An Overview of Christology: The Study of Christ

Christology, as the word implies, is the study of Christ. Christology explores the questions: “Who was or is Jesus?” and, “What did or does Jesus do?” Unlike the other monotheistic religions, Christianity believes in a Trinitarian God composed of the Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. Most Christians are radically Christo-centric or Christ centered. The two major issues dealt with in Christology are: The Incarnation and Redemption.

The Incarnation or the nature of Jesus

Who Jesus was has been the subject of discussion for centuries. Was Jesus completely human with a divine spark (The Arian view) or was Jesus both human and divine in some mysterious way? (The Christian view.) The belief in a Trinitarian God states that God is one person with three natures. Each nature has different roles to play. Each is mentioned separately in the Bible and they are also mentioned in conjunction with each other. The question remains, who or what is Jesus? Some stress his divinity almost to the exclusion of his humanity (high Christology) whereas others focus upon his humanity and limit discussion on his divinity (low Christology). Whether high or low, both theologies agree that Jesus was both human and divine.

During his lifetime, most people (with the exception of his parents) accepted Jesus as being fully human. The evidence is clear that his closest associates, his disciples, had no idea that he was anything but fully human until after his resurrection. No matter how many times Jesus said things like “I and the father are one,” (John 10:30) his disciples had no idea what he was talking about. When he referred to himself as “I am” using the words Yahweh used when he revealed himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14), they were confused but accepting. “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”” (John 8:58, Mark 14:62).

Even when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, when he had already begun to corrupt, Jesus was only seen as a human miracle-worker and not as divine. Not until the resurrection did anyone suspect he was anything other than human. Even then, it was not until the Holy Spirit descended upon his followers, that they had the conviction and courage to go out and spread the good news.

Christology covers both the claims and challenges of Jesus’ ministry by examining his preaching (his message), his special experiences such as his baptism and his temptations in the desert, and what he did (his miracles). It touches on his relationships and teachings about sinners as well as why he was rejected by his own people.

Jesus’ preaching focused first on the kingdom or the reign of God. He covered the current expectations about the kingdom, what type of kingdom he was talking about, a kingdom that was free to all, and the human response to God. The second focus, quite unique to Jesus, was the “Fatherhood of God” emphasized in the Lord’s Prayer. He tried to introduce the concept of God as Abba or “Daddy” indicating a forgiving, loving, father figure. He emphasized that people are to be like children in God’s presence and to trust him. Finally Jesus’ relationship with his father is revealed throughout the Gospels.

The second half of Christology focuses upon The Resurrection-Exaltation of Jesus beginning with the meaning of his passion and death based upon early Christian preaching about Jesus, followed by the teachings of the first councils and subsequent explanations through the centuries after his death.

The human mind is a finite thing which cannot comprehend the mystery of God as Trinity. It can only accept that it is truth. Belief in the Trinity is totally dependent upon a belief that Jesus was God Incarnate. Christology, therefore, is an attempt to understand who Jesus was and is in both his human and divine natures. It remains, however, a mystery.

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Little Known WWII Facts: Death rates among Civilian POWs in the Philippines

 

The following statistics were provided by Angus Lorenzen bacepow@earthlink.net and Martin Meadows mmmeadows2@verizon.net

(1) The number of internees fluctuated [at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp or STIC], but usually was around 4,000; people were constantly entering and leaving (e.g., missionaries for a time, the sick, and the elderly), and it has been estimated that, altogether, about 7,000 persons lived in STIC.  When STIC got too crowded, the Japs opened another camp in May 1943 at Los Baños, about 40 or so miles south of Manila, and eventually they had about 2,100 (they were freed about three weeks after we were).  STIC was the largest camp, but there were a few others, so the total number of civilian internees in the Philippines was around 8,000 (I am rounding all numbers here).  By the time we were freed, STIC had about 3,800 people (lots of deaths toward the end; see below).  (These totals do not include the circa 150 internees who were repatriated early as part of exchange agreements between Japan and the U.S./U.K.)

(2) Before I discuss the number of STIC deaths, here is a VERY interesting comparison of Nazi camp and Jap camp death rates:

(a) Nazi camps for military prisoners — death rate a little over one percent.
Nazi camps for civilian (non-Jewish) prisoners — circa 3.5% (repeat for emphasis: non-Jewish civilians).
(b) Jap military camps — death rate ca. 40%!!!!!!!!
Jap civilian camps — death rate circa 11% (well over 1,500 deaths out of almost 14,000 civilian prisoners, in all of Southeast Asia).

And now to STIC (Santo Tomas Internment Camp).

Total deaths for STIC internees: circa 400 (390 by one count — 336 males, 54 females).  Can’t accurately calculate the death rate because of the aforementioned fluctuating STIC population; also, a number of older internees likely would have died anyway, though of course they are included in the total (circa 20 have “cause of death” listed as “old  age”).

