by F. William Engdahl
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
by F. William Engdahl
By David Glenn Cox
QUOTE Like a junkie or a crack head, American industry has become addicted to third world labor. The driving force in the economic equation has become finding the lowest cost labor source. Like stealing the family TV, or money from mother’s purse, they think only of the buzz or the high, the dividend or quarterly profit. UNQUOTE
Unlimited growth, relentless growth, ever-expanding growth, growth without end, mindless multiplication of matter - another name for it is cancer.
From the Daily Kos.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
© David Rovics 2005 All Rights Reserved
Is there a flag upon your house
And a flag upon your car
And a ribbon on your mailbox
With the stars and bars
Do you support the president
And the war for oil
Do you think your sons belong
There on someone else's soil
How far is it from here to Nuremberg?
Did you hear about Falluja
And the hundred thousand dead
Did you hear about the torture
In the newspapers you read
Did you pretend it didn't matter
Did you blame a few bad men
Did you think your leaders
Wouldn't just do it all again
How far is it from here to Nuremberg?
Did you design the software
That ran the engine in the tank
Or were you pushing papers At City Bank...
Were you in Seattle
Turning bombers into gold
Or did you pull the trigger
`Cause you did what you were told
How far is it from here to Nuremberg?
Or did you take your kids to school
Go off to your job
Send your taxes off in April
To help support the mob
Did you vote the lesser evil
And think it's all a shame
Did you think that this alone
Could take away the blame
How far is it from here to Nuremberg?
The swine flu is a viral event very similar to the 1918 Spanish flu and the 1969 Hong Kong flu. It causes the immune system of very healthy people to go haywire. Elaine Supkis of the Culture of Life News was a survivor of the Hong Kong flu of 1969, and her experience of a cytokine storm producing flu could prove invaluable to us now.
A must-read from Culture of Life News.
QUOTE And often the soft presence of a gentle and loving Christ would fill the air with a sense of transcendent peace. Despite my many personal conflicts with the Police Court Jehova of Christian fundamentalism, it was becoming clear that Christ was a guy whose actions were worth deep consideration, even if you considered yourself an atheist. Police Court Jehova be damned. Other times would come zappy symbolic glimpses of quasi cosmic order: Aha! The upright bar of the cross represents the onrushing spirit and mind of man through eternity, and the horizontal crossbar stands for undifferentiated matter. And where they meet one another all we know is made manifest -- all pain, all ecstasy and everything in between. Pure existence. Years later I related this to one of the numerous Asian Buddhist masters who passed through Boulder. He crinkled up his face and laughed in recognition. This mysticism, if that's what it is, was clearly not new. UNQUOTE
Monday, April 27, 2009
Ron Paul's statement in the House when introducing the bill:
Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. Throughout its nearly 100-year history, the Federal Reserve has presided over the near-complete destruction of the United States dollar. Since 1913 the dollar has lost over 95% of its purchasing power, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy. How long will we as a Congress stand idly by while hard-working Americans see their savings eaten away by inflation? Only big-spending politicians and politically favored bankers benefit from inflation.
Serious discussion of proposals to oversee the Federal Reserve is long overdue. I have been a longtime proponent of more effective oversight and auditing of the Fed, but I was far from the first Congressman to advocate these types of proposals. Esteemed former members of the Banking Committee such as Chairmen Wright Patman and Henry B. Gonzales were outspoken critics of the Fed and its lack of transparency.
Since its inception, the Federal Reserve has always operated in the shadows, without sufficient scrutiny or oversight of its operations. While the conventional excuse is that this is intended to reduce the Fed's susceptibility to political pressures, the reality is that the Fed acts as a foil for the government. Whenever you question the Fed about the strength of the dollar, they will refer you to the Treasury, and vice versa. The Federal Reserve has, on the one hand, many of the privileges of government agencies, while retaining benefits of private organizations, such as being insulated from Freedom of Information Act requests.
The Federal Reserve can enter into agreements with foreign central banks and foreign governments, and the GAO is prohibited from auditing or even seeing these agreements. Why should a government-established agency, whose police force has federal law enforcement powers, and whose notes have legal tender status in this country, be allowed to enter into agreements with foreign powers and foreign banking institutions with no oversight? Particularly when hundreds of billions of dollars of currency swaps have been announced and implemented, the Fed's negotiations with the European Central Bank, the Bank of International Settlements, and other institutions should face increased scrutiny, most especially because of their significant effect on foreign policy. If the State Department were able to do this, it would be characterized as a rogue agency and brought to heel, and if a private individual did this he might face prosecution under the Logan Act, yet the Fed avoids both fates.
