Category Archives: God

St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947)

St. Josephine Bakhita

Today, February 8th, the universal Church honors St. Josephine Bakhita, a former slave who found freedom and love in the Catholic Church, being introduced to the holy, mighty and eternal Triune God.

Bakhita was born in the Sudan in 1869.  Bakhita was not the name that she received from her parents when she was born; her captors gave her this name which means, “fortunate.”  Indeed and in fact, she was terrorized by her captors as a slave and her experiences were so horrible, that she forgot her birth name.  She bore the most terrible indignities, being sold and resold over and over again as a slave, experiencing severe physical abuse, as well as emotional, psychological and moral abuse.

Callisto Legnani, an Italian Consul, bought Bakhita whilst he was in the Capital city of Sudan.  Callisto treated Bakhita with dignity, kindness and cordiality, unlike the whip used by her former slave captors.  Now, Bakhita experienced joy, peace, warmth, dignity and goodness whilst she lived in the Consul’s home.

Political matters forced Callisto to leave for Italy, and Bakhita received permission to go with him and a friend of his, one Mr. Augusto Michieli.  When they arrived in Genoa, Mr. Michieli’s wife persuaded Callisto to leave Bakhita with them, wherein they settled in Zianigo near Mirano Veneto.  When Mrs. Michieli’s wife gave birth to a daughter,  Bakhita became her babysitter and friend.

Mr. Michieli acquired a large hotel in Suakin on the Red Sea, therefore requiring Mrs. Michieli to help him with this large endeavor.  Accordingly, on the advice of their administrator, Bakhita was entrusted with the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice.  It was there that Bakhita experienced our Lord, whom “she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was” during her childhood years.  Bakhita said, “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?  And I felt a great desire to see Him, to know Him and to pay Him homage. . .”

After a few months with the sisters, on January 9, 1890, Bakhita received the sacraments of Christian Initiation and received the new name, “Josephine.”  She experienced complete love and joy and was seen on occasions kissing the Baptismal font saying, “Here, I became a daughter of God!”

When Mrs. Michieli came back to Italy from Africa to take Josephine back, Josephine expressed her desire to remain with the Sisters and to serve God there.  Josephine was of the age that she could make her own choices under the laws of Italy which insured her freedom.

Josephine stayed with the Sisters for a time and then heard a call from Our Lord to become a sister; hence, she gave herself to Our Lord at the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa.  On December 8, 1896, she joined that order being forever consecrated to God, whom she called her “Master.”  Josephine lived there for 50 years in the community of Schio, cooking, sewing, doing embroidery work and attending to the door.  Whilst she served her duty at the door, she laid her hands upon the school children who attended the Canossian schools daily, and she hugged and loved them.  She had a beautiful voice and the little children loved her; she also comforted the poor and those who suffered who came to the door, giving them strength, support and encouragement.

Josephine was known for her sweetness of nature, her large smile and her great goodness; she lived as a Light for Jesus.  She said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him.  What a great grace it is to know God!”

Josephine endured long, painful years of sickness as she became older, sometimes reliving her days as a slave.  On one occasion, she asked the nurse who was caring for her, “Please, loosen the chains. . .they are heavy!”  While suffering, she received visitors and they would ask her how she was; she would respond, “As the Master desires.”

Her last words were, “Our Lady!  Our Lady!”  She smiled and must have seen the beautiful Blessed Mother of God.  She died on February 8, 1947, surrounded by the Sisters of the Canossian Convent.

The knowledge of her holiness spread all over the world, wherein the first steps to beatify her began in 1959, being beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

Dear St. Josephine, you draw tears to my eyes since you endured so much indignity and suffering of every kind.  Yet, you remained cheerful, with a big smile, loving, kind, sweet and noble.  Help us to remember your pure and indomitable spirit, but most especially, your Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is my hope that the Church Triumphant is having a big party for you in heaven today!  We love you!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources:  Saint of the Day, Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; Vatican website

German Shepherd rescued a mile out to sea

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of RNLI Hastings Lifeboat Station

From the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (UK) Facebook page:

A dog rescued from the sea at Hastings, East Sussex this morning had been missing since last Sunday.

At 9.30 this morning, (4 February) the UK Coastguard received a 999 call from a member of the public telling them that a dog had chased a seagull into the sea on Hastings beach, East Sussex.

Nick Jury, Senior Coastguard Operations Officer, based at Hastings, quickly spotted the dog in the water and was able to guide the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat and its volunteer crew to the right place to rescue it.

