The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States - January 20, 2017

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Gary Glenn's Greatest Battle

Gary Glenn
You have read about Gary Glenn on these pages before.  We believe he is one of America's most promising political leaders.  

Gary was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2014, representing the 98th House District serving Bay and Midland counties. He serves as vice chairman of Michigan's House Energy Policy Committee and on the House Commerce and Trade, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Tax Policy committees.  In 2015, the Michigan Information and Research Service, Lansing's oldest daily legislative news service, selected Gary from among 55 first-term state representatives and senators as its MIRS "Freshman Legislator of the Year".  In the current session of the Legislature, the Republican House Caucus selected him as Associate Speaker of the House Pro Tem.  But it was in this past year, while never missing a vote, committee meeting, or caucus in the state House that Gary, with God's grace and the help of a loving wife, waged the greatest battle of his life.  Following is the story of that battle and the testimony of a valiant soldier of Christ.

Life changed one year ago today, January 15, 2016, when I stopped by Mid-Michigan Medical Center on the way to my son's basketball game for a quick MRI to locate what was expected to be a herniated disk that was causing severe pain in my leg. Never made it to the game, as they walked me from the MRI to the Emergency Room instead after what the MRI found was stage 4 "metastatic" cancer -- specifically, a tumor that had eaten away an entire vertebrae and broken my back.
Further tests indicated that the tumor had originated in my prostate, with a very high PSA score of 348 (anything over a 4 being considered a warning sign of cancer). After five heavy radiation treatments over the next six days, the PSA score had dropped to 100. My personal physician called that a "near miracle."
In the days that followed the front page news of my diagnosis, we know thousands of prayers were offered on my behalf -- from Midland Baptist (my church) to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to a Catholic mass in Washington, D.C., to dozens of other churches in Michigan and beyond that wrote to say they'd put my family and me on their prayer lists.
The House Republican caucus didn't just pray, but laid hands on me and prayed. And five weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, the University of Michigan Cancer Center told me the cancer was in remission, with a PSA score of 0.2. (If dropping from 348 to 100 was a "near" miracle, what was dropping four weeks later to 0.2?)
The first night in the emergency room, the neurosurgeon said he'd have to perform surgery to insert a titanium cage into my spinal column to replace the destroyed vertebrae, and fitted me with a back brace -- to hold me together? -- in the meantime. But as we watched the X-rays over the next four months, we saw the black hole in my spinal column where a vertebrae used to be start filling in again with white. A new vertebrae has since grown back out of nothing. (Since multiple doctors told me that doesn't happen, and it caught a brain surgeon by surprise, what do we call that?) In May, he told me to take off the brace, work my way back into normal activity, and he didn't need to see me again. A few weeks ago, I played basketball again for the first time in over a year.
But all that was the easy part. After they told me I was in remission, UM Cancer Center said they still wanted me to undergo five months of chemotherapy to help ensure the cancer doesn't start growing again, or least delay the time until it does. That was the brutal part, worse than the cancer itself. Steroids. Hormone drugs. Chemicals whose purpose was to damage and destroy my cells. Incomprehensible weakness. Gaining nearly 60 pounds and ten inches on my waist in three months.
Not only pretty devastating physically, but certainly a lifestyle shock to a guy who'd kept in shape, worked out, chopped wood for weeks every fall, played basketball twice a week, and otherwise held the old man body at bay through age 57. But, praise the Lord, at least I'm still standing. And I hope to call back the mental toughness and discipline of Army basic training and football and track practices of years past to work my way back to the condition I was before.
Through all the above, I never missed a vote, committee meeting, or caucus in the state House, but only because my wife Annette drove me back and forth to Lansing for five months when I was, literally, unconscious. The steroid high of the chemotherapy would keep me on my feet for the legislative session days Tuesday through Thursday, then I'd crash hard when the steroids wore off, Annette would drive me home to go to bed each Thursday night, and I wouldn't get up again until the following Tuesday morning to go back to Lansing. Only by God's grace and provision of strength, "lest any man should boast" -- and Annette's sacrifice of the time she'd planned to spend at home with our youngest child the last year he'll be living with us -- was I able to continue to do the job to which I'd been elected.
Now, six months after the last chemo treatment in late July, my hair is growing back, my strength is slowly returning, I've lost some of the weight and inches, and the PSA score is now less than 0.02, the lowest it's been yet.
I'm thankful. To my wife. To my children. To my mother and sisters. To my friends. To my pastor and my church. To legislative colleagues who helped hold me up. To all of you who prayed for and encouraged us over the last twelve months. To all the doctors and nurses and technicians at Mid-Michigan Medical Center and the UM Cancer Center.
And most of all, for the healing power of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, called down by thousands of prayers on my behalf, Whose faithfulness sustained and strengthens me for the challenges ahead. I look forward to discovering whatever work for which He's kept me this side of heaven, because I believe we are all here for a purpose, and so long as the Lord gives me breath, I intend to fulfill mine.
Please continue to keep my family and me in your prayers, and may God bless and keep us strong for the fight!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Father Rutler: Painting on the Canvas of History