Another VERY important point, as already noted, is the LARGE increase in the number of STIC deaths toward the end. Of the 400 total deaths, 39 were in January and 48 were in February, and the latter total was despite the fact that we were freed on the night of February 3 (that 48 includes the circa 13 killed by Jap shelling of STIC after we were freed).  In any case, if we assume a “stable” STIC population of 4,000 and 400 deaths, the resultant 10% death rate is roughly in line with the previously cited 11% death rate for all Jap civilian camps; and the same applies to the circa 800 deaths out of circa 8,000 civilian internees in the Philippines.  —  MM

Martin Meadows <mmmeadows2@verizon.net

The statistics Martin provides are reasonably good.  For a more precise view, you can refer to the technical paper by Emmet F. Pearson, Lt. Col. M.C., A.U.S., F.A.C.P. “Morbidity and Mortality in Santo Tomas Internment Camp”, Annals of Internal Medicine, June 1946.  The writer served with one of the Army hospitals set up within Santo Tomas, and researched the medical history of the internees based on the camp records, most of which were saved during liberation and were reasonably intact.  Similar records were lost for Los Baños and Baguio.  His numbers are very close to those published by Frederick Stevens in his 1946 book “Santo Tomas Internment Camp”.  He also includes some statistics from the Baguio and Los Baños Camps, though he states the records for those camps are very incomplete.  Here are some interesting highlights.

Census statistics from the three camps at time of liberation were:

Santo Tomas      3,785

Los Baños           2,146

Baguio/Bilibid       460

TOTAL                6,399

Death statistics

Santo Tomas         435

Los Baños                21

Baguio                    20

TOTAL                   476

Stevens shows total deaths as 488

Pearson shows 19 died from the Japanese shelling. Stevens shows 17 internees died plus 4 non-internees for a total of 21, and 1 died of a heart attack during the Education Building hostage situation.

Prisoners in other camps were moved to Santo Tomas between 1942 and 1944, as follows:

Cebu City, Cebu           148 prisoners, arrived STIC 19 December 1942

Bacolod, Negros          119 prisoners, arrived STIC 2 March 1943

Iloilo, Panay                109 prisoners, arrived STIC 16 June 1943

Davao, Mindanao        279 prisoners, arrived STIC 2 January 1944

Pearson lists the main causes of death as follows:

Heart Disease                            82

Malnutrition (and  beri beri)  60

Tuberculosis                              43

Cancer                                       31

Pneumonia                               26

Enemy shell fire                      19

Dysentery                                12

Execution                                  9

Plus, many other diseases, all acerbated by lack of medication and malnutrition.

Deaths at STIC continued after liberation and included 52 in February, 21 in March, 4 in April, and 1 in May.

If you use an average population in STIC of 3800, the death rate was 11.4%.

Pearson has a lot of other interesting information in his paper for those interested in researching it.

Angus Lorenzen

Permission to use this material has been granted by both Martin Meadows and Angus Lorenzen. This is Lorenzen’s statement:

“Any information sent to Maurice is considered “public” information, and can be reused.  Generally we consider it a courtesy if someone reuses the information from BACEPOW sources to provide attribution of the source.

One of the goals of BACEPOW is to ensure that the history of the Philippine internment camps remains accurate.  On some occasions, we have noted that fictional depictions of a camp are highly inaccurate and distort the actual events or people, and in these cases, we have posted reviews to the publisher, Amazon, and other book sellers pointing out where the fictionalization has destroyed the integrity of the author.  Your book, “Only by the Grace of God” is personal experience, which contributes to the true history of the internment camp experience.  The fact that it presents that history from the perspective of three different people should make it an interesting read.

We regularly post a book review in the BACEPOW newsletter “Beyond the Wire”.  If you are interested in having such a review, which would be distributed to members of BACEPOW, archivists of Philippine war history, and the BACEPOW website, have your publisher send a copy to:

 Sascha Jansen

213 Grand Canyon Drive

Vacaville, CA 95687

Angus Lorenzen”

 

Why AKC Papers are Important when Buying a Purebred Puppy

If you have decided to buy a purebred dog in the United States, AKC papers are critically important to your decision-making process. Your only other alternative to AKC papers, certifying that you are buying a purebred dog, is to have DNA testing on the dog prior to purchasing it. The breeder or owner may not grant this permission.

Most people who buy a purebred puppy do so because they want a particular breed of dog with a particular set of characteristics. They choose the breed because they know something about it, because they know its strengths and limitations, or because they are looking for a dog that will serve a particular function. They know that when the puppy grows up, it will conform to the standards of the breed in terms of looks, temperament, abilities, and genetic defects or health issues.

When people buy a mixed breed puppy there is no guarantee that the puppy will grow up to look like the mother. It may look like the father. (If the owner of the mother does not know who the father was, the buyer is essentially buying a product “blind.”) A mixed breed puppy will inherit genes from both parents, but there is no way of knowing which genes were inherited until the puppy grows up or develops a breed-specific medical issue. Looks, temperament, medical issues, abilities are all unknown. Most of the dogs in shelters are mixed-breeds because the cute little puppy they bought grew up to be a dog they didn’t want.

One way to ensure that you are buying a purebred puppy is to insist upon receiving the AKC papers certifying it is a purebred dog as part of the purchase price. The other way is by DNA testing.

