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Author Topic: Bashing and fearing other religions v healthy dialog.  (Read 3320 times)
Alan
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« on: June 05, 2013, 11:06:32 AM »

Note:  this is long; it won't offend me if someone comments after reading only part of it.  Wink

I was browsing another forum where apparently an apologist had answered a question regarding the Catholicity of Taizé prayer.  A poster started a thread questioning it, and said the apologist answer went on to warn against centering prayer, enneagram, and "other new age" practices."

I've never heard of Taizé prayer until someone here posted on it the other day, and now I'm hearing of it again.  Apparently it began in Taizé, France, with some non-Catholics but now it includes Catholics.  So there is nothing wrong with it, and the Chicken Littles have struck again.  It seems that too many apologists, along with scores of apologist-wannabees, are starting to get a bumper sticker approach toward inter-religious practices.  They come up with a few bullet points they can throw at just about anything they don't approve of.  All they have to do is say something is eastern, or Buddhist, or any of several others, and then always add the "new age" word -- that term always draws plenty of hysteria.



Enneagram, I take no position on because I haven't tried it, although I know Richard Rohr talks about it.  But centering prayer?  Pulleze.  And new age?  Doesn't scare me.

And I want to go one step further; so what if CP is new age?  People from many religions, including eastern and Buddhist and yes, so-called "new age," have helped me put my mind and spirit back together after being shattered.  I have facebook friends of many different religions and faiths.  Some are Catholic, some are Protestant, some are Hindu, some Buddhist, some not religious at all, and yes, some new age.  And you know what?  My eyeballs don't evaporate when I read their posts.  In fact, the particular "new age" people who post most often have shown great wisdom, and they are superior among new agers in that they know that crystals and tarot cards and all can become a religion in themselves.  Also when I comment on their posts and offer quotes by Jesus that applies to their situation, they will "Like" it.  In fact, they occasionally quote Jesus.  They are just looking for wisdom, and for sanity after two of them experienced brain damage and consequential mental illness, following a car accident.  You would be proud of these kids.  They must learn what works because otherwise they know they will fall into the "medical victim" category, and they take wisdom from whatever sources they can get it.  They are also good a finding flaws in arguments, even their own.  They are not afraid to be corrected, or to correct themselves publicly; they just want to become as excellent as they can.  What's so fearful about dealing with that?  I've read threads talking about unfriending from FB on the basis of others' religion, because it is bad for us to hear other views -- what are we, infants?

If somebody's religious beliefs make them want to kill me, or do something else particularly damaging in a temporal sense, then I'm concerned.  But the paranoid notion that paying attention to a non-Catholic religious practice opens the door for evil and makes us all infected with demons we'll never get rid of and it will take us and all our friends to hell and probably burn our toast as well, has run amok among "good Catholics."  They are so paranoid they cannot look forward for looking downward in fear of stepping on a crack.  You know what?  If someone wanted to do a tarot card thing on me, I'd let them; I'm interested in what people have to say who don't think like me.  That's when I learn new things.  I'm not so mentally fragile that I immediately believe and take to heart everything that others say and do.  And that includes Catholics.  I think it is more dangerous from a spiritual point of view to be militant Catholic in that we are right and all others are not only wrong, but evil, than it is to listen to these people.

And I'm tired of having to carve out and supply disclaimers and explanations of the differences between Christian contemplative prayer, and Buddhist meditation every time I want to discuss contemplative prayer.  Yes, there are alleged differences, like "mantra" v. "sacred word" or whatever, but there is so much we have in common.  In fact, Jesus's interior teachings IMO are very closely paralleled by Buddha.  I've even heard "conspiracy theorists" who suggested that during some of the years between Jesus in the temple as a young man and Jesus's public ministry, that He went to the east and studied with mystics there.  And IMO when it comes down to the mystical level, we have a great deal in common that is just as interesting to me as knowing our differences, and in fact more.  Because what we have in common is so true that it doesn't depend on being educated in a belief system to comprehend it.  We all get hungry in the same language and we sleep in the same language; let the apologists argue about how we really are different even in these basic areas.  Roll Eyes

And "new age" is about like the term "world class."  What the hell does it mean?  As far as I can tell, "new age" means "anything that I don't know anything about and am very afraid of."

Where is all this fear in Christianity anyway?  Fear and anxiety are not Godly.

