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We began this blog to discuss faith, social issues, economics, culture and politics. We welcome your comments. God bless you. Susan and Lawrence Fox

Thursday, August 14, 2014

GARMENT OF GRACE: The Brown and The Blue

“By dedicating ourselves to her (Our Lady) we become in her hands instruments of God’s mercy even as she was such an instrument in God’s hands.” (St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, martyr of Auschwitz)

by Susan Fox

“What a pretty necklace!”
Author Susan Fox wearing the Brown Scapular
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. 

“Yes, it is,” I think, wearing the short version around my neck, and also, “Great! Another person attracted to God.”

“Yes,” I answer out loud, “It is the Arms of God. And Big Arms they are. For I am wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and those Arms mean that I belong to God Alone and not to the world.”

“Think of it as a Catholic altar call,” I say, “When other Christians go forward to the altar to establish God’s reign in their lives, Catholics wear the Brown Scapular.”

Catholic Comedian Char Vance joked about this garment of grace, saying, “It’s fire insurance.”    Our Lady promised "...whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire."

In one quick meeting, I usually don’t tell them that the Brown Scapular has more blessings associated with it than any other scapular in the Catholic Church, nor do I say -- but it’s true anyway -- that everyone in the world should wear such a garment of grace, a miniature work apron of the Carmelite Order, for the simple reason that it is a baptismal garment whether you are formally baptized or baptized by desire. Nothing defiled shall enter into heaven. Nothing defiled shall enter into the Triune Community Life of God for all eternity. But those who desire it shall.
Our Lady gives St. Simon Stock the Brown Scapular
The Carmelites – newly transplanted to England in 1251 – argued among themselves about the appearance of the outer coat of their habit. The Blessed Mother settled the matter when she gave them the Brown Scapular, telling St. Simon Stock that she modeled the scapular on the humble work apron of the Carmelites because she valued their work more than their pretty outer plumage. People are surprised when I tell them that the two little brown squares of my “necklace” are actually miniature work aprons. 

Wearing the Brown Scapular is a means of saying to God that you want to throw all the idols out of your life – money, work, health, success, a handsome boyfriend/pretty girlfriend, fashion, other people’s opinions, and dare I mention shopping -- anything you are attached to other than God. Throw them out. Embrace your freedom.
This Brown Scapular is
normally worn under one's clothes

The Brown Scapular is a sign that Mary is leading you to Jesus. It says you accept the yoke of Mary and her fiat – “Be it done to me according to your word.”  Those are the words she spoke in the shadow of Mount Carmel to the Angel Gabriel when she was asked to be the Mother of God. So if you can only wear one scapular, make it the Brown.

     However, if you wish to live a holy and spotless life; if you really wish to push yourself as far as possible to love the Lord your God with your Whole Heart and if there is room in your life for a second scapular, consider the Blue.

"I am the Immaculate Conception,” Our Lady told St. Bernadette at Lourdes, France. Wearing the Blue Scapular is a way of honoring Mary in her Immaculate Conception. And who better to lead us out of sin, to push us on to a perfect life than Mary herself? Jesus wants us to “be perfect” as His Heavenly Father is perfect. Mary herself, the greatest masterpiece of God’s Creation, holds the key to that process.

She was conceived without original sin by the special merits of her Son’s subsequent Passion, Death and Resurrection. Mary, like all of us, was saved by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

But God is outside of time! And He chose to apply the merits of His Son’s death to His Mother’s conception so that Mary could become the New Ark of the Covenant – the spotless vessel of Divine Mercy, Jesus Himself.

Neither the Blue nor the Brown have to be worn as a scapular. The Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary comes with a medal, which can be substituted for the Blue Scapular. One can fix the medal to one’s Brown scapular or one’s underclothing.

The Brown Scapular recalls the events on Mount Carmel in the Old Testament. Remember it was on Mount Carmel that the prophet Elijah proved to the pagan priests of the god, Baal, that Yahweh was the one, true and living God. And for that reason wearing the Brown is a first step into a life of striving for holiness. 

Elijah told them to go get their fat bullock and he said, “I’ll get mine. Then we’ll see whose god is the true God.” Elijah reasoned that if the gods of Baal were real, they would burn up the bullock provided by their priests, and if Yahweh was the one true God he would burn up Elijah’s sacrifice.

