Whenever an islamic terrorist attack kills and maims innocent people, and it manages to make it into the news, as sure as the sun rises each morning, our world’s “leaders” are quick to get in front of the cameras to soothe us with platitudes about how diversity is our strength, islam is a religion of peace, and that this latest act of islamic violence and horror committed by muslims for islam not only has nothing to do with islam but also that it will in no way undermine our commitment to tolerance. This is all told to us, ad infinitum, usually before the blood of the murdered dead has even dried from where it has been spilled by some muslim fanatic who killed innocent people for islam.

Let’s talk about diversity and religious tolerance in the context of history, so as to maybe learn something useful for present times that might give those who respect pluralism some kind of a future, shall we?

Did you know that there once existed a city in the world that was a genuine model for tolerance and diversity, where people from far flung regions of the earth and of all different kinds of belief systems could gather, worship and perform religious ceremonies for their various faiths in peace and harmony?

True story:

Mecca was once a true multi-cultural city where people of many different religious faiths existed in harmony and with mutual respect for one another, before a hyper-violent hallucination plagued pervert and his deluded followers laid bloody siege to the city, killing, enslaving or forcibly converting all inhabitants to the militant political cult known as islam 1400 years ago. Mecca has since become one of the world’s most bigoted and intolerant cities, where no non-muslim is even permitted to step foot within its bounds. Via The Religion of Peace:

Mecca, prior to Muhammad, was one of six cities in Arabia with a Kaaba, the cube-like building that housed hundreds of idols and religious artifacts.  The Meccans were mostly polytheists, who worshipped their preferred gods yet respected everyone else’s.

Mecca was also the site of an annual religious pilgrimage, in which people from across the region would visit the city over a four month period. The commerce and income generated from this annual event was extremely important to the local economy. People from foreign lands were allowed to store their idols at the Kaaba, including Hindus. There was even room made for the faith of Jews and Christians, who worshipped there alongside the others. Meccans allowed conversions between faiths and there was no record of persecution against those who practiced their religion without insulting others.

Even Muhammad’s own experience is proof of the Meccan desire to live in peace and harmony. According to Muslim historical sources, the people of Mecca did not mind Muhammad preaching a new religion, as he began to do in 610 at the age of 40. They simply asked that he be as tolerant of them as they were of him.

Instead of obliging, however, the self-proclaimed prophet broke with tradition and openly insulted the local religions as well as the ancestors of the people who practiced it. (See Myth: Muhammad was Persecuted by the Meccans for Preaching Islam for references). This not only caused great offense, but it directly threatened the primary source of livelihood for many residents.

Even so, the people allowed Muhammad to preach in contradiction to local customs for 13 years, which is proof positive of their tolerance. In fact, it was the Muslims who were the first to draw blood, as they became increasingly violent toward the skeptical mainstream of society.

To be fair, there were some Meccans who responded in kind after the Muslims became violent, but only one death was recorded in the Sira (that of an elderly slave from stress) and none in the Hadith.  Muhammad’s presence was still tolerated up to the point that he finally joined with a foreign tribe in an alliance of war against the very city in which he lived. At that point he was evicted from Mecca.  The year was 622.

Although his adversaries were content leaving him alone in Medina, where he fled with his cult, Muhammad would not let go of the bitterness of his rejection. He constantly harassed the Meccans by raiding their caravans andgoading them into open conflict.  Eventually, he tricked them into signing a 10-year treaty which left them defenseless before his army when he suddenly decided to take the city by surprise less than two years later in 630.

The violent history of early Islam leaves little for Muslim apologists to make the case that Islam is a peaceful, tolerant religion. The occupation of Mecca in the aftermath of Muhammad’s victory is usually their primary example, however, since it was was not followed by widespread massacre of the residents (other than the annihilation of anyone who tried to defend his home from foreign occupation, as a handful did).

Yet, it is fascinating to see just how low Islam’s own defenders must set the bar for their religion. It is clear from the accounts of Ibn Ishaq/Hisham and other early historians that the residents of Mecca did not want war, did not prepare for war, and were obviously not expecting it when Muhammad marched through the gates of their city with an army of 10,000 soldiers. There is simply no reason to expect that these innocent people would be slaughtered in the first place (other than the fact that the prophet of Islam had ordered such massacres in the past).

As it was, there were some residents who were sentenced to death by Muhammad himself (“a small number who were to be killed even if they were found beneath the curtains of the Ka’ba” Ishaq/Hisham 818, see also Abu Dawud 2677). These included his old enemies who had personally mocked and rejected him, including two slave girls who had made up songs about him:

“He had two singing girls, Fartana and her friend, who used to sing satirical songs about the apostle, so he ordered that they should be killed” (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 819)

Their master, Ibn Khatal, an apostate from Islam, was also slain on Muhammad’s order even as he tried to take refuge in what was considered the holiest of places:

Allah’s Apostle entered Mecca in the year of its Conquest wearing an Arabian helmet on his head and when the Prophet took it off, a person came and said, “Ibn Khatal is holding the covering of the Ka’ba (taking refuge in the Ka’ba).” The Prophet said, “Kill him.” (Bukhari 29:72, Muslim 7:3145)

A former scribe of Muhammad’s named Abdullah also made the hit list for leaving Islam after realizing that the transmissions from Allah were arbitrary by successfully suggesting changes to Muhammad about the wording of certain supposedly immutable “revelations.”

