Category Archives: Spirituality

Are Statues Idols? And do Catholics Worship Them?

Question:   Where does the Catholic Church stand on images of Christ, statues of saints, pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Guadalupe, etc.? Is it wrong for me to have these items in my home?     I know that our Church does not worship idols. Yet I would like some more information on what we believe.

Answer:  When I was a young man, I read a story by Stephen Vincent Benét titled “By the Waters of Babylon.” The mood was one of a traveler finding the ruins of a previous civilization. Throughout the story the hero kept coming across an idol of the God Ashing. At story’s end, the reader discovers Benét has looked into the future and the city of New York, after some great catastrophe. The “idol” is simply the ruins of a bust of George Washington.

My point is simply that people can misinterpret, misconstrue and fail to understand what others are doing or have done.

The next time someone criticizes your use of statues, or accuses you of idolatry, you might ask him if he has a picture of his wife or children in his wallet. If he says yes, ask him why he is worshiping them.

Or ask him if he thinks all those tourists going out to see the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., or the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore are guilty of idolatry.

Those statues, like pictures of George Washington in so many courthouses, are ways of honoring heroes from the past. They put us in touch with great people in our history. They become occasions for teaching children about the past and offering examples of great citizens.

Stained-glass windows, statues and paintings have long served these same purposes in the Church. Crucifixes and statues of the Good Shepherd or Sacred Heart remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us. Statues of Mary and the saints recall the heroism of the saints and suggest to us what we should strive to become.

They are occasions for telling the children of today about the real saints and heroes of the past, for telling children what it means to live out their faith and religion. To all of us they offer the occasion to reflect and pray on the action of God in our lives. They help us to better sentiments of piety, call upon us to express our own faith and love. In honoring the saint we honor God who has worked such good and holy things in and through the saint.

From St. Anthony Messenger; Ask a Franciscan.  Return to AmericanCatholic.org

Marie Coppola July 2014

The Generations on Wakes & Funerals

Many members of the  Y generation and Mellennials  [born 1977 to 1995]  say they do not want to be viewed in a casket after they leave this world.   They think caskets, viewings, funerals and people getting together when they are grieving is distasteful to them and not their expression of sympathy.  They also feel that attending a ‘gathering’ or ‘luncheon’ afterwards is like ‘having a party’ and is not something they want any part of for themselves.   They don’t want anyone to see them laid out – and they don’t want to have a lot of folks around them if they lose a loved one and are sorrowful  – they want to just go home – and be alone with their loss/grief.

As I was growng up, I used to dread wakes, and the traditions surrounding them. As I got older, I realized the need for the grieving family and loved ones to process the loss they were going through.  Attending the services is an expression of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.  Some people die unexpectedly and the wake is the reality that the loss did happen.  When a wake is not attended, there could be a thought or denial that it did not happen, ie, ‘I did not see it therefore I can’t believe it’.

Wakes, viewings, and services are a part of life for many Generation X members [(born 1965 to 1979] and Baby Boomers [born 1946 to 1964]  and Traditionalists or Silent Generation born 1945 or before.

The bereaved need the comfort of family, friends and acquaintances during this most grieving time. As difficult and tearful as it is, it gives the bereaved an opportunity to give needed expression to release the grief that most of us feel at these times in order to heal and accept their loss.

it is your presence that will be remembered and not your words.   Acts of comforting via touch, hugs, or listening help heal the loss feelings – which could be overwhelming into a depression if they are not expressed – and your presence may foster acceptance and healing.

In today’s culture,  wake or viewing times have been shortened to sometimes to just one day [it used to be 3 days followed by the funeral the next day [or fourth day].  It may be a drain on a family who may have not slept in days or experience long travel times or accommodations  for out-of-time relatives. There are closed caskets, cremations and different memorials for the deceased.  Wakes are a part of a person’s life just as baptisms or weddings are.  Attending Services are acts of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.   Sometimes there are quips and laughter in remembrances of the deceased and is not meant disrespectfully but in remembering and cherishing memories of him or her.

