Jesus’ tomb opened For first time in centuries

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Jerusalem, October 27, 2016: The original rock where Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have been buried in Jerusalem has been exposed to the light of day for the first time in centuries.

According to an exclusive report by National Geographic, a partner in the project at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the original rock surface has been covered with marble slabs since at least 1555, and possibly longer. During a conservation project to shore up the shrine surrounding the tomb, a team from the National Technical University of Athens in Greece realized that they would need to access the substructure of the shrine to restore it, said Fredrik Hiebert, the archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society.

“The Greek conservation group are the first, as far as we know, to actually open this,” Hiebert told Live Science. “It’s pretty exceptional.”

Holy site

Some theological historians believe that Jesus was a real man who was born sometime around the year 1 or earlier in Bethlehem in modern-day Palestine, only later to move to Nazareth in Israel. He is thought to have died around the year 29.

The site venerated as the tomb of Jesus is encased in structures like a Russian nesting doll. According to the Hebrew Bible, Jesus was laid to rest on a stone platform in a cave hewn out of a rock wall. In 326, the first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine, sent his mother, Helena, as a representative to Jerusalem, where locals pointed out one cave among an area of first-century burials that was said to hold the tomb of Jesus.

Constantine had a shrine installed over the cave. The original top of the cave was removed so that pilgrims could look down and view the slab where Jesus’ body was said to have rested. This shrine is known as the Holy Edicule, and it was last reconstructed after a fire in the early 1800s, according to National Geographic.

The Holy Edicule itself sits within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Church of the Resurrection, which is a famed pilgrimage site and working monastery. It’s built directly over the cave where Jesus was said to be buried; another wing sits over the site where he is said to have been crucified. Three sects jointly manage the site: the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church. The three groups agreed in 1958 that conservation of the Edicule was necessary, but it’s taken nearly 50 years to agree on a method and to secure funding. (According to National Geographic, the project will cost more than $4 million.)

“There was a moment in which you could see on the faces of the important people of the church, a certain happiness that this has actually happened,” Hiebert said of the conservation.

Shoring up history

A grid of iron bars installed in the 1940s held the Edicule structure upright until the project started. Now, Hiebert said, the Greek team — with years of experience under their belts of shoring up ancient structures like the Parthenon — will inject mortar around the marble slabs that make up the Edicule.

“This will permanently restore them, and it won’t need supports,” Hiebert said.

The conservation team was surprised at how much of the original cave structure remains, he said. They’ve peeled back marble slabs from the 19th century that were in turn covering slabs from the 15th century, covering slabs from the 12th century, which themselves shield the original bedrock.

As to whether the tomb ever contained the remains of the historical Jesus, “it’s a matter of faith,” Hiebert said. There are no remains to analyze or DNA evidence to exhume. There is scholarly debate over whether Jesus even existed, said Robert Cargill, an archaeologist and author of “The Cities that Built the Bible” (HarperOne, 2016). A minority of historians think Jesus was a literary construct, said Cargill, who was not involved in the new tomb project, while others think a real person named Jesus existed but that little is known about him.

“We know that Romans crucified people and that people were buried there” in the first and second centuries, Cargill told Live Science. It’s also known that there was an oral tradition about the site of Jesus’ burial 300 years later, when Helena came to visit Jerusalem.

“We still don’t have any [archaeological] evidence that Jesus was crucified, nor do we have evidence that he was crucified there beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” Cargill said.

Nevertheless, Cargill said, the site is an important one for early Christianity and for the Christian cultural tradition.

“It has been a sacred place for 1,600 years,” he said.

The excavations are unlikely to reveal anything new about the history of early Christianity, particularly since the current Edicule structure is only about 200 years old, Cargill said. However, the conservation project has opened up a new view of this old site.

“You can actually look down onto the rock from above, which you couldn’t do when the Edicule is actually there,” Cargill said. “That’s a perspective that most people haven’t seen.”

– message to eagle

How can I raise my children to bless others?

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

I sat there, blubbering to a nine-year-old girl. I wanted her to know how she had blessed my son and me. Many special needs moms would give anything to see their child have a friend, which made her kindness even more special—I know what other kids have faced. Her family was moving many states away, and our church was saying goodbye. This was my chance to communicate to her what a blessing she’d been.

My eight-year-old with Aspergers syndrome has made a lot of progress, but the social deficits are starting to show more around his peers. I’ve seen him frustrate a friend by reaching over and drawing on the boy’s Sunday school paper. I’ve seen him upset because he couldn’t negotiate sitting on a couch with the rest of his class. So, I was quite surprised when he developed his first crush at an age when many boys do.