There were some 500 priests of Baal, and they all worked for Jezebel, the evil queen of Israel. So they laid out the sacrifice, repeated their meaningless words and cut themselves, but still Baal did not burn up their sacrifice. It took so much time that Elijah cracked a joke:  “Where is your gods? Have they gone aside?”  According to the footnote in one Catholic Bible, that means, “Excuse me, but have they gone to the restroom?”

It was now Elijah’s turn to pray to His God. He dumped tons of water on his bull, and he built a moat around the bull, and filled it with water. Excuse me, how will this will assist God in burning up the sacrifice??
Elijah vs: Baal
God consumes the sacrifice

It won’t. But when Elijah called on Yahweh, fire came from heaven instantly, and the sacrifice was burned up completely, and the water dried up in the moat. That’s how God likes to consume His sacrifices – all of it at once. And that’s the kind of passionate relationship you step into when you wear the Brown.

The Old Testament recounts that the Israelites killed the priests of Baal, all 500 of them that afternoon. Now just substitute the names of your own idols for those 500 priests: shopping, good food, control, power, a big house, other people’s opinions, wanting a cute boyfriend/girlfriend at any cost, wanting your neighbor’s goods, seeing your neighbor’s faults  – anything you might be attached to other than God Himself. Kill them all!

“Love the Lord Your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength and your whole being.” Or as Mary said, “My whole being proclaims the greatness of the Lord!”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Now it is an interesting footnote to this story that Our Lady of Mount Carmel also appeared in the sun during the miracle of the sun at Fatima, Portugal, on Oct. 13, 1917. It was raining that day, and the ground was soaked. The people’s clothes were soaked. Then the sun came down out of the sky and appeared to rush toward some 70,000 spectators who came to witness the miracle God had promised. Everyone was frightened, and they called on God to save them.

Meanwhile, the Fatima visionaries, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, saw of Our Lady in her brown Carmelite habit in the sun. And after the miracle was over, everyone noticed that the sun had dried the muddy ground and their clothes completely. All the water from the soaking rain earlier that day was gone. God had accepted the sacrifice of the people at Fatima in the same manner he accepted Elijah’s sacrifice on Mount Carmel. In the same manner, He will accept your sacrifice when you put on the Brown.
The Blue Scapular
The Blue Scapular is for those who want heaven to soak them in special graces. The requirements to wear the Blue Scapular fit readily into the lifestyle of someone who is already consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary. If you have not done that, see  Confessions of a Scrupulous Devotee of Mary and SOLDIER AND CHILD: Rock of True Devotion to Mary

The requirements are that you show special devotion to the Blessed Mother in the mystery of her Immaculate Conception, that you wear the blue scapular or the medal consistently, that you live a life of chastity according to your state in life, that you pray for the sick and dying, the souls in Purgatory, sinners, and for God’s mercy on the world. I don’t know about you, but I have added these intentions to my prayer list many times, but it is really only necessary to do it once, telling our Lady you give your life to her keeping and ask her to remember these intentions for you.

Also it is required that you receive the sacraments frequently especially on the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that you pray for the souls of the deceased members of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (all the people enrolled in the Blue Scapular), and recite daily (if possible) the Ten Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception. But the prayer part is not a requirement.

Those who wear the scapular can receive a plenary indulgence (all penalty for sin will be removed) under the usual conditions (Mass, confession Eucharist, prayers for Pope in a church and no attachment to sin) on Dec. 8, Aug. 15, Dec. 25, Feb. 2, Easter, Ascension Thursday, the feast of St. Cajetan (Aug. 7), and at the moment of death – also on the day that you are invested with the scapular.

People who wear the Blue Scapular declare solemnly that they do not want to dedicate their lives to the passing things of this world, but – like Mary – they want to dedicate their lives to God alone.

The Blue Scapular is a sign of special devotion to Mary Immaculate, and her special help for us as her children.  The Blessed Mother with a special love embraces those who wear the Blue because we are telling her that we want to live like her – in holiness. When I was a child, I told God I needed “doubly bubbly” grace or lazy me wouldn’t make to heaven. The Brown and the Blue – worn with the right interior intention – is what I would call “doubly bubbly” grace. (That’s not a theological term of the Catholic Church.)

“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” With the Blue Scapular, we are saying that prayer: “Mary -- you without sin -- help me overcome my sins.”  There are many references in the Bible to putting on a clean garment, to those clad in white robes, to those who are wearing robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Blue Scapular is a reference to this “new” garment. Those who wear it express their desire for holiness, for remaining in union with God and for making their entire lives a liturgy to the glory of the Lord. To wear the Blue Scapular is also to put oneself under the protection of Mary’s mantle, a very good place to be.