As with some of the others, Abdullah managed to save his neck by “converting” to Islam just before the moment of execution. Rather than mock the people who mocked him, or turn the other cheek (as a different “prophet” named Jesus once preached), Muhammad killed those who would not repent for rejecting him (see the Answering Islam article Muhammad and the Ten Meccans for a full list of those were sentenced and/or executed).

It was at this point that Mecca, one of the most religiously diverse cities on earth, became one of the most oppressive and intolerant. Muhammad’s first order of business was to destroy the idols of the very people who allowed him to preach his religion in their city for thirteen years:

“The Prophet entered Mecca and (at that time) there were three hundred and sixty idols around the Ka’ba. He started stabbing the idols with a stick he had in his hand and reciting: “Truth (Islam) has come and Falsehood (disbelief) has vanished.” (Bukhari 43:658)

The prophet of Islam then sent his men out to destroy the temples of other tribes, both around Mecca (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 840) and as far away as Yemen (Bukhari 59:643).

With their own religion violently destroyed, most Meccans had no choice but to outwardly “embrace” the very religion they had adamantly rejected for the twenty-one years prior to having a sword at their throat.  To say that this was heartfelt (as some Muslims today actually do) stretches the limits of credulity.

Before evicting those who would not convert, Muhammad first used the allied strength of the local Meccans to conquer a neighboring city, al-Taif, as payback for their earlier rejection of him (and, ironically enough, their own unwillingness to make an alliance with him against the Meccans).

After a few months, Muhammad was in a position to break what was left of his treaty and forcibly evict the remaining non-Muslims from their own city:

“So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” (Quran 9:5)

According to Islam’s holiest text, the only way for polytheists to avoid death was to convert to Islam or flee the city. Needless to say, anyone who did not profess their faith in Muhammad after a four month grace period was not allowed back even to perform the pilgrimage, which had been a centuries-old tradition. According to the Qur’an, this was not because they posed any sort of physical threat, but rather because they were “unclean” (Quran 9:28)

The story of Muhammad’s violent expulsion of non-Muslims from their own city can be found in Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 920-923. Muslim apologists often claim that Muhammad only commanded the killing of those pagans who had “broken the treaty,” yet the historical context states that the command to fight applies to “the polytheists who had broken the agreement as well as those who had a general agreement after the four months which had been given them as a fixed time” (Ishaq/Hisham 922). In other words, unbelievers were given four months to vacate their homes, whether they had done anything wrong or not.

Jews and Christians received an even worse fate as they were eventually chased out of the entire Arabian peninsula based on Muhammad’s final injunction from his deathbed:

I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim. (Sahih Muslim 4366)

Not content with merely evicting non-Muslims from Mecca, Muhammad also banned them from approaching the Kaaba altogether. This was an extraordinary example of hypocrisy given that, according to the Qur’an’s second chapter, preventing people from from worshipping at the Kaaba is akin to “persecution,” and so important that “slaughter” is mandated by Allah in this case.

Islam thus became a system of double standards in which “might makes right” and the morality of an action is judged only by whether or not it advances Islam or benefits Muslims. To this day, Muslims demand the freedom to preach their faith in non-Muslim countries, yet actively deny the same right to other religions where and when they have the power. They also insist that others have the right to convert to Islam, while no Muslim has the right to leave on penalty of death.

The effects of supplanting the traditional pagan system with Muhammad’s legacy of intolerance were undeniable. Fifty years after Muhammad’s death, the Kaaba, which had stood for centuries under the banner of religious tolerance and respect, lay in ruins from one of the many internal Muslim wars that sprang up immediately following Muhammad’s death.

To this day, Muslims are still at each others throats and there is no Islamic country in the world that truly allows other religions to preach openly and recruit converts as Muhammad was allowed to do in Mecca. In stark contrast to its pre-Islamic history, this city now holds the honor as being the most religiously intolerant city on earth, as non-Muslims are not even allowed to visit… and there is not a single Muslim voice of protest.

Here is the sign posted on the road to the modern day city of Mecca:

Why do we tolerate this, where is the diversity in that?

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. 

Today, March 17, is, of course, Saint Patrick’s Day, and while it is widely celebrated in the USA with green beer, parades, and corned beef and cabbage, we would do well to remember that it is a day to remember a Catholic Saint, and to pray. Saint Patrick is not just the patron saint of Ireland and for Engineers, he is also the patron saint of Nigeria, and Nigeria’s Christians certainly need your prayers.

