Category Archives: religion

A Prayer on the Anniversary of 9/11

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

Delivered by Pope Benedict XVI on April 20, 2008, during his visit to Ground Zero; courtesy of here.

Quote for the Week

Let me tell you again that you must be pure and help any one who comes to you, as much as lies in your power. And this is good Karma. By the power of this, the heart becomes pure (Chitta-shuddhi), and then Shiva who is residing in every one will become manifest. He is always in the heart of every one. If there is dirt and dust on a mirror, we cannot see our image. So ignorance and wickedness are the dirt and dust that are on the mirror of our hearts. Selfishness is the chief sin, thinking of ourselves first. He who thinks, “I will eat first, I will have more money than others, and I will possess everything”, he who thinks, “I will get to heaven before others I will get Mukti before others” is the selfish man. The unselfish man says, “I will be last, I do not care to go to heaven, I will even go to hell if by doing so I can help my brothers.” This unselfishness is the test of religion. He who has more of this unselfishness is more spiritual and nearer to Shiva. Whether he is learned or ignorant, he is nearer to Shiva than anybody else, whether he knows it or not. And if a man is selfish, even though he has visited all the temples, seen all the places of pilgrimage, and painted himself like a leopard, he is still further off from Shiva.

–Swami Vivekananda, “Address at the Rameswaram Temple on Real Worship”, in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 3; courtesy of Wikiquote.

Prayers in Honor of St. Augustine

A Prayer of St. Augustine to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be holy.

Courtesy of here.

A Prayer to St. Augustine for Virtue

We humbly supplicate and beseech thee, O thrice-blessed Augustine, that thou wouldst be mindful of us poor sinners this day, daily, and at the hour of our death, that by thy merits and prayers we may be delivered from all evils, of soul as well as body, and daily increase in virtue and good works; obtain for us that we may know our God and know ourselves, that in His mercy He may cause us to love Him above all things in life and death; impart to us, we beseech thee, some share of that love with which thou so ardently glow, that our hearts being all inflamed with this divine love, happily departing out of this mortal pilgrimage, we may deserve to praise with thee the loving heart of Jesus for a never-ending eternity.

Courtesy of here. Yesterday was the feast of his mother, Monica; today, appropriately, is the feast day of St. Augustine himself.

A Litany to St. Monica

Litany of Saint Monica

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.

God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, conceived without stain of original sin,
pray for us and for our children.

Holy Mary, glorious Mother of Jesus Christ,
pray for us and for our children.

St. Monica,
pray for us and for our children.

Model of wives,
pray for us and for our children.

You who converted your unbelieving husband, Mother of St. Augustine,
pray for us and for our children.

Strict and prudent teacher, guardian of your son in all his ways,
pray for us and for our children.

You who carefully watched over his conduct,
pray for us and for our children.

You who were sorely distressed at his erring from the right,
pray for us and for our children.

You who were untiring in your petitions for his soul’s safety,
pray for us and for our children.

You who still hoped on amid the bitterness of your heart and your floods of tears,
pray for us and for our children.

You who were filled with consolation upon his return to God,
pray for us and for our children.

You who died calmly after faithfully fulfilling your duties,
pray for us and for our children.

You who are the prayerful intercessor of all mothers who pray and weep as you did,
pray for us and for our children.

Preserve the innocence of our children,
we beseech you, St. Monica.

Protect them against the deceits of evil men,
we beseech you, St. Monica.

Protect them from the dangers of bad example,
we beseech you, St. Monica.

Watch over the movements of grace in their hearts.
Let the Christian virtues strike deep root in their hearts and bear much fruit.
Redouble your intercession for youth approaching manhood.
Obtain for all in mortal sin true contrition and perfect conversion.
Obtain for all mothers to fulfill their duties steadily and perseveringly.

Commend all mothers to the protection
of the ever-blessed Virgin Mother of Our Lord.
Favorably incline the heart of your beloved son Augustine
to the salvation of our children.

St. Augustine, holy son of a saintly mother,
pray for us and for our children.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord!

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord!

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us, O Lord!

Pray for us, O holy St. Monica,
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Courtesy of here.  Today is her feast day.

A Prayer for the Assumption

by Pope St. Pius X

O immaculate virgin, mother of God and mother of humanity, we believe with all the fervour of our faith in your triumphal assumption both in body and in soul into heaven where you are acclaimed as queen by all the choirs of angels and all the legions of saints; we unite with them to praise and bless the Lord who has exalted you above all other pure creatures and to offer you the tribute of our devotion and our love.

We know that your gaze, which on earth watched over the humble and suffering humanity of Jesus, in heaven is filled with the vision of that humanity glorified and with the vision of uncreated wisdom, and that the joy of your soul in the direct contemplation of the adorable trinity causes your heart to throb with overwhelming tenderness; and we, poor sinners whose body weights down the flight of the soul, beg you to purify our hearts so that, while we remain below, we may learn to see God and God alone in the beauties of his creatures.

We trust that your merciful eyes may deign to gaze down upon our miseries and anguish, upon our struggles and our weaknesses; that your countenance may smile upon our joys and our victories; that you may hear the voice of Jesus saying to you of each one of us, as he once said to you of his beloved disciple:

“Behold your son,” and we who call upon you as our mother, we, like John, take you as the guide, strength and consolation of our mortal life.

We are inspired by the certainty that your eyes, which wept over the earth crimsoned by the blood of Jesus, are yet turned toward this world racked by wars and persecutions, the oppression of the just and the weak. From the shadows of this vale of tears, we seek in your heavenly assistance, tender mercy, comfort for our aching hearts, and help in the trials of Church and country.