He would say hi to her and sit next to her in children’s church. Then, one day he took a flower petal and yarn and made it into a necklace for her. I helped him tuck it safely into an envelope so he could give it to her at church. When he presented it to her, she opened it, said something like, “That’s so pretty,” and put it on right then and there. “Thank you.” She didn’t stuff it away or act embarrassed.

A month or two later, she wore it to church again. On purpose, so she could show him that she wore it. I’m sure my son was pretty proud, and I was extremely touched by her gesture.

Occasionally he’d draw a picture for her and bring it to church. She’d take it and compliment the artwork. He made her another necklace. Again she put it on immediately. “Look, it matches,” she said.

She was such a good encourager. My son didn’t know the difference. He didn’t know that other boys in his situation had been made fun of and excluded. He just knew that she was a good friend. I knew that she was making a difference.

The night of the farewell dinner, my son wrote his very first love letter. I asked him to show it to me just to make sure there wasn’t anything outlandish in there. He wrote that he hoped she would have a good trip and that he would miss her. Then, in typical Aspie form, he copied something he heard on a cartoon and ended with, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” He had a bit of an embarrassed grin on his face when he came back from giving it to her in front of her friends. Instead of ignoring him or making a snide remark, she thanked him.

I thought when they moved that his crush would lessen, that he would forget about her. I was wrong. Every so often he mentions how he much he misses her. He sent her a letter with a picture warning her about alligators that may live in her area. My son told me if he won Jeopardy, he’d use his money to go visit her.

This whole first crush experience could have been much different. She could have been put off by his awkwardness or invasion of personal space. She could have giggled with her friends and tried to ignore him. Instead, this nine-year-old girl demonstrated kindness and friendship. She gave my son good memories and me a full heart.

It doesn’t take much to reach out to kids who are different, whether they have special needs or not. All the training you do with your child that instills compassion and generosity will make a difference in the life of a child. You never know how your son or daughter’s example will influence other children to follow suit. You never know how that few minutes of play or conversation, or the gestures of a smile and “You can sit with me,” provide a break from trying to fit in, from working so hard to make friends, from feeling lonely.

So you see, when your child is kind to a special needs child, she changes the world. She may not affect change on a national or global scale, but she changes the world for the other child and his family. And the more often she reaches out, the more worlds she improves. Trust me, I know.

– cross walk

Did the earth really go dark after Christ’s crucifixion? Christian Apologist Lee strobel answers

October 27, 2016 by  
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U.S., October 26, 2016: Did the Earth really go dark during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Christian apologist Lee Strobel answers this question by using sources outside of the Bible that confirm historic accounts found in Scripture.

In his newly revised New York Times best-seller, The Case for Christ: A Journalists’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, former Chicago Tribune journalist-turned-Christian apologist Lee Strobel tackles doubts about whether the Earth actually went dark — a question sometimes lobbed by skeptics and atheists alike, Strobel having once been among them.

Many details surrounding Christ’s crucifixion are often disputed by some non-believers who ask such questions as: who rolled away the stone of Christ’s tomb; who was present upon the discovery of His resurrection; how did the discoverers spread the Good News, or whether they had even shared it at all. So it comes as no surprise that the question of whether or not the Earth went dark during the crucifixion might face intense scrutiny by skeptics.

Even though Matthew 27:45 states, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour,” some non-believers challenge this claim. Strobel attempts to silence these critics, however, with evidence from sources outside of the Bible that corroborate this Scripture.

“We have some terrific corroboration from sources outside the Bible that confirm and corroborate certain details of the New Testament,” Strobel told The Christian Post during a recent interview.

“When the Bible says that the Earth went dark during the crucifixion of Jesus, you would think someone else would notice that. Indeed, Thallus, who [was] a historian who wrote a history of the eastern Mediterranean world in about 52 AD — so not very many years after the death of Jesus who died in 30 or 33 AD — mentions this darkness.”

“We know that [Thallus wrote about the darkess] because Julius Africanus [another theologian] in the year 222 comments on Thallus reporting the darkness, and says that Thallus attributed it to an eclipse.”

Strobel told CP, “Africanus said [an eclipse] could not have been true given the timing of what happened.”

For his book, Strobel consulted Miami University’s Edwin Yamauchi, PhD, who said that Africanus wrote: “Thallus, in the third book of histories, explains away the darkness as an eclipse of the sun — unreasonable as it seems to me.'”

Yamauchi added, “Thallus apparently was saying, yes, there had been darkess at the time of the cucifixion, and he speculated it had been caused by an eclipse. Africanus then argues that it couldn’t have been an eclipse, given when the crucifixion occurred.”

Strobel said, “So we can get a basic outline of the life of Jesus from sources outside the Bible.