Here is the Prayer for the Faithful, by Saint Patrick:

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
– Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Here is a prayer to Saint Patrick:

Dear St. Patrick,
in your humility you called yourself a sinner,
but you became a most successful missionary
and prompted countless pagans
to follow the Saviour.
Many of their descendents in turn
spread the Good News in numerous foreign lands.
Through your powerful intercession with God,
obtain the missionaries we need
to continue the work you began.
Amen.

Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, also known as the Lorica of Saint Patrick and the Faeth Fiada, is powerful and popular:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

A safe, blessed and happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all!

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. 

The 40 Martyrs of Sebaste, also known as the Forty Martyrs of Armenia and also as The Holy Forty, were a group of Roman Soldiers who were cruelly tortured and killed for their refusal to renounce their Christian faith during the reign of Emperor Licinius in 320 AD. Their Feast Day is March 10 for Roman Catholics, and March 9 for those who belong to Eastern Orthodox Churches. Via EWTN‘s online library, excerpted below is their story, as it was told in a homily by St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, on the Holy 40’s Feast Day:

These holy martyrs suffered at Sebaste, in the Lesser Armenia, under the Emperor Licinius, in 320. They were of different countries, but enrolled in the same troop; all in the flower of their age, comely, brave, and robust, and were become considerable for their services. St. Gregory of Nyssa and Procopius say they were of the Thundering Legion, so famous under Marcus Aurelius for the miraculous rain and victory obtained by their prayers. This was the twelfth legion, and then quartered in Armenia. Lysias was duke or general of the forces, and Agricola the governor of the province. The latter having signified to the army the orders of the emperor Licinius for all to sacrifice, these forty went boldly up to him, and said they were Christians, and that no torments should make them ever abandon their holy religion. The judge first endeavoured to gain them by mild usage; as by representing to them the dishonour that would attend their refusal to do what was required, and by making them large promises of preferment and high favour with the emperor in case of compliance. Finding these methods of gentleness ineffectual, he had recourse to threats, and these the most terrifying, if they continued disobedient to the emperor’s order, but all in vain. To his promises they answered that he could give them nothing equal to what he would deprive them of; and to his threats, that his power only extended over their bodies which they had learned to despise when their souls were at stake. The governor, finding them all resolute, caused them to be torn with whips, and their sides to be rent with iron hooks; after which they were loaded with chains, and committed to jail.

Days had passed, and the men still would not abandon their Faith, which of course did not go over well with their tormentors:

The governor, highly offended at their courage, and that liberty of speech with which they accosted him, devised an extraordinary kind of death, which, being slow and severe, he hoped would shake their constancy. The cold in Armenia is very sharp, especially in March, and towards the end of winter, when the wind is north, as it then was, it being also at that time a severe frost. Under the walls of the town stood a pond, which was frozen so hard that it would bear walking upon with safety. The judge ordered the saints to be exposed quite naked on the ice;[1] and in order to tempt them the more powerfully to renounce their faith, a warm bath was prepared at a small distance from the frozen pond, for any of this company to go to who were disposed to purchase their temporal ease and safety on that condition. The martyrs, on hearing their sentence, ran joyfully to the place, and without waiting to be stripped, undressed themselves, encouraging one another in the same manner as is usual among soldiers in military expeditions attended with hardships and dangers, saying that one bad night would purchase them a happy eternity.[2] They also made this their joint prayer: “Lord, we are forty who arc engaged in this combat; grant that we may be forty crowned, and that not one be wanting to this sacred number.” The guards in the mean time ceased not to persuade them to sacrifice, that by so doing they might be allowed to pass to the warm bath. But though it is not easy to form a just idea of the bitter pain they must have undergone, of the whole number only one had the misfortune to be overcome; who, losing courage, went off from the pond to seek the relief in readiness for such as were disposed to renounce their faith; but as the devil usually deceives his adorers, the apostate no sooner entered the warm water but he expired. This misfortune afflicted the martyrs; but they were quickly comforted by seeing his place and their number miraculously filled up. A sentinel was warming himself near the bath, having been posted there to observe if any of the martyrs were inclined to submit. While he was attending, he had a vision of blessed spirits descending from heaven on the martyrs, and distributing, as from their king, rich presents and precious garments; St. Ephrem adds crowns to all these generous soldiers, one only excepted, who was their faint-hearted companion already mentioned. The guard, being struck with the celestial vision and the apostate’s desertion, was converted upon it; and by a particular motion of the Holy Ghost, threw off his clothes, and placed himself in his stead amongst the thirty-nine martyrs. Thus God heard their request, though in another manner than they imagined: “Which ought to make us adore the impenetrable secrets of his mercy and justice,” says St. Ephrem, “in this instance, no less than in the reprobation of Judas and the election of St. Matthias.”