If you are purchasing a puppy for breeding stock, DNA testing will only provide you with the genetic codes for the dog whereas the AKC papers will provide you with the dog’s AKC certified genealogy or pedigree. If your dog has papers, you can look up the parentage or health history from sources such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, or the AKC breed registry. If your dog has AKC papers, you may be able to reach the breeders of the grandparents and great grandparents though AKC affiliated breed clubs.

If you are interested in a purebred dog in order to participate in AKC sponsored events, you will need AKC papers. Dog sports such as conformation (the degree to which a dog conforms to the breed standard that specifies what a dog should look like), obedience, rally, agility, scent trials, herding and so on.  There are a wide range of activities for you and your dog sponsored by the AKC. Without papers, you cannot enjoy many of them.

If, after you have bought a puppy, and you find that it did not grow up to look like the breed you thought you were buying, and it has papers, you may appeal to the AKC. If the breeder charges you an extra fee for the AKC papers, you may appeal to the AKC. The AKC maintains the largest database on registered purebred dogs in the United States. If you ever have any questions or concerns about the dog you have purchased, the AKC is the first place to go for help. They cannot help you, however, if your dog is not registered.

There are so many more advantages to owning a purebred dog that there is little reason not to have AKC papers to certify its purebred status.

Calculating your Body Fat Percentage

Calculating your body fat percentage is remarkably easy if you have a home tape measure that has both centimeters and inches. Just a few simple measurements, using the centimeter side of the tape measure (centimeters gives greater precision to the measurement), entering those numbers into an on-line body fat calculator, and you are done.  The standard measure used by most people is called the “U.S. Navy Circumference Method.

A note of caution when doing your measurements:  do each measurement three times and average out the scores.  You will get more accurate numbers and therefore more accurate results.

The first measurement is to determine how tall you are without shoes.  You can measure yourself at home by standing straight, with your back against a wall, and having someone place a book flat on your head.  Mark that spot on the wall.  Use your tape measure to determine your height.  Or just use the number you were given from the last time your height was measured. (We tend to shrink as we age.)

Second, measure your neck just below the voice box (larynx).  It’s best to have a slight downward slant from the back of the neck to just under your voice box.

Third, measure yourself at the waist.  Men should measure themselves at the navel (or belly button) and women should measure themselves at the smallest part of the waistline.

Last, women should measure themselves at the largest part of their hips.  (This measurement is not necessary for men.)  Enter all these numbers into the appropriate boxes, click the “calculate” button and your body fat percentage will appear.

If you want to have a body fat calculator available on your home computer, you can purchase a program from Diet Power called “Body Tracker.”  In this program you have several ways to calculate your body fat percentage.  The first is a general set of measurements which includes: hip, waist, bicep, thigh, calf, neck and chest, in inches.  A second page provides you with five sets of calculations using millimeters and one calculation using inches. First is the Jackson/Pollock 7-site measurement including:  chest, abdominal, thigh, tricep, subscapular, Suprailiac, and midaxillary.  The second is also a Jackson/Pollock calculation using only 4 sites: abdominal, thigh, tricep, and Suprailiac.  The Jackson/Pollock 3 uses three sites:  tricep, Suprailiac, and thigh.  The fourth calculation is the Pasrrillo 9-site measurement:  chest, abdominal, thigh, bicep, tricep, subscapular, Suprailiac, lower back, and calf.  The fifth calculation is the Durin/Womersley with 4 measurement sites:  bicep, tricep, suprailiac, subscapular.  The last set of calculations is in inches: height, waist, neck, hips. This is the Navy’s method.  For someone who wants a more precise definition of body fat, using all five of these methods and comparing the results with one another should indicate the differences in the calculations.  If taking fewer measurement sites will give you the same calculation as taking more measurements, then, by all means, use the one with the fewer measurement sites.

For those who just want a general idea of how much fat they are carrying, the Navy method is the simplest and easiest to use as it accepts both inches as well as centimeters and has fewer measurement sites.

Another common method of estimating body fat percentage is the Body Mass Index or BMI which uses only two measurements:  height and weight.  The problem with BMI is that it does not indicate actual body fat, it only specifies weight.  A heavy body building man may weigh the same as a heavy sedentary man but the body builder’s weight is muscle whereas the sedentary man’s weight is fat.  BMI does not discriminate where the weight comes from.

Another common body fat measurement is skin fold thickness with the use of measurement calipers. This is a method commonly used in gyms.  This measurement assumes that the individual is not old and has not recently lost a great deal of weight.  With age, and with great weight loss, the skin sags.  Skin fold calipers cannot discriminate what is subcutaneous fat from sagging, aging skin.  Some people also object to this method as the person doing the testing must literally pinch the skin in order to measure it and that hurts.  Some people bruise easily and skin fold testing will cause bruising where tested.  Also, the measurements may differ depending upon the person doing the measurements.

Impedance Machines are becoming more common and some varieties are seen in drug stores.  These are bioelectrical machines to measure fat content.  Their accuracy is questionable.  Use the Navy method to estimate your body fat, then try out the Impedance machine in the drug store and see how well they agree.