He provided another example of a non-biblical source that confirmed Jesus’ life and events surrounding it, explaining that the modern publication, Skeptic magazine, did a cover story on whether Jesus existed.

“They concluded He did — not based on the New Testament, because they are hyper critical of the Bible — but based on writings by Josephus who was a person … who worked for the Romans.”

“So based on a non-Christian source, outside the Bible, this skeptical magazine concluded that Jesus really did live. So there are a lot of facts about Jesus that we can discern from sources beyond just the Bible.”

– christian post

Educate Dalits like educating Adivasis: Activist

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, October 27, 2016: Dalit Rights activist Ashok Bharti today told Caritas that the Christian community in India has a critical role to potentially change the intellectual landscape among the Dalits.

Christian institutions are well organized. They are centrally placed in urban areas- where Dalits are despised, oppressed and suppressed. Educate the Dalits like you are educating the Adivasis, Mr. Bharti said at a half-yearly meeting of the general body members of Caritas India in New Delhi.

“It is a choice that you have to make” he told the gathering. “But the Dalits will be marching on whether or not you chose to educate them. We will continue to challenge the orthodoxy,” he claimed.

“Right now, we (Dalits) are confronting the Hindus but intellectual discourse will certainly engage with yours. At that time you should not feel left out from being part of a bigger minority” he said speaking candidly.

He suggested the merger of the Minority-Dalit forces which will be the ultimate guarantee of protection and security – not only of the Dalits but also of the Christians which is a minority in India.

“Christian community” he said “has been forward looking community, but unfortunately, somewhere on the way, it got so engrossed in itself that it forgot to recognize Dalit community as an emerging political force, as an intellectual force; contrary to the existing majority instinct.”

He suggested that the institutional structures at the disposal of Caritas India need to be put in use for bringing about the change, influencing the large network of Caritas India to join the change movement.

Mr. Bharti who is a former chairman of National Confederation of Dalit Adivasi Organizations (NACDOR) said that despite being ruled by majority caste, the government of India in principal have accepted proportionate share to SC/STs in their employment and other planned processes. “Why then the civil societies, the most progressive institution of the country can’t do the same?” the 56 year old activist asked.

Concluding his discourse, Mr. Bharti who is a founder and convener at Global Task Force of Socially Excluded said “In the long term, these are the things that will help restore– peace, dignity, fraternity and all the value that we preach.”

Taking a brief moment to respond, Caritas India’s Executive Director Fr. Frederick D’Souza said that the points are well taken. There may already be provisions to address the concerns of the Dalit community in the education policy at CBCI level. (Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India)

Speaking for Caritas India, he categorically said that the social inclusion policy of the organization mandates a very inclusive approach to all its interventions. He brought in examples of the recent Bihar and Tamil Nadu floods where Caritas had consciously reached out to the Dalit community among other deprived sections. Post the Tamil Nadu floods, a project of Caritas India continue to engage the Dalit community in dialogue, Fr. Frederick said.

Chairman of Caritas India, Bishop Lumen Monteiro welcomed and thanked Mr. Ashok Bharti for speaking freely. “Thank you for feeling so free with us” he said.

– matters india

Vatican sends message to Hindus for Diwali

October 27, 2016 by  
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Vatican, October 26, 2016: The President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has sent a Message to Hindus for the Feast of Deepavali (Diwali), entitled Christians and Hindus: Promoting hope among families.

“The health of society depends on our familial bonds and yet we know that today the very notion of family is being undermined by a climate that relativizes its essential significance and value,” Cardinal Tauran writes.

“It is in the family that children, led by the noble example of their parents and elders, are formed in the values that help them develop into good and responsible human beings,” – the Cardinal Tauran continues – “Too often, however, the optimism and idealism of our youth are diminished by circumstances that affect families. It is especially important, therefore, that parents, together with the wider community, instil in their children a sense of hope by guiding them towards a better future and the pursuit of the good, even in the face of adversity.”

The full text of the Message is below


Christians and Hindus: Promoting hope among families


Vatican City

Dear Hindu Friends,

1. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, we offer our best wishes as you celebrate Deepavali on 30 October 2016. May your celebrations around the world deepen your familial bonds, and bring joy and peace to your homes and communities.

2. The health of society depends on our familial bonds and yet we know that today the very notion of family is being undermined by a climate that relativizes its essential significance and value. So too, family life is often disrupted by harsh realities such as conflicts, poverty and migration, which have become all too commonplace throughout the world. There are, however, strong signs of renewed hope due to the witness of those who hold fervently to the enduring importance of marriage and family life for the wellbeing of each person and society as a whole. With this abiding respect for the family, and keenly aware of the global challenges daily confronting us, we wish to offer a reflection on how we, Christians and Hindus together, can promote hope in families, thus making our society ever more humane.