Storm, a 7 year old long-haired German Shepherd who had been missing since Sunday, was reunited with his happy owner at the station, before going to the vets for a check-up.

Storm’s owner said that he couldn’t thank the UK Coastguard or the RNLI enough. He said: ‘I have been out looking for Storm since he went missing on Sunday and last night I was out until midnight searching for him. When I got the call this morning that he was on the beach, I was over the moon. But when I got down to the beach he’d already swam out to sea. I was just frantic to get him back. The Coastguard reassured me the whole time, talking me through the rescue process and keeping me updated on how they were conducting the search. I just can’t thank them all enough for bringing him safely home.’

UK Coastguard Nick Jury said: ‘This is a very happy ending for Storm. The owners had put up posters informing people that he was missing and he was spotted on the beach this morning by a member of the public. By chance, the dog’s owner was also in the area searching for him.

‘I had spotted the dog in the water and was able to guide the RNLI Hastings Inshore Lifeboat to Storm, by which time he was about 1 mile out to sea. He was completely exhausted when the RNLI reached him and he was rescued just in the nick of time.

‘Happily Storm has been very fortunate to survive quite a swim out to sea. In this instance we had a 999 call and a member of the public had come into the office at Hastings to alert us. His owners and the members of the public did exactly the right thing by calling the UK Coastguard and not attempting to rescue him themselves – which is the best advice we offer dog owners. We want people to enjoy the coast and this simple measure could save lives.’

Photo courtesy of RNLI Hastings Lifeboat Station

Photo courtesy of RNLI Hastings Lifeboat Station

Loves a happy ending!

DCG

An eagle named Freedom

Jeff Guidry is a rock and rhythm-and-blues guitarist who lives in Monroe, Washington, and volunteers his spare time working as a member of the educational team at the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Everett, Washington which provides food, shelter, and rehabilitation to orphaned and injured wildlife.

Beginning in August 1998, Jeff and the staff at Sarvey spent weeks nursing a baby bald eagle back to health. The eagle, named Freedom, had been brought in emaciated and covered in lice, with two broken wings. In 2008, Guidry recounted his 10 years with Freedom and his own battle with cancer, which had gone viral as an email.

Below is Guidry’s account.

Freedom and Jeff

 An Eagle Named Freedom

Freedom and I have been together 10 years this summer.

She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings. Her left wing doesn’t open all the way even after surgery, it was broken in four places.

She’s my baby.

When Freedom came in she could not stand and both wings were broken. She was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her to the vets office.

From then on, I was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off, and it was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to
lay in. I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still couldn’t stand. It got to the point where the decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn’t stand in a week. You know you don’t want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning.

She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on that Thursday afternoon. I didn’t want to go to the center that Thursday, because I couldn’t bear the thought of her being euthanized; but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning from ear to ear.

I went immediately back to her cage; and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle. She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then. That was a very good day.

We knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove, and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western Washington. We wound up in the newspapers, radio (believe it or not) and some TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair – the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey Wildlife and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000, the day after Thanksgiving. I went in for my last checkup. I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for the results. I went in Monday, and I was told that all the cancer was gone.

So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill.

I hadn’t said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don’t know how long.

That was a magic moment. We have been soul mates ever since she came in. This is a very special bird.

On a side note: I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was
terminal come up to us and I let him hold her. His knees just about buckled and he swore he could feel her power course through his body. I have so many stories like that.

I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom.


In 2010, Jeff published a longer account of his and Freedom’s story in the book An Eagle Named Freedom: My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship.

H/t FOTM‘s josephbc69.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: ‘Follow Me’

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the gospel I preached to you,
which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he was buried;
that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, Christ appeared to more
than five hundred brothers at once,
most of whom are still living,
though some have fallen asleep.
After that he appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
he appeared to me.
For I am the least of the apostles,
not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective.
Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;
not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.
Therefore, whether it be I or they,
so we preach and so you believed.

harden not your hearts

Concerning what St. Paul said in the passage above from 1 Corinthians 15, “in accordance with the Scriptures,” please see “The Old Testament foretold the Coming of Christ”.

May the joy and peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~Eowyn

Award-winning biologist says Pope Francis gave his blessing to animal-human hybrids

In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a monstrous fire-breathing animal hybrid, usually depicted as a lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail that ends with a snake’s head.

