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Archive for November 2013

Thomas Merton

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Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton was born in Prades, France, to artists, Ruth and Owen Merton. His early years were spent in the south of France; later, he went to private school in England and then to Cambridge. Both of his parents were deceased by the time Merton was a young teen and he eventually moved to his grandparents’ home in the United States to finish his education at Columbia University in New York City. While a student there, he completed a thesis on William Blake who was to remain a lifelong influence on Merton’s thought and writings.

But Merton’s active social and political conscience was also informed by his conversion to Christianity and Catholicism in his early twenties. He worked for a time at Friendship House under the mentorship of Catherine Doherty and then began to sense a vocation in the priesthood. In December 1941, he resigned his teaching post at Bonaventure College, Olean, NY, and journeyed to the Abbey of Gethsemani, near Louisville, Kentucky. There, Merton undertook the life of a scholar and man of letters, in addition to his formation as a Cistercian monk.

The thoroughly secular man was about to undertake a lifelong spiritual journey into monasticism and the pursuit of his own spirituality. The more than 50 books, 2000 poems, and numerous essays, reviews, and lectures that have been recorded and published, now form the canon of Merton’s writings. His importance as a writer in the American literary tradition is becoming clear. His influence as a religious thinker and social critic is taking its place alongside such luminaries as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Flannery O’Connor, and Martin Luther King. His explorations of the religions of the east initiated Merton’s entrance into inter-religious dialogue that puts him in the pioneering forefront of worldwide ecumenical movements. Merton died suddenly, electrocuted by a malfunctioning fan, while he was attending his first international monastic conference near Bangkok, Thailand, in 1968.

~Source: Thomas Merton Society of Canada

Click Here to Watch a Short Documentary about Thomas Merton

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Written by MattAndJojang

November 29, 2013 at 10:23 am

Words of Wisdom from Pope Francis

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Pope Francis Caressing A Disfigured Man

Pope Francis Caressing A Disfigured Man

I’m a Catholic, and I just love Pope Francis! He’s now expressing what, all along, I really felt about certain things.

I believe in God, not a Catholic God.

— Pope Francis

Exactly! For me. at the end of the day, religion is really simple. It’s about the love of God. In Christian and Trinitarian terms: it’s simply experiencing the love of God through Christ in the power of the Spirit. After cutting through the maze of theological concepts, legalistic rules, and complex rituals, God is simply a loving God. And His love is not confined to any specific race, nationality, or creed. He is the God and Father of all persons – whether Jew or Greek, Christian or Non-Christian, Believer or Unbeliever. And a person who experiences the love of God shows compassion towards all individuals regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of it.

The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.

— Pope Francis

Sad to say, this is what religion is all about for many people. Religion is something that is used to browbeat people to submission, and to perpetrate the power of so-called spiritual leaders through the use of legalistic rules and threats. Religion is no longer a venue to love God and serve others but is a means to maintain the status quo, sometimes with very harmful consequences (for example, the financial scandal in the Vatican as well as the sexual abuses committed by some church leaders).

~ Matt

To read the entire article click this link: Pope Francis: “I Believe in God, Not In A Catholic God.”

Written by MattAndJojang

November 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm

When Will We Choose To Live More Simply?

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Victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (Photo: Associated Press)

Victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (Photo: Associated Press)


Delivered to the 19th Session of the Conference of the Parties, (Warsaw, November 2013)

This week – even as the world mourns the tragic loss of life in the unprecedented Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippine Islands – political leaders have converged on Warsaw, Poland, in yet another anticipated meeting on climate change. Concerned citizens throughout the world are hoping and praying for prompt and practical results.

The conference follows on the heels of an important report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns of the urgency of immediately addressing the alarming escalation of climate change in order to avoid catastrophic consequences.

Scientists talk of “tipping points” and “abrupt climate change.” Political leaders talk of the “challenges” that lie ahead. Scripture speaks of human crisis and God’s forgiving grace. All three make it clear that the time will come when we must face consequences; the time will come when it is simply too late.

At first glance, it may appear strange for the leader of a religious institution concerned with “sacred” values to be so profoundly involved in “worldly” issues. After all, what does preserving the planet have to do with saving the soul? It is commonly assumed that global climate change and the exploitation of our nature’s resources are matters that primarily concern politicians, scientists and technocrats. At best, perhaps they are considered the preoccupation of interest groups, naturalists or activists.

Nevertheless, there are no two ways of looking at either the world or God. There is no distinction between concern for human welfare and concern for ecological preservation. The way we relate to nature as creation directly reflects the way we believe in God as Creator of all things. The sensitivity with which we handle the natural environment clearly mirrors the sacredness that we reserve for the divine.

Moreover, scientists estimate that those most hurt by global warming in the years to come, are those who can least afford it. According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, the questions that will be asked of us all at the final moment of accountability will not be about our religious observance but on whether we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, comforted the sick, and cared for captives.