We believe finally that in the glory where you reign, clothed with the sun and crowned with stars, you are, after Jesus, the joy and gladness of all the angels and the saints, and from this earth, over which we tread as pilgrims, comforted by our faith in the future resurrection, we look to you our life, our sweetness, our hope; draw us onward with the sweetness of your voice, so that one day, after our exile, you may show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb.

O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.

Amen.

Courtesy of here.  Today is the Feast of the Assumption.

Prayers in Honor of St. Clare of Assisi

I look up and I behold the Lord,
Clare says to me, “Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him,
I put this more simply:
behold, hold, enfold.

I behold the Lord
I see His outstretched hands
I see the blood from His wounds.
I see the love in the eyes of Jesus.
I see His gracious acceptance of me.

Jesus has come out of the tomb –
He still has the scars, but now they are glorious, with the glory of heaven.
Still looking at the Lord, I reach out and touch Him.
I hold the Lord – and I am held in His love.

Love enfolds
It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me.
I am secure in the Lord.
I can look out, now, through the Lord’s eyes.
I can see the world as He created it, in His mercy,
I can see my sisters and brothers with His love,
and I can worship the Father through the eyes of the Son
in the Love of the Holy Spirit.

Here is a blessing from St. Clare’s second letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague:
What you hold may you always hold.
What you do, may you always do and never abandon.
But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
Go forward, the spirit of our God has called you.

Courtesy of here.

O glorious Saint Clare!

God has given you the power of working miracles continually, and the favor of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress; we beseech you, obtain for us from Jesus, through Mary, His Blessed Mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully, if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls.

Saint Clare Pray For Us

Amen.

Courtesy of here.  St. Clare was the founder of the women’s branch of the Franciscans, the Poor Clares, having received the veil from St. Francis himself.  Today is her feast day.

A Prayer to St. Lawrence

Glorious St. Lawrence, model of Christian fortitude, I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne of God. To you I have recourse in the problems that daily surround me. Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and my neighbour. Inspire me to imitate your Christian virtues. May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His Kingdom. Graciously obtain for me from God those favours and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions in life, particularly (name it). Help me, dear St. Lawrence, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.
(Pater, Ave, Gloria)

Courtesy of here.  Today is his feast day.

A Prayer for the Feast of the Transfiguration

O God, who in the glorious Transfiguration of your Only Begotten Son confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship, grant, we pray, to your servants, that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son, we may merit to become co-heirs with him. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

Courtesy of here.  Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Religion and LARPing (Can We Tell the Difference?)

In this series, we began with a humorous look at the similarities between religion and nerd culture.  On the way to a more serious analysis of this similarity, we’ve looked at how the Western world gradually became “disenchanted”.  The ancient pagans lived in a world that was alive, filled with a dizzying array of gods, demigods, spirits, and demons.  Christianity gradually pushed these to the margins, though many remained in new forms–angels, demons, fairies, elves, and so on.  The Enlightenment saw the rise of reason over all, and gradually completed the process whereby Westerners went from viewing the cosmos as a living organism to seeing it as a dead machine, while at the same time traditional religion went into gradual, and now steep decline.  Finally, we saw the rise of pop culture and fandom, whereby fascination with fictional worlds gradually developed into obsession, then into a mainstream lifestyle choice.  In this post, I’d like to try to tie it all together, as far as possible with such complex phenomena.

I’ll start with the image at the top of this post.  Someone unfamiliar with pop culture and Catholic religious orders might think that the two sides of the picture were more or less variants on the same theme.  In fact, as I imagine most readers of this blog will have immediately noticed, the left is a group of Jedi.  No, it’s not a scene from a movie, and it’s not necessarily cosplay.  There is an actual, real-life movement in some countries to have “Jedi” or “Jediism” registered as an official religion.  How “seriously” this is intended is something we’ll come back to.  Meanwhile, in addition to these efforts, there are organizations for “real” Jedi.  That is to say, they take the principles and practices, either explicitly stated or implied, of the Jedi Order of the Star Wars franchise and try, as far as possible, to use those principles and practices as guidelines for living their lives.  Their real, actual lives in the real, actual world.  They do this by a combination of aphorisms derived from the Star Wars franchise (movies and extended universe), martial arts training, meditation practices, and so on.  They often, as can be seen, dress in attire based on that of the cinematic Jedi.  The right-hand part of the image above, by the way, is a group of Franciscan friars*.  Their expressions seem a bit surly–maybe it’s because they don’t get to carry light sabers….

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Fandom

Last time we looked at the rise of mass media and the resultant birth of pop culture as we know it.  Over time, as even cheaper forms of print came into being (penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and pulps) and new media were developed (movies, radio, and television), there came into being the phenomenon we know as fandom.

“Fan”, of course, is originally an abbreviation of “fanatic”.  A fan is fanatic about his favorite books, TV show, band, or whatever.  The term originated in America in the late 19th Century–not surprising, since America at that time was rapidly becoming the epicenter for all the various media that made fans and fandom possible.  “Fandom” appears around the same time, but is very rarely seen until the second half of the 20th Century, becoming more and more common from the 1970’s onward.  “Fandom” is the subculture of fans of a given franchise, property, or other media entity.  Such subculture includes, but is not limited to, networking among fans, fan clubs and societies of various sorts, fan-produced magazines (“‘zines”, often produced on the cheap with mimeograph machines in decades past), fan-written fiction (“fan fiction” or “fanfic”–with modern technology, fan films have become common, too), fan conventions (“cons”), cosplay, and various forums, discussion boards, and zones on the Internet.

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