F1 talked about interreligious dialog, as did B16.  Here's Francis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDEyap11adk  0:57

Here's Father Thomas Keating and Brother David Steindl on interreligious dialog, especially Br. David's interactions with Buddhist monks,  part 1:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsUYs4DCT3Y

Part 2:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ABEAbihdLI

Part 3:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sxcLf00bGg

Part 4:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHnJjseLmoc

Part 5:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeYTjpBLUqU


Alan
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 12:55:56 PM »

I've heard that mystics from all religions tend to eventually see the similarities between the different faiths.  I know this has started to happen with me, to where I can imagine that some of the other religions are simply like a different language to define spiritual terms. 

In fact, for the past few years I have considered myself a mystic first, and a Christian second.  I'm questioning though whether this is the the right way to go.  What is the Ultimate Truth?  I'm certain that it is heard with our spiritual ears and understood with our spiritual understanding.  But if God has indeed commissioned the Church as His preferred method of communicating this Truth, then I've had things backwards.  I should be Christian first, and a mystic only as far as it leads me along the correct path.

I guess I'm still trying to work this out.  God keeps bringing me back around to Christianity.  Just when I think I've come across another blockade that warrants my excommunication, I discover an obscure passage of scripture (or find that if I borrow the doctrine of the Communion of Saints from Catholicism) and things are resolved once again.  Smiley 

As much as I have been able to see the spiritual validity of other religions, I still cannot bring myself to say that "Christianity is simply one way among many."   It is most definitely the road I've taken, and appears to be the road He is keeping me upon. 
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Daizies
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 01:39:10 PM »

I strongly believe that other religions carry elements of the truth.  I've never understood the fear and antagonism towards other faiths.  Even in Islam I can see elements of the truth despite the current prevailing thought on that religion.  I have no issue with "borrowing" compatible practices, but that's just me.

I really don't get that person's objection to Taizé.  We use their music frequently during Mass - even for Priestly ordinations!  Our Archbishop clearly has no issue with it.

Can anyone explain to me how the Enneagram is New Age?  I've looked at it casually, and it seemed to me to just be a personality typing system.  Then it looks at the strengths and weaknesses of each personality.  It was fairly accurate as far as those systems go.  I don't see how it can even be seen as religious.  Huh
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ncjohn
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 01:52:27 PM »

I am not a "relativist" to the extent of believing my faith to be "one among many" but I do fully believe, as I have commented on occasion, that God is the Great Fisherman who has a different lure for each of His fish. And more than that for each fish at different points in their journey.

I don't necessarily believe that everyone is supposed to be Catholic. Jesus himself called for his disciples to be the "leaven" in the bread. He didn't call them to be the whole loaf. I do believe the teachings of Jesus though I don't always buy into all the teachings of the Church, especially when the practical reality of much of Church teaching becomes exclusive rather than inclusive. Vatican II had it very right when they commented that there are elements of the Truth in all the great religions. If we're going to try to bring anyone else along on the journey to finding The Truth it can only be through dialogue; it can't be through coercion. Any of us that think we have The Whole Truth are very sadly deluded. If the great prophets of the Bible, and the Apostles themselves, were constantly having their assumptions turned on their heads how can we possibly think that WE have the whole truth and can begin to speak for God?!!

As to worrying about people proclaiming anything and everything to be New Age or anti-Catholic because someone else uses it, I'm long past even trying to fight those battles. The enneagram is an incredible tool for coming to know yourself and have some mercy on those around you. Centering Prayer is an incredible tool for silencing the mind to give God the opportunity to break through. Labirynths are a wonderful tool for creating a meditative state. Yes, meditation may take a slightly different form for Buddhists while looking like Centering Prayer. Yes, there are people who use the enneagram as a type of numerology that it was never designed to be. Yes, some New Age people enjoy using Labyrinths. So what?? Are we going to ban incense because Buddhists also use it? Rosaries because some Muslims also use prayer beads that look somewhat like a rosary? Bells because many other religions use them in varying ways? Of course the Labyrinth argument fails on its face since they trace back to Catholic cathedrals spread throughout Europe.

In the end, the use of any of these goes to intent and benefit. Just as we are not required to believe in Marian apparitions though they have been a great instrument of conversion to some, the use of Centering Prayer or meditation or labyrinths, or self discovery through the enneagram has no inherent evil or negative connotation.

I would contend on the other hand that some specifically "Catholic" practices, as they are commonly carried out--such as scapulars, relics, indulgences and novenas--become just as much superstition as believing in ouija boards or tarot cards. I just cringe every time I hear about people burying statues of an upside down St. Joseph on their property to sell their houses. It's unbelievable the things that "good Catholics" indulge in. Note, I am not condemning scapulars or Miraculous Medals, or the praying of novenas; I am simply noting that many good Catholics subscribe to a view of them that is no more than "magic."

