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17 Sep 2016 News Resources Comments (7)

God, by any other name, would be just as great - unless you're Muslim: Cardinal claims Christians and Muslims do…

The Bible tells us God is known by many names and people around the world believe many religions worship the same Lord in their own way - but one Cardinal claim…

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03 Oct 2015 Articles No comments

Letters from the Synod: October 2, 2015

Reports and commentary, from Rome and elsewhere, on the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops DISQUISITIONS …being thoughts on Synod 2015 fr…

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25 Jun 2016 Americas Europe News USA Vatican No comments

Bishops call for return of ‘mutual respect and civility’ after Brexit vote

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have said the British decision to leave the European Union “must be respected” and that, after an “often rancorous cam…

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19 Oct 2015 News USA No comments

Hyatt Hotels changes policy around the globe, removes on-demand porn

In a major policy shift, the global hotel and resort chain Hyatt Hotels is cutting off access to on-demand video pornography in all of their hotel rooms across …

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16 Jun 2016 Articles Comments (6)

The Ripping of the Veil

On Ash Wednesday 2004, I was one of many Christians who stood in line for the opening of Mel Gibson's cinematic passion play, The Passion of the Christ. If I re…

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11 Jul 2016 News USA Vatican No comments

US bishops’ president says violence calls for ‘moment of national reflection’

The shooting of police officers on July 7 near the end of a demonstration in Dallas against fatal shootings by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis ea…

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23 May 2016 United Kingdom No comments

St Thomas Becket relic returns to UK from Hungary after 800 years

The bone fragment is thought to be part of the elbow of St Thomas, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 A bone fragment believed to come from St Th…

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15 Jul 2016 USA Comments (3)

A shop that sells nothing but death opens in California

Oakland, Calif., Jul 14, 2016 / 03:24 pm .- You can’t put a price on most things in life. But you can, apparently, put a price on death - $2,000. That’s what…

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05 Dec 2015 News USA No comments

Muslim Panel refutes parts of the Koran to reform Islamic extremism worldwide - Read details

On Thursday 3rd November, Muslim Public figures met at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C to address what have widely been assumed an epidemic consequen…

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Wisdom and the Parables of Jesus

One gets the impression that the author of Ecclesiastes, one of the twenty-four “Writings” of the Old Testament, must have been very bent over under such wisdom, but he does not seem to have been the sort to make amusing, self-deprecating comments.  He is deeply serious, and his counsels are thoroughly sobering, even when he advises us to “eat, drink and be merry” (Ecclesiastes 8:15), because that seems the only way to make the best of a bad day.  Ecclesiastes is the Latin version of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Koheleth, which means “Gatherer,” for the author gathers wisdom from his own experience.  Yet this wise man does not seem to have taken pleasure in writing so many wise things, for he sighs: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).I can sympathize with that, but there are some books that are relatively painless for an author, if not for all his readers.  This month I have a new book that was not wearisome to write, first because it is not long, and second because it is a meditation on the parables of our Lord.  While my words may be faulty, his words “shall never pass away,” and I felt safe in hiding behind them.  It was the publisher’s suggestion to name it Hints of Heaven because the parables are precisely that: ways the Master gives his followers clues, by various images, to the mysteries of heaven.  Even an inspired writer like Ecclesiastes did not come from heaven, so while his wisdom is divinely inspired, it is not divine.  Thus, for instance, in one of his parables, the Lord quotes Ecclesiastes about “eating and drinking and being merry” (Luke 12:16-21), but with a whole other meaning.

The first parables are from the period between the second and third Passovers of his ministry, following the Sermon on the Mount, and are about spreading the Good News of eternal life.  In the third year of his ministry, he tells parables about God’s mercy.  Approaching the Passion, his parables are about the Second Coming, the Day of Judgment, the penalties for arrogance and the rewards for humility.

The late Orthodox theologian, Alexander Schmemann, who instructed me briefly, said, “Books and words, created quite recently, yesterday and the day before, have become outdated, have fallen into nonexistence.  They no longer say anything to us; they are dead.  But these ingenuous stories, so simple in appearance, live on, full of life.  We listen to them, and it is as if something happens with us, as if someone has glanced into the very depth of our life and said something which relates only to us, to me.”


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