More importantly, the Fed's funding facilities and its agreements with the Treasury should be reviewed. The Treasury's supplementary financing accounts that fund Fed facilities allow the Treasury to funnel money to Wall Street without GAO or Congressional oversight. Additional funding facilities, such as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility and the Term Securities Lending Facility, allow the Fed to keep financial asset prices artificially inflated and subsidize poorly performing financial firms.
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act would eliminate restrictions on GAO audits of the Federal Reserve and open Fed operations to enhanced scrutiny. We hear officials constantly lauding the benefits of transparency and especially bemoaning the opacity of the Fed, its monetary policy, and its funding facilities.
By opening all Fed operations to a GAO audit and calling for such an audit to be completed by the end of 2010, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act would achieve much-needed transparency of the Federal Reserve. I urge my colleagues to support this bill. UNQUOTE
Thursday, April 23, 2009
QUOTE Republican presidential candidate John McCain reminded people Thursday that some Japanese were tried and hanged for torturing American prisoners during World War II with techniques that included waterboarding."There should be little doubt from American history that we consider that as torture otherwise we wouldn't have tried and convicted Japanese for doing that same thing to Americans," McCain said during a news conference.
He said he forgot to mention that piece of history during Wednesday night's Republican debate, during which he criticized former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney after Romney declined to publicly say what interrogation techniques he would rule out."I would also hope that he would not want to be associated with a technique which was invented in the Spanish Inquisition, was used by Pol Pot in one of the great eras of genocide in history and is being used on Burmese monks as we speak," the Arizona senator said. "America is a better nation than that." UNQUOTE
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Behold the Lightener of the stars
On the crests of the clouds,
And the choralists of the sky
Coming down with acclaim
From the Father above,
Harp and lyre of song
Sounding to Him.
Christ, Thou refuge of my love,
Why should not I raise Thy fame!
Angels and saints melodious
Singing to Thee.
Thou Son of the Mary of graces,
Of exceeding white purity of beauty,
Joy were it to me to be in the fields
Of Thy riches.
O Christ my beloved,
O Christ of the Holy Blood,
By day and by night
I praise Thee.
As the times change and challenges arise, the solutions which seem like an easy way out are not really so. Whatever Mr. Kellerman believed or knew about the darkness in his industry past and present, and the dark road ahead, suicide is a mortal sin and those of us who are believers pray for his soul.
It seems like a good time as well, to remind people that there are groups who help whistleblowers, and if indeed, as some suspect, Mr. Kellerman chose suicide over an ugly whistleblowing scenario, the tragedy is compounded if such a thing be possible. If you are a whistleblower suffering from the stress of what you are carrying, or are close to one who is suffering, check out the Government Accountability Project, or GAP, the nation's leading resource for government, corporate and international whistleblowers.
Again, our condolences to the family and friends of David Kellerman.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Jim Kunstler warns that we may be flirting with a French-Revolution-type scenario, God forbid, if the banksters and fraudsters and CEOs aren't brought to justice soon. Like a train wreck, you can't look away. Monday doom to go along with the plummeting market. Mr. Obama is brilliant, well-spoken and seems genuinely good-hearted, quite a refreshing change in many ways, but you know what they say about good intentions...scroll down on Kunstler's blog til you arrive at the Clusterf*ck Nation on the left side.
QUOTE People of good intentions and progressive predilection are scratching their heads wondering just how President Barack Obama managed to turn himself into George W. Bush Lite with sugar-on-top just twelve weeks after that fateful walk down the US Capitol's east stairway to the waiting helicopter. I'm hardly the first observer to note that Mr. Obama's actions in the face of an epochal finance fiasco and economic collapse are a mere extension of the pre-January-20 policies, carried out by much the same cast of characters. UNQUOTE
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I've been cynical about television for many years, although not nearly cynical enough I think, and probably am also not yet cynical enough about the Internet since I've let myself become addicted to it.
Television is just the modernist, updated version of the home altars , the people don't even have to leave the house to commune with the "spirits" these days. Too bad the "spirit" they are communing with is most likely that of a coven of demon-ridden corpulent bureaucrats who have less than the people's best interests at heart.
From Deer Hunting With Jesus, Joe Bageant's blog, his latest post, "Escape from the Zombie Food Court".