If you have made or plan to make your consecration to Jesus through Mary, this scapular is an apt outward sign of your total consecration. St. Louis Marie de Montfort highly praised the wearing of the scapular as a means of showing devotion to Mary as long as it is accompanied by the inward desire for holiness.

The Blue Scapular is the official scapular of the Marians of Stockbridge, Mass. (the Divine Mercy Marians). As such, those who are enrolled share in the spiritual benefits of the daily Masses, prayers and other good works of the Marian priests and brothers of the Immaculate Conception.

Those who would like to receive the Blue Scapular may contact Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, Association of Marian Helpers, Eden Hill, Stockbridge, Mass. 01263. He will send you a packet including the Blue Scapular, and a Scapular Medal, and he will tell you how to get your local Catholic priest to invest you in the scapular. The authority to do so comes from the Marians, but they freely share that authority with any priest you chose. Their online catalogue is located at Online Catalogue Marians of Stockbridge, Mass. USA

The Brown Scapular also requires investment by a Catholic priest, but only once in your life, and Brown Scapulars can be purchased in most Catholic Book Stores.
The Green Scapular is for converting
your friends. 
There is another powerful tool in Our Lady’s arsenal: the Green Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is a wonderful tool for conversion for your obstinate un-churched and lapsed Catholic friends or relatives. Hide it in a secret location in their house where they never clean. It will secure for them faith and a happy death. To accomplish this, you should recite the prayer for them daily, which appears on the Scapular:  "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at our hour of death."

What else can we do with our obstinate friends and relatives except pray for them, and hide scapulars (the Green one) in their couch. Keep a goodly supply on your person.

Investiture is not required for the Green, but a priest should bless it. I have kept a Green Scapular in my purse for years. It has saved me from many bad situations.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

THE GLORY OF ISLAM: Putting the Beheadings, Crucifixions, and Rape into the Context of the Quran

by Lawrence Fox

      This past month, the last Christian limped out of Mosul, faced with death, forced conversion to Islam or payment of a “protection” tax. These are typical penalties all unbelievers (Christians, Jews, pagans, and even those deemed impure Muslims) face when Muslims gain control of an area.

Christians in Iraq were faced with three options once the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) moved into Mosul: convert, be killed, or pay the (jizya) tax -- three steps which are literally spelled out in the Quran (Surah 9:29): “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

        “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” concluded the Iraqi Patriarch Louis Sako, sorrowing over the loss of one of the world's most ancient Christian communities.
Crimes against humanity:
 The Yazidi (non-Muslim) captives are lined up
before execution by ISIS

     But that proved to be only the beginning of the horror. Five hundred men, women and children of the ancient Iraqi minority Yazidi (syncretic form of Zoroastrianism) were shot in the head, crucified, raped and had their limbs amputated by the Sunni-led ISIS.

     Killing resisting Jews, Christians and pagans are approved practices of the Quran. However, the Muslim book, Quran, whose name means “recital,” warns if you kill fellow Muslims you will end in hell.

    Yet the dirty secret of Islam is that even Muslims can be defined -- at will -- as unbelievers then killed, taxed or converted, especially if they fail the test of other forbidden practices such as befriending Jews or Christians.

      Members of the Sunni Shaitat tribe were rounded up and marched to their deaths in Syria by ISIS, and the whole event was documented in a series of horrific images posted online by the victorious jihadists.

      Dare we hope the Shaitat Sunni tribe were impure Muslims -- newly-defined Muslim “unbelievers” -- because they resisted ISIS’ plans for an Islamist state or caliphate in Syria and Iraq? They didn’t want to be ruled by that batch of Muslims?