Painting landscapes in the classical academies was done indoors, to “improve upon nature” the way formal gardens arrange flowers according to geometry. In the nineteenth century, the painters of the Barbizon and Hudson River schools began to paint outdoors (“en plein air”), trying to show nature as it is. The invention of portable easels and oil paint in tubes like toothpaste made it easier to move out from the studio. A painting by John Singer Sargent showing Monet at his easel in the woods of Giverny is a splendid picture within a picture, emphasizing the care taken to get the diffused light just right, so that nature looks really natural.

We would have no art, and no urge to paint—whether as cavemen painting antelope or Frans Hals painting men drinking beer—were it not for the fact that humans are in the image of God who made the whole universe his canvas. He chose the Holy Land as the scenery for history’s greatest event.

Israel is only about the size of New Jersey, and yet its topography moves from the snow-capped Mount Hermon down to the lowest spot on our planet: the Dead Sea. In between, at the trickle of a river between the two, John saw the Lord approaching and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). The baptism of Christ, which was an illustration of how the human race will be cleansed of corrupting pride, and which is celebrated after the Feast of the Epiphany on the liturgical calendar, anticipates the baptism the Church offers: not a poetic symbol, but an actual change in the soul so that it becomes what the art of God wants it to be.

Baptism is not an option. It is the “the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Positive proof of this effect is the holiness of saints, and the majesty of Christ himself. Negative proof is the viciousness of evil when it is allowed to act freely. Picture the carnage in Istanbul on the Feast of the Mother of God, when scores of people were killed and wounded by a man dressed as Santa Claus.

At the Council of Nicaea, three centuries before the rise of Islam with its denial of Christ as the Lamb of God, Saint Nicholas challenged Arius for having similarly rejected the truth. And denial of the truth has deadly consequences. “The man who denies that Jesus is the Christ—he is the liar, he is Antichrist; and he is denying the Father as well as the Son, because no one who has the Father can deny the Son, and to acknowledge the Son is to have the Father as well” (1 John 2:22-23). All this was painted by God on the canvas of history.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bergoglio The Merciful

(Image: Palace of the Holy Office; Headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)

From OnePeterFive
Pope Orders Cardinal Müller to Dismiss Three CDF Priests 

Marco Tosatti, the well-informed and well-respected Italian Vatican specialist, has just revealed another quite troubling development in Rome. On 26 December, Tosatti reports on his own website Stilum Curiae that Pope Francis had just ordered the Prefect of one Vatican dicastery to dismiss three of his priests from their duties in their congregation.

My own research has shown that this incident occurred at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and that it was Cardinal Gerhard Müller himself who now has to obey these peremptory new orders. Additionally, I was able to discover that the three priests involved are, respectively, of a Slovakian-American, French, and Mexican nationality. (One of my sources is a friend of one of these three theologians.) However, the last of these three might now, after all, be able to remain a little longer in his current position at the Congregation.

Let us now consider some of the specific details of what Marco Tosatti himself has perceptively gathered for us. He starts his article with a reference to Pope Francis’ usual rebuke of the Roman Curia at his Christmas address to the Curia and detects the pope’s obvious anger in his words and gestures. When looking over to the Curia itself, however, Tosatti perceives something else than a reciprocal anger to be present among the curial members: “It is not about their resistance, but about their fear, their discontent, and a kind of feeling that belongs to another context altogether.”