Mild cussing alert for those who care about such things.
QUOTE The bad news is that we nevertheless remain one of the most controlled peoples on the planet, especially regarding control of our consciousness, public and private. And the control is tightening. I know it doesn't feel like that to most Americans. But therein rests the proof. Everything feels normal; everybody else around us is doing the same things, so it must be OK. This is a sort of Stockholm Syndrome of the soul, in which the prisoner identifies with the values of his or her captors, which in our case is of course, the American corporate state and its manufactured popular culture. . . .
North Americans live in a parallel universe in which they are conditioned to see everything in terms of consumer goods and "safety," as defined by police control. Conditioned to believe they have the best lives on the planet by every measure. . . .
...there is a shiny commercial skin that covers everything American, a thin layer of glossy throwaway technology, that leads the citizenry to believe otherwise. That slick commercial skin, the bright colored signs for Circuit City and The Gap (rest in peace), the clear plastic that covers every product from CDs to pre-cut vegetables, the friendly yellow and red wrapper on the burger inside its bright red paper box, the glossy branding of every item and experience. These things are the supposed tangible evidence that the slick conditioned illusion, the one I call The American Hologram, is indeed real. If it's bright and shiny and new, it must be better. Right? UNQUOTE
QUOTE You may or may not watch much television, but the average American spends almost one-third of his or her waking life doing so. The neurological implications of this are so profound that they cannot even be comprehended in words, much less described by them. Television constitutes our reality in the same fashion that water constitutes the environment in a goldfish bowl. It's everywhere and affects everything, even when we are not watching it. Television regulates our national perceptions and our interior ideations of who we Americans are. It schedules our cultural illusions of choice. It pre-selects candidates in our elections. By the way, as much as I like Obama, I fully understand he is there because he was selected by the illusion producing machinery of television, and citizens under its influence. It is hard to underestimate the strength of these illusions.
TV regulates holiday marketing opportunities and the national neurological seasons. It tells us, "It's Christmas! Time to shop!" Or "it's election season, time to vote." Or "it's football season, let us rally passions and buy beer and cheer." Or that America's major deity, "The Economy," is suffering badly. "Sacred temples on Wall Street make great sickness upon the land!" Or most ominous of all, "It's time to make war! Again."
It is fair to say that television and the American culture are the same thing. More than any other factor, it is the glue of society and the mediator of our experience. American culture is stone cold dead without it. If all the TVs in America went black, so would most of America's collective consciousness and knowledge. Because corporate media have replaced nearly all other previous forms of accumulated knowledge. UNQUOTE
Saturday, April 18, 2009
OK all you computer-bound inertia-saddled geeky boys and geeky grrls out here ~ push back from the keyboard, stand up, and get ready to shake that thing!! It's dance party time!!
Friday, April 17, 2009
How many do you remember?
Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.
Ignition switches on the dashboard.
Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.
Real ice boxes.
Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.
Older Than Dirt Quiz: Count all the ones that you remember, not the ones you were told about. Ratings at the bottom.
1. Blackjack chewing gum
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
5. Coffee shops or diners with tableside juke boxes
6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
7. Party lines
8. Newsreels before the movie
9. P.F. Flyers
10. Butch wax
11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix (OLive-6933)
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15. S&H Green Stamps
17. Metal ice trays with lever
18. Mimeograph paper
19. Blue flashbulb
21. Roller skate keys
22. Cork popguns
25. Wash tub wringers
If you remembered 0-5 = You're still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older
If you remembered 11-15 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 16-25 = You're older than dirt!
I clearly remember all these things except for #11: Phone numbers with a word prefix. I guess I'm older than dirt! How about you?
When you have an 'I Hate My Job' day, try this:
On your way home from work, stop at your pharmacy and go to the thermometer section and purchase a rectal thermometer made by Johnson & Johnson.
Be very sure you get this brand. When you get home, lock your doors, draw the curtains and disconnect the phone so you will not be disturbed.
Change into very comfortable clothing and sit in your favorite chair. Open the package and remove the thermometer. Now, carefully place it on a table or a surface so that it will not become chipped or broken.
Now the fun part begins: Take out the literature from the box and read it carefully. You will notice that in small print there is a statement:
'Every Rectal Thermometer made by Johnson & Johnson is personally tested and then sanitized .'
Now, close your eyes and repeat out loud five times, 'I am so glad I do not work in the thermometer quality control department at Johnson & Johnson.'
