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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ignatius in Rome

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned a Da Vinci Code tour. Here is a different one, given by Boston College last year (2005), entitled Ignatius in Rome, a "spiritual journey into the heart of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Unfortunately, I can't find any information on the tour for this year, but here are the highlights of the 2005 tour ...

Day 1 - Arrival in Rome, with Mass at the Church of Santa Susanna and a walking tour of the area.



Day 2 - Liturgy at the church of St. Ignazio, built in 1626 by the Jesuit mathematician Orazio Grassi. Afterwards, a visit to the Collegio Bellarmino.


- the interior of St. Ignazio

Day 3 - A visit to the Catacombs of Santa Priscilla (read more about the catacombs), and also, the Church of the Gesu, the church of the Society of Jesus in Rome, with the large St. Ignatius Chapel, which houses the saint's tomb.


- statue above the tomb

Day 4 - A visit to St. Peter's Basilica and seating for the Papal Audience in Square.


- the Vatican

Day 5 - A trip to the Jesuit Curia and a meeting with the General of the Society.

Day 6 - The tour ends with a bus trip to the Church of our Lady of La Storta, which commemorates the place where Ignatius had a vision as he traveled to Rome to see the Pope. Read more.

***

All these posts about tours ... I must need a vacation :-)


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Honour Is Flashed Off Exploit



When things are going badly for me, I tend to become bitter and to give God the cold shoulder. Today I read a poem (see below) by Gerard Manley Hopkins about a saint who endured much misfortune - Alphonsus Rodriguez (1533-1617). He lost his business, and worse, his wife and children, yet his response, at age 35 and with little education, was to apply to enter the Society of Jesus. He wasn't accepted at first, but he didn't give up. He joined the Society after his second application and spent the rest of his life as the doorkeeper of the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. He inspired many with his attitude, including Peter Claver. How I wish I could be more like him.

In Honour Of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.

On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ


Friday, April 28, 2006

Da Vinci Code Tour

The Da Vinci Code ... I'm trying to retain a sense of humor about the book/movie and the ferver surrounding it. So, in that spirit, did you know you can actually go on a Da Vinci Code tour of the locations mentioned in the story?

Here's an abridged virtual tour (pictures but no storyline ... don't want to spoil the surprises). It begins in Paris ...


- The Louvre, where Da Vinci's Last Supper and Mona Lisa hang


- St. Sulpice, a 17th-century church, in whose nave can be found the Rose Line, a narrow brass strip, which marks the original zero-longitude line


- Near the Château de Versailles, is the Château Villette, built on 240-acres in 1668.

And then, on to London ...


- Temple Church, with its rare circular nave, was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and here they can be seen in effigy.


- St. James' Park borders the Houses of Parliament, the Tudor St. James's Palace, and Buckingham Palace, and was acquired by Henry VIII in 1532 for a deer park.


- The religion department of King's College houses the Research Institute in Systematic Theology, one of the world's most advanced religious research libraries.


- Westminster Abbey, where, among other neat things, you can see Sir Isaac Newton's grave and tomb.

And finally, the tour ends in Scotland ...


- Rosslyn Chapel, dedicated to St. Matthew in 1446, the chapel is known for the stone carving inside. Some believe that Rosslyn Chapel is where the Holy Grail is buried.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

AIDS- Africa - the Church

I came across a couple of articles on the subject of AIDS in Africa and the Church ... perhaps this is a sign of a change in the Church's stand on the use of condoms there.

Aids and the lesser evil - the editorial - The Tablet ...

The Vatican could no longer ignore the evidence of a serious division of opinion in the Catholic Church about the use of condoms in the fight against HIV-Aids. It was therefore judicious of Pope Benedict XVI to call for a review of the medical and theological issues soon after his election, a review now being undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Health Care. News of the review coincided with the publication of an interview with Cardinal Martini, widely regarded as the principal alternative candidate for the papacy in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI a year ago, where he added his voice to those of other senior church figures who have expressed similar views in favour of a limited use of condoms. As he put it in an interview with an Italian magazine, there may be occasions where the use of a condom by a married person to protect their spouse from infection could be the lesser evil.

The Church & AIDS in Africa - Condoms & the Culture of Life by Marcella Alsan, MD _ Commonweal ...

This is the reality: a married woman living in Southern Africa is at higher risk of becoming infected with HIV than an unmarried woman. Extolling abstinence and fidelity, as the Catholic Church does, will not protect her; in all likelihood she is already monogamous. It is her husband who is likely to have HIV. Yet refusing a husband’s sexual overtures risks ostracism, violence, and destitution for herself and her children. Given these realities, isn’t opposing the use of condoms tantamount to condemning countless women to death? In the midst of the AIDS epidemic, which has already killed tens of millions and preys disproportionately on the poor, the condom acts as a contra mortem and its use is justified by the Catholic consistent ethic of life.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Diseases of the Powerless

Today at the Google news page, I saw a couple of health stories that caught my eye ... one about AIDS and one about malaria. These two diseases, plus tuberculosis, are most often experienced by people in poverty. The diseases are, to some extent, both preventable and treatable, yet they persist. There are many reasons why, but the biggest factor appears to be money.

Tuberculosis .... Over one third of the world's population, according to the World Gealth Organization, are currently infected with TB, and somewhere in the world, a person is newly infected every second. Most cases of TB occur in Asia and Africa, though in the US, the homeless are a prime target for the disease.

Malaria ... It kills approximately 1.3 - 3 million people a year, mainly in the tropics. Africa accounts for almost 90% of the fatalities. The death rate is expected to double in the next 20 years. Prevention of malaria/mosquito bites is simple ... the use of a bed mosquito net, especially a net treated with insecticide ... yet the cost of this item (about $5.00) is beyond the ability of many to pay. Only 1 out of 20 people in Africa own a bed net.

AIDS ... More than 40 million people are living with the disease worldwide. Recently, the number of women HIV-positive has been increasing. As the WHO states ...

Nowhere is the epidemic’s ‘feminization’ more apparent than in sub-Saharan Africa, where 57% of adults infected are women, and 75% of young people infected are women and girls. Several social factors are driving this trend. Young African women tend to have male partners much older than themselves—partners who are more likely than young men to be HIV-infected. Gender inequalities in the region make it much more difficult for African women to negotiate condom use. Furthermore, sexual violence, which damages tissues and increases the risk of HIV transmission, is widespread, particularly in the context of violent conflict .... Increases in the percentage of HIV-infected women also appear to be rising in: North America (25% in 2003, compared to 20% in 2001) .... While it is difficult to compare all the regional factors causing this increase, it is clear that gender inequalities—especially the rules governing sexual relationships for women and men—are at the heart of the matter.

The two articles I saw in the news spoke of the effects povery and the allocation of funds have on the progress, or lack thereof, in fighting these diseases ...

Profit motive hurting AIDS fight, speakers say

World Bank Failed in Fight Against Malaria, Health Experts Say

Check out The Global Fund, which was created to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Learn more about The Global Fund here at this United Nations site.