There are lunches after the cemetery or interment….It’s closure.   It is better to be with people who knew and loved the person who died than to go home right after the cemetery – alone with a heavy heart.  It reconnects people who have lost touch. Shared grief will share the loss for all.   Wake viewings and funerals serve this purpose.

If you are a faith person, the viewing and church services are a celebration of a new life in eternity with God.  Many churches focus on this positive affirmation instead of the negative of loss. If you believe in the resurrection of the dead, then the wake is a celebration of their life here on earth and the new life they are entering.

Marie Coppola July 2017

Do you Have …. or Have you Not?


 

When I graduated from college, someone asked me what was the greatest thing  I learned?   In truth, the greatest thing I learned was how little I knew about all there was  to know.

Faith works like that, too.   The more I learn about God, the more I feel  there’s so much more to learn and know about Him.

If you live in a country like the USA, as I do, the average person has a home, a car, clothes, and time to travel and to entertain.  If the average American wants something special for breakfast, he can go to a restaurant or a food store and buy it.   To people who live in poor countries, they might not have any of these things ~ they may not even know what or when they are going to eat from one day to the next.

How blessed we are.  Do you ever wonder, like I do, why I live here in comfortable conditions, when others live in poverty?

We know God through His Word, the Bible and His Reasoning.  Our Life Plans for us aren’t written in contract form. He does give us many mandates, commandments, parables, and teachings from His Son, Jesus, to give us a pattern and way of living. It doesn’t say anything in the Bible about having the biggest house or the best furniture or making the most money. He does tell us how to have traditional relationships in marriage and love; he tells us how to raise our children, and what makes us happy in life and what is good and what is not good for us. He is our Father.

He sent His Son, Jesus, so we would know what The Father is like so we can communicate with Him.

I ask why has God blessed me so?   I’ve had my share of trials and tribulations, but my faith in God has always sustained me.   He has given me an abundant life – why does He do that?   He loves everybody and we’re all equal in his eyes….why are some in unfortunate situations and others always griping they want more?   And why do some who have plenty want more and more?

What about you?   Do you live an abundant llife?   Do you always want that new car, latest technology, or fashion design?   Do you feel blessed?   Or are you OK with what you want and have but need something else to make you happy and fulfilled?

Perhaps a quiet time with Our Lord seeking his Will and Plans for you would put your life in a different perspective.   The more you get out of your time with Him , the more you will seek it and understand it.

© Marie Coppola June 2014

 

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Do You Have a Guardian Angel?

 

The most memorable angel in the movies is the Christmas classic, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life where Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey in the fictional town of Bedford Falls shortly after World War II – a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence, who is sent to help him in his hour of need. ‘And whenever an angel gets his wings, a bell rings.’ A great movie.

I’ve always believed that we all had guardian angels; angels who protect us from that close call while driving; or making us aware of things that could be harmful to us or simply keeping us from doing wrong.

The Bible mentions angels frequently. Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.   Only two angels–Michael and Gabriel–are mentioned by name in Scripture. These two names are masculine in gender.

According to the Bible, however, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings. Although they can take on human form or appearance (as they do at times in Scripture), they do not have physical bodies like humans and so are neither “male” nor “female” in gender. Angels are essentially “ministering spirits”.  Jesus declared that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have”.

The English word “angel” comes from the Greek ‘angelos’, which means ‘messenger’. The Bible tells us an angel is a pure spirit created by God and although the word “angel” in the Bible, meaning a messenger, nearly always applies to heavenly beings, it can occasionally apply to human messengers.

In the Old Testament, there is mention of belief in angels: the name is applied to certain spiritual beings or intelligences of heavenly residence that were employed by God as the ministers of His will. These ministers or messengers carried out His requests, and special commissions, regarding men and ordinary matters. There is no special teaching in the Old Testament; but the doctrine is expressly laid down in Maccabees. However, in the New Testament the doctrine is precisely stated. Angels are everywhere — the intermediaries between God and man; and Jesus set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven”. Matthew 18:10.