As far as Taize, those who object to it are typically those who also rail against any ecumenical outreach as "false ecuminism" if its sole purpose isn't geared toward converting everybody in site to Catholicism. In there view that is the only legitimate ecumenical activity. I tend to take Mother Teresa's approach:

‘I do convert.  I convert you to be a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Protestant, a better Sikh.  Once you have found God, it is up to you to do with Him as you wish.’
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2013, 04:11:26 PM »

I would contend on the other hand that some specifically "Catholic" practices, as they are commonly carried out--such as scapulars, relics, indulgences and novenas--become just as much superstition as believing in ouija boards or tarot cards. I just cringe every time I hear about people burying statues of an upside down St. Joseph on their property to sell their houses. It's unbelievable the things that "good Catholics" indulge in. Note, I am not condemning scapulars or Miraculous Medals, or the praying of novenas; I am simply noting that many good Catholics subscribe to a view of them that is no more than "magic."
That's what I was thinking on some of those scapular threads - like hiding them in people's mattresses and so on.
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2013, 12:51:11 PM »

You know, I hovered my mouse over the title of that Taize thread and after reading the first bit of it, chose not to read it because I didn't want to hear what the apologist would have said about it. I knew it would be a load of bunkem because, well, what else can you expect from apologists on that website towards anything as ecumenical as Taize? The fact it was founded by a Protestant wouldn't have helped.

I would contend on the other hand that some specifically "Catholic" practices, as they are commonly carried out--such as scapulars, relics, indulgences and novenas--become just as much superstition as believing in ouija boards or tarot cards. I just cringe every time I hear about people burying statues of an upside down St. Joseph on their property to sell their houses. It's unbelievable the things that "good Catholics" indulge in. Note, I am not condemning scapulars or Miraculous Medals, or the praying of novenas; I am simply noting that many good Catholics subscribe to a view of them that is no more than "magic."

John, you have hit the absolute nail on the head in that part of your post. I see it everyday in Sri Lanka (where I originate from), where the occult and Catholicism have merged to become one and the same thing in many respect. Most Sinhala Catholics are incredibly superstitious, as you have described above. Not only that but they will borrow traditions from Buddhism (e.g. birthchart horoscopes) and believe in occult practices and seek help from "charm" people, as well as priests, about them. For example, my uncle didn't believe I was mentally ill for ages. He believed someone had charmed me and wanted me to get a blessing from a priest who "specialises in those things"  Undecided

It's not just limited to Asian Catholics though - I've noticed it too in Italian, Irish and Latino communities too. Catholics are a bloody superstitious bunch! No wonder Protestants think we're bonkers, what with all our statues and novenas and everything. I too am not denigrating these by any means - I love medals and statues and prayer corners, myself! - but we must remember that the power comes from God and God alone - NOT through superstitious practice or by simply wearing a medal. It's no lucky charm or anything!

Sorry for the rant - these things make me so cross  Angry

Quote
I tend to take Mother Teresa's approach:

‘I do convert.  I convert you to be a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Protestant, a better Sikh.  Once you have found God, it is up to you to do with Him as you wish.’


I like Mother Teresa even better than I did before Smiley
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Alan
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2013, 01:50:59 PM »

It's not just limited to Asian Catholics though - I've noticed it too in Italian, Irish and Latino communities too. Catholics are a bloody superstitious bunch! No wonder Protestants think we're bonkers, what with all our statues and novenas and everything. I too am not denigrating these by any means - I love medals and statues and prayer corners, myself! - but we must remember that the power comes from God and God alone - NOT through superstitious practice or by simply wearing a medal. It's no lucky charm or anything!

As far as I'm concerned, the "magic" in those things flow from the psychological impact they have on the person praying.  To the extent they condition somebody toward prayer, it improves their prayer experience.  The other day I was entering into a very scary "spiritual evil/warfare" situation -- funny I don't even remember what it was.  Julie offered me her brown scapular and I said, "I don't do the things you are supposed to do for that scapular so how is wearing it going to help me?  She understood and said it won't.  This is absolutely bizarre -- a totally unique situation that can't have been more than a week or two ago and I don't remember what it was.

