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quaerere Deum - seeking God

artykul w tym temacie w jez. polskim Very interesting speech of pope Benedict XVI during his visit to France last week. He was addressing the 'World of culture", trying to show the path for the Western civilization to emerge again as a society having answers to the essential and central questions of the purposes for humanity. The whole text is here, and below some excerpts:

Their goal was: quaerere Deum. Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential – to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself. They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is. It is sometimes said that they were “eschatologically” oriented. But this is not to be understood in a temporal sense, as if they were looking ahead to the end of the world or to their own death, but in an existential sense: they were seeking the definitive behind the provisional.

For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required.

“The monks had to find melodies which translate into music the acceptance by redeemed man of the mysteries that he celebrates. The few surviving capitula from Cluny thus show the Christological symbols of the individual modes”

For Benedict, the words of the Psalm: coram angelis psallam Tibi, Domine – in the presence of the angels, I will sing your praise (cf. 138:1) – are the decisive rule governing the prayer and chant of the monks. What this expresses is the awareness that in communal prayer one is singing in the presence of the entire heavenly court, and is thereby measured according to the very highest standards: that one is praying and singing in such a way as to harmonize with the music of the noble spirits who were considered the originators of the harmony of the cosmos, the music of the spheres.

It shows that the culture of singing is also the culture of being, and that the monks have to pray and sing in a manner commensurate with the grandeur of the word handed down to them, with its claim on true beauty. This intrinsic requirement of speaking with God and singing of him with words he himself has given, is what gave rise to the great tradition of Western music. It was not a form of private “creativity”, in which the individual leaves a memorial to himself and makes self-representation his essential criterion. Rather it is about vigilantly recognizing with the “ears of the heart” the inner laws of the music of creation, the archetypes of music that the Creator built into his world and into men, and thus discovering music that is worthy of God, and at the same time truly worthy of man, music whose worthiness resounds in purity.

By becoming a monk, a man set out on a broad and noble path, but he had already found the direction he needed: the word of the Bible, in which he heard God himself speaking. Now he had to try to understand him, so as to be able to approach him. So the monastic journey is indeed a journey into the inner world of the received word, even if an infinite distance is involved. Within the monks’ seeking there is already contained, in some respects, a finding. Therefore, if such seeking is to be possible at all, there has to be an initial spur, which not only arouses the will to seek, but also makes it possible to believe that the way is concealed within this word, or rather: that in this word, God himself has set out towards men, and hence men can come to God through it. To put it another way: there must be proclamation, which speaks to man and so creates conviction, which in turn can become life.

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consecration.day 2

After 12 hours in the prayer room (without computer, books, ear plugs, coffee shop or bookstore time), actually praying non stop (minus 5 times trip to the bathroom) I am such a saint today.

Actually I wanted to stay only for 4 h, but somehow it happened a little longer. It was very refreshing and God is good. Lots of prayers for God's glory to appear, visit us and inhabit our humble lives (Moses asking to see the face of God). Lots of people around, dedicated to fasted life style. Lots of hope.

The funny thing was to see Lou Engle dressed in his winter coat passing by. It's July (people are getting cold quickly when they are fasting).

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Can't Allah forgive? part 2

continuation of Part 1

Forgiveness is stronger

The Old Testament endorsed the stoning of adulterers (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) and fornicators, including a monetary fine and stoning, depending on the circumstances (Ex. 22:16-17; Deut. 22:23-26; 28-29). But there came a moment in the human history, when the law was fulfilled in a Man, who's words brought healing instead of stoning.

Because stoning as a form of punishment was recognized and ordered by Mohamed in the hadiths, there is still a strong base for it's validation. In my comparison list between Mohamed and Jesus, the two worlds, according to their teachings and life examples, collide in many areas, and the stoning reveals one of the aspects of a quite different Word of God they preached and practised.

stoning in Afghanistan

When Jesus came, He changed the world upside down. He revealed the truth about His Father's heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, which is Christianity 101, He touched upon the sins of adultery and lust in a way that changed the perspective on men's righteousness completely.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matt. 5:27-28

This statement was soon followed by an incident which we can read about in the Gospel of John, chapter 8. The smart and intelligent scholars (teachers of the law) and the religious leaders (Pharisees) caught a woman in adultery. In reality they were preying on Jesus, trying to corner Him and expose His luck of, according to their way, cohesive teaching. But the whole story turned into something unexpected, life changing, mind bugling. After dragging her to Jesus' feet they left the power for her life and death in His hands. Jesus replied:

"He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

adulterous woman scene from the movie "The Passion of Christ"

The verdict which was expected to be imposed upon the fallen woman, was turned upon the accusers' consciousness. There were probably few things that could happen then, but the most bizarre happened, and it was recorded in the Gospel. One by one, they all left. Was it, because the spoken Word penetrated their hearts? Was is because they realized their hypocrisy? Was it because they decided they can't win their tricky game this time? was it because the fear of God fall upon them? Was is because they had a glimpse of God who is just and merciful?