And so there were still forty of them, naked and freezing, on the iced over lake, all night long. In the morning, it was ordered that, whether already dead or still yet showing signs of life, the loyal Christian men’s bodies would be loaded onto carts and then burned until nothing was left of them. Even the mother of the youngest man remained unshaken in her loyalty to God when she found her son, who was still alive at the time:

When the rest were thrown into a waggon to be carried to the pile, the youngest of them (whom the acts call Melito) was found alive; and the executioners, hoping he would change his resolution when he came to himself, left him behind. His mother, a woman of mean condition, and a widow, but rich in faith and worthy to have a son a martyr, observing this false compassion, reproached the executioners; and when she came up to her son, whom she found quite frozen, not able to stir, and scarce breathing, he looked on her with languishing eyes, and made a little sign with his weak hand to comfort her. She exhorted him to persevere to the end, and, fortified by the Holy Ghost, took him up, and put him with her own hands into the waggon with the rest of the martyrs, not only without shedding a tear, but with a countenance full of joy, saying courageously: “Go, go, son, proceed to the end of this happy journey with thy companions, that thou mayest not be the last of them that shall present themselves before God.”

After they were burned, the ashes of the Martyrs were thrown away in a river, but other Christians had managed to collect some ashes and they carried them away as religious relics.

As we remember the brave and loyal men who died nearly 2000 years ago for their faith in what is now Syria, let us also please remember and pray for Christians around the world who are still routinely persecuted, tortured, and murdered for their faith to this very day.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. 

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remembering Saint Scholastica

#NYCatholic: St. Peter’s Church

World Trade Center Bombing 24th Anniversary

Remembering Saint Katharine Drexel

Saint Katharine Drexel is the second American-born person to be canonized by the Catholic Church and her Feast Day is today, March 3. Katharine was born to wealthy parents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 26, 1858, but her mother died just a few weeks after Katharine was born due to complications from childbirth. Katharine’s father remarried to a woman named Emma Bouvier who raised Katharine and her sister as her own children and who showed them by example the meaning of kindness and charity because Emma was very active in helping the less fortunate and involving her kids in community outreach. The Drexel family was deeply faithful and believed that their wealth was a temporary gift that should be used to help other people.

Katharine was troubled by the suffering and ill treatment of Black people and Native-American people at the time so she devoted her life and her fortune to helping them. She founded many schools for Native-Americans and African-Americans, including the first Black Catholic college.

Saint Katharine could have used her wealth and social status to marry another wealthy person, but instead, after meeting Pope Leo XIII and at his suggestion, she became a Missionary, and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People in 1891. It was headline making news when she chose religious life over high society.

Saint Katharine lived to the age of 96, and she was beatified in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. There is a shrine to St. Katharine in Bensalem, PA, where her remains are entombed, but if you wish to visit it you had better do it soon as the place has been put up for sale and will only permit the public to continue to visit until the end of 2017.

 

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. 

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remembering Saint Scholastica

#NYCatholic: St. Peter’s Church

World Trade Center Bombing 24th Anniversary

Never Forget. That’s what we said after the islamic terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, but many barely remember anymore, to our great disgrace. That was the second time the Twin Towers in Manhattan were attacked, but it seems the world was eager to forget the first World Trade Center bombing, which happened on February 26, 1993 – twenty-four years ago this Sunday.

St. Peter’s Church is near the World Trade Center; here is what they have to say about that day:

February 26, 1993, a truck loaded with bombs, parked in a public garage below the North Tower of the World Trade Center and exploded.  Terrorists set of the powerful homemade bomb by way of a twenty-foot fuse.  The blast killed six innocent civilians.  The bomb was powerful enough to create a 200 by 100 foot hole in the building.  Approximately a thousand office workers suffered smoke inhalation injuries.  One hundred and twenty four of those injured were rescue personnel.  Seventeen kindergarteners were trapped when the electrical power line was knocked out and one woman in labor was airlifted out of the area to a hospital.

The terrorists intended for the North Tower to come crashing down and topple the South Tower. Seven men have been convicted for their role in the attack but only six have been caught.

Many have forgotten the first truck bombing of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9/11.  A son of a victim in the attacks, Stephen Knapp Jr., is quoted in the New York Times:  “It started on Feb. 26, it played out on 9/11, and it is still going on now.”

Our Parish has not forgotten.  Every February, the families and friends of people who died and those who were injured, hold a memorial Mass at St. Peter’s Church.

The person credited as being the mastermind behind this evil act of islamic jihad, the so called “blind sheikh”, Omar Abdel-Rahman, died this past Saturday in prison, but he was treated to a grand funeral that was attended by thousands of admirers in Egypt:

He was convicted in the World Trade Center bombing—as well as plotting a wider “war of urban terrorism”—in 1995. His death was met with statements of mourning from al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, his hometown was filled with chants of “we will defend you with blood and soul, Islam” for his funeral. “If he were a bad man, people from all over the country wouldn’t have came to attend his funeral,” said a lawyer who traveled more than 100 miles to be there.     MORE

Here  is some more information about the attack, via History.com:

In September 1992 explosives expert Ramzi Ahmed Yousef arrived in New York City on a flight from Pakistan and began planning an attack on the World Trade Center, with the alleged goal of toppling the north tower into the south tower. He received help from followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind, Egyptian-born Muslim cleric who spoke in sermons of destroying the “edifices of capitalism.” The plotters rented a storage locker in New Jersey, where they stockpiled urea, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and other ingredients for making bombs. They simultaneously concocted a nitroglycerin trigger at a nearby apartment and scouted out the World Trade Center’s underground floors.

