Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI on the Rosary

In the last days of the month of October, here comes an insight from our Papa about the Rosary (emphases mine):

Rosary Is Anchored in Holy Scripture

VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2008 (VIS) - Before praying the Rosary at 5 p.m. today with faithful gathered at the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary at Pompeii, Italy, Benedict XVI paused for a few moments in the chapel of Blessed Bartolo Longo. Subsequently, in remarks he made following the Marian prayer, the Pope asked: "Where did this great apostle of Mary find the energy and constancy necessary to achieve such an important enterprise? Was it not in the Rosary which he welcomed as a true and heartfelt gift from the Virgin?

"Yes," he cried, "that is how it was! ... This popular Marian prayer is a vital spiritual means to increase our intimacy with Jesus and to learn, in the school of the Blessed Virgin, always to carry out the divine will."

"Yet in order to be apostles of the Rosary, it is necessary to gain a personal experience of the beauty and profundity of this prayer, so simple and universally accessible. ... The Rosary is a school of contemplation and of silence. At first sight it may seem like a prayerful accumulation of words and hence not easily compatible with the silence which is rightly recommended for meditation and contemplation. In reality though, this regular repetition of the Ave Maria does not disturb inner silence, rather it ... nourishes it."

The Pope recalled that, as in the case of the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, "silence rises up through the words and phrases, not as a vacuum but as a presence of ultimate meaning which transcends the words themselves and, together with them, speaks to the heart. ... Even when prayed in large groups ... the Rosary must be seen as a contemplative prayer, and this cannot come about if an atmosphere of inner silence is lacking." Furthermore, he went on, the Rosary "is interwoven with elements from Holy Scripture" such as "the enunciation of the mystery using ... words taken from the Bible. ... The first part of the Ave Maria comes from the Gospel; ... the second part ... rings out like the response of children who, addressing themselves imploringly to their mother, express their own adherence to the plan of salvation. ... Thus the minds of those who pray remain anchored in Scripture and in the mysteries it contains."

Finally, Pope Benedict spoke of World Mission Day, which is being celebrated today. Once again he evoked the figure of Barotlo Longo who, famous for his spirit of charity, wished the shrine of Pompeii to be "open to the whole world as a centre whence to irradiate the prayer of the Rosary and a place of intercession for peace among peoples. Dear friends," the Pope concluded, "I wish to confirm both these goals - the apostolate of charity and the prayer of peace - and entrust them once more to your spiritual and pastoral efforts."

The prayer over, Benedict XVI departed from the shrine of Pompeii and at 6.30 p.m. began his return journey to the Vatican by helicopter.

And.. you don't have to believe this, but tradition held that there are 15 promises made by the Blessed Virgin to St. Dominic and Alan de Roche concerning the rosary:

1. To all those who recite my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and very great graces.

2. Those who will persevere in the recitation of my Rosary shall receive some signal grace.

3. The Rosary shall be a very powerful armor against hell; it shall destroy vice, deliver from sin, and shall dispel heresy.

4. The Rosary shall make virtue and good works flourish, and shall obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies; it shall substitute in hearts love of God for love of the world, elevate them to desire heavenly and eternal goods. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!

5. Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary, shall not perish.

6. Those who will recite my Rosary piously, considering its Mysteries, shall not be overwhelmed by misfortune nor die a bad death. The sinner shall be converted; the just shall grow in grace and become worthy of eternal life.

7. Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the consolations of the Church, or without grace.

8. Those who will recite my Rosary shall find during their life and at their death the light of God, the fullness of His grace, and shall share in the merits of the blessed.

9. I will deliver very promptly from purgatory the souls devoted to my Rosary.

10. The true children of my Rosary shall enjoy great glory in heaven.

11. What you ask through my Rosary, you shall obtain.

12. Those who propagate my Rosary shall obtain through me aid in all their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my son that all the confreres of the Rosary shall have for their brethren in life and death the saints of heaven.

14. Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are all my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.

Now, go and pray the rosary! Even if you're busy and desk-(and computer-)bound, let rosary widgets help you to pray! (Just doin' my part to spread the rosary!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

You only need to succeed once...

When I studied computer security concepts in University, I found that it was an exciting field to be in: images of late night hackers 'rattling doors' of our servers and we patching up security in an attempt to be one-up against any malicious attempts may have conjured up some adrenaline and romantic thrill. But thinking about it after the adrenaline had worn off, it was a terrible industry to be involved in, unless you have an addiction to adrenaline or heroism.