It also tell us in the doctrine : ‘even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels are within the vision of God and they have a mission to fulfill on earth.’ There are a whole range of spirits whom God has created, including both good and evil angels, and special categories such as cherubim, seraphim, and the archangel. We are familiar with archangels Gabriel and Michael.

Although the Scriptures give us no indication of the precise time of the creation of angels; their existence is assumed at the earliest times. While the Scriptures themselves give no definite figures, we are told that the number of angels is very great (Daniel, Matthew & Hebrews.) There are many places in the New Testament that allude to ministering of angels: Gabriel announcing the good news of Jesus to Mary; the angel in the Garden of Gethsemane ministering to Jesus; and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. They are sometimes in the form of men and their purpose is very meaningful.

Angels in the Bible never appear as cute, chubby infants! They are always full-grown adults. When people in the Bible saw an angel, their typical response was to fall on their faces in fear and awe. Some Bible passages picture angels with wings. Other verses talk about angels flying, and we assume that the wings would be useful for that flight. But others say that angels may be able to move around without having to depend on wings, somewhat like clouds do. Most references to angels in Scripture say nothing about angels having wings and yet, Daniel and John both refer to angels as ‘flying’ by.

Our Lord often spoke of angels; in the New Testament – and because of this, the Church teaches that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible. “That every individual soul has a guardian angel has never been defined by the Church, and is, consequently, not an article of faith; but it is the “mind of the Church”, as St. Jerome expressed it “how great the dignity of the soul since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II). “No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” “For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.”

Some of the activities done by angels are: Worship and praise – This is the main activity portrayed in heaven. Revealing – They serve as messengers to communicate God’s will to men. They helped reveal the law to Moses and were carriers of much of the material in Daniel and Revelations. Instructing – Angels gave instructions to Joseph about the birth of Jesus, to the women at the tomb, to Phillip and to Cornelius. Providing – God has used angels to provide physical needs such as food for Hagar, Elijah and Christ after His temptation. Protecting – Keeping God’s people out of physical danger, as in the cases of Daniel and the lions and in the fiery furnace. Getting God’s people out of danger once they’re in it. Angels released the apostles from prison. And don’t forget – we all have one protecting us – that’s lots of angels. Strengthening and encouraging – Angels strengthened Jesus after his temptation and encouraged the apostles to keep preaching after releasing them from prison and gave Paul information about his shipwreck. Answering prayers – God often uses angels as His means of answering the prayers of His people. Caring for believers at the moment of death – In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, we read that angels carried the spirit of Lazarus to “Abraham’s bosom” when he died.

So – “Do you believe you have a Guardian Angel?” I know I do. I can be very klutzy and he or she has prevented a lot of mishaps in my life! I use to say ‘Wow, that was lucky’ and now I say thanks to my angel and to God for providing him. For those of you who do believe there is a spirit out there watching over you and protecting you from most things, I found this little prayer…. A Prayer to the Guardian Angels My good Angel, You come from heaven; God has sent you to take care of me. Oh, shelter me under your wings. Lighten my path, and direct my steps. Do not leave me, stay quite near me and defend me against the spirit of evil. But above all come to my help in the last struggle of my life. Amen

Marie Coppola Revised March 2017

When Push Comes to Pulpit

Congress has its hands full keeping the Obama administration in check, and in most Americans’ opinion, leaders could use some help — from the church. The key to confronting the President’s agenda may be as simple as encouraging more pastors to speak out. So said 61% of Americans surveyed in FRC’s latest poll — the results of which we announced yesterday at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention (NRB) in Nashville. With Christianity under attack as never before, the country is looking to its spiritual leaders to engage in the fight. As our First Freedom, religious liberty serves as the foundation for all other freedoms — which will all be at risk if it crumbles. If pastors would just speak to the issues from a redemptive heart, most people agree that we would see this country turn around.