On February 26, 1993, the plotters loaded their homemade bomb, which weighed about 1,200 pounds, into a yellow Ford Econoline van they had rented from a Ryder dealership in New Jersey. Two of them then drove it across the Hudson River into Manhattan, made their way south to the World Trade Center, entered the basement parking garage between the north tower and a hotel, parked in an illegal spot on a ramp, lit four 20-foot fuses, got into a car that had trailed them and sped off.

At 12:17 p.m. the bomb exploded, knocking out the World Trade Center’s sprinklers, generators, elevators, public address system, emergency command center and more than half of the high-voltage lines that fed electricity to the complex. The FBI later called it the “largest by weight and by damage of any improvised explosive device that we’ve seen since the inception of forensic explosive identification.” Six people died, including a pregnant woman. More than 1,000 others were injured, mostly from smoke that snaked its way up the stairwells and elevator shafts. Yet both towers remained standing.

As rescue workers dug for victims, survivors began making their way out by any means possible. A woman in a wheelchair was carried down 66 flights of stairs by two friends. A class of singing kindergartners descended from the 107th floor. A group of engineers stuck in an elevator pried open the doors and then used car keys to cut a hole in the sheetrock walls leading out to a 58th-floor women’s bathroom. Nearly 30 people with medical conditions were taken to the roof and whisked away by police helicopter. By late that night, the buildings had been completely cleared. They would not reopen for nearly a month.

Investigators sifting through the rubble soon came across the vehicle identification number for the rental van, which had been reported stolen the day before the attack. FBI agents then arrested Mohammad Salameh, who had rented the van under his own name, when he returned to the Ryder dealership to ask for his $400 deposit back. Subsequent arrests were made of Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad and Mahmoud Abouhalima. In March 1994 a federal jury convicted the four of them for their role in the bombing, and they were each sentenced to life behind bars.

Meanwhile, authorities uncovered a related plot in which followers of Sheikh Abdel Rahman planned to blow up the George Washington Bridge, the United Nations headquarters and other New York City landmarks. In that case, the sheikh and nine co-defendants were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other terrorism-related charges. A third case led to life sentences for Yousef, who was captured in Pakistan in 1995, and the driver of the rental van, who was captured in Jordan that same year. Only one suspect, who fled to Iraq after being questioned and released by the FBI, remains at large.

Heckuva guy, that Rahman, huh? This is who they celebrate, as our own murdered dead are largely forgotten by our country.

This Sunday, please remember: John DiGiovanni, Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen A. Knapp, William Macko, Wilfredo Mercado, and, Monica Rodriguez Smith and her unborn child. Please remember their families, and remember all who were wounded that day as well. Please pray for an end to islamic terrorism.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla of the Resistance at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. 

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remembering Saint Scholastica

#NYCatholic: St. Peter’s Church

 

St. Peter’s Church, New York, NY

Please do not be misled by the dishonest anti-Christian media or by urban legends about New Yorkers and New York’s Catholics; see for yourself who these people really are and what they do…

The Roman Catholic Parish of St Peter has a history of nearly a quarter of a millennium in Lower Manhattan and is home to the Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton; Mother Seton is our first American-born Catholic Saint. Saint Peter’s Church is the oldest parish in New York City. This is a true American Roman Catholic Church, that pre-dates the American Revolution, and its community is truly a reflection of what it really means to be New Yorkers.

Here is their Mission:

We are the Roman Catholic parish of St. Peter’s – Our Lady of the Rosary, encompassing
St. Peter’s Church, Our Lady of the Rosary (the Seton Shrine) and St. Joseph’s Chapel
(The Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero).

We are the first Catholic parish in New York State (est. 1785) but our legacy in Lower Manhattan pre-dates the American Revolution. The parish has served as a safe haven both in the past for needy immigrants and more recently for victims and rescue personnel in the wake of 9/11, without regard to religion. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, who performed many works of charity in this parish, inspire us to a tradition of service to the residents, the many people who work in the area, and the multitude of visitors who come from around the world. We strive to serve our neighborhood in that spirit, with welcome and compassion for all because we are all children of God.

The Church is located just a street away from The World Trade Center, which was attacked by islamic terrorists on February 26, 1993, and, again on September 11, 2001. Via the St. Peter’s website, here is their story about what happened on both occasions:

  • “Prior to September 11th we were accustomed to look at the Twin Towers as the symbol of America’s strength and power in the world of trade, commerce and finance.  But as those buildings turned to dust before our eyes, we came to look to each other to see where our true strength and power lie.  Our true strength was in all those acts of compassion, those deeds of generosity and self-sacrifice that were performed that day and in the days, weeks and months afterward.”    

