Archive for the ‘Christians’ Category

Christians worldwide marks Palm Sunday

April 6, 2009

There is always grief as the Christian world enters the Holy Week to observe the passion and death of Jesus Christ. This Sunday, April 5, 2009, commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus to Jerusalem in a donkey — a prelude to the observance of his way to Calvary and the crucifixion, 2,000 years ago.

With branches of olives and palms, Catholics remember the crowd that welcomed Jesus during the Jewish passover. Catholics retraces the path of the cross till His death on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

In Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI led the celebration attended by thousands of pilgrims in the Square of St. Peter’s Basilica. In a clear day abundant sun, the pontiff and the people solemnly prayed for the African migrants who where lost at sea crossing the Mediterranean Sea on their way to a better place in Europe. The day is also offered to the youth who will celebrate the next youth day in Spain. (Photo Credit: KregSteppe; Newsbreaker) =0=

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Survey says a rising number of Americans have “no religion”

March 11, 2009

The poll made by Program of Public Virtues of Trinity College in Hartford, CT between February and November last year reported that only 76.7% of Americans identified themselves as Christians, a 9.5% decline from the 86.2% in the 1990’s. Most of the attrition comes from non-Catholic denominations. The percentage of Catholics has significantly increased in the Southwest, greater than in the Northeast, shifting attention to the needs of Hispanics in the Roman Catholic Church.

Additional findings of the American Religious Identification Survey include:
1. Americans claiming “no religion” is up from 8.8% in 1990 to 14.2% in 2001 and 15% in 2008
2. Between 2001 and 2008, 4.7 million Americans claimed to have “no religion”
3. Northern New England is ahead of the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34% with “no religion” leading all other states by 9 points.
4. 90% of the decline among Christians comes from the non-Catholic segment of the Christian population, mostly from mainline denominations, including Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians/Anglicans, and the United Church of Christ. Source: http://usnews.com/ (03/09/0, Gilgoff. D)

This may represent a changing culture—- the rising secularization of United States where having “no religion” has turned to be more socially acceptable than a decade ago. The demographic shift among believers and non-believers may affect the way Americans think, vote, and live on issues like abortion, stem cell research, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and education among others as liberals, leftists, and secular progressives veer away from the Judeo-Christian tradition which is the cornerstone of the moral and cultural values of America since it was established. (Photo Credit emardaalvinbabista) =0=

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Groundhog Day and the Feast of Candlemas

February 2, 2009


Just as Pittsburg football fans celebrated the winning of the Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals in Superbowl XLIII, the residents of Punxsutawney, Pennsylavania saw the shadow of groundhog Phil on early Monday morning of February 2, 2009. The sight of the weather predicting furry badger supposedly indicated winter this year would extend to 6 weeks more.

Punxsutawney Phil came out to be seen by about 13,000 onlookers in a ritual of a small town in the county of Jefferson, PA, 84 miles northeast of Pittsburg.

According to German superstition, if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says, spring will come early..—-Yahoo.news/ AP (02/02/09)

Holiday of Candlemas

The holiday of Candlemas, a tradition of Christians like the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, is commemorated in honor of the Jesus’ presentation in the temple on February 2. It is the day Simeon beheld Jesus as “the light.” The celebration occurs between the December solstice and the March equinox, about halfway prior to the onset of spring.

According to the gospel, Jesus for the first time was brought to the temple in Jerusalem as Mary completed the traditional 40 days of purification after delivery. Jesus as the “Light of the World,” is honored with the blessing of candles to be used through the year. The temple presentation is revered as the 4th mystery of the Catholic’s holy rosary tradition. (Photo Source & Credit: Presentation in the Temple by Ambrogio Lorenzetti PD) =0=

The Presentation of the Temple

by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1344) Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy

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Pope Benedict XVI pleads for unity in the face of economic crisis

December 25, 2008

Amidst the message of joy and hope on Christmas day, December 25, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the world with a reminder of difficulties that lie ahead as people across the globe face the economic downturn.