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Sorry for the rant - these things make me so cross  Angry

Don't be sorry to rant.  I've ranted on this forum about many things and I find it nice to have people who will understand me and cheer me on, even if they don't agree with me.  For example, if you disliked something I talked about, that doesn't take away your right to rant -- and it doesn't prevent me from listening to your rant and seeing what I can learn from it.  That's one of the concepts of WordsFree.  We use words freely and honestly to express ourselves, and to support each other through thick and thin.  Some of my rants have been downright difficult to hear and very psychotic (John and Lana can attest to that) but we've never had a lack of support for each other because of our disagreements.  It got a little tense once or twice, but with the fundamental assumption that we are close and supportive friends to each other first, and everything else (like what we think on any given issue) takes a back seat to that, we came through stronger than ever.  Cool

In fact you know what?  I'd rather have one person go off on a disagreement with me, then have any number of people think I'm wrong but not say so.  Or say it in a pansy way so that I don't know what the hell the actual problem is.  I think I'm one of those who used to be afraid to disagree, and I can now see how I did others a disservice by beating around the bush with them.  Actually I wasn't exactly afraid to disagree in my own mind, just afraid of the reaction if the person I disagreed with found out.  When I was little, I was taught by my father that being corrected was an act of love and makes me better, but I found out that other people didn't necessarily hold that view but instead that being corrected means being marked wrong, or called down, which involves pain and humiliation -- at least this is all I could figure leads people to react negatively to different points of view.  Also, disagreeing and correcting are two different things; just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I wish to "correct" you, either.  But since it made no sense to me -- and I was an academic so everything needed to make sense -- I got to be very guarded to the point of unhealthy suppression and paranoia, not to mention passive-aggressive.  I'm way better now, and I'm looking forward to getting better in the future -- that is about expressing myself when I need to, in a prudent way and without excessive fear of getting hurt for having said anything.

Quote
I tend to take Mother Teresa's approach:

‘I do convert.  I convert you to be a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Protestant, a better Sikh.  Once you have found God, it is up to you to do with Him as you wish.’


I like Mother Teresa even better than I did before Smiley

Amen!

Alan
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2013, 03:23:05 PM »

Most people believe their path is the best path; that's why they're on the path they're on. And there are many distinct paths within Roman Catholicism.
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Lana
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2013, 04:26:24 PM »

John wrote....‘I do convert.  I convert you to be a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Protestant, a better Sikh.  Once you have found God, it is up to you to do with Him as you wish.’

REALLY? I should read more about this woman who astounds me at every turn i hear about her!

Lana
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2013, 05:41:03 PM »

The term "Centering Prayer," means many things to people these days. However, the term came out of a week-end retreat Fr Thomas Keating and Fr Basil Pennington, both Trappist Monks, gave to religious on "Quiet Prayer."

Quiet Prayer originates in the desert fathers like Abba Isaac and St. John Cassian. It's also in the book known as "The Could of Unknowing."

I've been doing "Centering Prayer" as taught by Fr Keating, for over 30 years now.

I can not discuss this wonderful method of Contemplative Prayer in Catholic forums without a debate, and wouldn't dare mention it in a protestant forum,  so following the idea from Fr Martin Laird's book, "Into The Silent Land," I no longer use the term Centering Prayer, but it's original name,
"Quiet Prayer."

Anyway, I've come to learn that those who are threatened by discussions on contemplative prayer or other religions, have a spiritual poverty of their own.

I've even seen it among those who are supposedly open minded toward such things, but end up arguing over what share in your spiritual experience.

When this starts, I stop.

It's why I won't talk about Yoga in Catholic Forums anymore. Nothing is gained in the exercise, as people dig their heels in to defend their opposition to things which is not Catholic and they have no understanding of.


Jim


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Alan
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« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2013, 06:02:18 PM »

Nothing is gained in the exercise, as people dig their heels in to defend their opposition to things which is not Catholic and they have no understanding of.

Jim, I'd say your statement is true whether it is non-Catholic or Catholic.  Like the case in point Centering Prayer.  There is nothing non-Catholic about it.  But they say it is; they even had to build straw men to knock it down.  Problem is, there's 100 flies per swatter. 

The fact that other religions may do it too doesn't make it any less Catholic.  For myself, I'm open to sharing in other religions' experiences.  I've always kept that a bit quiet because I didn't want it used against me.  What the hell; it's no secret to WF that I pull in things from different religions, and now that I'm certified 100% lifetime CAF-free member, I guess I don't care what anybody over there thinks, except to the extent it may attract them to WF.  Grin

Yup.  I'll say here in the public section of WordsFree that I am certified by CAF in their "Lifetime Freedom" status.  All prior agreements between us are renegotiable.