Another method of calculating body fat includes the use of Underwater weighing (hydrostatic weighing), which requires a good laboratory set up.  Body weight is measured underwater, requiring subjects to hold their breaths and not move long enough to get a reading.   This is not an appealing procedure for many people.  It may, however, be the most accurate.

Once you know how much body fat you have, how do you know if it is unhealthy or not?  As a general rule, anything over 25% body fat for men is considered “too fat” whereas anything over 32% body fat is “too fat” for women.  In this case “too fat” refers to the fact that when men and women exceed their “healthy” body fat limits they put themselves at risk for developing major diseases.  These, however, are just general guidelines.  Healthy weight ranges for adults have been established for both gender and age and are easily found on the internet. It is as unhealthy to go below the minimums as it is to go above.

For most people, using the on-line navy method is the quickest, easiest and cheapest method of estimating body fat.

Causal Relationships between Diabetes and Heart Disease

The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, affecting one in four people (both men and women). Finding the cause, or following the causal links, may lead to strategies for prevention. One of the causal links appears to be Type II diabetes.

Before they show signs of Type II diabetes, however, many people develop what is called Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X. There is evidence that Metabolic Syndrome predisposes people to both Type II diabetes and heart disease. The problem with diagnosing Metabolic Syndrome is that it consists of more than one symptom or marker. One marker is obesity, especially if body fat accumulates at the waistline which signals that the body is having trouble with fat metabolism. Other symptoms are: high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose (blood sugar). Other symptoms include chronically high levels of inflammation and Vascular Dysfunction (abnormal blood vessel function), which are also early indicators of heart disease.

Type II diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels after a 12 hour fast. High fasting blood glucose levels results from two processes: the chronic over- consumption of carbohydrates than the body needs and can use quickly; and, the chronic over-production of insulin to counteract the excess blood glucose. If not immediately used by the body, insulin stores blood glucose in fat cells. With continued high carbohydrate consumption causing excess blood glucose and a constant high level of insulin to counteract that level of blood glucose, cell membranes, including those lining the walls of the arteries, become more and more resistant to the action of insulin. A process called Insulin Resistance.  (Buyken et al. Carbohydrate nutrition and inflammatory disease mortality in older adults. American. Journal of Clinical. Nutrition. 2010. 92(3): p. 634-43). Over time, insulin becomes less and less able to counteract the effects of elevated blood glucose

Insulin Resistance is a clear indicator of intolerance to excess carbohydrates in the diet. In effect, the body is reacting to carbohydrates as an allergen. The body sets up mechanisms to protect itself from allergens. If not removed, the body starts to show signs of inflammation.

Inflammation, especially a chronic low grade inflammation, is now being considered as a direct link to other chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and cancer.  A single high carbohydrate meal, in susceptible individuals, can trigger inflammation. Chronic consumption of a high carbohydrate diet can lead to a chronic state of inflammation. (Hu et al. Inflammatory markers and risk of developing Type II diabetes in women. Diabetes. 2004. 53(3)): p.693-700.

Eighteen million Americans are estimated to have Type II diabetes with another eight million totally unaware than they have it. Although there is a genetic component to the development of Type II diabetes, there is an even more compelling link between diet and the development of diabetes.

What the research has demonstrated is the physiological process after ingesting a high carbohydrate meal. The carbohydrate portion of the meal is absorbed into the blood stream as glucose. The pancreas must send out enough insulin to counteract this infusion of blood glucose and restore it to its normal level. The more carbohydrate eaten, the more insulin needed to counteract it. Over time, usually years, the pancreas can wear out and stop producing enough insulin to counteract glucose. Additionally, the cells which had been open to receiving the blood glucose and store it as fat (insulin is the fat storage hormone) start to balk at the constant bombardment and begin refusing to open up (Insulin Resistance).  If dietary carbohydrate remains uncontrolled, type II diabetes usually results.

While excess insulin is floating around the blood stream, trying to control the blood glucose, it is scraping against artery walls as well as the walls of the heart. As this is going on, an inflammatory process begins to appear. Over time, plaques begin to form to protect these sensitive membranes, and over time they begin to solidify and harden.  A high carbohydrate diet, therefore, lends itself to chronic inflammation and Vascular Dysfunction which then leads to heart disease.

A provocative study published in the Journal of the Medical Association (JAMA) in 2007, compared a group of overweight women who were over forty years of age. The women were separated into four groups: a low carbohydrate (Atkins type) diet, a low fat (Dean Ornish diet), Kelly Brownell’s LEARN program diet (basically the FDA’s Food Pyramid diet); and, the Zone diet by Barry Sears (which is also called the 40-30-30 diet as the three major food groups must be eaten at the correct percentage, carbohydrate having 40 percent of the daily intake and fat and protein each having 30 percent of the  calorie intake per meal). The women were monitored constantly for 12 months in relation to their diet, calories consumed, weight and blood work. The startling findings for the researchers were that the women in the Atkins (low carbohydrate) group performed better than the other 3 groups ( low fat/high carbohydrate) on all parameters!  In other words, overweight women who were on a low carbohydrate diet for over twelve months reversed all the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome whereas the women on low fat diets did not. This study has been essentially ignored by the medical community. (Gardner et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A to Z weight loss study. JAMA. 2007. 297(9) p. 969-77)