From the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the supreme leader of Catholics warned against greed which could exacerbate the massive job lay-offs, house forfeitures, and poverty sweeping many nations. He pleaded for poor and rich nations alike to set aside selfishness and work together in unity.

“Wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good … may the light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity…. If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart,” said the Pope.—PDI/AP/AFP (12/25/08}

On celebration of Jesus’ birthday, he touched on the suffering of the African people particularly in trouble-riddled countries like Zimbabwe, Congo, Sudan, and Somalia where political upheavals and socio-economic hardships persist. He denounced terrorism and violence. Heard by thousands who gathered at the basilica’s square, he lamented the unresolved conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

At the Christmas midnight mass he officiated, the pontiff recalled the neglected poor children who fall victims of abuse and he prayed for those left on the streets to fend for themselves or forced to fight in wars. He said the world must do all it can to stop the suffering of the unfortunate people of the world. (Photo Credits: Reuters/ Osservatore Romano; Sam_herd)=0=

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Who is Santa Claus?

December 18, 2008

It’s always good for us to pause
And think awhile of Santa Claus–
That jolly symbol we revere
When we approach the changing year.
Behind his beard so long and white,
In which our children take delight,
There beats a heart from color free
Which bids all children “come to me.”
—MARSHALL M. MORGAN, “The Spirit of Santa Claus”

Santa Claus is anyone who loves another
and seeks to make them happy; who gives
himself by thought or word or deed in every gift
that he bestows; who shares his joys with those
who are sad; whose hand is never closed against
the needy; whose arm is ever outstretched to aid
the weak; whose sympathy is quick and genuine
in time of trouble; who recognizes a comrade
and brother in every man he meets upon life’s
common road; who lives his life throughout
the entire year in the Christmas spirit.
—EDWIN OSGOOD GROVER, Vicki Howard’s The Book of Santa Claus

(Photo Credits: David Wilmot; Reuters/ Romeo Ranoco; AFP/ Yoshikazu Tsuno)

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Religion as a myth, Mother Mary as a nude playboy pin-up girl & a pink Christmas celebration

December 14, 2008

A provocative placard was placed beside a nativity scene in Olympia, Washington USA which says that religion “hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” Coincident to this month’s feast honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mexican edition of Playboy magazine printed a nude cover girl with a white veil resembling the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Amsterdam, Netherlands, gays and lesbians slated a pink Christmas, the first this year, depicting the holy Mary and Joseph as homosexuals in a manger scene.

Mockery of religion has become rampant. Antipathy is more common as the holidays heat up. Disrespect and hostility towards Christian moral values are on the rise, especially among those who feel they aren’t “included” in the Christmas celebration.

Churches, religious groups, and the overwhelming majority of Christians are pitted against misguided seculars and atheists who believe religious faith has no place in society. In their alienation, non-believers seems to be having a foul after-taste of their desolation. It’s a far-cry from the the joy and hope true Christians feel at this time of the year.

The small minority of “Scrooges” in US society (fewer than 20% of the public,) wants to change the texture of culture and religion throughout the world. At Christmas time, extremists desiring to remove faith-based traditions are on the move. They have the backing of legal groups, warped government judges, and liberal supporters. This is ironic because the law guarantees the freedom in the exercise of religion (not from religion.) The government is mandated to protect people in their peaceful expressions of faith.

The controversial campaign by liberal radicals and atheists against God seem directed mostly against Jesus believers whose ethical tenet is to work for peace. With the rise of individualism, social alienation, materialism, and decline of ethical moral values, this isn’t surprising. However, the extreme seculars don’t have the balls to mock other religions like Islam. They can only tackle soft targets. For they know,like in the past, their disrespect can draw them into a real quarrel, hopefully, not a bloody one. (Photo Credits: Gadl; Freedom From Religion Foundation.com; Revista Playboy Mexico/ AP) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Godless world puts Christian identity in peril” Posted by mesiamd at 10/06/2008

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Halloween Hangover

November 2, 2008

For most of us, the celebration of Halloween almost always means fun. The tradition of trick-a-treat, witches, kapre, goblins, ti-anak, jack o’ lantern, bonfires, costume parties, horror movies, and parades has become ever more popular. For the most part, the merriment goes without a hitch.