HAVE A NICE DAY AND REMEMBER, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSE WITH A JOB THAT IS
MORE OF A PAIN IN THE BEHIND THAN YOURS!
Asylum For The Verbally Insane
We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England. We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?
Vocabulary Word for the Day:
Definition: Liquidity is when you look at your retirement fund, and wet your pants!
Time for a Beer!
After the Great Britain Beer Festival, in London, all the brewery
presidents decided to go out for a beer. The guy from Millers sits
down and says, "Hey, Barkeep, I would like the world's best beer, a
Miller Genuine Draft."
The bartender dusts off a bottle from the shelf and gives it to him.
The guy from Budweiser says, "I'd like the best beer in the world;
give me 'The King Of Beers', a Budweiser."
The bartender gives him one.
The guy from Coors says, "I'd like the only beer made with Rocky
Mountain spring water, give me a Coors." He gets it.
The guy from Guinness sits down and says, "Give me a Coke."
The bartender is a little taken aback, but gives him what he ordered.
The other brewery presidents look over at him and ask, "Why aren't
you drinking a Guinness?"
The Guinness president replies, "Well, I figured if you guys aren't
drinking beer, neither would I."
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Μη μου άπτου
Noli me tangere
Touch me not
11 But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. 13 They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him. 14 When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16 Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master). 17 Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God. 18 Mary Magdalen cometh, and telleth the disciples: I have seen the Lord, and these things he said to me.
It is a wonderfully strange scene on the morning of Jesus' resurrection: As sovereign Lord, Jesus keeps Mary Magdalen - out of whom he had cast seven devils - from recognizing him. Thinking him to be the gardener, she tearfully asks where he has taken the body of Jesus. Then the Lord reveals himself by speaking her name in a familiar manner, and at the same time allowing her to recognize him. Naturally, she is overjoyed and embraces him. Then he utters those memorable but puzzling words: Touch me not.
The puzzling part to those who read the narrative in English is, why did he command the Magdalen not to touch him, while a week later he commanded Thomas to do so? Compare the accounts:
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. 27 Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. 28 Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. 29 Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.
The resolution of this seeming discrepancy is very simple when we look at the shades of meaning in the Greek phrase: Μη μου άπτου. Apto means to touch, but also means to embrace and cling to another. It is used in this latter sense in 2 Corinthians 6: 17: 17 Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: 18 And I will receive you; and I will be a Father to you; and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Saint Paul is exhorting us not to embrace or cling to anything in this present world that defiles our soul.
With this in mind it is easy to see what Jesus meant by his words to Mary Magdalen: Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended, etc. As if he would say: We are now reunited in life by my resurrection, but do not attempt to cling to me even in this glorified condition, for I will not be remaining here with you but will soon ascend to my Father. And the great grace I give you, Mary, is to announce these glad tidings to my disciples, who will proclaim it to the world: "I ascend to my Father and your Father; to my God and your God."
On the other hand, with Thomas he invites touch in the sense of tactile investigation of his wounds in order to give infallible proof that he was not merely an apparition, but the same Jesus who had died on the cross now resurrected in a glorious manner. It was fitting to Thomas' office as an apostle, a witness of Jesus risen from the dead. And Thomas' response is that of every true disciple through the ages: "My Lord and my God!"
Most interestingly, these very words of the Apostle Thomas have been incorporated into the Holy Liturgy of the Universal Church, at the very moment when the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus have been made present and we are about to have them touch our lips. In the Latin Rite, after the major elevation, the faithful are instructed to say privately the confession of Saint Thomas as their own response to seeing the Eucharistic Gifts: "My Lord and my God." In the Byzantine Rite we see the priest raise the Holy Discos and Chalice with arms crossed, proclaiming "We offer You Yours of Your own, in behalf of all and for all." And we respond, "We praise You, we bless You, we thank You O Lord, and we pray to You, our God." More poetic, indeed, but still the same adoring confession of the deity of Jesus, risen and ascended, who is in our midst in the Holy Eucharist.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
"War has all the characteristics of socialism most conservatives hate: Centralized power, state planning, false rationalism, restricted liberties, foolish optimism about intended results, and blindness to unintended secondary results." -- Joseph Sobran
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
T. S. Eliot
It's strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words.
T. S. Eliot
Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T. S. Eliot
Be sure and visit over at Sugar Fish. Her masthead pic is stunning! Also, I usually hate modern Christian pop music but she has some very nice stuff playing over there.