    – Fr Kevin Madigan

     

    WE WILL NEVER FORGET

    The World Trade Center cast a shadow over the Church of St Peter’s, a street away.  The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 profoundly affected our parish and without a doubt made us stronger and more connected.  Here is an account of how we opened our home and hearts at our three places of worship and how faith helped to resurrect downtown in New York City after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

    ST PETER’S CHURCH AND 9/11 TIMELINE

    At 8:45am, the impact of the first plane hit the first World Trade Center and shook St Peter’s Church with a violence that caused the parish secretary, Patricia Ruggiero, to scream.  She ran outside and took a look at the enormous gash surrounded by flames and billowing smoke. Rushing back inside she called out to the pastor, Reverend Kevin Madigan, that the plane had hit the building.  Fr Madigan looked out the window and saw the almost instantaneous response of fire engines and ambulances, and he hurried out to find out where the wounded were. At 9:03am, Fr Madigan was speaking with the police when the second plane crashed into the South Tower. Debris blew everywhere from the second impact; many larger pieces were on fire.
    “I remember seeing a wheel of the plane fly over my head”, Fr Madigan told American Catholic Magazine.

    Fr Madigan rushed back to St. Peter’s to make sure the staff got to safety and then returned to the street.  He met the Assistant Fire Chaplain and started walking southbound on Church Street when the South Tower began to collapse at 9:59am. Thinking quickly, Fr Madigan led the assistant chaplain down into the nearby subway station where they took temporary shelter with transit police officers and emerged safely after some of the dust had settled.

    When Fr Madigan returned to St Peter’s, he found out the landing gear of one of the airplanes had pierced the roof.

    STAGING GROUND FOR 9/11 RESCUE AND RECOVERY

    Roman Catholics were the most represented faith group of those lost in the attacks.  The parish can’t be certain of all the members of the parish who were lost, since many don’t register but we do know that a lector at St Peter’s and a parishioner at the mission of St Joseph’s Chapel were killed on that day.  After 9/11 far fewer were coming to weekday morning and lunch hour Masses because the roughly 50,000 workers in the towers had to work in new locations

    During these operations, Fr Madigan celebrated Mass, heard Confession and provided pastoral care to rescue workers and those allowed to enter the area.  The church was open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the workers until the end of October 2001 when martial law was lifted and workers returned to work downtown.

    The doors of St Peter’s stayed open to America’s heroes, and the church transformed into a relief supply station. “We were the first place they were bringing all the emergency equipment. Everything was in disarray,” Fr Kevin Madigan stated. “Supplies were piled six feet high all over the pews, bandages, gas masks, boots, hoses and cans of food for the workers and the volunteers, many of whom were sleeping in the pews on bedrolls.”

    FATHER MYCHAL JUDGE

    Father Mychal Judge OFM, the beloved chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was early to the scene of the disaster, giving absolution and prayers for the wounded and dying.  Late that morning, he was in the North Tower lobby surrounded by rescue workers when the South Tower collapsed.  The force of the building falling on itself blew cement dust and debris at speeds estimated to be 100mph. The impact of the implosion was so violent that parts of the compromised North Tower building fell.  Obscured by the cloud of dust, it was only after the incident that the men nearby saw that Fr Judge had been struck down and killed.  Fr Kevin M. Smith, another fire chaplain from Patchogue, NY blessed the body on curb.  Eventually his body was carried by two firemen, an FDNY medical technician, a police lieutenant and a civilian bystander into St. Peter’s and laid in front of the altar.  Fr Fussner, a priest at St. Peter’s Church noticed that Fr. Judge’s neck was swollen and appeared to be broken.  Resting on the marble, Fr Judge’s body was covered in a white cloth with a fresh stole from sacristy on top and his chaplain’s badge and helmet resting on his chest.  Fr Fussner added that the firemen pulled two of the candles close to either side of his body and a Franciscan friar later pointed out that the resulting pose resembled a bas-relief sculpture of Christ immediately behind the body.  At around 2pm, two Franciscan friars from Fr Judge’s residence carried his body to a fire station across from his residence.

    Fr. Mychal gave the following sermon at a Mass for New York City Firefighters at Engine 73, Ladder 42, Bronx, NY on September 10, 2001:

    You do what God has called you to do. You get on that ring, you go out and do the job. No matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea of what God is calling you to, but God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. God needs us to keep supporting each other, to be kind to each other, to love each other.
    We love this job, we all do. What a blessing it is! It’s a difficult, difficult job, but God calls you to do it, and indeed, He gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be well done.
    Isn’t God wonderful?! Isn’t He good to you, to each one of you, and to me? Turn to God each day — put your faith, your trust, your hope and your life in His hands. He’ll take care of you, and you’ll have a good life. And this firehouse will be a great blessing to this neighborhood and to this city. Amen.

    WORLD TRADE CENTER CROSS

    Two days after the 9-11 attacks, Ground Zero looked and felt like hell on earth.  The ground was scorched, the air held the odor of incinerated building material and felt heavy with the weight of thousands of departed souls.  Long shadows of autumn sun and lights erected to illuminate the wreckage gave the area an amber glow.  Police, firemen, first responders and many volunteers began to search the rubble for a few survivors and scarce remains.  Many of the men who flocked to the site to volunteer were experienced hands that knew how to cut steel and move rubble so the search could continue and the area cleared.