For Alex Woinksi however, this year’s holiday is different. Donning a crown of thorns and a costume to simulate Jesus Christ, the teenager was forced to go home early from the West Brook Middle School Halloween Celebration in Paramus, New Jersey. That’s upon the advice of his school principal.

It’s the old familiar question about freedom of expression versus the sensitivity and respect towards religion. Liberal society doesn’t see anything wrong with Jesus being impersonated in a pagan celebration like Halloween.

Many accept to see the holy Messiah reviled. He has been depicted as a frog pinned on the cross, prostitute-lover, a homosexual, and a loser immersed in bottle of urine, His mother Mary was “artistically” painted with horse dung—far outrageous than Woinski’s bland JC costume. Liberals and free thinkers justify these indignities as legitimate artsy self-expressions in synch with democratic rights in a modern society.

But those who don’t agree ask about respect over religious beliefs. They know some members of society recklessly push aside sensibility. Can anyone forget the rampage of killings provoked by depicting prophet Mohammed in cartoons published in a Danish newspaper? Does anyone notice how westerners are cowed to repeat the same “sacrilege” towards Islam?

The liberal-secularist point of view seems to play here again. About 75% of respondents in an informal AOL online survey opined it was OK for Woinski to wear the Jesus attire. Many didn’t believe that the costume was offensive to some students. The double-standard people have towards religion and the inconsistency of exercising political correctness make what is right or wrong, relative and contentious. (Photo Credits: Wonksi Family-AOL; pioscor; bcompetent; SD; rewritable) =0=

Banning the words “Muslim” & “Christians” in the media lexicon: ultra-sensitivity & the desire to sanitize reality

October 18, 2008

The Philippines seems to have joined the bandwagon of onion-skinned nations who give lots of thought on words that are otherwise innocuous. Per se, I don’t see anything wrong in using “Muslim” or “Christian” to describe a person, whether he is a criminal or saint. Adjectives make descriptions clear. If one calls a “dirty spade a dirty spade,” then that’s the honest truth. Regardless of whether the spade is sleek clean or dirty, it is objectivity that we desire in communication. Sometimes reality does bite. Risking of minor abrasion, I believe it is better to articulate truth than be restricted from using words that could be helpful in understanding.

The Philippine House Bill 100, now on its way to its third and final reading in congress, proposes to prohibit the use of “Muslim” and “Christian” or any word that indicates religious, regional, or ethnic affiliation. Violators (i.e. newspaper editors using “Muslim terrorists” to describe a convict) are threatened by a hefty fine of P50,000.

Authored by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara with Reps. Pangalian Balindong, Arnulfo Go, Luzviminda Ilagan, Bienvenido Abante, Justin SB Chipeco, Yusop Jikiri, Raul del Mar and Neptali Gonzales, this bill shows how political correctness has crept into our brain like a neuron-gobbling worm. Why have they become wimpy in describing reality?

The “criminalizaton” of specific words in our media lexicon can be a new road to curtail our basic right for free speech. It is an attempt to sanitize reality and reprogram our way of thinking—perhaps to make as feel good that we don’t offend any religious groups including those who want to harm us— even if nasty, libelous, and more vitriolic words are hurled on us in the media everyday. However good-intentioned these congressmen are, they better be specific with the words they want banned. For fairness and balance, it will serve them well to consider adding more negatively charged words in their list such “discriminatory” terms as lesbian, homosexual, mentally retarded, old, disabled, illiterate, obese etc.

