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Archive for March, 2011

Sucat the faithful

Most people know him as Patrick, but his name was Sucat. And he was born in England, not Ireland. And he didn’t drink (ok, I’m only kidding about that last one). His mother was a sister or at least related to the famous St. Martin of Tours. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all appear to have been clergymen (no celibacy was enforced in these days in Britain. Indeed, the law of celibacy was ignored in Ireland and the Celtic church until it was imposed upon them in the 11th century).

When Patrick was 16 years old, he was captured during a raid by the Irish king Niall of the Nine Hostages and carried away to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. After six years in slavery, he escaped and was able to return to England. But his heart remained with the Irish.

He returned to Ireland in 432 and became the great missionary to the Emerald Isle. He suffered persecution and imprisonment and daily faced danger, attack, capture, and death.

Tradition says that it was during Patrick’s time at Tara (the capital of the Irish district of Meath) that he composed his “Lorica” (or “breastplate”). It was a prayer used when traveling to beg God for protection. We no longer realize the importance of such prayers but in the days of early missions into pagan lands they were invoked with great earnestness. Patrick said, “I daily expect either murder, . . . or to be reduced to slavery, or mishap of some kind. But I fear none of these things, on account of the promises of the heavens; for I have cast myself into the hands of the Omnipotent God, who rules everywhere, as saith the prophet, ‘Cast thy thought on the Lord, and He will sustain thee.’” It was in this spirit that he composed his “breastplate” and here are a few of the stanzas that indicate his awareness of his need for God’s protection:

I summon today around me all these powers,
Against every hostile merciless power directed against my body and my soul
Against the incantations of false prophets, Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heretics, Against the deceit of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and Druids,
Against all knowledge which hath defiled man’s body and soul.

Christ protect me today, Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wound, That I may receive a multitude of rewards.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height.

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me,
Christ in the eye of every man that sees me,
Christ in the ear of every man that hears me.

His humility, modesty, and great zeal for the world of unbelieving men is remarkable. He was not eloquent and was always embarrassed that he could not speak with “clearness and brevity” but understood his calling as a child of God. We are here to be instruments of God in changing the world. This calling gripped Patrick and thus he was willing to live with holy abandon in the midst of a pagan and barbaric people, rebuking their sins and folly and calling them boldly to faith in Christ.

He deserves to be remembered. So, let’s do it. Lift one up for St. Sucat and pray that God raise up more men like him.

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“Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head in order to guarantee proper behavior; rather, it’s a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly—who loves God and neighbor and is oriented to the world by the primacy of that love. We are made to be such people by our immersion in the material practices of Christian worship—though affective impact, over time, of sights and smell in water and wine.”

– James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom

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What does it feel like when you have made pompous claims about how “fair and balanced” and non-biased your reporting is and then have a couple of your highest executives caught on tape, stating that Republicans support scary cultural positions and belittling the intellectual sophistication of the majority of Americans — yea more, bemoaning the fact that the majority are “uneducated” and so un-hip as to actually tolerate “evangelical” Christianity?

Welcome to NPR’s Shrove Tuesday celebration.

In a video released this morning by investigative reporter James O’Keefe, Ron Schiller (senior executive at NPR) and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who posed as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical Islamic faction that supports the worldwide imposition of “sharia law” (requiring strict observance of the laws of the Quran). Given NPR famous disdain for evangelical fundamentalists and radical conservatives who, they claim, are seeking to control the private lives of Americans — you’d think that they would be appalled over a radical Islamic group who wants to impose Islamic law worldwide.

Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?

Well, think again.

Despite the fact that they are speaking to men who claim to be representatives of one of the most radical Islamic groups, Schiller and Liley’s enthusiasm is not dampened when a $5 million donation is dangled before them over their Caesar salads. They jump at the opportunity to denounce the “Tea Party” activists as “racists” and “xenophobes” and lament the fact that most Americans don’t have the wisdom to agree with Liberals (who are obviously more wise and insightful and fair). Their naivete is breathtaking.

And the rest of us get to see what the “open-minded” and insightful elite really think of us when they get to speak their minds.

And seeing that, we’ll happily stick with the “gun-toting” crowd who actually know terrorists when they see them and would be offended if Islamic jihadists thought they are stupid enough to be swayed by sweet talk over lunch.

[Now let us all watch for the indignant response from NPR, denouncing Ron Schiller's views, saying how outraged they are that one of their own thinks this way and how Schiller's views contradict everything NPR stands for and are in no way representative of NPR, blah, blah, etc., etc. Wait for it. It will come.]

And it has:
***Addendum: from the Waddiditellya Dept.

Dana Davis Rehm, NPR’s Senior Vice President for communications and external relations, issued the following statement regarding Schiller’s statements, Tuesday at noon (11:00 CST):

“We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for.”

There you have it. Here’s the way you are required to read Rehm’s statement, “We at NPR can’t imagine having anyone associated with us who thinks like Ron Schiller! I can assure you he didn’t pick up those attitudes here! We are APPALLED by him (and how dare you think we wouldn’t be!).”

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