Culture

Giving Birth After Death

In via First Thoughts:

Sign of the times of the day:

The family of Chen Aida Ayash, a 17-year-old schoolgirl who died after being hit by a car last week, was granted a petition to have her eggs harvested and frozen, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported.

The ruling raises the possibility that, for the first time, a mother could give birth after her death, a development that raises legal and ethical questions that are likely to trouble conservatives in Israel and elsewhere in the world.

Few countries have legislation covering posthumous egg harvesting, although the extraction of sperm from the corpses men who have given consent prior to death has become fairly common. There have been dozens of such cases in the United States alone.

Last year, judges and doctors in the US turned down a petition filed by another family to extract eggs from the ovary of a brain dead air hostess on the grounds that she had expressed no desire to have children before she was struck down with a heart attack.

Ethically, morally and theologically, this is just so wrong!

Bible Archaeology

Roman Sword and Stone Object (with Menorah on it) Found in Jerusalem Drain

Another neat archaeological find(s) in Jerusalem dating to the first-century AD.

CNN is reporting:

Israel’s Antiquities Authority announced Monday that a rare Roman sword in its leather scabbard which belonged to a Roman soldier and an engraving of a Menorah on a piece of stone dating from 66 CE were found in recent days in the 2000 year old drainage system in Jerusalem which ran between the City of David and the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden.

Professor Ronny Reich told CNN that the sword probably belonged to a Roman infantryman stationed in Jerusalem during the Great Revolt (66 CE). At the time there were four Roman legions stationed in the area. This is the third Roman sword found in Jerusalem but what distinguishes this find is the fine state of preservation of the sword: it is around 60 cm (about 24 inches) in length, it was found in a leather scabbard and some of the decoration on the sword was preserved.

The stone artifact with an etching of the Menorah was found in the soil near the drainage channel. The etching was probably done by a sharp nail according to Reich. “The importance of the etching,” according to Reich, “is the depiction of the base of the Menorah which clarifies what the original base of the Menorah looked like: a quadrapod resting on a frame that was on the floor.” The proximity of the find to the Temple Mount is also important and the researchers of the dig Eli Shukron from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Reich believe a passerby who saw the Menorah with his own eyes drew his impression of it on a stone.

The Menorah was one of the holy objects inside the Temple.

The dig has uncovered so far half of the old drainage channel, which is around 600 meters (yards). In earlier digs the archaeologists found traces of people who lived in the drainage channels hiding from the Romans during the time of the Second Temple’s destruction. The drainage channels were also used by people to flee the besieged city.

The find comes on the eve of Tisha B’Av which is a fast day in Judaism which commemorates the destruction of the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem.

The official Israel Antiquities Authority Press Release is here (with the high resolution photographs).

On the eve of Tisha B’Av, artifacts were exposed that breathe new life into the story of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem:

A sword in a scabbard that belonged to a Roman soldier and an engraving of the Temple’s menorah on a stone object were discovered during work the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted in the 2,000 year old drainage channel between the City of David and the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden

The channel served as a hiding refuge for the residents of Jerusalem from the Romans during the destruction of the Second Temple.

During the course of work the Israel Antiquities Authority carried out in Jerusalem’s ancient drainage channel, which begins in the Siloam Pool and runs from the City of David to the archaeological garden (near the Western Wall), impressive finds were recently discovered that breathe new life into the story of the destruction of the Second Temple…

More here.

What nice finds!

UPDATE:  The Associated Press also reports on the above and has some further photos here.

Church

Let St Dominic Teach Us How to Pray

The New Theological Movement has a really helpful post on this, the Feast Day of St Dominic:

Nearly every Catholic – in fact, nearly every person in general – wants to know how to pray better. We know that prayer is all powerful, because it derives all its power from the omnipotent Godhead. Still, we may wonder, How do we pray well? And, more specifically, How do we pray a holy hour (or any serious length of mediation) well?

When it comes to such a serious question, one which results in nothing less than eternal life or eternal death, we must turn to true masters: The great saints of the Tradition! Among them all, St. Dominic stands out as a true master of the spiritual life – the spirituality of St. Dominic, together with that of St. Francis, carried the Church from the medieval period into the modern age. Today, his feast day, it is fitting that we should look to the saint of the Guzmán family, and learn from him the way of prayer.