More recent studies have confirmed the findings of the Gardner study. A low carbohydrate diet out-performs a low-fat diet every time in relation to glucose control and blood lipid measures. (Dashti et al., Ketogenic diet modifies the risk factors of heart disease in obese patients. Nutrition. 2003. 19(10). P. 901-3;) Scientists agree it is the small dense fat molecules (lipoproteins) that lead to heart disease while the large fluffy molecules appear to be relatively harmless. (Lamarche et al. The small dense LDL phenotype and the risk of coronary heart disease: epidemiology, pathophysiology and therapeutic aspects. Diabetes.Metabolism. 1999. 23(3). P. 199-211.) Subjects eating a low fat diet have far greater amounts of small dense lipoproteins while those on the low carbohydrate diet have very low amounts of these lipoproteins and far more large fluffy lipoproteins. (Forsythe et al. Comparison of low fat and low carbohydrate diets on circulating fatty acid composition and markers of inflammation. Lipids. 2008. 43 (1): p. 65-77)

The link between diabetes and heart disease can be traced physiologically starting with the chronic, excess consumption of carbohydrates. The process begins in the mouth and ends in the heart. The tragedy for victims of heart disease is that much of it could have been prevented by eating fewer carbohydrates. The science is clear. The pathways are documented.  (Howard et al. Low fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled dietary modification trial. JAMA. 2006. 295(6). P. 655-66.)

The process described above is being shown in book after book, blog after blog, research after research. But the USDA still recommends a high carbohydrate diet as being the most healthy for Americans.

The myths surrounding diet and disease have created such a smoke screen, that the medical community has been slow to see the connection between high carbohydrate diets, onset of Type II Diabetes and eventual heart disease.  The polemic as to what causes heart disease, a high fat diet or a high carbohydrate diet, is as heated as any argument on politics or religion. Trying to get past the emotional attachment to any one hypothesis is difficult. This paper has attempted to do so by providing some of the science underlying the link between diabetes and heart disease.

The Illogic of Sanctuary Cities

In the United States today, there appears to be a proliferation of “Sanctuary Cities.” Some states are declaring themselves as “Sanctuary States.” The consequence of this movement is to protect illegal immigrants, with criminal records, from being deported. The ostensible reason for this “protectionism” is to prevent parents from being separated from their children who were born in the US. As Barack Obama would say, “This is not who we are.”

This reasoning for establishing Sanctuary Cities, in my opinion, is based upon emotion rather than logic and reasoning.

In the United States today, American citizens who have been charged with a criminal act are sent to prison for indefinite periods of time. If these citizens are parents, their children are sent to foster care. There is no policy that states that parents cannot be separated from their children if they have committed a criminal act. The children of a convicted felon are not part of the prosecution’s decision making process.

If American citizens who have been charged with a criminal offense can be separated from their children, why are illegal immigrants who have been charged with a criminal offense treated differently?

Do illegal immigrants have more rights than American citizens?

Yet Sanctuary Cities protect these criminals from deportation. The consequence of this decision is that the other citizens in that city are placed at greater risk from criminal acts. Since there appears to be no discrimination on what type of crime has been committed, citizens are at risk for murder, robbery and rape by protected murderers, robbers and rapists.

There doesn’t seem to be any logic to this decision.

To my knowledge, and I could certainly be wrong, no Sanctuary City or state is Republican controlled. It appears to be a policy of Democrats to protect criminals who are illegal immigrants. The argument of not wanting to separate parents from children is emotional rather than logical. Emotion is a powerful tool in the hands of the Democrats. It works well and incites others to emotional responses.

If the sole purpose of Sanctuary Cities is to protect criminals who are illegal immigrants from deportation, then those same cities are breaking the law. They are committing a crime called “accessory after the fact” and politicians are at risk of being charged.

Why are Democrats so intent upon protecting criminals? One can only surmise that this is a vote-getting mechanism. Get people so upset that they will beg the Democrats to protect them from a fabricated evil.

The blatant use of emotional propaganda, in order to protect criminals, is a sad commentary on our political system in which it is more important to get elected than it is to serve and protect the people.

Good Friday Liturgy

Crucifix2

Today is Good Friday.

Catholics do not celebrate a complete Mass on Good Friday. There is no Mass at all on Holy Saturday. There is a hiatus between Holy Thursday which commemorates the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist and Easter Sunday which commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In the Church calendar, Jesus is dead and in his tomb. Just as Jesus’ disciples mourned him from the time of his death on Friday until Sunday when Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11, John 20:1-2, 11-18) came and brought the good news that he had risen and she had seen him, so too the Catholic Church mourns the death of Jesus from Good Friday until Easter. (See the Daily Roman Missal. Midwest Theological Forum Inc. 2011)

If Jesus is dead, it is illogical to bring him back to life again in the Mass on either Friday or Saturday since at every Catholic Mass; Jesus transforms the host and the wine into his own body and blood.  He is truly and substantially present at every Mass. So to try to commemorate and enter into the grief his disciples felt from the time of his death until his resurrection, the Church too feels the grief of his passion and death. The church exemplifies the emptiness and abandonment the disciples must have felt during those dark days, by having an empty church.