Read more at OnePeterFive >>

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A History of Her Majesty the Queen's Christmas Day Broadcast

Christmas 2016 Broadcast of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

"the value of doing small things with great love" 

Pope Benedict XVI Homily for Christmas Midnight Mass, 25 December 2007



Saint Peter's Basilica
Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:6f.). These words touch our hearts every time we hear them. This was the moment that the angel had foretold at Nazareth: “you will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31). This was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours – the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined: when God would take care of us, when he would step outside his concealment, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things. We can imagine the kind of interior preparation, the kind of love with which Mary approached that hour. The brief phrase: “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes” allows us to glimpse something of the holy joy and the silent zeal of that preparation. The swaddling clothes were ready, so that the child could be given a fitting welcome. Yet there is no room at the inn. In some way, mankind is awaiting God, waiting for him to draw near. But when the moment comes, there is no room for him. Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others – for his neighbour, for the poor, for God. And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others.

Saint John, in his Gospel, went to the heart of the matter, giving added depth to Saint Luke’s brief account of the situation in Bethlehem: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11). This refers first and foremost to Bethlehem: the Son of David comes to his own city, but has to be born in a stable, because there is no room for him at the inn. Then it refers to Israel: the one who is sent comes among his own, but they do not want him. And truly, it refers to all mankind: he through whom the world was made, the primordial Creator-Word, enters into the world, but he is not listened to, he is not received.

These words refer ultimately to us, to each individual and to society as a whole. Do we have time for our neighbour who is in need of a word from us, from me, or in need of my affection? For the sufferer who is in need of help? For the fugitive or the refugee who is seeking asylum? Do we have time and space for God? Can he enter into our lives? Does he find room in us, or have we occupied all the available space in our thoughts, our actions, our lives for ourselves?

Thank God, this negative detail is not the only one, nor the last one that we find in the Gospel. Just as in Luke we encounter the maternal love of Mary and the fidelity of Saint Joseph, the vigilance of the shepherds and their great joy, just as in Matthew we encounter the visit of the wise men, come from afar, so too John says to us: “To all who received him, he gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). There are those who receive him, and thus, beginning with the stable, with the outside, there grows silently the new house, the new city, the new world. The message of Christmas makes us recognize the darkness of a closed world, and thereby no doubt illustrates a reality that we see daily. Yet it also tells us that God does not allow himself to be shut out. He finds a space, even if it means entering through the stable; there are people who see his light and pass it on. Through the word of the Gospel, the angel also speaks to us, and in the sacred liturgy the light of the Redeemer enters our lives. Whether we are shepherds or “wise men” – the light and its message call us to set out, to leave the narrow circle of our desires and interests, to go out to meet the Lord and worship him. We worship him by opening the world to truth, to good, to Christ, to the service of those who are marginalized and in whom he awaits us.

 In some Christmas scenes from the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, the stable is depicted as a crumbling palace. It is still possible to recognize its former splendour, but now it has become a ruin, the walls are falling down – in fact, it has become a stable. Although it lacks any historical basis, this metaphorical interpretation nevertheless expresses something of the truth that is hidden in the mystery of Christmas. David’s throne, which had been promised to last for ever, stands empty. Others rule over the Holy Land. Joseph, the descendant of David, is a simple artisan; the palace, in fact, has become a hovel. David himself had begun life as a shepherd. When Samuel sought him out in order to anoint him, it seemed impossible and absurd that a shepherd-boy such as he could become the bearer of the promise of Israel. In the stable of Bethlehem, the very town where it had all begun, the Davidic kingship started again in a new way – in that child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The new throne from which this David will draw the world to himself is the Cross. The new throne – the Cross – corresponds to the new beginning in the stable. Yet this is exactly how the true Davidic palace, the true kingship is being built. This new palace is so different from what people imagine a palace and royal power ought to be like. It is the community of those who allow themselves to be drawn by Christ’s love and so become one body with him, a new humanity. The power that comes from the Cross, the power of self-giving goodness – this is the true kingship. The stable becomes a palace – and setting out from this starting-point, Jesus builds the great new community, whose key-word the angels sing at the hour of his birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those whom he loves” – those who place their will in his, in this way becoming men of God, new men, a new world.