3. We know that the family is “humanity’s first school” and that parents are the “primary and principal” educators of their children. It is in the family that children, led by the noble example of their parents and elders, are formed in the values that help them develop into good and responsible human beings. Too often, however, the optimism and idealism of our youth are diminished by circumstances that affect families. It is especially important, therefore, that parents, together with the wider community, instil in their children a sense of hope by guiding them towards a better future and the pursuit of the good, even in the face of adversity.

4. Providing a formation and education in hope is thus a task of paramount importance for families (cf. POPE FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 274-275), as it reflects the divine nature of mercy which embraces the disheartened and gives them purpose. Such an education in hope encourages the young themselves to reach out, in charity and service, to others in need, and so become a light for those in darkness.

5. Families, therefore, are meant to be a “workshop of hope” (POPE FRANCIS, Address at the Prayer Vigil for the Festival of Families, Philadelphia, 26 September 2015), where children learn from the example of their parents and family members, and experience the power of hope in strengthening human relationships, serving those most forgotten in society and overcoming the injustices of our day. Saint John Paul II said that “the future of humanity passes by way of the family” (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 86). If humanity is to prosper and live in peace, then families must embrace this work of nurturing hope and encouraging their children to be heralds of hope to the world.

6. As Christians and Hindus, may we join all people of good will in supporting marriage and family life, and inspiring families to be schools of hope. May we bring hope’s light to every corner of our world, offering consolation and strength to all in need.

We wish you all a joyful Deepavali!

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran President

+ Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ Secretary

(from Vatican Radio)

– matters india

Totally prohibit use of religion for seeking votes, SC urged

October 27, 2016 by  
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New Delhi, October 26, 2016: Supreme Court on Wednesday was told that a provision of the electoral law, prohibiting the use of religion by a candidate for mobilising votes during elections should be seen in the contest of enduring constitutional ethos and the changing times.

Referring to 19 provisions of the constitution dealing with different aspects of society, senior counsel Kapil Sibal told a constitution bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao that “these elements of constitutional ethos have to be respected” while interpreting the Section 123(3) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951.

The provisions that Sibal cited included pprohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, abolition of untouchability, freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, freedom to manage religious affairs and freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.

As Justice Chandrachud observed that at the heart of the politics is discrimination – be it caste, religious, social, Justice Lalit observed that the “appeal (for votes) should be in furtherance of the constitutional goals”.

Sibal’s submission came to the constitution bench which is examining whether Section 123(3) which prohibits seeking votes by a candidate or his election agent on the ground of the candidate’s religion, race, caste, community or language could be expanded to exclude the use of religion in any form during electioneering.

Telling the court that mischief that the court is seeking to deal with relates to “identity polity”, Sibal said that laws should interpreted with the changing times as he pointed to the vast reach of the social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and campaigns being carried on them.

He also urged the bench to consider whether a candidate could remain insulated from what a political party says in its manifesto, which may be a divisive agenda and a “corrupt practice” under Section 123(3).

Saying that someday court will have to address this question, Sibal said that there were subtle, sometimes indirect and at times direct ways of seeking votes in the name of religion, race, caste, community and language, while referring to 1996 five judges bench’s verdict that had held that the manifesto of a political party could not be attributed to its candidates.

Another senior counsel B.A.Desai, appearing for one of the respondents seeking to expand the width of the provision, told the court that the “manifesto of political party, its leaders and other’s come under the ambit of Section 123(3)”.

The hearings is rooted in 1996 reference to the seven judges constitution bench on the interpretation of Section 123(3).

In 1995, a Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice J.S. Verma ruled that Hindutva was not a religion but a way of life, but a year later, a five-judge bench disagreed and referred it to a larger bench.

The question before the seven-judge bench is whether seeking votes in the name of religion amounts to corrupt practice under the act, leading to unseating of a lawmaker.

– tcn

Uproar in Sri Lanka over police shooting

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Colombo, October 26, 2016: Sri Lankan civic rights activists, including priests are demanding justice for two Jaffna University students who were allegedly killed by police.

Wijekumar Sulakshan and Nadarasa Gajan, two undergraduates, were allegedly shot dead by police while riding a motorbike on Oct. 20 at Kulappidi Junction in Jaffna.

The police ordered the pair to stop and allegedly opened fire when their orders weren’t obeyed. The officers then filed a report claiming the young men had died in a traffic accident. Jaffna, like much of Sri Lank’s northern provinces, has remained heavily militarized since the end of the civil war in 2009.