    (Frank Sileccia found the World Trade Center Cross)
    A volunteer construction worker named Frank Silecchia discovered the cross in a carved out area of the pile in the lower core of Building 6.  There he spotted a cross made of steel standing upright.  Fused to one side of the cross was large piece of melted metal that resembled a rumpled cloth which brought to mind the cross and shroud of resurrected Christ.  Frank Silecchia fell to his knees as did many who came to see it later.  Firefighter John Picarello described what he saw in a story published by Christian Broadcast News: “Just the way the sun shone down…it looked like an amphitheater with benches.”  Believers and non-believers came and bowed their heads or knelt.  Many of them came back again and again over the course of eight months to reflect, worship and hope.  Mayor Giuliani remarked that the cross, “kept a lot of people going”, especially those directly involved in the recovery efforts.
    Ten days after the cross was found, Frank Silecchia took Fr Brian Jordan, OFM, a Franciscan priest, to see what he thought was a revelation:  that God had not abandoned us.  Fr Jordan saw it as a sign.  Some time later the men were concerned that in the reconstruction efforts the cross might be taken away to a storage facility or destroyed, so Fr Jordan contacted the mayor’s office.  Mayor Rudolph Giuliani replied quickly that, ‘we will keep that cross as a reminder of God’s love for all of us’.
    Fr Jordan then reached out to Fr Madigan who agreed to host the cross. In October 2006, a group of about 150 workers from the site, relatives of those killed in the attack and onlookers watched over as volunteer workers labored to move the 6,000-lb steel cross three streets and set it down outdoors on the side of the Church at Barclay and Church streets.  People from all over the world and all faiths came to see the cross.  In 2011, the relic, borne of the terrible events of 9-11, was lifted by a crane, loaded onto a truck and taken to its current location at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

    TRIBUTE CROSS

    On August 11, 2011, a new custom cross was installed to stand in the same place on the side of St. Peter’s.  The modern sculpture commissioned by the Archdiocese of New York, was made by artist Jon Krawczyk.  Crafted in Malibu, California, the cross was transported through sixteen states to reach New York.  On the journey, many stopped the artist to inquire about the cross and share a moment of reflection over the events of 9-11.  The “Tribute Cross”, as it is now called, represents the resurrection of the neighborhood.

    ST JOSEPH’S CHAPEL BECAME A FEMA COMMAND STATION

    On September 11, the cloud of dust and ash from the imploding World Trade Center towers also engulfed St Joseph’s Chapel. During the week of the disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the chapel as a command station.  The Chapel and its furnishings were a great help to the rescue effort and even altar cloths were used as temporary bandages.  Following the rescue operations, the chapel became a temporary sanctuary where construction workers, police offers and firefighters could come to eat, email their families, talk with spiritual counselors and rest from the physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting work at Ground Zero.  The priests of St. Joseph’s continued to celebrate Mass in a gym nearby..

    After opening her arms to so many, the chapel interior suffered extensive damage.  The pulpit, pews and chairs, which were moved outside, were destroyed in a rainstorm.   After a degree of normalcy resumed in the downtown Battery Park City neighborhood, the idea for a Catholic Memorial was brought up in discussions about the need for a renovation. The initial thought was to express the journey of grief and healing the parish had taken as a faith community.  But as we clarified our vision through discussion and prayer, we determined to create a memorial that would respond in a broader way to the event from a Catholic perspective.  The memorial also affirmed our belief that life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate.

    Fundraising commenced and the Mission of St Joseph’s Chapel received the support of Cardinal Edward M. Egan and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  In a letter, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani wrote, “St Joseph’s Chapel in Battery Park City is creating a Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero to honor those who were lost, and pay tribute to those who responded with such heroism and bravery in the face of mortal danger.”  (Read full letters written by Cardinal Egan, Mayor Giuliani and Fr Madigan.)

    Fr Madigan and a committee of parish leaders commissioned artwork to honor the heroes of 9/11 for “their bravery, sacrifice and love.”  (Details about Catholic Memorial artwork.)

    In May 2005, Cardinal Edward M. Egan held a ceremony to bless the refurbished St Joseph’s Chapel.  Cardinal Egan remarked that, “the memorial affirms the presence of God in a place that has tested the faith of many.”   The completed Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero honors those who died, those who performed heroic and selfless acts on that day, and all of us who survived to bear witness.  The memorial compliments the 9-11 National Memorial and gives visitors an opportunity for prayer and reflection in a quiet sanctuary.


    OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY REACHES OUT TO BRETHREN

    After September 11, 2001, Our Lady of the Rosary held a memorial service for the sixty-seven British and twenty-four Canadian citizens who died in the World Trade Center attack. The church kept its doors open and, for seven Sundays, hosted the services of Trinity Episcopal Church. Trinity had to shut its doors until they were assured the historic building was structurally sound.  Two months later when Trinity held a ceremony at their reopening, they thanked
    Fr Peter Meehan, the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary and Seton Shrine, for the generosity.

