Saturday, October 04, 2003

The Pope and Theology of the Body

The Online Resource for John Paul II's Theology of the Body. This website contains documents and materials concerning this important subject!
The theology of the body is Pope John Paul II's integrated vision of the human person, body, soul and spirit. He tells us how the physical human body has a specific meaning and how it shows us the answers to basic questions of life such as: Is there a real purpose to life and if so, what is it? Why were we created male and female - and does it really matter if you're one sex or another? Why were man and woman called to communion from the beginning and what does the marital union of a man and woman say to us about God and his plan for our lives? What is the purpose of the married and celibate vocations?

This website is dedicated to helping explain and promote the Pope's revolutionary and life-transforming message of hope in a society where the body is often seen as no more as an object to be used or as a machine to be handled. John Paul II, both in his 'Theology of the Body' and his earlier work 'Love and Responsibility', as well as the encyclicals of his papacy, debunks the myth that the Catholic Church is "down on sex" and promotes a true reverence for the gift of our sexuality.
Also check out this page for tons of information about the extraordinary actor, athlete, poet, philosopher, and pastor who is Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Holy Bloodline?

If you've ever read the infamous book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, you'd be familiar with the story of the Church of Rennes-le-Château and its alledged association with the assertion that Mary Magdalen came to the south of France and supposedly gave birth to Jesus' offspring who went on to rule Europe before being violently suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church. I was flipping through and saw a program on television just the other day that tried to point out all of the "weird clues" found in this little church of Rennes-le-Château to supposedly back of the claims of Jesus' Holy Bloodline - only now, what I heard made me laugh. What some of these folks call clues might seem mysterious to those who aren't aware of a few facts.

The story, as far as I understand it from the conspiracy theorists, is that a priest at this little church, Fr. Berenger Saunière (1852-1917), found mysterious documents hidden in this church that spoke of a mysterious bloodline that traced back to Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Supposely, the contents of these documents inspired him to renounce his faith and participate in the occult. Furthermore, these folks say that he decided to renovate this church and left clues of his plight to communicate his message without fear of being silence by the Church.

Here is what they said.
Fr. Saunière inscribed 'Terribilis est locus iste' (This place is terrible) above the door to the church! Why would he write such a thing? This must represent his real contempt for the Church!
No - the words are actually taken from the book of Genesis, 28:17 and were used in the Common of the Dedication of a Church. Furthermore 'terribilis' doesn't mean terrible as we might understand it in English, but would mean more like impressive, terrifying, or awe-inspiring. View the faded inscription immediately above the door frame here. Note the other latin inscriptions, such as Domus mea domus orationis vocabitur (My house will be called a house of prayer), all from the Common of Dedication.

They also say:
Fr. Saunière installed a statue of a devil, or what some believe is the demon Asmodeus, near the inscription! Why would he do this, unless it were to insinuate that the devil had entered God's house and further evidence of his occultic practices!
No, the devil is being crushed by a holy water stoup, surmounted by four angels making the sign of the cross with the French inscription, Par ce signe tu le vaincrais (By this sign, you shall conquer). It's called imagery! View the statue here and the angels above it here.

One other amazing thing they have asserted:
There is a statue inside the church, next to the altar, of Jesus holding a little boy! This must represent the fact that Jesus had children - Fr. Saunière is trying to communicate something to his successors!
Actually, the statue is holding a child, but it's a statue of St. Joseph holding the child Jesus in his left hand, flowers in his right. This is opposite to a statue of the Blessed Virgin located on the other side of the altar. View it here.
But why did Fr. Saunière go mad and join the occult unless what he read shook the foundations of his faith?
Is this so novel? If he really did do these things, and that's a big if, so what? We're sinners after all. For some folk, it doesn't take a lot fo shake the foundations of their faith. I understand that. But do we have to put speculative circumstances around one man's struggles? But I must say, the only thing I can extract from his renovation is that he likes imagery and loves his church!

I could not help but watch and laugh as I listened to these assertions. As conspiracy theories go, I think this is more of an attack on the Church than an attack by the Church. But this one has a pretty stable following.

For those couples who chart their fertility cycles and symptoms of ovulation, you may find Ovusoft to be a big help as it allows you to maintain your charts easily on your computer. Of course, you could always use an Excel spreadsheet or something too. However, Ovusoft does a lot of the work for you. It's makes it much easier for couples practicing Natural Family Planning.

Thanks to Saintly Salmagundi for this reference.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Rest in Peace, Msgr. Leuer

I just read in The Tidings, our archdiocesan newspaper, that Msgr. Anthony Leuer, who had been a good friend of mine from Los Angeles, died on September 18th at the age of 66. During the summer of 1998, I interned for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, working in the Chancery for the Office of Information Services. Since I was relocating from Santa Barbara, I had to find living arrangements in Los Angeles on very short notice, and Msgr. Leuer was gracious enough to rent a room to me in the former convent attached to his church, Holy Spirit Parish on Pico Blvd, for a mere $200 per month. This included secure parking, full kitchen, and all utilities. It was relatively close to the Archdiocesan Catholic Center on Wilshire and a pretty central location to be in Los Angeles. Plus, I could visit the Blessed Sacrament in the Convent Chapel anytime I wished. A handful of evenings, I was invited to dine with Msgr. Leuer and Msgr. Michael Meyers, who at that time worked in the Missions office. They shared with me their many life adventures living in Los Angeles and bringing the Gospel around the world.