Happy Bright Tuesday!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
< Icon of the Risen Christ lifting Adam and Eve from Hades, with Satan/Death conquered and bound below
If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh!
And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions."
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and, face to face, met God!
It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
"O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?"
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.
To him be glory and might unto ages of ages.
~ St. John Chrysostom 347 AD-407 AD
Sung at the Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil on Holy Saturday
by Mark Fellows
Rome may have ruled Israel during Our Lord's time on earth, but robbers
ruled the land. Nestled in the rugged hills, they patrolled the roads,threatening travelers with robbery and mayhem. Herod's quick rise to power
was due to his father, of course, but the son's ruthlessness in dealing with robbers was no hindrance.
A robber who eluded Herod for years was named Dismas, the thief who was crucified next to Our Lord. What we know of Dismas prior to his crucifixion is handed down from tradition. His father was a robber chief, and the apple fell not far from the tree. Whether Dismas ever considered a different way of life is unknown, but upon reaching adulthood he became more infamous than his father. He dwelt in the desert, St. John Chrysostom tells us, and robbed or murdered anyone unlucky enough to cross his path. The thousands of deaths attributed to Dismas may be hyperbole, but that Dismas was a murderer is beyond dispute. According to St. Gregory the Great, he "was guilty of blood, even his brother's blood (fratricide)."
Dismas, whose name in Greek means"sunset" or "death," spent his life sinking to ever lower depths ofcorruption and wickedness.The one recorded good deed before this hardened criminal's crucifixion also occurred in the desert. As he plodded under his cross, bleeding from scourges, dizzy and weak, the memory of his good deed was probably driven far from his mind, especially since it happened almost thirty-three years previously, when he and his men came across a family traveling across the desert and waylaid them. It was like many other robberies, except for two things. This family, unlike most travelers who carried supplies of food and money, had almost nothing of material value. This was because the husband, Joseph, had obeyed the Angel'smessage to leave for Egypt so promptly that he and Mary left most of their possessions in Nazareth.
Had they any money they could have avoided the desert and traveled to a port with boats for hire. Instead they made for Egypt overland, exchanging the pursuit of Herod for the pursuit of wild animals and brigands. It would have been a brutal journey. The holy travelers were not spared from hunger, thirst, and fatigue. In one of her visions, Blessed Anne CatherineEmmerich saw the Holy Family "exhausted and helpless," Mary in particular being upset because She had so little to feed Her child. It was in these circumstances that - according to St. Augustine, St. Peter Damian, and other Church Fathers - the Holy Family met Dismas.
That the Holy Family ran into robbers in the desert is not recorded in Sacred Scripture, but given the times they lived in, such an event may be regarded as inevitable rather than unusual. Which brings us to the second unusual part of this robbery: the infant Jesus. As the story goes, the robbers searched the Holy Family in hopes of plunder, and came across a real Treasure. Something about the infant stopped Dismas dead in his tracks. Not only did he stop looking for plunder, he paid his comrades to do the same.
Stories concerning the desert robbery of the Holy Family vary in the details. Some accounts, including the account of Sister Emmerich, have the robbers taking the Holy Family back to their cave and feeding them. Other versions omit this. What all agree on is the effect the (perhaps nine monthold) baby Jesus had on Dismas. When the Holy Family departed, their meager possessions intact, Dismas, according to St. Augustine, said to Jesus, "O most blessed of children, if ever a time should come when I should crave Thy Mercy, remember me and forget not what has passed this day."
It is unlikely Dismas recognized the infant Jesus as the Messiah, for he was not a Jew. Several authors, including St. John Damascene, have stated he was an Egyptian. Consequently he was most likely a pagan at the time he met the Holy Family. His encounter with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, however edifying it was for Dismas at the time, does not appear to have moved him to change professions.
He remained a robber and a murderer until finally he was caught, perhaps around the age of fifty.That the justice meted out to Dismas was crucifixion confirms he was a notorious criminal. Crucifixion was an excruciating (a word derived from crux, or cross) and humiliating death penalty reserved for the most grave crimes. One of the reasons the Jews clamored for Christ to be crucified was their assumption that such an ignoble death would be proof against the Messiah's life of miracles for the afflicted and admonitions for the comfortable.