Our legislators say the words “Muslim” and “Christian” create “a sweeping generalization on other members of the race, culture or region” when the words are used to describe a suspect or convict. I don’t think this is true. I believe our rational mind doesn’t think this way, unless certain neutral words are accompanied by qualifying statements that lead to a particular derogatory generalization.

The bill’s stand seems distorted by its own tunnel-vision. There is the desire for political correctness and perhaps an inclination for approval. There is that unexpressed subliminal paranoia that we might want to cast away.

As long as “brandings” only refer to the criminals or suspects, those who are unintentionally linked with them by religious or ethnic associations need not worry. It isn’t the media’s fault. The people who make unfounded generalizations and make unfair conclusions are the ones who are culpable. Guilt by association without evidence is often debunked and doesn’t hold credibility in intelligent news reporting. Our legislators must be mature to understand this.

Congressmen may want this House Bill No. 100 like a comfort Barbie doll for all, but they fail to see that many Filipinos are fair, highly discerning, less paranoid, more considerate, and smarter than they think. Rooting for political correctness and becoming hypocritical in the process, at the expense of truth, is not the way to bring peace in the world. It only adds up to the cumbersome double talk that we are too tired of hearing. In spite of our frailties, let us try to work together to build a more honest world. (Photo Credit: VanLuchi; CiudadanoPoeta)=0=

Godless world puts Christian identity in peril

October 5, 2008

In a three-week gathering of 250 bishops from America, Europe, Asia, Pacific, and Africa, Pope Benedict XVI in his Sunday October 5, 2008 mass celebration in the Roman Basilica of St. Paul sounded again the perils faith is facing in the increasing secular society.

The 81-year old pope in his homily said, there are those who say that “God is dead and declare themselves to be the only creator of their own fate, the absolute owner of the world.”

He asked, “”When men proclaim themselves absolute owners of themselves and the only masters of creation, are they really going to be able to construct a society where freedom, justice and peace reign? Is it not more likely — as demonstrated by news headlines every day — that the arbitrary rule of power, selfish interests, injustice and exploitation, and violence in all its forms, will extend their grip?” AFP (10/06/08)

“The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” is the theme of the meeting, the second after Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005 into the papacy. The gathering makes the consultations among bishops all over the globe possible. It is attended by Greek Orthodox Church head Bartholomew I, Israeli Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen and Protestant and Anglican prelates. The bishops from China who represent 8 to 12 million Christian believers are unable to attend because of restrictions imposed by the communist state.

The pope’s comment against loss of the Christian identity is an expression of the urgent need for moral values to return to the world, in particular, in Europe’s secular affairs where Christianity has been barren for years. The weakened religious faith may be part of the increasing secularism, relativism, selfishness, and injustice that trouble many nations worldwide. (Photo Credits: Totie Mesia)=0=

Land domains and the language of peace

August 31, 2008

As pretty as the sea shells that dangle in the wind along pristine shores of Gubat, Sorsogon, the sound of Bicol is as musical as Waray. It’s the language of neighbor-islands that is as wonderful as the photo of polished cowries adorning the shell décors crafted by Gubatnons in the Southern tip of Luzon.

To me, it’s not the differences in how we speak that counts, but the similarities that can help us move on as a nation. By the similar language we speak, we must be blessed in harmony the Warays.

In Apolonio Baylon’s insightful explanation why geography is important in the ultimate solution of the Mindanao strife, I find language as a plus factor for peace. Do Moslems and Christians speak the same language too? We all must seek such commonality more than our difference. We must transcend beyond ethnicity and religion to overcome the barriers of bias and hate.

Sharing a language and redefining territorial boundaries as proposed in MOA-AD may determine how much gold the earth’s bowels can give us, but in finality, the initiatives for peace between us is the way to go in coming to terms with each other— in banishing animosity in our soul. Greater than ourselves and undoubtedly more precious, we must all work for peace. =0=