Good Friday is part of Easter week which begins on Passion Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, and runs through Easter Sunday. Holy Thursday is the start of the Easter Triduum, or the three most solemn feasts in the Christian calendar – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday – are inseparable. They constitute a continuum of events in the life of Jesus.

Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper, and memorializing the institution of the Eucharist, begins the passion and death of Jesus (Mat 26:1727:66; Mark 14:12-15:47; Luke 22:1 – 23:56; John 13:1-15). The tabernacle has been entirely emptied for this liturgy. At the consecration, only enough hosts are consecrated for the congregation present as well as a sufficient amount for those who might be attending the Good Friday liturgy. The unconsumed host is taken to an “Altar of Repose.” After the Mass the altar is stripped of cloths, candles and/or cross.

If there are crosses or crucifixes in the church, they are either moved out of the Church or covered. In effect, the Church is declaring that Jesus is “gone from us.”

Good Friday commemorates the agony in the Garden, the trials, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus with a liturgy that omits the central part of the Mass, the consecration of the host and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. Until The Second Vatican Council, a Tre Hore (three hour) service was celebrated on the afternoon of Good Friday beginning at 3 PM. Today, in large parishes, a morning liturgy is also celebrated to accommodate those wishing to be present.

The liturgy for Good Friday begins with the Priest, in red vestments, entering the church and kneeling at the altar steps to pray. When he and his attendants climb the altar steps, he turns to the people and begins the first prayer. The congregation is asked to sit. The first scripture reading is taken from Isaiah (52:13 – 53:12). The second reading is from Hebrews (4:14-16; 5:7-9) followed by the Gospel of John (18:1-19:42).

The Liturgy of the word concludes with prayers of Intercession.

The second part of the liturgy is the veneration of the cross. The priest, deacons, lay ministers and the faithful approach the cross silently, and make reverence to it before returning to their seats. Then the cross is carried to the altar and the communion of the faithful begins.

The priest, or a deacon, goes to the Altar to Repose and brings the ciborium (a large covered chalice holding the hosts that were consecrated on Thursday), to the altar which is now covered by a clean cloth.  The Our Father is said by all followed by the usual prayers before communion. The Eucharist is distributed to all Catholics present.  Following communion, the empty ciborium is either taken from the church or placed back in the tabernacle. After a period of silence, the priest recites the concluding prayers of dismissal, then after genuflecting to the cross, he and his deacons leave the church. The faithful may then leave. All is done in reverential silence.

The altar is once again stripped, but the cross may remain with two to four lit candles beside it. The red sanctuary light indicating the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, is now out.

Holy Saturday is a day of waiting for the solemn vigil of Easter that begins at midnight. No one may receive communion on this day except someone who is dying. The church is empty. There will be no liturgy and no sacraments of any kind on Holy Saturday.

The Good Friday liturgy is similar to but not identical with the usual celebration of the Eucharist (Mass). Although the Liturgy of the Word follows a similar pattern and there is the communion of the faithful, the actual consecration of the host and wine into the body and blood of Jesus is omitted and the veneration of the cross is substituted.

Using Imagination in Prayer

Kamakura buddah

Many of us, when we think about praying or prayer, generally mean “talking to God.” Whether the prayer is a memorized prayer such as the Our Father, a spontaneous “Thank you God” whisper, reading prayers out of a prayer book, or asking for something, prayer is frequently vocal. We are talking to God. We either talk to God in our thoughts, we talk out loud or we sing. We believe that prayer is a way to contact God and have a conversation. But is that the only form prayer takes?

Praying can also be meditative. Thinking about God is a form of prayer. Reading passages from scripture then thinking about the passage and what it means, is also a form of prayer. (In Catholicism it is called Lectio Divina.) Sitting quietly, attempting to reach your inner core, listening and feeling your breathing, sensing every part of your body, is a form of prayer.

You can also use your imagination as a form of prayer. In Catholicism, it is perhaps best known by the “Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.” Praying the Rosary allows the prayer to sink into an imaginative journey through the life of Jesus. The Gospels are alive with images and scenes. For the person who is not gifted with an active imagination, recalling scenes from movies that bring Jesus and his story alive can also be used. After all, movies are just another person’s imagination of the way things were.

The Gospels have many gaps in information that the writers did not feel necessary to include, possibly assuming a common knowledge. Twenty-first century imaginative prayers may find it frustrating contending with the lack of information about culture and customs of the time and may feel a need to seek information elsewhere to fill in these gaps.

Take, for example, the story of the annunciation in the Gospel of Luke. In your imagination, place yourself in the scene. The first problem you will have is in establishing the setting for the encounter between Mary and the Angel Gabriel. What kind of a house did Mary live in? Was it made of brick, stone or mud? How many rooms did it have? How many floors? Were Mary’s parents rich or poor? What kind of furniture did they have? Was the kitchen inside the house or in a lean to outside?

