie-Cross," appeared in 1619, with the motto, Omne de Saba veniut, aurum et thus deferentes, et laudem Domini annunciantes, with the following lines prefaced:

O Rosae Fratres crucis, O pia turba sophorum,

Since I don't know Latin, perhaps there is someone who does reading this who could comment upon whether there is a significance to the use of the word in these two instances?


More information on Rosicrucianism seems to be coming to the web. I've just found this timelinethat is interesting if you're drawn this stuff.

The following entry seems to associate the Kabbalah with the Languedoc, the seat of the Albigensian Heresy:

"Sefer Yetzirah" recension (Gruen=B) copied in 1531. Early 13th century text, originating with the early Kabbalists of Languedoc, indicating ties between this group and the Hasidim of the Rhineland and northern France, write about Jeremiah and his son Ben Sira in a pseudo-epigraphon attributed to the Tannaite Judah ben Bathyra. (MS Halberstam, 444 (in Jewish Theological Seminary NY). This, or a copy of it, is the source for J. Reuchlin's Latin translation in 1603.


I've just received an Internal Error message when attempting to access the Blogger dashboard. The second time I tried, it worked, but there is no guarantee it will continue to work.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


The Western world is civilized, right, and France is part of the Western world?

A reader sent in this article:

FR D RIC ENCEL, PROFESSOR OF international relations at the prestigious Ecole Nationale d'Administration in Paris and a man not known for crying wolf, recently stated that France is becoming a new Lebanon. The implication, far-fetched though it may seem, was that civil upheaval might be no more than a few years off, sparked by growing ethnic and religious polarization. In recent weeks, a series of events has underlined this ominous trend.

On March 8, tens of thousands of high school students marched through central Paris to protest education reforms announced by the government. Repeatedly, peaceful demonstrators were attacked by bands of black and Arab youths--about 1,000 in all, according to police estimates. The eyewitness accounts of victims, teachers, and most interestingly the attackers themselves gathered by the left-wing daily Le Monde confirm the motivation: racism.

The enemy has become white people, and rules that apply to minorities don't count.

Some of the attackers openly expressed their hatred of "little French people." One 18-year-old named Heikel, a dual citizen of France and Tunisia, was proud of his actions. He explained that he had joined in just to "beat people up," especially "little Frenchmen who look like victims." He added with a satisfied smile that he had "a pleasant memory" of repeatedly kicking a student, already defenseless on the ground.

Another attacker explained the violence by saying that "little whites" don't know how to fight and "are afraid because they are cowards." Rachid, an Arab attacker, added that even an Arab can be considered a "little white" if he "has a French mindset." The general sentiment was a desire
to "take revenge on whites."

A teacher who was in the midst of it and claimed he couldn't sleep for days called it: "It was a game. Hatred and fun." "Anti-white pograms" are mentioned in the article.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


From an article by Jason Berry at SFGate sent in by a reader:

As the world's cardinals prepare for the Vatican conclave to elect a new pope, they owe it to the faithful to choose a man who will confront the crisis that stains Pope John Paul II's legacy: bishops and religious order superiors with a long history of sheltering priests who molested children.

One contender they should not choose is Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. In 2002, he compared the American media to Stalin and Hitler for reporting the scandal. He also helped a Costa Rican priest accused of child molestation find a safe haven in Honduras, according to a recent Dallas Morning News investigation.

The drenching TV coverage in Rome has downplayed the abuse crisis. But a clergy "sexual underground" -- a term coined by Barry Coldrey, an Australian member of the Irish Christian Brothers -- has rocked the church not just in the United States but in many countries.

In the early 1990s, Australia, Canada and Ireland saw epic scandals in which adults who were raised in large orphanages run by Coldrey's order testified about being sexually brutalized.

In 1994, Brother Coldrey spent six weeks in Rome doing research at his order's archives for an internal report, which found its way to the media. Ten percent of the Irish Christian Brothers members -- a huge percentage -- had sexually assaulted youths, he wrote, and hid "within a sympathetic underworld of other clergy and church workers who are merely breaking their vows by having heterosexual or gay sex with consenting adults."

If the house is going to be cleaned up, the adults are going to have to give up their consenting sexual activity as well, and get back to defining chastity-or celibacy or whatever new terminology they use to redefine what they are about-as a life without sex.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


which was placed in the Pope's casket immediately before burial is online at Zenit. It contains the words "new age":

The Church entered the third millennium under his leadership and celebrated the Great Jubilee of 2000, according to the guidelines indicated in the apostolic letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente." She then faced the new age, receiving guidelines in the apostolic letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte," in which the faithful were shown the path of the future time. [emphasis mine]


Zenit reports in email:

The general congregation of cardinals chose the two preachers who will present key meditations to exhort the conclave: Cardinal Tomas Spidlik and Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

In the 1996 apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis," which establishes the norms for the vacant See, John Paul II said of the cardinals: "They shall entrust to two ecclesiastics known for their sound doctrine, wisdom and moral authority the task of presenting to the Cardinals two well-prepared meditations on the problems facing the Church at the time and on the need for careful discernment in choosing the new Pope."

"Father Raniero Cantalamessa will give his intervention on Thursday, April 14, during the general congregation of the morning," a Holy See press statement announced today. "Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, S.J., will address the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel on Monday, April 18."

Cardinal Spidlik, who is 85, is too old to participate in the conclave.

Father Cantalamessa, 70, is a Franciscan Capuchin. He previously was a professor of history of ancient Christianity and director of the department of religious sciences at the Catholic University of Milan. He was a member of the International Theological Commission from 1975 to 1981.

Fr. Cantalamassa is a charismatic.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

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