Rafael Cruz, director of Purifying Ministries and father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks that more boldness from the pulpit could have a profound effect on the state of our nation. At yesterday’s news conference, he the press, “Too many pastors have been intimidated by a concept of separation of church and state not found in the Constitution.” His comments were echoed by Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, who insisted, “No president in history has launched an attack on religious liberty like President Obama. If pastors remain AWOL on this issue like they have on others, we will lose the war for religious freedom that our forefathers gave their life’s blood to provide.”

Marie Coppola February 2014

The Miracle of You ~~~~~~~~You are Literally One in 250 Million

 

This is the life journey that we ALL took.  It is the miracle of YOU beautifully expressed through the act of conception. While the explanation I found is very detailed, I will give you a capsule view of what I consider is a miracle ~~how each of us is made.   Let’s call it: Conception 101~

After conception, only a few hundred of the 250,000,000 (that’s 250 million!) healthy sperm reach the egg. It takes about two hours to make the entire journey to the egg; however, some sperm are Olympic swimmers and can reach the egg in a half an hour. If no egg is available to fertilize, the sperm swim around patiently waiting to bump into one. Because there is no chemical or physical attraction of the sperm for the egg, the sperm literally must bump into the egg. The area of the egg containing the mother’s genetic contribution (chromosomes) and the area of the sperm containing dad’s genetic contribution combine to begin a brand- new, unique individual. About 24 hours after fertilization, the first division of the newly formed cell takes place. The dividing ball of cells continues to travel down the fallopian tube toward the uterus where it will implant and grow.

Each of us has had an ‘Olympic swimmer’ who obviously won the ‘gold’ because you and I, our parents, friends, loved ones, children, everyone we know here on earth each had an award-winning “Olympic swimmer’ in their lives. And that new unique individual is YOU. This is only a brief summary of the many conditions that must be present in order for there to be a pregnancy. You are literally One in a Million – make that One in 250,000,000!

You were no mistake or accident; God created you in His likeness. You are His child; His son or daughter. Ephesians 1:11, tells us “All things are done according to God’s plan and decision…” And God tells us, in “Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God has given us life, plans and a future. In embracing Him, through His Communicator, the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish much in our lives. It is our decision, through the free will that God has bestowed upon us, to prosper in the hopes and future that God envisions for us. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in developing the natural talents that you have. As you find your niche in life, your self-esteem will increase and you will find fulfillment. You are special, you are loved, you are precious to our Creator.

I come in contact with persons who sometimes have really low self-esteem. They weren’t born with it, so somewhere, they developed a poor image of who they are.

Maybe it is self-inflicted; maybe it was forced on them; maybe it was the result of many disappointments. If they aren’t blessed to have had someone build up their confidence or appreciate the talents that God has given to each of us individually, I hope they are reading this and realize that we are ALL special and we ALL have worth.

In God’s Book, he tells us ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…’ (Jeremiah 1:5). Before we are born, God knows of our strengths and weaknesses; He knows what we are capable of and what our limitations are. We have to trust in God that He knows and will guide us in His Will through His Communicator, the Holy Spirit, who gives us wisdom and knowledge, if we only ask for it.

Marie Coppola February 2014

 

Try Singing – It’s Good for Your Health & Soul


 

Many of us like to sing. Some of us sing well, and …. well, some of us sing like Lucy Riccardo on I Love Lucy. That’s me. Some of us hum and sing when we are nervous; my brother does that.  Humming actually helps relax you as you breathe differently when you sing. And some of us only sing in the shower where the acoustics help us out.

It’s a fact that singing is good for you.  It has a positive effect in that it reduces stress levels which helps our well-being.”It can also be considered a good work-out, even if sitting because it is an aerobic activity that brings oxygen into the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body. It’s also psychologically beneficial as singing together in a chorus or group promotes a sense of community, sharing and belonging to a common cause.” Ref: Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London

“Regular exercising of the vocal cords can even prolong life, because you are exercising your lungs and heart. Not only that, your body produces ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins, which rush around your body when you sing. Not only can it increase lung capacity, it improves posture, clears respiratory tubes and sinuses, and can increase mental alertness through greater oxygenation. It even tones the muscles of your stomach and back, that is if you’re singing correctly.” Ref: guardian.co.uk

So, singing even helps you live longer, enhances your mental state and even helps keep wrinkles off your face. A study at the University of California has reported higher levels of immune system proteins upon singing/choral participation.