The process of crucifixion included scourging and public cross carrying.While Dismas and his fellow thief, Gestas, were spared the brutality meted out to Christ, it is likely they were scourged and made to carry their crosses to the place of their impending death. So they set off under the weight of their doom, cursing their captors, their fate, and any gods within earshot. They probably arrived at Calvary before Christ, and waited as their fellow "criminal" made His tortuous way of the Cross.
Then the three were fastened to their crosses, and raised on high for all tosee and revile. For Dismas and Gestas, their violence against the innocent was at last avenged, and the ransom was their lives. As they hung there with no one to mourn their passing, they saw a holy group mourning the crucified Christ. In despair, impotent rage, and perhaps force of habit, Gestas turned against another Innocent. Dismas joined him in the mockery, according to St.Mark: "They that were crucified with Him reviled him" (Mark 15:32); and St.Matthew: "The thieves also, that were crucified with Him, reproached Him(Matthew 27:44)."
It is hard to breathe when you are being crucified. Gestas' final recorded words were hurled through choked breath like a curse: "If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us! (Luke 23:39)" His words were not an act of faith, but the spittle of mockery. Then came the miracle. Dismas, hanging on the other side of the Savior, turned on his fellow thief:"Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation?And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done no evil. (Luke 23: 40-41)"
These are perhaps the most unlikely words ever recorded. Dismas was hangingnext to a Man whose body was horribly broken, on the verge of death; tooweak or beaten to even curse his tormenters; a fellow criminal able only to rouse himself occasionally to utter words that, though they were uttered in a clear voice, were difficult to comprehend. Yet Dismas' change of heart came after Christ painfully raised Himself up on the nails transfixing Him,and spoke to the Father of Mercies: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
It was then that Dismas rebuked Gestas, then turned to the Lord and said,"Lord, remember me, when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom (Luke 23: 42)." We are left to echo the words of St. Leo: "Whence has Dismas received hisfaith? Who has explained the mysterious doctrine? What preacher has inflamed him? For he now confesses, as his Lord and King, One who seems to be no more than his fellow sufferer?"It is divine grace that removed the scales from Dismas' eyes, and gave him the faith, hope, and charity not only to proclaim the Christ, but to dare to ask to enter His Kingdom. This most generous of Kingly gifts, eternal life,was swiftly bestowed by the Dying upon a most miserable sinner with the blessed words: "Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise."
What was the agent of this grace? Some Fathers have speculated that the prayers of the Virgin Mary to spare Dismas because of his kindness to theHoly Family. Others say Christ Himself repaid Dismas, remembering the thief's plea: "If ever a time should come when I should crave Thy Mercy, remember me and forget not what has passed this day."Still others, like St. Vincent Ferrer, claim the shadow of Christ's body touched Dismas, and that this, like the healing shadow of St. Peter,effected his conversion. Whatever the instrument, Dismas was transformed by a divine moral miracle into a firmer apostle than the men who had for years seen Christ perform miracles, drive out devils, and confound the evil. They had fled, leaving Dismas to proclaim Christ as the Son of God, even as He lay dying on the Cross.
It is this faith that the Fathers say warranted Dismas' speedy entrance into Paradise, that is, the extraordinary promise of Christ after he heard Dismas' confession: "Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." Paradise is not the same as Heaven, for Christ would not ascend to Heaven for more than forty days. Paradise is interpreted by the Fathers, including St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, to mean Limbo. Aquinas says,"That word of the Lord ('This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise') must therefore be understood not of an earthly or corporeal Paradise, but of that spiritual paradise in which all may be, said to be, who are in the enjoymentof the divine glory. Hence, as to place, the thief went down with Christ into hell, that he might be with Christ, as it was said to him: 'Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise'; but as to reward, he was in Paradise, for he there tasted and enjoyed the divinity of Christ, together with the other saints."The Fathers agree that from the moment of his death Dismas enjoyed the Beatific Vision uninterrupted. A number of Fathers even believe that Dismas was the first of the saints to enter Heaven. Such an end should give courage to the weary, hope to the sinners - that is, all of us - and fervor to ask St. Dismas to intercede for us so that we may persevere until death with aslively a faith, hope, and charity as he acquired in the last moments of his life.
Truly has it been said:"Suddenly, from being an enemy, he became a friend; a stranger, he became a loving companion; coming from afar, he showed himself the true neighbor; arobber, he was changed into a glorious confessor. Great, indeed was the confidence of the thief. Conscious to himself of every sort of guilt and sin, without a single redeeming good work, he had passed his lawless life in taking the goods and even the lives of men; yet, at the end of his days, at the very gates of death, when all hopes of this present life were over, he conceived a hope of the life to come, which he had so grievously forfeited,or rather which he had never done anything to deserve. If the thief had cause to hope, who shall henceforth despair?