Now, unscrupulous scientists are fashioning even worse than Chimeras — animal-human hybrids — by injecting human stem cells into animals, to grow human organs for eventual transplant.

In January 2016, it was reported that scientists in Japan successfully used human stem cells to grow a human ear on the back of a rat. (Discovery)

rat with human ear

In September 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  announced it would not support research involving “human-animal chimeras” because of the hybrids may blue the line between species by ending up with human brain cells. But some U.S. research centers are defying the federal government with support from other funding sources, such as California’s state stem-cell agency. They are growing human tissue inside pigs and sheep, with the goal of creating hearts, livers, or other organs for transplants. (See “Defiling God’s creation: Scientists are creating animal-human hybrids“)

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, is one such research center.

Biologist Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte

Biologist Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte

Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, 55, is a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratories at the Salk Institute. A native of Spain, he received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the University of Bologna, Italy and the University of Valencia, Spain. In 2004, he helped establish the Center for Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona and was its Director for 10 years, from 2004 to 2014. He is the recipient of several awards and honors, including the William Clinton Presidential Award, the Pew Scholar Award, the Gold Medal of the Junta Castilla-La Mancha, and the Roger Guillemin Endowed Nobel Chair.

At the Salk Institute, Dr. Izpisua Belmonte heads a team of scientists who “discovered a new type of stem cell that allowed them to develop the first reliable method for integrating human stem cells into an animal embryo. This could help them overcome a major hurdle toward growing replacement organs for humans.” If allowed to grow after birth, the chimeric embryo creature would be an animal-human hybrid or chimera.

In a phone interview with Christine Gorman, an editor of Scientific American magazine, published on January 25, 2016, Dr. Izpisua Belmonte said the following in answer to Gorman’s question, “How far along have these human-animal chimeras developed?”:

“We are entering into an ethical [area]. Because there are some people who think that we shouldn’t mix human cells with other animals and there are others who don’t care, so to speak. Here in California, we have gone through the different committees and they allow us to have a pig embryo develop for a month. Which is one third of their gestation. At that point you can see already all of the major organ primordia.

There are other countries. I’m from Spain and Spain has been quite open to this field of stem cell research. And they have allowed us to go until the animal is born. So in theory we could have a pig born with the human organ. It was not easy. Even though Spain is quite open to this stem cell research area, at the same time, Spain is a very Catholic country, so we had to go through the Pope. He very nicely said yes. This is to help people.”

When Gorman expressed surprise and asked, “The current Pope?,” Dr. Izpisua Belmonte confirmed that indeed he was referring to Pope Francis, i.e., Jorge Bergoglio:

Yes. The current Pope. So the Vatican is behind this research and has no problem based on the idea is to help humankind. And in theory all that we will be doing is killing pigs.

Dr. Izpisua Belmonte acknowledges that animal-human hybrids could develop human brain cells:

“One problem and the major problem is that these cells could colonize the brain of the animal in which you put them. And obviously it would not be appropriate to have an animal with neurons from people. Or these cells could colonize the germline so that the sperm or the oocytes of that pig would be human. So to avoid that the government of Spain allowed us to have the pig be born and then immediately after to be sacrificed.

But I was not happy with that. People will think that still you will have an embryo maybe with some neuron contribution. And even though the pig is not born, there are people who believe that that should not be done. So we are devising genetic engineering technology so that if a cell becomes a neuron it is just destroyed in the embryo. Any cell that starts to be taught okay you are going to become a neuron at the moment of the first stages of neurogenesis, we are putting a toxin construct in it so that it will be destroyed by itself. So that will prevent any pig embryos from having human neurons so to speak.

I feel that this will still generate controversy. Many people will think one way and others will think differently, so it is impossible to have a consensus. My feeling is that we still need to better understand these issues of cell competence, of mixing cells in embryogenesis—the rules of development, so to speak. And I am a developmental biologist by background and that is my own interest. It will take a long time to have all these hopes and dreams come true.”

According to a statement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic Church supports ethically responsible stem cell research and “has long supported research using stem cells from adult tissue and umbilical cord blood, which poses no moral problem.” Ethically irresponsible research is any research that “exploits or destroys human embryos,” which would include “research as currently conducted” that employs embryonic stem cells. However, the Church “welcomes” proposed research that obtains “embryonic stem cells or their pluripotent equivalent without creating or harming embryos”.