During the demonstration in Colombo on Oct. 24, activists condemned the alleged killing. They brandished placards which read: “Are the bullets the only gift for Tamils from the government?” and “such killings destroy reconciliation.”

“We condemn this unlawful act. Those who are found guilty should be severely punished. The loss of these two students can never be undone,” said Father Sarath Iddamalgoda, who was among the demonstrators.

“The national reconciliation process will be disrupted due to this. We haven’t seen justice for such killings in the past therefore this matter should be handled with full impartially by the government,” he added.

The five police officers have been arrested and remanded by Jaffna magistrates until Nov. 4.

President Maithripala Sirisena said the parents of the dead students will be compensated and launched an independent inquiry.

The National Peace Council has condemned the reported shooting.

“In restoring normalcy to the north and east of the country, where most of the three decades long war was fought, we call on the government to emphasize the building of good relations between the police and the people,” said the council in a statement.

“The recruitment of more local police officers will be necessary so that the people feel greater confidence that all levels of government are functioning for their benefit,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, a massive protest march was organized by Jaffna University students to deliver a petition to the Jaffna district secretary demanding an impartial inquiry.

The petition also pressed for international and local human rights organizations to be allowed to monitor court proceedings.

Udul Premaratna, former convener of the Inter-University Student Federation and a lawyer, said that the shooting must be seen in the context of the militarization of north Sri Lanka.

“Through past experience, we know that if people raise their voices against the government they will be threatened, assaulted or abducted and this culture still remains in the north,” he said.

“We demand the government take action against the police and also remove the military presence from the north; only then can we talk about real reconciliation,” he added.

For decades the Sri Lankan government was embroiled in a brutal civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, an insurgent group that fought to carve out a separate Tamil homeland in the country’s North and East until it was defeated militarily by government forces in May of 2009.

Jaffna was at the epicenter of this war and under heavy mortar fire and subjected to close-quarter battles. It was intermittently under government or rebel control. Jaffna Diocese still is reeling under a shortage of manpower to help people rebuild lives, with many of its priests and religious killed or disappeared during the war.

– ucan

ISIS kills 9 men in trenches filled with burning oil in Mosul battle

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Iraq, October 26, 2016: The Islamic State terror group has reportedly burned alive nine of its fighters by throwing them in trenches containing burning oil as punishment for fleeing the ongoing battle over the Iraqi city of Mosul.

“ISIS terrorist gangs executed nine of its members for fleeing the battle against the security forces in Mosul by throwing them in trenches containing a burning oil, after tying their hands and legs,” Al Sumaria News reported on Tuesday.

“ISIS used the burning oil trenches to impede the visibility of the Iraqi Air Force and international coalition air force,” the report added.

An intense battle for the liberation of Mosul was launched earlier this month, with U.S.-backed Iraqi ground troops devising plans to drive out the Islamic terror group from one of its last remaining strongholds in the country, which also includes several Christian villages.

Iraqi News reports that the jihadists have been using “the most heinous methods” to execute members who step out of line to discourage them from fleeing the battle.

IS’ numerous atrocities continue to be exposed as more and more territory is recaptured from the terror group’s grasp in both Iraq and Syria. Earlier this week, Syrian mother Alice Assaf described how the militants went on a killing spree in her hometown of Adra al-Ummaliya, a suburb of Damascus.

Assaf recalled one instance where IS fighters massacred at least six men and about 250 children at a nearby bakery in her town.

“Later on, we heard that the militants grabbed six strong men working at the bakery and burned them inside the oven,” she explained. “After that, they caught some 250 kids and kneaded them like dough in the bakery dough machine.”

IS also burned alive prisoners and 15 civilians in Fallujah earlier this year who had been attempting to flee the besieged city.

An Iraqi soldier who escaped IS’ capture said in January that IS has also tortured and burned alive several Christians in cages for refusing to disavow their faith.

“They tortured the [expletive] out of the Christians and some died in the process,” Sergeant Karam Saad of the Iraqi military said at the time.

“They would take some and lock them in a kind of casket, and set it on fire from the inside,” he said.

– christian post

How to say “I do” every day

October 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

“A successful marriage,” Mignon McLaughlin once said, “requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” If you’ve ever gone a month without spending any real quality time with your spouse, you know how negatively it can affect your marriage. All relationships need to be nurtured, and none more so than our relationship with our spouse.

Marriage was created to give people companionship. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him” (Genesis 2:18). Successful Christian marriages may be best seen as a triangle, with God at the top and each partner at the lower corners. The closer we draw to God, the closer we’ll be to each other.

