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I was impressed with Pope Francis I when he was announced as the new pope. Being a first in many things (Jesuit pope, non-European pope, etc.), the pope really surprised me by washing the feet of not only detainees but also two women in the detainees. I think he will be good and bring some change into the church.

Pope washes feet of young detainees in Holy Thursday ritual by Claudio Lavanga, NBC News (28 March 2013)

ROME – Since he was elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has proved many times over that he wants to break away from clerical privilege, come down from St. Peter’s throne and act as a humble servant of the faithful.

And on Holy Thursday he reinforced the idea that he will champion social outcasts and the poor by washing the feet of a dozen young inmates in a juvenile detention center.

Ever since I learned the pope was resigning, I have been wondering how a name is chosen for the pope. This gave me my answer.

“What’s in a name? Clues to be found in next pope’s moniker” by Laura Smith-Park, CNN (4 March 2013)

The secret election to pick a new pope has yet to begin. But whoever is picked may already be mulling over a choice of name — and what it means.

The Forever Imminent Apocalypse

All of you know that Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. In fact he will only be pope for a couple more days. In several news and gossip articles, there is mention the Prophecy of the Popes. According to this prophecy, Pope Benedict XVI (soon to be Bishop Joseph Ratzinger) is the second-to-last pope of the Catholic Church. The next pope is supposed to see us to the end of the world, or at least the end of the “city of seven hills” (most likely Rome).

Let’s just say that this is likely just another apocalypse theory. It seems that people can’t go long without finding some other possible way and time for the world to end. Yes, the world will end some time, but it’s very likely that it won’t end in the next one thousand years. If homo sapiens can manage to live until the end of the Solar System, then there is nothing to fear for the next 4.5 billion years. That’s according to scientists’ prediction of when the Sun will cease to exist as it is now. For those of you who are Christian, here’s a quote from the Book of Matthew (KJV):

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

~ Matthew 24:35-36

Remember, there will always be someone out there who says “the end is nigh.” It is your choice whether you believe this, but no one will really know when the world ends. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter when the world will end. What really matters is what we say and what we do in the present.

Also, God bless Bishop Joseph Ratzinger and whomever the next pope will be.

 

Dia de los Muertos

This is the time of year that various cultures have holidays and celebrations to honor and remember the dearly departed. Two days ago, it was All Hallow’s Eve (a.k.a. Halloween), yesterday was All Saints’ Day, today is All Souls’ Day. I celebrated Día de los Muertos, known to English speakers as Day of the Dead, today and yesterday. The traditionally Mexican holiday begins on November 1 and ends on November 2, combining All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

In most regions of Mexico, November 1st is to honor deceased infants and children, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2nd. The former is known as Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) and Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels). The latter is referred to as Día de los Muertos and Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead).

Origins

Catrinas, one of the most popular figures of Dia de los Muertos, represent the Lady of the Dead.

This holiday finds its roots in paganism. The Catholic Church created All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day near Samhain as one way to convert pagans. There is also pagan ancestry from Mexico itself. Rituals honoring deceased ancestors have been observed by the indigenous pagan cultures in present-day Mexico for as long as 3,000 years. In the pre-Hispanic era, skulls were commonly kept as trophies and displayed during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

On the Aztec calendar, the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month (about the beginning of August). It was celebrated for the entire month. The Lady of the Dead, a goddess, was the one who the festivities were dedicated to.

Beliefs

The skull, specifically sugar skull, is the common symbol of this holiday. In Spanish, skull is calavera. People wear skull masks, called calacas. Some of the holiday’s traditional food are sugar or chocolate skulls (for both the living and the dead) and pan de muerto. Pan de muerto is a sweet egg bread made in various shapes.

People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

An altar for Day of the Dead

Families will offer trinkets or the deceased’s favorite candies on the grave. Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and sugar skulls and beverages such as atole. The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased. Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the spiritual essence of the ofrendas food, so though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so the deceased can rest after their long journey. In some parts of Mexico, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. In many places, people have picnics at the grave site too.

Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes. They usually have crucifixes, statues or pictures of the Virgin Mary, pictures of the dead loved ones, candles and ofrendas. Families tend to spend time at these altars or shrines praying and telling stories about the dead.

Have a blessed Dia de los Muertos! May all of your ancestors and friends rest in peace!

Day of the Dead Gallery

Sacraments: Matrimony

In Catholicism, there are seven sacraments. One of these sacraments is matrimony. We also know about their celibate clergy. The clergy are supposed to be closest to God and are expected to go to heaven for being holy men and women. If this is true, then the clergy should be following all of the sacraments. This makes me wonder: How can we say that the clergy are essentially guaranteed to go to heaven, when (in the Catholic faith) they are celibate and one of the sacraments is matrimony? They can’t ever participate. Please feel free to comment.

Where are the female apostles?

“Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married and the Catholic Church, by far the largest in Christendom, says women cannot become priests because Christ chose only men as his apostles.” ~ Naomi O’Leary. ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ papyrus is a fake fragment, Vatican says. (28 Sept. 2012) MSN.

I find the Catholic Church’s reasoning behind having only male priests is ridiculous. I’m fully aware that doctrine and interpretations of the New Testament only name male apostles, but I still see room for doubt when it comes to only male apostles. How do we really know if Jesus only had male apostles? Isn’t it possible that there were female apostles?

I have to say that the women mentioned frequently in the biblical stories (Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, etc.) were around often and long enough that they could be considered apostles. If there was ever a written record of female apostles, it didn’t fit the social rules of women. It’s very probable that if there were any female apostles, they were stricken from written record because the men couldn’t be nearly as domineering.

Even if only male apostles was a 100% fact, that doesn’t mean women can’t teach or lead churches. Women teach their children. There is no reason to believe that women can’t teach the doctrine of a religion or their own spiritual beliefs.

I have never found citing only men being named apostles as a reason for why a woman couldn’t be a priest(ess), minister, pastor, or some other church leader. Find a new reason that is valid. We don’t live in a world where one sex is better than the other. Men and women are equal, especially in God’s eyes.