This one moment changed the universe forever. The power of forgiveness was installed in the human race. It was cried out not in a moment of speech or preaching, but in the moment where someones destiny was about to be overturned.

"Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?"

Jesus spoke to a condemned woman. That was a shocking reality by itself. The question He asked was for her to realize, that the accusers lost their ground. There were no more threats. And then comes the punching line, that is the quintessence of God who is Justice and Mercy at once.

"I do not condemn you either, go, from now on sin no more."

This is the way to a human heart and the root of the sin. The spiritual solution is forgiveness without condemnation, with the encouragement. Later on, Jesus fulfilled the law by taking the penalty for our sins on Himself.

How different from Mohammed's form of justice - stoning and flogging. Did these kinds, still used in some countries as a "Muslim way" of dealing with the criminals, ever work? As far as I am aware, in Judaism, there is no more stoning imposed as a punishment for the sins or committed crime. Christian based judicial systems are not allowing such cruelty. But in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, it's still a different story. It just torns families apart, deprives the children of the parent, causes damage to the child's life, brings shame without resolution, drives the sin underground, does not offer any healing to the families or the society. If it would work in theses controlled societies, is the sin purged out of the hearts of people?

Can't Allah forgive?

More:

PBS Frontline story about Saudi princess executed for adultery (1980)

Islam and stoning

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Evangelical Manifesto

Even TIME recognizes Evangelicals influence upon every aspect of life in USA. In 2007 Evangelicals constituted about 29 % of population in USA (Catholics 25%, main line Protestants 14%). Called to existence in 1942, National Association of Evangelicals gathered many, and today includes about 60 denominations with 45, 000 churches under it's wings. They are more heard about and more Media covered than other Christian groups. They are not easily defined and vary from country to country.

Evangelical Manifesto has been released. It's been worked on for 3 years and it should open up a discussion, reform the image of the Evangelicals in USA, call them to the rededicate their lives to Christ and possibly unite those who identify themselves with this group.

It is trying to redefine the core of evangelicalism, moving it from a politically obsessed right doers toward Christ fascinated, Sermon of the Mount followers, wanting to be

"defined theologically, and not politically, socially, or culturally."

Recognizing it's stand with time relevant causes (Wilberforce among others are mentioned) in the past, Manifesto calls Evangelicals for separation from any political views which lead to the peculiar position of being owned by it, and into the

"allegiance higher than party, ideology, economic system, and nationality."

According to the Manifesto, Evangelicals should oppose theocracy, prefer "religious liberty for people of all faiths", warning at the same time against European animosity toward any religious influences upon society. It also recognizes the age of Internet, as the globalization creeps upon every human being tempting the hearts with secularism as well as religious extremism.

Article by Os Guiness, regarding the Manifesto.

Polski komentarz na temat Manifestu Ewangelikalnego.

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1 Catholic Pope & over 20,000 Protestant denominations

"In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity..." St Augustine

Pope Benedict XVI came to visit the USA. That makes me think yet AGAIN about the witness of unity among Christians. We are not a good one. If over 20,000 denominations are claiming knowing the absolute truth... well...

Statistics about Christian denominations (click here)

It's not that hard to find out, where it all started, who made the "schisms" and how the first fathers of the church reacted, disciplined, prayed and encouraged the church to stay as one.

The theories of unity within the Protestant denominations are not clear, but almost all founders of 20,000 denominations claim that they have found the truth (I mean, you don't want to follow someone's teaching if he has no clue, or partial a clue about what he believes or you don't want to throw yourself into something that you are not sure is the objective truth; no one wants to waste their life). I am not a theologian, so this is not proof of anything, but common sense should tell us that one is 1and not 20,000.

I am reading lately a lot about the first church, church fathers, papacy, heresies. The more I read, the more questions I have.

The most significant source for these findings would be in the documents written by the church fathers. The Bible was not "announced" yet, although different congregations had access to the Old Testament and some writings which later were included in the New Testament. But not all believers had that opportunity and not all read the letters Paul or Peter. That's why the writings of the church fathers are so important. They show us the life of an early church, local problematic disputes, theological as well as moral, relations to other local churches, admonitions to holiness and love. Naturally, the more people, cultures, traditions were incorporated into Christianity, the more views, points of relevancy and ideas they brought. Who would decide what was right, what was wrong?

Read the church fathers and find out. Tons of info on the Internet,

As for the popes. It seems that from early on, the Roman bishop was the one to look for guidance and primacy.

Here is an excellent site about Papacy (quotations from the church fathers - click here).

The early Church historian J. N. D. Kelly, a Protestant, writes,

"[W]here in practice was [the] apostolic testimony or tradition to be found? . . . The most obvious answer was that the apostles had committed it orally to the Church, where it had been handed down from generation to generation. . . . Unlike the alleged secret tradition of the Gnostics, it was entirely public and open, having been entrusted by the apostles to their successors, and by these in turn to those who followed them, and was visible in the Church for all who cared to look for it" (Early Christian Doctrines, 37).

Your Total "Christian Denominations" Count for today is 39723

so that they may be one as we are one

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