Ahhh, then there are the songbirds we all know, who sing well, and what a delight they are to hear.   What does singing have to do with ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord?’ Psalm 100 says…” Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”

Does God like us to sing to Him? What does the Bible say?

Singing is also a delight to our Lord, who mentions throughout His Book about singing praises and thanks to Him. He doesn’t care about acoustics or if we sound like Lucy; He takes pleasure in our devotion of singing. Zephaniah :17 tells us – “…He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

We have grace in our hearts when we sing to the Lord. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col. 3:16).”

When we sing to God, we sing with our spirit and mind. ” What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also.” 1 Cor 14:15

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19)

“O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to God all the earth.” Psalm 96

Lift up your heart to the Lord by singing songs in gratitude and praise. It will improve your life and your health and delight the Lord.

Here is a pleasant, relaxing example of praise to the Lord by Laurie Klein – Maranatha – who sings “I Love You, Lord”.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5DnUvrxpeM 

SING ALONG – IT’S GOOD FOR YOU! AND IT MAY MAKE GOD SMILE…….

Marie Coppola  February 2014

 

My Good Samaritan Angel

The Bible mentions angels frequently.   Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.   In the New Testament, the doctrine of angels is precisely stated.  Angels are everywhere — the intermediaries between God and man.   I was taught that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible.

According to the Bible, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings; and they can take on human form or appearance.  

I met one.  

It was the month my father took ill;  he had been admitted into the hospital for a respiratory issue.  After some days, we felt we could take him home, but suddenly he was placed on a ventilator.  After he was on it for a week, our consultations with his doctors proved negative and worrisome.  The doctors wanted to continue the ventilator, but our dad looked uncomfortable and weaker.   We wanted him taken off, and it was a tremendous conflict.

Driving home from the hospital one especially frustrating day, I passed by my church, which is always a great source of comfort to me.   Impulsively and driven by worry, I stopped to see if the pastor was there.   I was told he was not.   I went into the church and while I quietly sat there, a young seminarian came by and asked me if he could help me.   He was such a young priest-in-training, but his kind eyes and compassion affected me; I teared up and couldn’t talk to him.   He sat down by me and remained silent.  It was comforting just to have his presence.

When I got up to leave, he walked me to the door, introduced himself and gave me his card.   I had never seen him before or even knew that we had a seminarian.  I was a frequent visitor at the church as a volunteer and Bible class teacher.  I told him my dad was very ill and it did not look hopeful.

I also told him there were other issues in the family going on.  Dad’s ailment evoked some see-saw emotions and not everyone was themselves.  That in itself was disturbing and distracting.  We needed to be a family unit at this time.  He told me he had a similar situation in his own family and shared it.  He asked me where I lived which was a few blocks from the church.  He also asked me for my phone number and if he could visit with me at the church again or at my home.  We exchanged numbers and cards.

I got in the habit of stopping at the church each day after work or hospital visit, and the seminarian was always in the church.  He would smile and ask me how my dad and the family were doing.   We would chat by the door and he shared his death and loss experiences, which helped me understand my own.  He had a comforting style and always lifted my spirits after these visits.

Two weeks went by.  My father was still on the ventilator and the stress continued.   After one really wrung-out day, I didn’t even want to stop by the church.   I went straight home and just sat in my living room for a long time trying to deal with all the feelings that were almost overwhelming.  My doorbell rang and I stepped out onto the porch and there was the seminarian.  He asked me if I could come out and sit with him on my lawn bench.