Sources:Msgr. Gaume, Life of the Good Thief, republished by Loreto Publications,2003.The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, From the Visions of Ven. Anne CatherineEmmerich, TAN Books And Publishers, Inc., 1970).From Catholic Family News - April 2006 (www.cfnews.org/cfn.htm).
The feast of St. Dismas is March 25th.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI on Palm Sunday said a successful life without sacrifice does not exist. During his sermon in St. Peters square, the Pope spoke about what is involved in saying yes to God.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
When the glorious disciples were enlightenedAt the washing of their feet before the supper,Then the impious Judas was darkened, ailing with avariceAnd to the lawless judges he betrays You, the righteous Judge.Behold, O lover of money, this man who because of money hanged himself.Flee from the greedy soul which dared such things against the Master.O Lord, who is good towards all men, glory to You!
Kontakion in Tone 2
With his hands the betrayer receives the Bread.With his hands he secretly receives the silver,The price of Him who fashioned man with His hands;So the servant and deceiver Judas remains depraved.
On Great and Holy Wednesday, the hymns of the Bridegroom Service remind us of the sinful woman who poured precious ointment on Christ's head at Simon the leper's house (Mt. 26:7). The disciples complained about the wasteful extravagance, for the myrrh could have been sold and the money given to the poor. On this same day Judas agreed to betray the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. Because the betrayal took place on Wednesday, Orthodox Christians fast on most Wednesdays during the year.
On the other hand, the Savior declared that the woman's actions would be remembered wherever the Gospel is preached (Mt. 26:13), for she had anointed Him in preparation for His burial (Mt. 26:12).
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
On Holy Tuesday the Church calls to remembrance two parables, which are related to the Second Coming. The one is the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-3); the other the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). These parables point to the inevitability of the Parousia and deal with such subjects as spiritual vigilance, stewardship, accountability and judgment.
From these parables we learn at least two basic things. First, Judgment Day will be like the situation in which the bridesmaids (or virgins) of the parable found themselves: some ready for it, some not ready. The time one decides for God is now and not at some undefined point in the future. If "time and tide waits for no man," certainly the Parousia is no exception. The tragedy of the closed door is that individuals close it, not God. The exclusion from the marriage feast, the kingdom, is of our own making. Second, we are reminded that watchfulness and readiness do not mean a wearisome, spiritless performance of formal and empty obligations. Most certainly it does not mean inactivity and slothfulness. Watchfulness signifies inner stability, soberness, tranquility and joy. It means spiritual alertness, attentiveness and vigilance. Watchfulness is the deep personal resolve to find and do the will of God, embrace every commandment and every virtue, and guard the intellect and heart from evil thoughts and actions. Watchfulness is the intense love of God.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Saint Kassia Born 805-810 AD Died 867 AD Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church Feast September 7
Kassia (also Kassiane, Kassiani, Casia, Ikasia, Cassia, Kassiana, or Eikasia; between 805 and 810 - bef. 867) was a Byzantine abbess, poet, composer, andhymnographer. She is one of the first medieval composers whose scores are both extant and able to be interpreted by modern scholars and musicians. Approximately fifty of her hymns are extant and twenty-three are included in Orthodox Church liturgical books. The exact number is difficult to assess, as many hymns are ascribed to different authors in different manuscripts and are often identified as anonymous.
- Sensing Thy divinity, O Lord, a woman of many sins
- takes it upon herself to become a myrrh-bearer,
- And in deep mourning brings before Thee fragrant oil
- in anticipation of Thy burial; crying:
- "Woe to me!" For night is to me, oestrus of lechery,
- a dark and moonless eros of sin.
- Receive the wellsprings of my tears,
- O Thou who gatherest the waters of the oceans into clouds.
- Bend to me, to the sorrows of my heart,
- O Thou who bendedst down the heavens in Thy ineffable self-emptying.
- I will kiss Thine immaculate feet
- and dry them with the locks of my hair;
- Those very feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise
- and hid herself in fear.
- Who shall reckon the multitude of my sins,
- or the abysses of Thy judgment, O Saviour of my soul?
- Do not ignore Thy handmaiden,
- O Thou whose mercy is endless.