Our reckless consumption of the earth’s resources – energy, water, and forests – threatens us with irreversible climate change. Burning more fuel than we need in an overpopulated city, we may contribute to droughts or floods thousands of miles away.

To restore the planet we need a spiritual worldview, which brings frugality and simplicity, humility and respect. We must constantly be aware of the impact of our actions on all of creation. We must direct our focus away from what we want to what the planet needs. We must choose to care for creation; otherwise, we do not really care about anything at all.

In our efforts, to contain global warming, we are ultimately admitting just how prepared we are to sacrifice some of our selfish and greedy lifestyles. When will we learn to say: “Enough!”? When will we understand how important it is to leave as light a footprint as possible on this planet for the sake of future generations?

After all, we are all in this together. Our planet unites us in a unique way. While we may differ in our conception of the origins or purpose of our world, and while we may disagree on social or political ideology, surely we can all agree on our responsibility and obligation to protect its natural resources – which are neither limitless nor negotiable – for future generations.

It is not too late to respond – as a people and as a planet. We could steer the earth toward our children’s future. Yet we can no longer afford to wait; we can no longer afford to be idle. The world has clearly expressed its opinion; our political leaders must accordingly act with urgency. Deadlines can no longer be postponed; indecision and inaction are not options. We have a choice to make. The time to choose is now.

We remain optimistic about the results at Warsaw; quite simply because we are optimistic about humanity’s potential. Let us work together; let us offer the earth an opportunity to heal and continue to nurture us.

~ Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide

Following Philippines Typhoon Haiyan, Here’s How You Can Help

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A woman stands amidst the devastation brought about by powerful Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines Saturday Nov. 9, 2013.

A woman stands amidst the devastation brought about by powerful Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines Saturday Nov. 9, 2013. (Photo: AP/Bullit Marquez)

Philippines Typhoon Haiyan slammed into six central islands Friday, decimating buildings and homes.

One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) has caused more than 1,000 fatalities, the Philippines Red Cross is estimating.

Haiyan was the second category 5 typhoon to strike the Philippines this year.

“The devastation is, I don’t have the words for it,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said, according to Reuters. “It’s really horrific. It’s a great human tragedy.”

The organizations below are mobilizing and deploying major disaster relief efforts. See how you can lend support, and check back for further updates.

World Food Programme
WFP has allocated an immediate $2 million for Haiyan relief, with a greater appeal pending as needs become apparent. The UN organization is sending 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits in the immediate aftermath, as well as working with the government to restore emergency telecommunications in the area. Americans can text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.

Red Cross
Emergency responders and volunteers throughout the Philippines are providing meals and relief items. Already, thousands of hot meals have been provided to survivors. Red Cross volunteers and staff also helped deliver preliminary emergency warnings and safety tips. Give by donating online or mailing a check to your local American Red Cross chapter. Learn more here.

The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized its 100 local outposts to help with relief efforts. Learn more here.

AmeriCares
The relief organization is sending medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. AmeriCares is also giving funds to local organizations to purchase supplies. Learn more here.

World Vision
The organization is providing food, water and hygiene kits at the evacuation centers. World Vision was also still actively responding to last month’s earthquake in Bohol, which luckily was not struck by the eye of the storm. Learn more here.

Salvation Army
100 percent of all disaster donations will be used for relief efforts and “to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.” Text TYPHOON to 80888 to Donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.

 Source: Huffington Post

Written by MattAndJojang

November 10, 2013 at 11:47 am

CNN’s Statement About The Filipino People

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CNN Statement

Thank you, CNN, for honoring the Filipino people during these difficult and trying times. Thank you, too, for setting up this website: Impact Your World – to help…

Written by MattAndJojang

November 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

Guava Jelly

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Photo: Jojang

Photo: Jojang

Early this week Jojang bought this bottle of guava jelly made by the Trappist monks at the Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Abbey.

It brings back good memories of my stay at that particular Trappist monastery almost 30 years ago.

In fact, when I was there to discern my  vocation to the monastic life, I was assigned to the section making jams and jellies!

~ Matt

Written by MattAndJojang

November 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Hubble Telescope’s Ultra Deep Slice of Heaven

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A video that will inspire you to think more deeply about your place in the universe.

Space. Patches of complete black, void of light. We see nothing. And yet, our species peers more deeply and seeks for what it cannot see. Our curiosity is a springboard, a launching pad for that leap of faith into the unknown.

So, what did we do. We committed, and we pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at one of those dark patches in 1996. The result: one of the most important images ever taken. Where we saw nothing, there were galaxies — more than 3,000 of them. And when we looked more deeply, our field of view expanded to more than 100 billion galaxies.

Our vision of ourselves is forever changed now. The unfathomable depth of the universe adds to our sense of awe and wonder. We derive new meaning from the expanding context ushered forth by these Hubble images. The questions about the intersection of science and religion are changing, and the soil is richer and more fertile than ever before for making sense of our place in it all.

~ Trent Gilliss

Written by MattAndJojang

November 3, 2013 at 8:57 am