Marriage is not a “done deal” at the altar; it’s a continuous, daily “I do.” As the French actress Simone Signoret said, “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” Though it may seem impossible to spend quality time alone with your spouse, it can be done. It just takes a little planning and creativity. The following ideas can get you started:

1) Celebrate a monthly anniversary
Each month on the same date you were married, get a babysitter for the kids and go out on the town. Dinner, a concert, or even simple inexpensive or free dates, such as miniature golf, a picnic in the park, or ice-skating, can do a lot to keep the flame burning. You’re not likely to forget the reason you got married when you’re both celebrating it monthly.

2) Attend a marriage retreat
Held year-round throughout the country, usually on weekends, these retreats often include marriage/inspirational speakers, beautiful scenery, good food, activities, and plenty of time to be alone with your spouse.

3) Give the gift of time
Surprise your mate from time to time by arranging childcare for the kids and giving your spouse the gift of time. Reschedule a meeting to spend extra time together. On weekends, forgo a favorite activity to spend the time with your mate instead. A gift of time speaks volumes and can do a lot to strengthen your marriage.

4) Attend a wedding together
The occasion to attend at least one wedding per year is sure to arise, so don’t miss out. As you attend the wedding with your spouse, discreetly exchange your rings and silently renew your vows together while holding hands as the bride and groom say their vows. My husband and I recently attended a very moving wedding ceremony, and although we didn’t plan it, as we held hands we both silently renewed our own vows to one another. It’s a great reminder of the marriage covenant and of all the reasons you got married in the first place.

5) Pull the plug
Once the kids are in bed, resist the urge to crash on the couch in front of the TV. Studies show that couples who watch an above-average amount of TV are 26 percent less satisfied with their relationships than couples who watch less than the average amount. Instead, put on a music CD and snuggle together.

6) Walk the block
Each evening after the supper dishes have been cleared away, take a walk (or two) around the block. This works especially well if you have children old enough to spend brief periods at home without supervision or who are mature and responsible enough to look after younger siblings. The evening walks are not only invigorating but also allow for good, private conversations.

7) Schedule a weekend getaway
Each year, make it a tradition to get away for a weekend alone with your spouse. Schedule a specific weekend just for the two of you, and don’t change it for any other event. Keeping the timing the same each year makes it easier on everyone; it’s not only expected, it gives you and your spouse something to look forward to.

8) Read to one another
After the kids are in bed, light some candles and spend some time reading to one another. If one spouse doesn’t like to read, the other can be the designated reader. Take time to discuss the readings — select a title about marriage and spousal relationships.

9) Take advantage of small moments
Don’t overlook those small blocks of time that you can spend with your spouse. I purposefully schedule my monthly chiropractor appointments (which are a few minutes away from my husband’s workplace) just before noon so that when I’m done, I can pick up my husband and we can have a nice 30- to 45-minute lunch together. These small snatches of time really do add up to a closer, more intimate relationship.

10) Share memories
If possible, return to your childhood towns — if not physically, then mentally. Talk about the streets you walked, the homes you lived in, the schools you attended, the playgrounds you played at, the friends you had, etc. Our family lives in my husband’s childhood home, so childhood memories are a frequent topic of discussion. Knowing about my husband’s childhood has helped me to know him better.

11) Create a romantic space
Make your bedroom “off-limits” to kids’ stuff. Instead, fill the room with pictures of you and your partner, pre-kids, to help remind you of how you fell in love. Keep the room clutter-free, as having toys underfoot just isn’t conducive to romance. Place scented candles and flowers throughout the room, and leave each other love notes under the pillows or sheets.

12) Plan a sunrise picnic
When the kids are away at a sleepover, pack a breakfast picnic and watch a sunrise together. My husband and I did this one April morning at a dam overlooking a large lake, and it was breathtaking.

13) Arrange a midweek dinner for two
Once a week, feed the kids an early, simple, but fun dinner. Then send them off to another room to watch an approved movie of their choice. Along with your spouse, prepare a romantic dinner for the two of you. Listen to classical music, dim the lights, and light the candles. It’s so relaxing to have a quiet, uninterrupted meal — especially in the middle of a hectic workweek.

14) Plan dates
Buy season tickets to his favorite sporting event, symphony, or theater. This ensures many pre-packaged dates where the two of you are together, and since neither will want the tickets to go to waste, these dates aren’t easily canceled. The dates are set well in advance so schedules can be worked around with little effort.

How often we let life pass by without really living. Since your spouse is the person you’ll spend the rest of your life with, it makes sense to invest in your marriage now. Commit today to spending more one-on-one time with your spouse — you won’t regret it!

– catholic digest

Before his first child was born four years ago, Matthew Kelly had already learned a great deal in life. He had to in order to provide content worth listening to in his countless speeches and reading in his best-selling books. Yet, despite all the knowledge he had taken in, there were some priceless pearls of wisdom he had yet to acquire. These would be the irreplaceable gifts daily given by his children.