Did Mary’s mother keep a goat or goats for its milk and coat? Did they have a donkey for travel? If so, where were they kept: In a basement room or tethered outdoors? Did the family have a small vegetable garden, fruit trees or other shrubs? Did they have a grape vine for making their own wine? In a hot dry climate with no running water, a woman went to the town well every day to fetch water for the family’s needs whether it was for cooking, watering the livestock, washing, or watering the plants. To get a feel for the interaction between Mary and Gabriel, imagine the scene. Create the setting.

Israel has a climate similar to that of Southern California. It has two seasons: dry and rain. Most months are dry. What kind of a day was it when Gabriel visited Mary?  Dry or rain? Was it overcast or bright? Was it during the heat of the day or the cool of the morning or evening?

You have now created the scene in which the Annunciation takes place.  Now imagine yourself as being present during the interaction between the Angel Gabriel and Mary.  Remember that Mary is a young girl. Scholars speculate that she cannot have been over the age of 15 at the time. What was she doing at the precise moment Gabriel appeared?  What did Gabriel look like? Did he just appear in a flash of light? Was he very tall? Did he look like a human person? Was he dressed all in white robes with a shining light around him? Create your image of Gabriel.

Depending upon what you think Gabriel looked like and how he first appeared to Mary, how does Mary react? Is she startled to see a strange man in her house? Is she startled by seeing an ethereal person? Was she frightened or did she recognize him for what he was – a messenger from God. Did she hide her face in her hands and kneel down or did she stand and look Gabriel in the face? Do you see Mary as a brave little girl or as a self-confident young woman?

Take your time thinking about their interaction. Go over every possible nuance in the conversation. Listen in awe as this momentous conversation takes place.

Gabriel leaves or just disappears. How does Mary feel now? What are her thoughts and feelings? What does she do? Does she just go back to what she was doing? Does she take some time to think about what had just happened? Does she immediately begin to wonder about the implications of her decision?

You may end your imaginative meditation here or you can go on with the rest of the story and fill in the gaps between the Annunciation and when Mary set off on her journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Luke has not filled in these gaps for you so you must imagine what must have happened.

Using imaginative prayer allows you to feel a personal closeness or kinship with the characters in the Gospel story. You may identify with which ever character appeals to you most or change your identification each time you enter into this scene. You become personally involved in their lives as you try to experience what they might have experienced.

Use imaginative prayer in conjunction with the seasons too. During Advent and Christmas time, imagine all that happened prior to, after and at the birth of Jesus. Try to live the events. Holy week is a time for Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, Jesus trial and torture before he carries his cross to his death. Placing yourself in imagination in all these events sparks a deep and personal involvement in Jesus passion and resurrection. If you don’t remember the story, go back to your bible and re-read those passages. Then sit back and relax and let your mind drift into the scene you want to concentrate on.

During Ordinary Time the Church concentrates on Jesus ministry. You can take the daily readings from that day’s Mass for your imaginative prayer.

For some people, saying the Rosary fulfills their need for imaginative prayer as each decade of the Rosary focuses on some part of the life and death of Jesus. The prayer can concentrate on only one scene for all five decades or try to live each decade separately.

Imaginative prayer offers a way to become personally involved in the life of Jesus as a participant or as an observer. Either way, you will grow in love and appreciation for the characters depicted in the stories.

If you have never tried imaginative prayer, try it once or twice to see if it meets your spiritual needs. This form of prayer takes time, it is not a quickie rush job. It takes silence; the TV cannot be blaring. It takes concentration. You will find it is best to do alone or in a group of others who are praying too. Others have found it a very valuable means of prayer. You may find it meaningful too.

Lectio Divina    http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-what-how-why-of-prayer/praying-with-scripture/

Spiritual exercises   http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ignatius/exercises.html

Gospel of Luke 1:26-38   http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%201:26-38&version=NASB

Ordinary Time    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/overviews/seasons/ordinary_time/ordinary1.cfm

 

Regretting the past only leads to spiritual depression

Feelings of regret are not limited to the dying. Nor are they limited to the old. Most people have regrets now and then. Even Job had regrets. In fact, regrets come in all forms: regret over things not done or said; regret over things said and done; regrets over choices made; regrets over wasted talents and abilities; and so on. The list can be endless. The problem comes when we wallow in our regrets and let them suffocate us. Mother Angelica calls it having “Spiritual Hangovers.” There is nothing inherently wrong with having one or two regrets, what is wrong is when we let those regrets become obsessions.

We make choices every day. Some are major, some are minor. Will any be the source for regrets in the future? We make choices based upon a variety of factors. Will those decisions come back to us later in life as a regret? Did I study hard enough in school? Did I make the right career or vocational choice? Did I choose the right school? Did I choose the right spouse? Did I spend enough quality time with my children as they were rowing up?

Many people say, “If I had only known then what I know now.” This form of regret usually refers to past decisions made on the basis of what that person believed to be true at the time. The knowledge might have been gained from experience or from knowledge developed from science. Punishing yourself for not knowing what you could not possibly have known at the time is a wasted effort. Instead, concentrate on the fact that this knowledge is now available, not just for yourself, but also for others so that they do not make the same mistakes you feel you have made.