Suffice it to say, working for the Archdiocese while living in Los Angeles for that brief time was one of the best experiences I have ever had. It contributed an immense depth to the development of my spiritual life and my desire to serve the Church. It helped me develop an appreciation for our Church's history and missionary efforts. It also gave me a much more personal insight into the ministry operations of our archdiocese. I keep in touch with friends there and try to visit about every year or so when I can.

Unfortunately, after I left Los Angeles to return to school, I corresponded briefly with Msgr. Leuer before losing touch after about a year. He eventually left Holy Spirit parish and so I was not able to visit him, though I later learned that he had become chaplain at Marymount College. Msgr. Leuer was a holy and compassionate priest who cared deeply for the people to whom he ministered. If only I had made an effort to connect with him again. Thankfully, we profess a Communion of Saints, so it is my hope that I will one day see him again. Please join me in praying for him.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may your perpetual light shine upon him. Rest in peace, my friend.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

Angelum nobis medicum salutis
mitte de caelis Raphael, ut omnes
sanet aegrotos pariterque nostros
dirigat actus.
Tomorrow is the glorious feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. But today, my parish celebrated the feast day of its patron, St. Raphael the Archangel. All of God's holy angels are special, but I have been particularly close to St. Raphael, who, as told in the Book of Tobit, is sent by God in answer to the prayers of Tobiah and Sarah in order to assist them. The Book of Tobit is absolutely one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. As you know, Tobit is one of the deuterocanonical books and is regarded as apocrypha by Protestant churches. I discovered Tobit after I was given my first Catholic bible when I entered the RCIA. Here is my favorite part of the story of Tobit when Raphael, the angel, who had previously disguised himself, finally reveals himself to Tobit and his son Tobiah - Tobit 12:11-22:
[Raphael said to them], "I will now tell you the whole truth; I will conceal nothing at all from you. I have already said to you, 'A king's secret it is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be made known with due honor.' I can now tell you that when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed, it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord; and I did the same thing when you used to bury the dead. When you did not hesitate to get up and leave your dinner in order to go and bury the dead, I was sent to put you to the test. At the same time, however, God commissioned me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah. I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord."

Stricken with fear, the two men fell to the ground.

But Raphael said to them: "No need to fear; you are safe. Thank God now and forever. As for me, when I came to you it was not out of any favor on my part, but because it was God's will. So continue to thank him every day; praise him with song. Even though you watched me eat and drink. I did not really do so; what you were seeing was a vision. So now get up from the ground and praise God. Behold, I am about to ascend to him who sent me; write down all these things that have happened to you."

When Raphael ascended they rose to their feet and could no longer see him. They kept thanking God and singing his praises; and they continued to acknowledge these marvelous deeds which he had done when the angel of God appeared to them.
St. Raphael, medicine of God, protect us and heal us!
Nobis adesto, Raphael,
ad patriam petentibus
morbos repelle corporum,
affer salutem mentium.
The Enigma of the Germans

While at the university, I studied a little bit about cryptography where I learned about the Enigma machine in pretty good detail. The Enigma machine was an easy functional encryption device used heavily by the Germans during World War II to communicate - from bases, ships, and submarines. This website covers everything you ever wanted to know about the Enigma machine, particularly things the Germans did incorrectly that enabled the British to crack the code more easily.
Entry points for encrypting the messages.

A) message keys
The operator has to select 3 letters randomly But sometimes they use "AAA", "BBB" or the diagonals of the keyboard (QFL), any abbreviations, his own initials or any dirty words.

A German operator in southern Italy has used frequently his girlfriend initials CILLI and the British called such bad and easy to guess keys CILLIES (sometimes also called Sillies = Dummheiten)
B) A letter never enciphers to itself.
If you type a "A" you will get any letter from B-Z, but never an ``A''. The sequence : AAAAAAA may be XUVGFXY without any ``A''.

A tired German operator has been told to send out dummy messages and he typed only the last letter of the keyboard : ``L''. The British code breaking expert immediately recognized the missing ``L'' in the enciphered message and they got a very big crib (see below).

C) CRIBS (=Eselsbrücke)
A crib is a part of the plain text which is known to correspond with a part of the code.

Knowing the source of the message (army, navy) you can guess the meaning.

For instance most of the messages start with AN (e.g AN GENERAL...) . This was coded as ANXGENERAL

Another possibility was : AN DIE GRUPPE (to the group) The code breakers tested the first 3 letters for ANX.

KEINEBESONDERENEREIGNISSE (no special occurrences, nothing to report) could be a part of the message This crib was placed above the enciphered text and moved left and right until no letter enciphers to itself.
A kiss is a message that has been sent previously on a lower level radio net, which has already been enciphered. This means, the same message was send twice, but with different systems.

The British forced such messages by doing any military activity and then they waited for the messages...
E) Capturing codebooks and secret material
Found codebooks of sunken submarines or captured weather ships and military bases were also very helpful and provided the British with Enigma ground settings for some months and abbreviations for weather reports, which could be used as cribs. Some of these keys has also been used by the U-Boots.


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