Gregory of Nyssa, in his Christmas homilies, developed the same vision setting out from the Christmas message in the Gospel of John: “He pitched his tent among us” (Jn 1:14). Gregory applies this passage about the tent to the tent of our body, which has become worn out and weak, exposed everywhere to pain and suffering. And he applies it to the whole universe, torn and disfigured by sin. What would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation? Anselm of Canterbury, in an almost prophetic way, once described a vision of what we witness today in a polluted world whose future is at risk: “Everything was as if dead, and had lost its dignity, having been made for the service of those who praise God. The elements of the world were oppressed, they had lost their splendour because of the abuse of those who enslaved them for their idols, for whom they had not been created” (PL 158, 955f.). Thus, according to Gregory’s vision, the stable in the Christmas message represents the ill-treated world. What Christ rebuilds is no ordinary palace. He came to restore beauty and dignity to creation, to the universe: this is what began at Christmas and makes the angels rejoice. The Earth is restored to good order by virtue of the fact that it is opened up to God, it obtains its true light anew, and in the harmony between human will and divine will, in the unification of height and depth, it regains its beauty and dignity. Thus Christmas is a feast of restored creation. It is in this context that the Fathers interpret the song of the angels on that holy night: it is an expression of joy over the fact that the height and the depth, Heaven and Earth, are once more united; that man is again united to God. According to the Fathers, part of the angels’ Christmas song is the fact that now angels and men can sing together and in this way the beauty of the universe is expressed in the beauty of the song of praise. Liturgical song – still according to the Fathers – possesses its own peculiar dignity through the fact that it is sung together with the celestial choirs. It is the encounter with Jesus Christ that makes us capable of hearing the song of the angels, thus creating the real music that fades away when we lose this singing-with and hearing-with.

 In the stable at Bethlehem, Heaven and Earth meet. Heaven has come down to Earth. For this reason, a light shines from the stable for all times; for this reason joy is enkindled there; for this reason song is born there. At the end of our Christmas meditation I should like to quote a remarkable passage from Saint Augustine. Interpreting the invocation in the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who art in Heaven”, he asks: what is this – Heaven? And where is Heaven? Then comes a surprising response: “… who art in Heaven – that means: in the saints and in the just. Yes, the heavens are the highest bodies in the universe, but they are still bodies, which cannot exist except in a given location. Yet if we believe that God is located in the heavens, meaning in the highest parts of the world, then the birds would be more fortunate than we, since they would live closer to God. Yet it is not written: ‘The Lord is close to those who dwell on the heights or on the mountains’, but rather: ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted’ (Ps 34:18[33:19]), an expression which refers to humility. Just as the sinner is called ‘Earth’, so by contrast the just man can be called ‘Heaven’” (Sermo in monte II 5, 17). Heaven does not belong to the geography of space, but to the geography of the heart. And the heart of God, during the Holy Night, stooped down to the stable: the humility of God is Heaven. And if we approach this humility, then we touch Heaven. Then the Earth too is made new. With the humility of the shepherds, let us set out, during this Holy Night, towards the Child in the stable! Let us touch God’s humility, God’s heart! Then his joy will touch us and will make the world more radiant. Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Under Fire (1941) | BFI National Archive

Despite the Blitz, it's 'business as usual' as England prepares for Christmas in this propaganda film intended for US audiences. It's a Christmas of holly and barbed wire, guns and tinsel, yet the British, we are told, are determined to make it as cheerful as possible.

"England is fighting for her life", asserts the American narrator, but it is admiration rather than pity that the film seeks to evoke. The filmmakers achieve this with emotions bigger than most 10-minute films could contain, as we watch plucky Londoners creating a subterranean Christmas on Underground platforms and the choristers of King's College sing their hearts out. While no doubt intended to encourage US support in the War, 'Christmas Under Fire' ultimately offers a portrait of a nation "unbeaten, unconquered and unafraid". (Poppy Simpson)

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