The fundamental fact of life is this: the bad guy only has to succeed once, and you on the security side, have to succeed all the other times. Nobody's going to say you've done a good job if you thwart a thousand attack attempts, but that one time that you left a vulnerability open, a thousand eyes cast blame on you.

Needless to say, I changed my mind about being in computer security. I guess I don't want to be a person who sees and speaks of different 'zones': restricted, secure, demilitarized, public; when it comes to real people and places. I don't want to live with paranoia thinking that someone's out to get us — all the time.

Once in awhile though, we hear of clever stories like this (and another retelling of the story from another angle here): of British military intelligence thwarting terrorist bomb-making factories in North Ireland. Another story linking it mentioned this story: to install a bug in a house with motion and noise sensors, they started shooting mints to the windows during thunderstorms, thereby triggering the alarm and the security people — who predictably associated thunderstorms with false alarms and began to shut off the alarm system during thunderstorm. Thus the spying party was able to drill the bug into the house wall during a thunderstorm when the alarm had been turned off. Mints were used because they quickly dissolve in the rain. Clever!

In military intelligence, the stakes are thousands of lives, civilian lives. I always thought of people working in it to be truly heroic, despite the countless times that we wish the whole transport security farce would just cease.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Defending Cathedral of Neuquen, Argentina

I just saw this horrific video of a pro-abortion mob attacking youths who were defending the Cathedral of Neuquén, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The arguments said by the protesters are nothing new (except that they are in Spanish) that proper logic cannot destroy, but the vitriol is scary. Taunting, jeering, spitting, burning... they acted as if they were possessed. The defenders held their cool and kept praying Hail Mary's until the end (of the video, at least).

(It is interesting to see the comments at the end of the YouTube video)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Of monkeys and men

Two monkeys are serving in a restaurant in Japan. They have learned how to serve hot towels and bottled drinks to customers, it seems! Funky!

Video link here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7654267.stm

And in other news, in India, some human have learned how to behave like monkeys to scare away the real monkeys.

Video link here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7644469.stm

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Dark night in plainspeak

Somehow these images remind me of this passage. Or rather, this passage reminds me of this scene in the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship movie, where the company found a dead scribe clutching a book next to Balin's tomb, recording the last moments before the goblins overran and annihilate the dwarves in the mines of Moria.

We've tried to get out of this place but so far haven't managed to do so; all out attempts have come to naught, one after another. How should we react? By not losing our peace. We should continue to use all the available means and confidently place our hope in God. In the face of this situation do we become angry or give in to impatience and ill-humor?

No, from the depths of this darkness I'll trust in my God. Lord, may whatever you want be fulfilled. You know what is best for me. I only want to fulfill your Will.

I'll use all the means, and above all prayer, the most important one. But if our prayer and activity bear no apparent fruit let's not grow impatient. Let's know how to wait and always seek our joy in that aspiration which has often brought us peace:
"Fiat, adimpleatur, laudetur et in aeternum superexaltetur iustissima atque amabilissima voluntas Dei super omnia."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New, non-invasive prenatal testing method

Some researchers in Stanford had discovered that using DNA sequencing on a pregnant mother's blood, one would be able to tell whether the baby she carries is having Down's syndrome. Since it is still at experimental stage, the sample size was only nine women, with 100% accuracy.

While this is a good move to protect the baby from miscarrying (a risk that is present with amnioscentesis - a procedure that is synonymous with prenatal testing today), I think this might make it easier for pregnant women to 'screen early' (as early as 14 weeks, the study cited) for genetic disabilities in the baby and might, might, just increase their propensity to abort any less-than-healthy baby!

Article here: http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/1006/3

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mobile rosary anyone?

So it felt like 35°C yesterday and I really wished the bus would come soon! Anyway, despite trying to forecast the arrival time of the bus from the IRIS system, I had no such luck and ended up waiting for close to 40 minutes in the sweltering heat. What's one to do? I had no interesting book with me, so I decided to pray the rosary.

The rosary, well, as any prayer, requires contemplation. It is easy to find myself already finishing the five decades without really getting into contemplation. So I whipped out my phone and started googling for "rosary reflection" on the mobile. All kinds of junk results were returned! I was frustrated beyond belief. And even those which are actually real reflections were not properly formatted for the phone screen...

"Ay, que calor!" was on the tip of my tongue. But yesterday was a good day to offer up the little suffering and a new idea is born! I'll start putting up mobile pages for reflection on the rosary. Let's see how feasible it is to do this...