Friday, August 15, 2008

Dear Readers, Ramadan begins in September.

On September 1, to be exact. If you've been reading this blog since last year, you remember, I hope, what that means:

The 30 Days International prayer initiative begins soon. This blog will provide daily updates during the month of Ramadan so that we as Christians can pray for Muslims to come to a living faith in Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 NAV)

My dear readers, as Catholics and other Christians we should remember that God "...will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:4 NAV) Perhaps during this month of Ramadan you would also consider whether or not God may be calling you to be a missionary or evangelist to Muslims in this world? It is difficult to reach Muslims with the Gospel, but it is not impossible. Let us spend this month in prayer asking God "to send forth" more "laborers into His harvest" in Muslim lands.

Resources to help you:

Order the 30 Days prayer booklet

Download the PDF version

Subscribe to the e-mail list

Other things Catholics can do:

Find out the names of Muslim religious leaders in your city and have Masses said for their conversion.

Make a Holy Hour for Muslim neighbors.

Pray a rosary for the conversion of Muslims on one day, and the next day pray a rosary for those who are working to win them to Christ. Ask especially for the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.

Buy the book Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics. Read it.
Let it inform your prayer life. Learn about Islam, and learn more about your faith, too. Consider passing this book along to other people in your parsih, especially teens and twenty-somethings.

Ask God to burden your heart for Muslims.

Encourage others to pray, read, have Masses said, etc.

And don't forget:

You'll learn more about Islam and how to reach Muslims for Christ from Abu Daoud than you will from me. Visit his site often!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To those of you whom I met at the Courage Conference:

Welcome to my blog!

I was on vacation last week, and what a great vacation it was!

I spent Wednesday and Thursday visiting a religious order I'm looking into, and finished out the week with the annual Courage Conference on Friday through Sunday. I want to write about both experiences, but for now I'm only going to give highlights:

The religious order is the Oblates of Saint Joseph. I visited the Pennsylvania Province. When I first contacted Father Paul McDonnell, he sent me a little booklet entitled Perpetual Novena in Honor of Saint Joseph and Saint Joseph Marello. In the Pennsylvania Province (I don't know about the California Province), the novena is held every Wednesday evening, and it has pretty good attendance. Ever since Father Paul sent me that little booklet, I've wanted to pray the novena with the community there, and was finally able to do so during my trip. Also, every first Thursday of the month, the Oblates hold a Holy Hour for vocations. This last Thursday was the first Thursday of August, and so I was able to participate in that, too! Whenever you get a chance to go before the Blessed Sacrament, do it!

The Courage conference was from Thursday, August 7 to Sunday, August 10. My original plan had been to visit the Oblates from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning, making the full conference, but my car gave me trouble on Tuesday morning. Hence, I got to the conference on Friday morning, just at the end of the first session.

Highlights of the conference:

Meeting J. Frank Pate of And Also With You! He and I were becoming friends before the conference thanks to e-mail, phone conversations, and each others' blogs, but meeting in person rather cemented our friendship, I think. I wish we'd had more one-on-one time together, as we'd planned to spend some prayer time together, but weren't able to accomplish it.

On the last day of the conference I spoke with Father John Harvey, the founder of Courage. He retired recently; his 90th birthday was inApril. I hope I wasn't rude, but I told him he'd probably be getting to Heaven before I do (if I make it--dear readers, let us pray for one another!), and asked him to pray for me there. He said he would. On an impulse, I asked him if I could hug him, he said "Of course" and then said, "Here, I'll give you a blessing now," at which point he placed his hand on my head and called for God's blessing on me and my loved ones.

I met some great people at the conference, heard some great talks, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The Men's Courage meetings were the two best workshops. During the first one, we had a meditation on the Stations of the Cross adapted to the trials of men bearing the cross of SSA. At the time, it didn't move me, but as the days wore on, it grew on me. I have a copy of them and have the permission of their author to post them on my blog, which I will do so over the next few weeks or months.

One of the workshops was "Releasing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit". It was about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and asking Him to give His gifts to you. One of the exercises was writing letters to Jesus telling Him how you feel about knowing Him better, His healing in your life, and helping other people know Him better. This was awesome, and I think letter writing will become part of my devotional life again (I used to do this as a teenager).

The great thing of the conference was meeting everyone I was able to meet! There's a Star Trek novel, the name of which escapes me, wherein the Enterprise visits a planet with a global transporter network. In the novel, it takes something like 30 seconds to travel anywhere else on the planet. I would love to have such a thing so we could all visit each other. Oh well.

There's more to write about, but I'm sleepy! It's 1:25pm which makes it 3 hours past my bedtime! Good night!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Some of my Favorite Links...

...None of which are in the side bar.

I thought you might enjoy a little excursion into the weirdness of my web-browsing habits. These are web sites I visit occasionally for fun, information, etc.

Brickfilms - Movies made with LEGOs! Highly recommended: The Gauntlet and The Barber of Seville.

Reasons to Believe - an Old Earth Creationist web site. Much more intelligent, trustworthy, and informative than Young Earth Creationists. (I mistrust Young Earth Creation "scientists" because most of them seem to be Fundamental Baptists, and, having been raised as a Fundamental Baptist, I know how many lies and how much mis-information is spread in such circles.)