    THE FIRST ATTACK IN 1993

    February 26, 1993, a truck loaded with bombs, parked in a public garage below the North Tower of the World Trade Center and exploded.  Terrorists set of the powerful homemade bomb by way of a twenty-foot fuse.  The blast killed six innocent civilians.  The bomb was powerful enough to create a 200 by 100 foot hole in the building.  Approximately a thousand office workers suffered smoke inhalation injuries.  One hundred and twenty four of those injured were rescue personnel.  Seventeen kindergarteners were trapped when the electrical power line was knocked out and one woman in labor was airlifted out of the area to a hospital.

    The terrorists intended for the North Tower to come crashing down and topple the South Tower. Seven men have been convicted for their role in the attack but only six have been caught.

    Many have forgotten the first truck bombing of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9/11.  A son of a victim in the attacks, Stephen Knapp Jr., is quoted in the New York Times:  “It started on Feb. 26, it played out on 9/11, and it is still going on now.”

    Our Parish has not forgotten.  Every February, the families and friends of people who died and those who were injured, hold a memorial Mass at St. Peter’s Church.


  • This account of what transpired on September 11, 2001 and in the aftermath of the attacks has been prepared by parish volunteers.  The research and fact checking continues and will soon include further quotes from our clergy.

May God continue to bless St. Peter’s Church, parish, and people, and may the Good Lord forever bless New York, America, and you as well.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla of the Resistance at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. Zilla is a proud New Yorker and a parishioner of Saint Denis Church in New York’s Hudson Valley

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remembering Saint Scholastica

Saint Scholastica was born in Italy in the year 480 A.D., and she was the twin sister of Saint Benedict of Nursia (AKA The Father of Western  Monasticism).  She was called to serve The Lord at a very young age and her name means “she who has leisure to devote to study”.  Her feast day is February 10, and it is an Obligatory Memorial.

Scholastica is the Patron Saint of nuns may be called upon for intersession:

In 543 A.D., Saint Scholastica died of natural causes. Here is a story about her life and legacy, and something amazing that happened shortly before her passing:

Life
Scholastica was born in 480 in Nursia, Umbria, of wealthy parents and according to Gregory the Great’s Dialogues, was dedicated to God from a young age. She and her brother Benedict were brought up together until the time he left to pursue studies in Rome.

A young Roman woman of Scholastica’s class and time would likely have remained in her father’s house until marriage (likely arranged) or entry into religious life. But wealthy women could inherit property, divorce, and were generally literate. On occasion several young women would live together in a household and form a religious community.

Benedictine tradition holds that Scholastica lived in a convent at Plumbariola about five miles from Monte Cassino and that this was the first “Benedictine” convent. However, it has been suggested that it is more likely that she lived in a hermitage with one or two other religious women in a cluster of houses at the base of Mount Cassino where there is an ancient church named after her. Ruth Clifford Engs notes that since Dialogues indicates that Scholastica was dedicated to God at an early age, perhaps she lived in her father’s house with other religious women until his death and then moved nearer to Benedict.

The most commonly told story about her is that she would, once a year, go and visit her brother at a place near his abbey, and they would spend the day worshiping together and discussing sacred texts and issues.

One day they had supper and continued their conversation. When Benedict indicated it was time for him to leave, perhaps sensing the time of her death was drawing near, Scholastica asked him to stay with her for the evening so they could continue their discussions. Not wishing to break his own Rule, Benedict refused, insisting that he needed to return to his cell. At that point, Scholastica closed her hands in prayer, and after a moment, a wild storm started outside of the guest house in which they were housed. Benedict asked, “What have you done?”, to which she replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.

According to Gregory’s Dialogues, three days later, from his cell, he saw his sister’s soul leaving the earth and ascending to heaven in the form of a shining white dove. Benedict had her body brought to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself.

Legacy
Scholastica is the foundress of the women’s branch of Benedictine Monasticism.

She was selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin: the Austria €50 ‘The Christian Religious Orders’, issued 13 March 2002. On the obverse (heads) side of the coin Scholastica is depicted alongside Benedict.

The Franciscans offer on their website this reflection on Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict:

Scholastica and Benedict gave themselves totally to God and gave top priority to deepening their friendship with him through prayer. They sacrificed some of the opportunities they would have had to be together as brother and sister in order better to fulfill their vocation to the religious life. In coming closer to Christ, however, they found they were also closer to each other. In joining a religious community, they did not forget or forsake their family but rather found more brothers and sisters.

What a remarkable woman she was, and what a beautiful relationship she and her brother had. May we all learn from her example. My humble suggestion for honoring her memory is to get in touch with your siblings if you have any, and make peace with them if you need to. You will be glad that you did!

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MJ Stevenson is best known on the web as Zilla of the Resistance at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about with her family and a large pack of animal companions.