Every decision we make helps to define who we are and who we will become. Some decisions are irreversible. Some women, for example, regret having had an abortion and never have another. They have trouble forgiving themselves for having made that decision. One can learn from the regret and grow from it.

Regret makes us try to justify, to ourselves as well as others, what we have done or have not done. We endlessly explain, either to others or to ourselves, why we did what we did. We search for the reasons why we made such a stupid mistake. This kind of self-examination is not helpful. It can lead to depression. The regrets of past actions can color our present or future but only if we let them take over.

We all fail at something. Our failures do not have to define who we are. Instead we can look at why we failed, what were the decisions or actions we took that lead to the failure, in order not to repeat that sequence of events again.

We all succeed at something. Are we proud of those successes or do we discount them in order to focus on our failures again?

How do we handle regrets spiritually? One way is to pray backwards in time. We know that God is always in the now. Our past, present and future is all now to God. So we can place ourselves, imaginatively, in that situation again, and ask for God’s help and blessings for that moment. We can ask for the strength to make the best decision available to us in that time and place. It may not be a good decision, but it may be the best choice at that moment.

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A healthy and spiritually valuable use of regrets is in the daily examination of conscience. How did my day go? Did I do the things I know I need to do? Did I neglect to do something I needed to do? Did I do a sloppy job or was I conscientious? How did I treat everyone I met this day? Was I gracious and loving or was I selfish and self-serving? Did I say something I now regret? Did I do something to them I now regret? Did I fail to do or say something I now regret? What about my relationship with God? How has that gone today? Did I make it a point to pray, or did I put it off all day. More important, do I regret not having prayed today? Or do I just shrug it off and say, I can always pray tomorrow.

When we use regrets as a means of self-discovery, rather than as a self-punishment, we find that we can grow from these experience and choices. We can come to realize that we are who we are as a result of each and every one of these choices, no matter how bad they seem to us today. Each choice has taught us something.

We need to become comfortable with ourselves, with who we are at this moment. We need to realize that the choices we regret may also be gifts in disguise. Our past is who we are today. Our questions should be “Am I the person God wants me to be or do I still need to work toward that goal? “

Spirituality  The spirituality of regret   http://www.mentalblox.com/the-spirituality-of-regret/

Is it spiritual to have regrets?   http://www.examiner.com/article/is-it-spiritual-to-have-regrets

http://www.psychicsuniverse.com/articles/spirituality/living-spiritual-life/spiritual-guidance/living

A sermon on Job and his regrets   http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/1011.htm

Learn from the regret A personal experience with regret   http://starfosterblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/regret-is-not-a-disease-but-a-part-of-our-humanity/

Top 5 regrets of the dying—personal experience  http://www.midlifemessages.com/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying/

Age:    Appears to be a chapter on aging and considers regrets   http://www.crc-canada.org/sites/default/files/files/A%20Spirituality%20of%20Aging%20in%20Religious%20Congregations.pdf

Mother Angelica on spiritual hangovers including regrets   http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/spiritual_hangovers/spiritual_hangovers1.htm

Self discovery   A catholic therapist talks about how to face your regrets   http://www.catholictherapists.com/psychology/turning-your-lifelong-regrets-into-immeasurable-graces.html

Huffington Post’s list of articles on regrets   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/regret

A Jesuit’s way of doing the daily examen of conscience  http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/rummaging-for-god-praying-backward-through-your-day/

Billy Graham on aging and regrets  http://spiritualityforhealing.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/billy-graham-on-aging-regrets%E2%80%A6/

Utube of Joan Chittister and The Gift of Years   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjICmNfjPUg

 

World War II Survivors are Dying Out

Today, on the FOX NEWS website, there is a story of the army nurses who survived Bataan and Corregidor. They spent the war years at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp. They, with the navy nurses, were the nurses who took care of me when I was hospitalized with intractable diarrhea. (Chapter 7) http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/07/pow-story-angels-bataan-army-nurses-is-one-greatest-wwii-stories-never-told.html

Many WWII personal stories of hardship and survival are surfacing. Those of us who tell the stories are realizing that if we don’t tell our stories, there will be no one left to tell. We are an aging population and our numbers become fewer every year. If we leave it to children and grandchildren, some things will be left out.

An earlier book chronicled the nurses who were left behind in the Philippines and spent the war as POWs.   https://www.amazon.com/We-Band-Angels-American-Trapped/dp/0812984846/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491653309&sr=1-1&keywords=Angels+in+Bataan

Initially, both the army and navy nurses worked shifts at Santo Tomas, but when the Los Banos camp was opened, the navy nurses volunteered to work there. I can imagine the difficulties they endured trying to work with no supplies. There had to have been difficulties working out work schedules between two military groups. Who would have been in charge? Who outranked whom? It must have been a relief when they had their own sphere of operations. (Chapter 8) https://www.amazon.com/Only-Grace-God-Pamela-Brink/dp/148084070X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Here is a brief commemoration to those navy nurses: https://www.navalhistory.org/2015/01/06/honoring-the-legacy-of-navy-nurses-worldwide