Local Entertainment: 
A crowd of men watch from behind a low
fence, some of them are taking photos or
 filming the executions with their mobile phones

      If so, too bad. True Muslims put them to death. ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on the “soldiers of the Islamic state” to fight alongside his jihadist group, telling them: “If you have faith, you will conquer Rome.” ISIS’ plans also envisage expansion of the Islamic state into Europe and across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The foundation of ISIS’s belief in themselves is the Quran, and they are following its precepts honestly and literally to  “Fight those who believe not in Allah.”
Beloved Muslims: members of ISIS, execute unbelievers

 ISIS are better Muslims -- more beloved by Allah: “Do you pretend that he who gives a drink to the pilgrims and pays a visit to the Sacred Mosque is as worthy as the man who believes in Allah and the Last Day and fights (jihad) for Allah’s cause. These are not equal by Allah. He does not guide the wrongdoers. Those that have embraced the faith and fled their homes and fought for Allah’s cause with their wealth and their persons are held in higher regard by Allah.” (Surah 9:19-21)

The reason this catastrophe is taking place in Iraq and Syria is best summed up by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus during the Islamic siege of the City of Constantinople in 1391:

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new to religion, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

 And if you are horrified reading that famous quote, which got Pope Benedict in so much trouble when he repeated it in 2006, then you are part of the problem. The ideology of Islam is primarily to blame for the bloody mess in the Middle East, but so is Western Society’s inability to grasp that fact, and its insistence on treating the whole problem as a political issue. The moral vacuum in the West ensures that’s the only way it can be treated.

The roots of the violence begin in 622 AD when Mohammed fled to Medina to escape assassination, and encountered contradiction, ridicule and rejection from the Jewish scholars there.

This began in human history a wave of political and religious violence, which has steadfastly grown and has not contradicted the reasonable assessment made by Emperor Manuel II Paleologus.

The Quran is peppered with the call to jihadist violence: “Believers (Muslims) why is that when it is said to you, ‘March in the cause of Allah,’ you linger slothfully in the land?...If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly and replace you by other men.” (Surah 9:38) and “Unbelievers are those that say, ‘Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary.’…None shall help the evil-doers.” (Surah 5:17 & 5:71-5:75)
Are the members of ISIS not fulfilling the literal rendering of the Quran?  Aren’t the Christians in Mosul “evil-doers”?  Where are the soldiers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, and Iran rising up in defense of the defenseless? Does not their silence indicate acceptance, no, even support?

     Allah purportedly speaking through the angel Gabriel recites to Mohammed:  “Do you suppose that you would enter Paradise before Allah has proved the men who fought (jihad) for him…. Many large armies have fought by the side of their prophet (Mohammed). They were never daunted by what befell them on the path of Allah: they neither weakened not cringed abjectly, Allah loves the steadfast.” (Surah 3:142-149)

     The Quran make is quite clear, those who support and go to war in the name of Allah are of greater value in Islam than those who stay at home indifferent to the cause. In fact, The Quran promises to those who wage war in the name of Allah greater goods, “The believers who stay at home – apart from those that suffer from a grave impediment – are not equal to those who fight (jihadist) for the cause of Allah with their goods and persons…He has promised all a good reward; but far richer is the recompense of those who fight for him…” (Surah 4:95-96)

     The images of honor killings, rape, burnt bodies, beheadings, executions, slavery, abductions, cutting off body parts, and the burning of churches – in the name of Allah - from Sudan, Nigeria, Mali, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, East Timor and increasingly occurring in Europe, Canada, and America confirms the reasonable assessment made by Emperor Manuel II Paleologus.  
       Tragically, the socialist, materialist, and progressive West still looks at these events through the eye-glasses of “political-issue.”  These fools have yet to grasp that religion and politics are not separated in the Quran. 

Despite the mindlessly Obama-like hashtag, “Islam is a religion of peace hijacked by wicked men,” there remains the insidious reality that a great number of persons embrace the idea that “the whole of the Quran” must be implemented in every age and in every land.

They would force the whole world to submit to Allah under Sharia Law which includes child marriages, blood revenge, imprisonment and execution for apostasy, and relegation of women and unbelievers to second class citizenship, or have them face taxation, displacement and cruel death. All this is being financed by the desert princes across the Middle East.

Yes, there are secondary causes for the catastrophe in Iraq. The Administration of U.S. President George W. Bush did not grasp the consequences of Americans entering into a war in Iraq, and then eventually leaving it in the hands of a people who have been at each other’s throats since the seventh century.

Mohammed died on June 8th in 632 AD and immediately afterwards his followers broke into two warring factions: Sunni and Shia, one led by a father-in-law of Mohammed and the other led by a son-in-law.

Iraq is currently run by Shias. The Sunni-led ISIS is motivated in part by a hatred for the Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been unable to contain his bitterness towards all things Sunni and Kurdish. The same drumbeat of despair engulfs these peoples as it has for centuries, and tragically the Catholic Christians are again caught in the middle.