The nine ways of prayer of our holy father Dominic“The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic” were composed by a Bolognese author (around the year 1260). The work describes the ways of prayer of which St. Dominic himself made use. [see of the complete text of of The Nine Ways of Prayer, here]

“Holy teachers like Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory, Hilary, Isidore, John Chrysostom, John Damascene, Bernard, and other saintly Greek and Latin doctors have discoursed on prayer at great length. […] In learned books, the glorious and venerable doctor, Brother Thomas Aquinas, and Albert, of the Order of Preachers, as well as William in his treatise on the virtues, have considered admirably and in a holy, devout, and beautiful manner that form of prayer in which the soul makes use of the members of the body to raise itself more devoutly to God. […] Saint Dominic often prayed in this way, and it is fitting that we say something of his method. […]

“The following, then, are the special modes of prayer, besides those very devout and customary forms, which Saint Dominic used during the celebration of Mass and the praying of the psalmody. In choir or along the road, he was often seen lifted suddenly out of himself and raised up with God and the angels.”

The first way: “Saint Dominic’s first way of prayer was to humble himself before the altar as if Christ, signified by the altar, were truly and personally present and not in symbol alone.”

The second: “Saint Dominic used to pray by throwing himself outstretched upon the ground, lying on his face. He would feel great remorse in his heart and call to mind those words of the Gospel, saying sometimes in a voice loud enough to be heard: O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. [Luke 18:13]”

The third: “At the end of the prayer which has just been described, Saint Dominic would rise from the ground and give himself the discipline with an iron chain, saying, Thy discipline has corrected me unto the end [Psalm 17:36]. This is why the Order decreed, in memory of his example, that all the brethren should receive the discipline with wooden switches upon their shoulders as they were bowing down in worship and reciting the psalm Miserere [Psalm 50] or De Profundis [Psalm 129] after Compline on ferial days.”

The fourth: “After this, Saint Dominic would remain before the altar or in the chapter room with his gaze fixed on the Crucified One, looking upon Him with perfect attention. He genuflected frequently, again and again. He would continue sometimes from after Compline until midnight, now rising, now kneeling again, like the apostle Saint James, or the leper of the gospel who said on bended knee: Lord, if Thou wilt, thou canst make me clean [Matthew. 8:2].”

The fifth: “When he was in the convent, our holy father Dominic would sometimes remain before the altar, standing erect without supporting himself or leaning upon anything. Often his hands would be extended before his breast in the manner of an open book; he would stand with great reverence and devotion as if reading in the very presence of God. Deep in prayer, he appeared to be meditating upon the words of God, and he seemed to repeat them to himself in a sweet voice.”

The sixth: “Our holy father, Saint Dominic, was also seen to pray standing erect with his hands and arms outstretched forcefully in the form of a cross.”

The seventh: “While praying, he was often seen to reach towards heaven like an arrow which has been shot from a taut bow straight upwards into the sky. He would stand with hands outstretched above his head and joined together, or at times slightly separated as if about to receive something from heaven. One would believe that he was receiving an increase of grace and in this rapture of spirit was asking God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the Order he had founded.”

The eighth: “Our Father, Saint Dominic, had yet another manner of praying at once beautiful, devout, and pleasing, which he practiced after the canonical hours and the thanksgiving following meals. He was then zealous and filled with the spirit of devotion which he drew from the divine words which had been sung in the choir or refectory. Our father quickly withdrew to some solitary place, to his cell or elsewhere, and recollected himself in the presence of God. He would sit quietly, and after the sign of the cross, begin to read from a book opened before him. His spirit would then be sweetly aroused as if he heard Our Lord speaking, as we are told in the psalms: I will hear what the Lord God will speak to me. [Psalm 84:9]. As if disputing with a companion he would first appear somewhat impatient in his thought and words. At the next moment he would become a quiet listener, then again seem to discuss and contend. He seemed almost to laugh and weep at the same time, and then, attentively and submissively, would murmur to himself and strike his breast.”

It is good to note that St. Dominic never made use of these first eight forms of prayer in public – We think of G.K. Chesterton’s words about St. Dominic’s greatest son, St. Thomas Aquinas, “For he was, like a sensible man, a mystic in private and a philosopher in public.”

The ninth way of prayer follows at the end of our little article.

What is particularly notable about all these ways of prayer is that the body is united to the soul in offering worship and adoration to the living God. This is one reason why many fail in prayer: They do not realize that the postures of the body are generally necessary for the disposing of the soul toward meditation. This is why Archbishop Fulton Sheen insisted that a holy hour be done kneeling, rather than seated.

How to make a holy hour with St. DominicIf we wish to know how to make a profitable holy hour, we may well consider the teaching of St. Dominic (which he gave more in actions than in words). Specifically, we look to the first four ways of prayer which follow successively one upon the other to form a unified whole, such that they make up a single period of meditation which tends at the end toward infused contemplation…

Read on here.