I had just prayed and it was so comforting to see him.   We talked awhile and shared feelings about families and deaths.  Looking back, I don’t remember discussing any other subjects.  We only spoke  about death, prayers, the sick, loss feelings and our after-death beliefs.  He had such insights, stated them so beautifully – always with a relevant, strong spiritual aspect.   After such talks, I would think, “He has so much knowledge and he’s so young.”

From the time our dad went into the hospital and the time he left this life…it ended after 30 long days.   I visited with the seminarian almost every day until Dad died.

Our family planned the services immediately in our hometown which was 30 miles away from my own. Planning them, as most of us have experienced, took several days plus additional days of the services and funeral.   I was gone from home for almost a week.

Returning home, I thought of the young priest-to-be and felt so thankful for the guidance and friendship he showed during the past month.   Many insights he shared with me came to mind during the funeral service and highly emotional moments.   Again, impulsively, I pulled into the parking lot and went to the church office.   I asked if the young man was available, and the secretary said that he was done with his parish work here and was reassigned to another parish.  She wasn’t sure which one it was, but could check for me.

I told her it was not necessary.  He was an Angel and Heaven-sent.  I don’t believe in coincidences. He was there throughout my dad’s entire leaving-this-world process.   He never asked me for anything nor did he ever tell me any of his own issues or personal problems.   He solely helped me get through my impending loss.   And he did just that.  I was filled with gratitude for the daily comfort he brought.  He fulfilled his ‘assignment’ and moved on.

I never saw or heard about him again.   And I am grateful to God for sending him to help me through a bad time…….”For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.”  Psalm 91:11

Marie Coppola June 30, 2014

 

Why Christians Cannot Just Shut Up

Recently I read a local newspaper column that blasted the Boy Scouts for taking so long to accept openly gay scouts. The attitude was that Christians should mind their own business and allow the rest of America to do what they want. Unfortunately too many Americans wish we shut up or go away. But can we do that? Aren’t we affected by the sin around us? Can we really expect God to allow this country to keep going the way it is and do nothing? The Bible says no and can be supported by history.

We seemed to have forgotten the stories in the Old Testament when Israel was punished for its sins. It is history. Israel and Judah were both conquered. The Temple was destroyed. Read the book of Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings and Chronicles. These books make the point clearly. When the Israelites strayed from the Lord their enemies, the Philistines and others were able to defeat them. When they returned to the Lord their enemies were defeated.

Should we ignore the lessons of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah? What about the conquest of Israel by Assyria? What about the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and the exile? Shouldn’t we learn from the mistakes of the past? Doesn’t the Bible have ramifications for us today?

We are all concerned about Islamic terrorism today. 9/11 and Boston proves we’re not invulnerable. Our defense and security isn’t perfect. We are at risk. We live in a dangerous world. The presence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons makes the world a deadly place. There’s potential for catastrophic war in Korea and the Middle East. China is a real concern. Our economy is still shaky. It wouldn’t take much to push us back into recession or worse.

We used to be the most blessed country on earth. Look at our history, our victories in World War I and II, the defeat of communism and the strength of our economy through most of the 20th Century. God’s blessings were obvious. Now with all that is going on We have to question if we’ve left God’s protection?

Are we worthy of God’s protection and blessing? Should a nation that has killed fifty million of God’s innocents expect protection? Should a land that blatantly defies His teaching on marriage expect protection? Will God ignore all that is done in the name of greed or prejudice? Should such a country be protected?

Could all of the natural disasters we’ve experienced be a wakeup call? Could God be attempting to get our attention? Was Sandy a call to repentance? Most people blindly ignore these or blame them on global warming. Can you explain the violence ripping apart our cities, the shootings at Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado and Arizona as global warming? What about Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Columbine and all the other mass murders? Our kids aren’t even safe in school.

So often liberals talk about a God of Love but is it love to allow us to go on hurting ourselves by our sins? Is it love to allow the exploitation of the poor by Planned Parenthood and others? Is it love to allow the slaughter of millions of innocent children for the sake of profit or convenience? Is it love to permit the emotional damage and pain suffered by millions in our society today? Or would love call us to repent of the very sins that hurt us and others?

