Where Heaven Falls Prey to Thieves

A short documentary

… about the extensive art theft that has taken place in North Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The theft has taken place with tacit or active approval from the Turkish army.

The plunder not only served as a source of income for criminals in North Cyprus and shady antiquity dealers, it was also an act to eradicate the memory of Cyprus as a Christian country for almost two millenia.

What has happened in the Turkish occupied zone constitutes pillaging of world cultural heritage and is a war crime according to several international conventions.

Give it a look. Very sad, all the destruction.

HT

St Ignatius Loyola

Is the Saint of the Day:

On July 31, the Universal Church marks the feast day of St.  Ignatius of Loyola. The Spanish saint is known for founding the Society  of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, as well as for creating the “Spiritual Exercises” often used today for retreats and individual  discernment.

St. Ignatius was born into a noble family in 1491 in Guipuzcoa,  Spain. He served as a page in the Spanish court of Ferdinand and  Isabella.

He then became a soldier in the Spanish army and wounded his leg  during the siege of Pamplona in 1521. During his recuperation, he read “Lives of the Saints.” The experience led him to undergo a profound  conversion, and he dedicated himself to the Catholic faith.

After making a general confession in a monastery in Montserrat, St.  Ignatius proceeded to spend almost a year in solitude. He wrote his  famous “Spiritual Exercises” and then made a pilgrimage to Rome and the  Holy Land, where he worked to convert Muslims.

St. Ignatius returned to complete his studies in Spain and then  France, where he received his theology degree. While many held him in  contempt because of his holy lifestyle, his wisdom and virtue attracted  some followers, and the Society of Jesus was born.

The Society was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, and it grew  rapidly. St. Ignatius remained in Rome, where he governed the Society  and became friends with St. Philip Neri.

St. Ignatius died peacefully on July 31, 1556. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.

The Jesuits remain numerous today, particularly in several hundred universities and colleges worldwide.

On April 22, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI presided over a Eucharistic  concelebration for the Society of Jesus. He addressed the fathers and  brothers of the Society present at the Vatican Basilica, calling to mind the dedication and fidelity of their founder.

“St. Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God who in  his life put God, his greatest glory and his greatest service, first,” the Pope said. “He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily  celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his  day.”

“Precisely because he was a man of God, St Ignatius was a faithful  servant of the Church,” Benedict continued, recalling the saint’s “special vow of obedience to the Pope, which he himself describes as  ‘our first and principal foundation.’”

Highlighting the need for “an intense spiritual and cultural  training,” Pope Benedict called upon the Society of Jesus to follow in  the footsteps of St. Ignatius and continue his work of service to the  Church and obedience to the Pope, so that it’s members “may faithfully  meet the urgent needs of the Church today.

Wikipedia has more on him here.

And here is a great quote by St Ignatius:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my whole will, all I have and all I possess. You gave it all to me; to you, Lord, I return it. It is all yours: do with me entirely as you will. Give me your love and your grace: this is enough for me.

From the Gospel…

When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” (Jesus) said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over – twelve wicker baskets full.Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

- St Matthew 14:13-21

Federal Appeals Court: Saying ‘Jesus’ During Public Prayer Is Unconstitutional…

Federal appeals court: Saying “Jesus” during public prayer is unconstitutional

As in most counties in America, the Board of Commissioners of Forsyth County, North Carolina, begins its public meetings with an invocation. These prayers are given by local religious leaders on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Given that 95 percent of local religious houses identify as Christian, it’s not surprising that many of the invocations include specifically Christian language, often closing the prayer in the name of “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus.”

Two non-Christians from the community with a population of approximately 350,000 sued, arguing that an invocation mentioning Jesus Christ during a public prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Even though the pair acknowledged that the Supreme Court held public prayers—called “legislative prayers”—are constitutional in the 1983 case Marsh v. Chambers, the federal district court in North Carolina sided with the protestors.

In a stunning decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed that judgment in a 2-to-1 decision, holding in the case Joyner v. Forsyth County that prayers unconstitutionally advance Christianity if references to Jesus are more than isolated, or if the content is otherwise too Christian for the court’s taste…

The rest is in the Washington Examiner here.

Americans Are More Indebted Than the US Government

Yahoo Finance reports:

… Strangely, as the U.S. citizenry passionately criticizes their government for running up the budget deficit, a greater irony is afoot: When it comes to debt management, Americans are sadly worse than their government.

While government debt sits at 94 percent of national revenue, U.S. household debt sits at a whopping 107 percent of personal income. The household balance sheets of Americans are in worse condition than anytime since the Great Depression. The ratio of household debt-to-GDP is greater than anytime since 1929. And while we all are trying to comprehend a poorer nation, many American’s have not yet comprehended their own personal poverty…

Read on here.