Matthew Kelly, the 40-year-old founder of Dynamic Catholic, spoke with Catholic Digest about how marriage and fatherhood have changed his life for the better. He also shared his thoughts about his favorite books, his upcoming projects at Dynamic Catholic, and the great adventure otherwise known as public speaking.

You’ve given literally thousands of talks over the past 20 years. Did public speaking come naturally, or did you have to work at it?

I have never been on a roller coaster, but I imagine public speaking is like riding a roller coaster. The first time, it scares you pretty good. The second time, it scares you less. If you rode it 4,000 times—as I have done in the case of giving speeches—you learn to enjoy it. Today, there are few things I would rather do than stand up in front of an audience and engage them in a conversation about what matters most in life.

Some Catholics who have heard one of your talks or read one of your books may not know that you also have your own consulting firm. What are the most pressing needs for businesses today?

Business will always be about people. There have been incredible technological advancements in the last 50 years, but on both sides of every business transaction, you still find people. When businesses forget this, they start to treat people in ways that, simply put, are counterproductive and just bad for business. Businesses exist for people; people don’t exist for businesses. In a similar way, the Church is a gift from God to his people. The Church exists for people, to help them walk with God in this life and to God in the next. The Church exists for people; people don’t exist for the Church.

You had your first battle with cancer at age 35. How did that change your life?

I remember the doctor saying the word “cancer,” but I was surprisingly calm. I was so calm it worried me a bit. Of course, I was surrounded by care and concern from others, and I have never felt like people were praying for me like I did then.


The big lesson for me throughout the experience came as I walked out of the doctor’s office, drove back to the Dynamic Catholic offices, and had a full day of meetings. It occurred to me that I had just received life-altering news—possibly life-ending news—but the world doesn’t stop. The world moves on, pressing on in perpetual motion and activity.


Most of all, cancer taught me that we are all carrying around something—some life issue we’re wrestling with or some big question we’re grappling with. The lesson: Be gentle with people. You never know what cross they are carrying in their lives. You never know what is going on inside them, but you can be sure, something is going on in there. We all have our battles.


What are the top five Catholic books that have influenced you?

I love books. I love reading them. I love writing them. There is just something about books, these portable instruments of wisdom, that has captured my imagination since I was young. Most of my favorite books are in the Dynamic Catholic book program, and the ones that aren’t, I am working on obtaining rights to.


Some of my favorites are Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft, Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor by Allen Hunt, Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Mission by John Wood, Made for More by Curtis Martin, and Walking with Purpose by Lisa Brenninkmeyer.


Books change our lives because what we read today walks and talks with us tomorrow. I truly believe that if every Catholic read one great Catholic book a year for 10 years, we would completely transform the Catholic Church in America. That’s why I am so passionate about the Dynamic Catholic book program. Game changes are simple, and the book program is a simple and effective way to evangelize and re-engage Catholics.

What are some of the things you think the Catholic Church does best today?

I think the Church proposes the best way to live, even though that message may not be welcome. The Church is also exceptional as the premier defender of human rights and social justice. And one of the great movements of our age is among the laity. More and more laypeople are hungry to get involved and champion the mission of the Church. God is doing something here, stirring hearts to action.


What do you think the Church needs to do better?

At Dynamic Catholic we talk a lot about “meeting people where they are and leading them to where God is calling them to be.” As a Church we need to get really, really good at this. At the moment I feel like we are standing on one side of a very busy eight-lane highway, yelling at people, “You should come over here!” We need to cross the road ourselves, take them by the hand, and help them cross this treacherous road.


I also think we need to do a much better job of engaging people in what we call the “Catholic Moments” of baptism, reconciliation, Communion, confirmation, marriage preparation, RCIA, and others.


This is why we have chosen to focus on these Catholic Moments at Dynamic Catholic. Our 10- year plan focuses on 10 programs that we plan to deliver and make available to every parish in the United States for free. We have just launched our first of these programs for confirmation. The program is called “Decision Point,” and it’s made up of 72 short films which are accompanied by online components, an app, a workbook, and a leader guide that have been designed by a group of incredible artists. I’d invite your readers to explore these materials at


Over the past decade 85 percent of young Catholics who were confirmed stopped practicing their faith within seven years. We want to change that, which is why we chose confirmation as our first topic in the Catholic Moments series.


What are you most excited about with your work as you look to the future?

The confirmation program has been all-consuming for the past four years, and while I have published books during that time, with the exception of The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, these books were written before I began working on “Decision Point.” So, I am itching to write…and really looking forward to having some time to write again.