Maybe it is time to seriously ask ourselves some questions. Have we’ve gone so far in our arrogance and sinfulness that God has abandoned us to the consequences of our sins? Has God accepted our invitation to leave us alone? Is it possible that we do in fact need God, that our problems are too big for our government, that we are doomed as a country without Him? Just look at how well we are doing.

As Christians we can’t be silent. For our own sake and the sake of our country we must continue to speak out against the path of destruction that our nation is following. We must also do more. We need to pray and pray hard every day for the conversion of our nation. It is the most patriotic thing you can do for our country. We need to speak out and take a stand against the immorality in this country, not only with our vote but also with our wallets. We need to refuse to support companies that promote immorality. Don’t just stand by while our country marches to destruction.

**This was published in the October issue of Christian Action News, a pro-life newsletter out of Florida.

Monreale Mosaics – Sicily’s Display of Byzantine, Romanesque and Arab Cultures

Traveling in northern Sicily on the outskirts of it’s capital, Palermo, rising on a hilly area of Mount Caputo overlooking the Conca d’Oro (The Gold Basin) is the town of Monreale From this slope, overlooking the beautiful valley of d”Oro, is a magnificent display in the town of distinct Romanesque, Byzantine and Arab culture. ***Photo by Galen R Frysinger

The name Monreale (pronounced Mohn ree ah’ lay) derives from Latin Mons regalis that means “mountain worthy of the king”. Originally it was an Arabic country house but it gained historical importance when William II built the famous Cathedral, of Northern, Classical, Arab, Byzantine and Norman elements – the best artistic styles of the Christian and Muslim worlds of the 12th century.

The 6,340 square meters of beautiful mosaics within is one of the world’s largest displays of this art only surpassed by Istanbul’s Basilica Saint Sofia. Its mosaics represent the final output of the generation who worked at Cefalù and the Palatine Chapel and is universally considered to be the finest Norman building in Sicily, The result is that the Monreale pictures close the era of the Byzantines and open the way for the great fresco artists of the early Renaissance.

 

King William hired every master who would come to Sicily and it is thought that some parts of the decorations were even made elsewhere for shipment to Monreale. Throughout are panels depicting biblical history***, portraits of Christ*** and the Virgin Mary , courts of angels, prophets, and saints – all of outstanding expert workmanship*** and beauty.

 

The cathedral of Monreale has survived almost unchanged for eight centuries. As you approach through the cloisters which are no less artistic than the cathedral and are Arab style. Intricately carved are biblical scenes and figures from the Old and New Testaments***, so much so that it is difficult to take it all in. The cloister columns, too, are completely inlaid with mosaic designs. There are 228 columns in the cloister. Inside the cathedral are scriptural scenes and stories all portrayed by swirling and flowing inlaid mosaic designs. It is beyond words to describe the ethereal beauty.

 

The day we visited and viewed this treasure we were all silently overwhelmed over the artistic wonders before us. Suddenly, we and other visitors to the Cathedral that day, were interrupted by a bridal party who made their way down the long aisle, complete with family and bridal party. The multitude of visitors collectively stood silent while the bride and groom exchanged their vows in this magnificent cathedral with hundreds of unknown wedding guests. It is a common experience, we were told, and many weddings take place in this way. What a memorable wedding day!   See them at the altar in above picture.

The splendor of this cathedral, and outlying buildings and cloister  remain vivid in my mind. In reality, a gift of a mosaic heart designed by the artisans of Monreale remains in my heart collection shown here > [ mosaic heart ]

Special thanks for permission of photos *** to and by Galen R Frysinger -http://www.galenfrysinger.com/monreale_sicily_cathedral.htm

Other Photos by Wikimedia Commons – – Mosaic Heart photo – by Marie Coppola   Ref: “The Cathedral of Monreale” (Italia)

Marie Coppola © March 2010