… Criticizing government fiscal irresponsibility should in turn lead us to honest self examination…

David and Goliath: David’s Secret Weapon

For something lighter: David’s secret weapon? An Angry Bird:

Monsignor, Priests to Face Joint Trial

The Boston Globe:

Philadelphia – A monsignor who is the only US church official ever charged with transferring pedophile priests to unsuspecting parishes will be tried alongside three priests and a lay teacher accused of rape, a judge ruled yesterday.

Common Pleas Judge Lillian Ransom denied most pretrial requests made by Monsignor William Lynn, two current priests, a former priest, and a former Catholic school teacher. The men wanted their cases tried separately and asked for many of the charges against them to be dismissed.

Lynn, 60, is charged with conspiracy and child endangerment for allegedly transferring priests he believed to be pedophiles. Lynn, who served as secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004 under former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, is the only US church official ever charged for his administrative actions in the sex-abuse scandal.

The four others are charged in the same criminal case with raping boys in their care. Three of them are accused of raping the same child, starting when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999, according to a scathing grand jury report released in February that blamed the church for knowingly harboring priests who abused children.

The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 64, and former priest Edward Avery, 68, are accused of raping the boy in the church sacristy. Prosecutors say former sixth-grade teacher Bernard Shero, 48, raped him during a ride home from school. The fourth defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, 48, is accused of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Yesterday, the judge dismissed only the conspiracy charges involving Shero, saying prosecutors failed to prove he was in collusion with Avery and Engelhardt. Lynn’s attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, objected to the judge’s refusal to dismiss felony child endangerment charges against his client and the refusal to separate his trial from the others, saying the monsignor had no children under his supervision and therefore cannot be guilty of endangering them. Bergstrom asked the judge for certification to appeal to a higher court, which she denied.

If found guilty of the two charges, Lynn could face up to 28 years in prison.

Apple Has 2/3 Share of Mobile Phone Industry Profits

I still prefer using Blackberry:

Apple’s share of the mobile phone industry’s profits has swelled to around two thirds, as the company’s iPhone sales have remained profitable while achieving the top spot in sales.

Even before displacing Nokia as the world’s top smartphone maker in the most recent quarter, Apple has long consumed a disproportionate slice of the industry’s profits.

Apple first grabbed the largest slice of phone profits in mid 2008, just a year after the iPhone went on sale. That slice climbed to 50 percent of the industry’s profits by last year.

This quarter however, an overall decline in profits among top mobile makers kicked Apple’s share of total profits up past 66 percent, with Samsung pulling in the next largest slice of profits with just 15 percent, RIM collecting an 11 percent share, and HTC bringing in 7.4 percent.

Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG all managed to lose money selling phones in the quarter…

More here.

(Though a iPad is a really enticing prospect.)

Ancient Mosaic of Apollo Uncovered in Rome

A rather interesting find:

Rome — Excavations in the bowels of an ancient Roman hill have turned up a well-preserved, late 1st century wall mosaic with a figure of Apollo, nude except for a colorful mantle over a shoulder.

Archaeologists and city officials unveiled the recent find to reporters Friday on the Oppian Hill.

The mosaic-covered wall is 16 meters (53 feet) wide and at least 2 meters (6.6 feet) high. Officials think the wall continues down some 8 meters (26.5 feet) more.

Archaeologists say the wall appears to be in a tunnel built to help support Trajan’s Baths, named for the emperor who ruled from 98 till 117. The mosaic, which also depicts a Muse, apparently embellished a room where wealthy Romans gathered to hear music and discuss art.

In Roman and Greek mythology Apollo, who was the son of Zeus and Leto, was the god of beauty, music, and poetry.

Discovery News has some really great (and close up) photos here.

Drought in Africa

Too terrible

One of the worst droughts in a century, compounded by high food prices and unremitting political strife, is spawning an immense humanitarian crisis on the Horn of Africa. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing their homeland each week; most of those who survive the brutal journey end up in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya. Aid agencies are calling it the worst drought in 60 years. Although centered on Somalia, which lacks a functioning government and suffers from constant battles with Islamic rebels, the crisis has also affected people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Reports suggest parts of Somalia may already be on the verge of famine, a repeat of the emergency situation two decades ago. Resources are woefully inadequate. “Desperate hunger is looming across the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of millions who are struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and conflict,” World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran said in a release.

You can see the rest of the pictures which are very hard to bear here.  

Please pray. And help if and where you can.

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