The Bush Administration never anticipated that the Muslim Brotherhood would seduce his successor, resulting in the deliberate demolition of structures within the Islamic World. The Bush Administration naively embraced the notion that a society adhering to the “whole” of the Quran could give birth and build a Democratic Society – with American aid – just like the once Christianized Germany did after World War II.

Now comes the Obama Administration, whose goals have been closely aligned with those of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the Muslim Brotherhood, who from their beginning in 1928 advocated the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate; and oh my, that was before there existed the State of Israel. So much for Israel being the cause of violence in the Middle East.

That “restoration” is now taking place out of the bones of the Iraqi people. ISIS has wrested control of Mosul and parts of Iraq, and is moving on to the Shia-controlled Bagdad. And by the way, ISIS is the group U.S. President Obama identified as nothing more than a “junior varsity team.”

The original Caliphate was established in the year 632 A.D. in the Arabian Peninsula, and ISIS’ goal is to turn Iraq into the new Caliphate, becoming the Sunni leader of a worldwide Muslim movement.

Smiling ISIS jihadist  holds a terrified man by his
hair  and begins to slice through his neck 
with a hunting knife
 ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood are allies in this effort. The events on 9/11/12 in Libya, resulting in the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, have more to do with the secret movement of arms to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria by the CIA than anything else that has been suggested, including the airing of an anti-Islamic video on YouTube. 

And why was the U.S. involved in moving arms to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria? Why, to assist the goal of a new Muslim Caliphate, of course.

In Egypt, Americans watched in horror as the U.S. chose to side with the Muslim Brotherhood. The US Administration alleged it was in pursuit of the so-called “Arab Spring” -- not to be confused with Irish Spring, which actually smells good.  The Arab Spring was simply a ruse.

The Obama Regime did not expect the Egyptian Military’s repulsion of the Muslim Brotherhood’s advances; and so they were caught with their pants down.

The U.S. Media has still not grasped the narrative perhaps because it seems like the Obama Administration embroils itself in one crisis after another to distract us from the really bad crises – like what’s happening in the Middle East.

Until the Islamic world re-evaluates adherence to the “whole” of the Quran, this brutality will never cease. The jizya tax was established by a human being named Mohammed – and not by Allah. It was never meant to protect Christians or Jews as argued by so-called “peaceful” Islamic Scholars. The tax was pragmatic. Islam could not compel Christians nor Jews to enter into Islamic jihad against other Christians stretching from Mecca to Turkey, Syria and Spain. And so the tax payment became Islam’s version of mercy and clemency. Mercy in Islam proceeds from submission.

This is totally contrary to the Christian sense of mercy: “But God demonstrated His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:9) and again “For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:7) and again, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you.” (Matt 5:44 and Luke 6:27)

     The jizya was implemented to force Christians and Jews to pay for the maintenance of Islamic Jihad. It is no different than the financial levies imposed by the Mafia, Mexican Drug Cartels or other gang-bangers raging across the world. The only difference is this jizya tax payment is one of the foundations of the “Religion of Peace.”

      Do people not grasp this point? 
Ironically, the Democrat Party in the United States is copying this form of taxation, demanding that Christians - with moral consciences – support through their insurance and taxes Democrat-legislated forms of immorality.

      They have studied Islam well. A U.S. form of the jizya tax is supported by Democrat Party “Leaders” like Senators Patty Murray (Washington), Mark Udall (Colorado), Chuck Schumer (New York), Harry Reid (Nevada), Barbara Boxer (California) and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (San Francisco).

      They say to us: “We will be merciful to you dumb Catholics, who are morally obligated by Natural law, the Gospels, and Catholic Canon Law never to provide contraception, nor to perform abortion, sterilization, infanticide, euthanasia -- even in your hospitals.”

      “As an expression of our mercy and clemency, we the collective of socialist gang bangers only desire to force you (even nuns) to pay for these vile practices through mandated insurance policies which you did not even vote for.”
Tsk Tsk 

What we should be doing
with our hands 
      So the whole world stands by wringing their hands, tsk tsking over the politics of the Middle East while watching the torture, murder and rape of innocent men, women and children. They do not recognize that what is needed is a bone deep conversion of the heart on the part of everyone in world.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who served and lived among the Muslims in Algeria, and then willingly suffered martyrdom at their hands, please pray for us.

---edited by Susan Fox