Copernicus Identified

29 November 08 | Posted in Events, Global Catholic

Archaelogists reported they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus.

Swedish genetics expert Marie Allen analyzed DNA from the bones and compared it to that taken from two hairs retrieved from a book that the Polish astronomer owned.

The discovery put an end to centuries of speculation about the final resting place of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the sun as the center of the universe. Copernicus died at age 70 in 1543.

Polish archaeologist Jerzy Gassowski told a news conference forensic reconstruction of the skull his team found in 2005 buried in a cathedral in Frombork, Poland, bears striking resemblance to portraits of the 16th century astronomer.

The reconstruction shows a broken nose and other features that resemble a self-portrait of Copernicus, and the skull bears a cut mark above the left eye that corresponds to a scar in the painting. copernicus.jpg

St. Columba and the Loch Ness Monster

11 November 08 | Posted in Animals, Arts and Letters, Events, Global Catholic, Saints

St. Adamnan, the biographer of St. Columba, recorded an encounter with the Loch Ness Monster in 565 A.D. colm-cille.JPG

St. Columba was on his way to visit with the Pictish king in Inverness, came upon some Picts burying the remains of one of their people. They told Columba that the poor man had been bitten and mauled to death by a water monster.

The dead man’s boat lay on the other side of the water.  Columba ordered one of his followers to swim across and retrieve the boat.

One of his companions, Lugneus Mocumin, stripped down to his tunic and plunged into the water.

The monster saw him swimming, and having tasted blood, broke the surface of the water and made for him. Everyone who was watching was horrified, and hid their eyes in terror.

In the words of St. Adaman: “The monster suddenly rushed out and giving an awful roar, darted after him with its mouth wide open, as the man swam in the middle of the stream.”

St. Columba raised his hand, made the sign of the Cross and “commanded the ferocious monster saying, ‘Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.’ Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and feld more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes.”

The Lourdes Grotto

22 October 08 | Posted in Global Catholic, Saints, Spirituality

“According to Bernadette, the apparition asked for a church to be built, and today a vast basilica rises above the shrine, visible testimony to the wealth and power of the institutional Church.”

“Yet the spiritual life of Lourdes is focused on the grotto and its surroundings beneath the basilica, and this topography acts as a metaphor for the relationship between the religious institution and the powerful undercurrent of faith that it can never fully control.” grotte-lourdes-b.jpg

“The rocks around the grotto have been worn smooth by the touch of millions of hands, and there is a sense of something visceral, pagan even, about the way in which Catholic devotions and prayers melt and mingle with the…mystery of a God both veiled and revealed in earth, wind and fire, in rocky wildernesses and the untameable persistence of nature in the face of all our civilizing and controlling impulses.”

“Surely, an incarnational faith is one which situates itself in such a space of encounter between the sublime and the ridiculous – between the inscrutable majesty of God, and the often foolish muddle of our human emotions.” lourdes-boy.jpg

From “An Immense Maternal Presence,” an article by Tina Beattie in the September 13, 2008 edition of The Tablet.

Honoring Sr. Dorothy Strang

28 September 08 | Posted in Events, Global Catholic, Social Justice, Stewardship

Call to Action’s 2008 Leadership Award will be given posthumously to Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Dorothy “Dot” Strang, shot to death February 12, 2005 in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Strang spent 40 years in Brazil defending the rights of peasant farmers and protecting the environment. dorothystrang.jpg

Honoring Sr. Dorothy is uniquely appropriate at this year’s CTA conference, which places “Our Earth” at the center of our efforts to “Embrace the Beloved Community.” The conference is scheduled for November 7-9, 2008 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Affectionately known as the “Angel of the Amazon,” Strang worked tirelessly to empower the peasant settlers of the Amazon. She educated them about land tenures and the importance of protecting their homes in the rainforest. Together with the Brazilian government, Sr. Dorothy and the peasants created and eventually succeeded in implementing the first viable sustainable development project – a new model for the future.

A citizen of Brazil and the United States, Sr. Dorothy worked with the Pastoral Land Commission, an organization of the Catholic Church that fights for the rights of rural workers and peasants, and defends land reforms in Brazil.

Her death came less than a week after meeting with the country’s human rights officials about threats to the local farmers from loggers and large landowners who coveted the resources on their lands.

It has been estimated that 15,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest are lost every year to clear cutting and cattle pasturing. This is an area about the size of the state of Massachusetts. Another 7,000-15,000 is also lost to timber harvesting. Environmental degradation of the water, soil and animal habitats accompanies the logging.

Strang was shot six times at point blank range and left to die on a muddy road. The killers were paid $40 for her murder.

Commenting on the threats shortly before her death, Strang said “I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers to live without any protection in the forest.  They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”

Her brother, David Strang, and the superior of her community, Sr. Joan Krimm, are planning to attend the CTA conference to accept the award in Dorothy’s honor. Also hoping his schedule will allow him to attend is actor and Catholic peace-justice activist, Martin Sheen. Sheen is the narrator in a new documentary film, They Killed Sister Dorothy.

Becoming Fully Ourselves

10 September 08 | Posted in Animals, Arts and Letters, Global Catholic, Spirituality

In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis writes of a great journey through Heaven and Hell in a manner similar to Dante’s Inferno.  As they enter heaven, the visitor observes a woman enfolded in the glory of the divine energies surrounded by animals. The visitor is awed–thinking this is the BVM.

When he finally gets up his courage to ask the bus driver about the woman, the driver responds that no, this isn’t the BVM, but some humble woman who had rescued all of these creatures of God, and in her care, they became fully themselves. I would take Lewis a step further, in relationship with these animals, the woman also became more fully herself as well. They were her companions in prayer and life.

– From the blog, Bending the Rule

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