Alan
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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2013, 06:31:25 PM »

Alan,

         I've always enjoyed comparative religious study.

One of my favorite audio books that I listened to years ago was, "Jesus Among Other Gods," by Ravi Zacharias.

Ravi Zacharias, born in India in a Hindu family, eventually makes his way west and converts to Christianity, becoming
a minster and professor in comparative religious study.

Of course he provides the case for Jesus true Divinity, but in the process compares Jesus to Buddha, Mohammed, and the teachings in
Hinduism.

I lean more towards Taoism as an interesting study than any other.

Back in 1985, I read a book "Taoism," by an English author, who's name I can't remember. It was written in 1922, and the author lived much of
his life in China, prior to Mao's cultural revolution. So, it didn't have the pollution about Taoism that many people have put into it in the past 30 years.

I guess that's why I enjoyed the book, "Christ The Eternal Tao," so much.

The teachings of Lao Tzu were so much the same as Jesus, and as the authors say, Lao Tzu didn't have the teachings of Jesus to guide him, but like Socrates and Aristotle and there pre-Christian mystics, who ever sought truth, the Spirit of God who lives in all, brought them to it, even though the fullness of revealed truth had not yet come.


Jim

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Alan
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2013, 07:46:37 PM »

Awesome!

Here is a 9-minute introductory talk about Tao by Alan Watts.

What is Tao?

Edit:  Note the video is not by Watts.  Only the audio is from his lectures.

Alan
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« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2013, 08:06:45 PM »

It's interesting that you bring up Yoga.  I used to do yoga - just basic stuff that I found helpful for balance and stuff like that.  It was very calming too.  I gave it up because some uber-religious people convinced me it was sinful to do yoga.  I've never gone back to yoga, but I've been thinking lately that it may be worth going back to.  It's funny, because there are even several books and dvd's out there on "yoga for Christians."  But still in so many circles it's taboo.
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« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2013, 08:34:43 PM »

It's interesting that you bring up Yoga.  I used to do yoga - just basic stuff that I found helpful for balance and stuff like that.  It was very calming too.  I gave it up because some uber-religious people convinced me it was sinful to do yoga.  I've never gone back to yoga, but I've been thinking lately that it may be worth going back to.  It's funny, because there are even several books and dvd's out there on "yoga for Christians."  But still in so many circles it's taboo.

In my circle, do those things you are called to do by your heart's desire, and it will lead you to God.

Others want you to stay on the wide path with them, because there is strength in numbers and they think if you stray you are lost.  Well that's taking the narrow path, to the place the Good Shepherd will find.  But most people don't look at it that way, I'm afraid.

Roger Daltry in Tommy:  I'm Free http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGa70tVYVKo


Here's my advice:



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« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2013, 10:47:15 PM »

I was thinking more about my last post.  I think it's fine to be a part of a flock.  But I also know that if you never venture off, then you'll never know what the pasture is like compared with non-pasture.  Like a fish never noticing the water, we would never know unity if we didn't know separation.  Also the lost being found is a constant theme of Jesus.  And plus, if we stray a little here, and there, but keep our hearts at home, we will become richer and will be in better position to help others, whether Catholic or not.

God loves playing the opposite games:  night, day; winter, summer;  Lost, found; broken, healed; sin, mercy. Kind of like peek-a-boo.

Like "this little child" ...  Cheesy

Alan
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« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2013, 09:28:02 AM »

It's interesting that you bring up Yoga.  I used to do yoga - just basic stuff that I found helpful for balance and stuff like that.  It was very calming too.  I gave it up because some uber-religious people convinced me it was sinful to do yoga.  I've never gone back to yoga, but I've been thinking lately that it may be worth going back to.  It's funny, because there are even several books and dvd's out there on "yoga for Christians."  But still in so many circles it's taboo.

Yoga exercise is exercise, and for myself, I'm concentrating on my breathing, which helps me into the posture. Never strain of course and always go by what you feel.

I saw a video of Christian Yoga, doing the Stations of the Cross, it was awesome.


A particular priest(I won't mention any names) had a melt down over it on his blog site.


Jim
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« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2013, 10:27:50 PM »

I saw a video of Christian Yoga, doing the Stations of the Cross, it was awesome.
That does sound awesome
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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2013, 09:55:28 AM »



A particular priest(I won't mention any names) had a melt down over it on his blog site.


Jim

I bet I could guess who that might be.  Roll Eyes
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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