Johannesen Printing and Publishing - If you know anything about C.S. Lewis, you know who George MacDonald is, and you can purchase e-books or leather bound editions of all MacDonald's books here. (I've yet to do so, although I've had this site bookmarked for years!)

Project Gutenberg - Free e-books. Thousands of them, all in the public domain and downloadable to your computer.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church online!

Frederica Mathewes-Green - My favorite Orthodox author and journalist. I highly recommend her essay "From Agnostic to Christian".

Father James V. Schall of Georgetown University - Called by some "the modern day Chesterton". See also this link.

The Official Peter Kreeft web site - 'nuff said, I think.

A Hypertext Book of Hours - Catholic Devotions from the Middle Ages.

The Cyberhymnal - Protestant hymns complete with lyrics and MIDI files.

The Pontificate of John Paul II
- a great tribute to John Paul II at the Hol See's web site.

Starship Exeter - A fan version of Star Trek. It takes them for ever to get new episodes out, but they're worth the wait. These are people who created this series for fun. Their special effects are pretty cool. As you watch Act Two of the episode The Tressaurian Intersection, pay attention to the beam-out/beam-in. Her shadow dissolves and reappears with her!

How Many Countries can You Name in Five Minutes?

Rooibos tea from South Africa - I once made the acquaintance of an au pair from South Africa working here in the U.S. She told me Americans don't know what real tea is, and she made me a cup of Rooibos. It is quite delicious!

- an order of Cistercian Monks that sells computer equipment and accessories, as well as more traditional items, for the support of their abbey and other charities. Great deals, great deeds!

Jimmy Akin on Genesis chapter One
- good insight, I think.

Avery Cardinal Dulles on the Population of Hell
- something we modern Catholics need to seriously consider.

N.T. Wright's home page!

Cool Websites, Software, and Internet tips.

That's all for now, folks.


Conspiracy theories

Several persons of my acquaintance are believers in conspiracy theories. I do consider one of these people a good and close friend, and as for the remainders, one I classify as "somewhat more than an acquaintance" and the other is classified as "not an enemy"). There are a couple of web articles I try to get all three of them to read, but with no success. You, my Reading Public, may be interested in these articles. So, for your reading pleasure, follow the links below:

Tinfoil Nation: Why 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Linger.

Christians and Conspiracy Theories: A Call to Repentance.

Friday, August 1, 2008

More on the PZ Myers Debacle.

From GodSpy webzine:

Christian Witness in the Aftermath of Hate.

Hat tip to Mark Shea (you'll get more out of reading his blog at any given moment than you will out of reading mine weeks in a row).

The Story of How Mr. and Mrs. H and I lost contact...

...and Found Each Other Again after Several Years.

Mr. and Mrs. H and I used to attend the same church, the charismatic one I left because of the heresy being taught there. (In fact, I'll name it: Detroit World Outreach. It's under new leadership now, although it still teaches that Prosperity Gospel crap*, see point 10.) They left a year or two before I did. I'm not sure why. I probably should have asked them about that before I started this post. Like me, they were still Evangelicals for a few years after leaving DWO.

The church definitely had its problems with incorrect doctrine, but many of the smaller groups felt like family. For example, Mr. and Mrs. H. and I were involved in the College-and-Career ministry for a few years. And the C-n-C was indeed like a family. We worshipped together, served each other, ministered with each other, loved and discipled each other, and some of us even lived with each other: three other guys from the group and I rented a four bedroom house, and lots of people in the group were roommates in other places.

Mr. H. and I were pretty good friends. He and I are both of an intellectual bent, so it was good for us to be around each other: when we're together, neither one of us can pretend to be smarter than we really are. I was anti-Catholic in your typical Fundamentalist/Evangelical way, and Mr. H. was, too, but a bit more vehement in his anti-Catholicism.

So, after Mr. and Mrs. H. left DWO, we lost contact for several years. We both changed jobs, and went on with life. I left DWO, moved in with a friend from that church, and then lost my job. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck at the time (heck, I'm still doing that!), and so moved back in with my parents. I got a job with SYSCO Food Services of Detroit, and, for a few short weeks, was on the afternoon shift. I'd get up around 10am every day. One day I did so, and went to a Mexican restaurant within walking distance of my parents' for breakfast, (I don't like traditional breakfast foods). Mr. H. just "happened" to be working in that city and driving by the restaurant at the time that I was leaving it to walk home. He followed me there, rang the doorbell, and was I surprised and glad to see him! We only had a few minutes, so we exchanged phone numbers and chatted just a bit. He asked me "So, what's new?" Well, this was a mere two or three weeks since I'd decided to join the Catholic Church, so, although I was nervous to tell him about it (because, as stated above, he was more vehemently anti-Catholic than I), I told him about my decision to join the Catholic Church. He reacted exactly opposite what I expected. Instead of his countenance falling and him giving me a lecture on why Catholic teachings are un-Biblical, he got a big grin on his face and said, "Mrs. H. and I are joining the Church, too!" I could have fallen like a lead balloon! I couldn't believe it! We planned to call each other soon, and have a personal visit. We've been re-connected ever since, and they are much better friends to me than I am to them. And I still can't get over how God brought us together again.

*just so you know exactly how I feel about it!