An even more relevant document is Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions, which was issued in 2008 under Pope Benedict XVI by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as the Church’s doctrinal directives on embryonic ethical controversies. No. 33 of the Instruction clearly states the following on “attempts at hybridization”:

From the ethical standpoint, such procedures represent an offense against the dignity of human beings on account of the admixture of human and animal genetic elements capable of disrupting the specific identity of man. The possible use of the stem cells, taken from these embryos, may also involve additional health risks, as yet unknown, due to the presence of animal genetic material in their cytoplasm. To consciously expose a human being to such risks is morally and ethically unacceptable.

Animal-human hybrids do exactly that by being “admixtures of human and animal genetic elements” which “disrupt the specific identity of man”.

However, according to eminent biologist Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Pope Francis approves of research that uses human stem cells to grow human organs in animal, which may lead to the animal developing HUMAN brain cells.

But that’s okay with Jorge Bergoglio, so long as the animal-human hybrid is immediately killed after it’s born. All in the name of the end justifying the means — “doing good” by “helping humankind”.

And who’s to say there aren’t scientists, even in Spain, who disobey the rule by letting the chimera survive after birth?

See also:

~Eowyn

Dog Sneaks out of Kennel at Night to Comfort Crying Foster Puppies

Good doggie!

ABC Photo

Maggie comforting some pups/ABC Photo

A feel-good story over at Yahoo: At a Canadian pet motel and foster care center, a dog broke out of his kennel to comfort and cuddle with two new, frightened, foster puppies on their first night.

Maggie, the maternal dog, actually had a litter of her own who were all adopted out of the humane society a little while before she found a loving home. “We think that’s why she got so attached to the puppies,” Alex Aldred, who works at Barker’s Pet Motel and Grooming, where the heartwarming events unfolded, told ABC News. “We’ve never really seen it before, where a dog sneaks out to some puppies and is so excited to see them.”

Photo courtesy of Barkers Pet Motel and Grooming

Photo courtesy of Barkers Pet Motel and Grooming

“We left work and then we were watching the surveillance cameras while we were out and we saw Maggie was sitting in front of the puppies’ kennels,” Aldred told ABC. Aldred said his mother, Sandy, went back to check on Maggie after seeing through the video that she had gotten out of her kennel.

“She kind of directed Sandy to the puppies’ kennel so Sandy let her in and she was being really affectionate,” Aldred explains, “Sandy stayed in their for about 15 minutes and then said, ‘Well it looks like they need each other,’ and then let Maggie stay the night in their kennel.”

Maggie stayed beside the puppies the whole evening long, and Aldred added that it seemed that the mother dog needed the puppy love as much as the frightened puppies needed her. “When we came back in the morning they were all still cuddled up together.”

Deanna Thompson, who works at the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS), the organization that rescued the puppies, told ABC News, of the pets, “They’re between nine and ten weeks old,” and, “A little bit playful but shy.”

Thompson said she was not surprised by this act of maternal love that took place. “It’s innate in a lot of female dogs, especially if they’ve had a litter in the past. It’s just in their nature. We’ve seen it in a lot of dogs even with male dogs, when they hear other puppies crying they want to console them and make sure they’re feeling safe.”

AARCS organizes over 2,000 adoptions per year, and Thompson added that the young pups have yet to find a loving home.

DCG

The 15 most Godless cities in America

atheism1

If you’re an atheist, then the West coast is the place for you.

A survey of 50,000 people, conducted in 2015 by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Atlas, found that the most godless cities in America are on the West coast. They are Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and San Francisco, California — where 37% of the population say they are “religiously unaffiliated”. Portland’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird”.

Here are the 15 most Godless cities in the U.S. in the percentage of population who have no religious affiliation:

  1. Portland, OR: 37%
  2. Seattle, WA: 37%
  3. San Francisco, CA: 37%
  4. Denver, CO: 29%
  5. Las Vegas, NV: 29%
  6. Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN: 28%
  7. Columbus, OH: 27%
  8. Boston, MA: 26%
  9. Washington, DC: 26%
  10. Cincinnati, OH: 25%
  11. Detroit, MI: 25%
  12. Los Angeles, CA: 24%
  13. Miami, FL: 24%
  14. Nashville, TN: 24%
  15. Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL: 24%

Nationwide, 22.7% of the U.S. population in 2015 had no religious affiliation — a percentage that is rising, according to WND. 10 years ago, the number was 10%; in the 1950s, it was 1%.

In late 2012, it was reported that atheism was the third-largest “faith” in the world after Christianity and Islam.

~Eowyn