But, if you really press me, I am most excited to see how the research behind The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic will change the way we do what we do. I am constantly fascinated about how the research can guide us to get better at everything we do. I think some people think of it just as a book. I think of it in much broader terms as a blueprint that shows us how to re-energize the Catholic Church in America.


You are now a husband and a father. How has marriage and fatherhood changed you?

Marriage was like coming home, finally coming home, after a long, long journey. Being a father really surprised me in a hundred ways. The biggest lesson is that if I can love my children as much as I do—and I am fragile and broken, wounded, and weak—imagine how much more God loves us. I mean, I’ve always believed that God loved us, but now I have a sense, like never before, of the incredible love of God.


Being a father is an amazing gift. It is so immense—and as a result, incredibly humbling—when you really start to reflect on the gift and responsibility of fatherhood. But the joy of everyday life is indescribeable. I have three children, Walter (age four), Isabel (age three), and Harry (age one). It’s amazing how they have these little personalities right from the beginning. God has sowed the seeds of personality, gifts, talents, and abilities, and watching and help them emerge from each of my children is awesome.


Most of all, I think the kids bring perspective to my life. Each night I have story time with them. I lie down with them and talk about their day, and then tell them a story. Right there, in that moment, is the ultimate examination of conscience. It is a moment that puts everything in perspective. I may have spent the day wrestling with or stressed about something, and more often than not, this moment with my kids tells me that some of the things I have been focused on are just not as important as I thought. If I listen carefully and watch closely, the kids remind me of what matters most—and what matters least. But I am a slow learner.


And then, there are those moments when you are just struck by the awe of how their little minds work. Like when Walter walked into my home office a week before Christmas, sat on the couch, and very thoughtfully said, “Daddy, I have some questions.”


“What’s your first question?” I asked.

“Well, Daddy, is it going to be Christmas soon?”

“Yes, eight more days,” I told him.

“Well, Daddy, do you think I will get some presents?”

“Oh yes, Walter, I’m sure you will.”

“Well, Daddy, if it is Jesus’ birthday, why do I get presents?”

Wow, I thought to myself. I took him in my arms and hugged him tight. It was one of those moments you try to hold onto, but even as you try to hold onto it, it slips away.


Jesus talked a lot about children, and he invited us to be like them. That is a message, one aspect of the gospel, that our modern culture has rejected. And we are poorer for it.

Rick Warren: ‘Personalize’ bible verses by putting your name in it

October 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

U.S., October 25, 2016: Saddleback Church pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren is telling Christians that they should “personalize” scripture by inserting themselves into certain biblical passages.

In an entry found on Rick Warren’s Daily Hope website published Sunday, Warren wrote a meditation centered on the Bible verse Philippians 1:6.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns,” reads the verse, as rendered by the New Living Translation, Second Edition.

Warren stated that “God’s Word will never change your life until you let it become personal” and advised using what he called the “personalize-it method of Bible meditation.”

“You simply put your name in the place of pronouns or nouns in Scripture. For example, if I were personalizing John 3:16, I’d write something like this: ‘For God so loved Rick, he gave his one and only Son so that Rick would not perish but have everlasting life’,” wrote Warren.

“Or, for Philippians 1:6: ‘He who began a good work in Rick Warren will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'”

Warren went on to note that if one uses the “personalize-it method,” that the results will “strengthen your faith and encourage yourself.”

“Do this, and many passages of Scripture will literally bring tears to your eyes. You’ll start to read the Bible as God’s love letter to you,” continued Warren.

“It’ll be God’s gift to you! Reading your Bible isn’t just about getting to know the content of the Word. It’s about getting to know the author of the Word — personally!”

Warren is not the only pastor to advocate for personalizing scripture. Last year The CityLight Church in Chicago Gregory Ijiwola and his wife launched the ToYouBible App.

The app involved placing a person’s name within the text of a Bible verse. One ad for the ToYouBible App had a man named Mike Walker having Micah 6:8 sent to his phone, with the text rendered “He has shown Mike Walker what is good. What does God require of him, but for Mike Walker to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God?”

Some expressed concern over the app. The Rev. Dr. Christopher J. Benek, an expert on Christianity and technology, told The Christian Post in an interview last year that he saw “several significant concerns” with the App including questions of biblical context.

“To ignore that context by simply inserting one’s own name, and thus one’s own cultural context into the text, ignores the purpose for which the text was originally written,” said Rev. Benek.

“When we make the Bible all about us as individuals, we miss the focus of the larger relational narrative which tells of God’s grace and love being extended to all of humanity. It likewise further sidesteps the reality that it is the work of Christian community, in Christ not just individuals, to work towards mutual accountability and justice.”

– christian post

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