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Thanks to a new bill that was just signed into law by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, there are now three options to choose from when determining what will be done with our human remains – burial, cremation, or to become a couple wheel-barrels full of compost. It might sound eco-friendly to some, but how does it line up with Church teaching on the proper treatment of the dead?
The Seattle Times is reporting on the signing of SB 5001, “concerning human remains,” which will allow the bodies of the deceased to undergo a process dubbed “liquid cremation” or “natural organic reduction.” The process, which takes about four weeks, uses wood chips, straw and other materials similar to the “livestock composting” methods used by ranchers and farmers to turn the bodies of dead livestock into nurtient rich soil.
Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a soil scientist at Washington State University, told the Times that the practice “can turn a 1,500-pound steer — bones and all — into clean, odorless soil in a matter of months.” Our loved ones can be turned into compost in far less time.
Until now, burial or cremation were the only legal means of disposing the bodies of the dead, but there has been a growing movement among environmentalists to come up with a more earth-friendly way of doing so that doesn’t involve embalming, caskets, or headstones. As we reported last month, this is known as the “death positive movement” and it’s all about making the subject of death and burial more palatable to a “death phobic culture.”
One of the proponents of this movement is Katrina Spade, who calls herself an Eco-Death Revolutionary, wants to create this new more eco-friendly burial method and has been working toward that end for several years. Calling her ideas the “Urban Death Project”, she was behind the movement to pass the Washington bill and has assembled a team of scientists, attorneys, death-care professionals and volunteer advisers to form a small-business model known as “Recompose.”
In 2018, Carpenter-Boggs managed a pilot program using the remains of six terminally ill people who agreed to donate their bodies to the research. She said that the result was “clean, rich, odorless soil that passed all federal and state safety guidelines for potentially hazardous pathogens and pollutants, such as metals,” the Times reports.
For those who choose this method, the bodies of the dead are simply buried in the ground, with no headstones or markers, in dedicated “green spaces” that can be used for public trails, spiritual practices, and other activities.
If this all sounds a little irreverent, that’s probably because this kind of burial does not recognize the human body as being a temple of the Holy Spirit that should be treated as sacred.
“By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity. She cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the ‘prison’ of the body.”
Speaking at a press conference that preceded release of the Instruction, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, who was prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at the time, pointed out the vast difference between allowing for the natural decay of the body while protecting the environment, and seeing the body of the deceased be reduced to mere fertilizer for plants and trees.
“Belief in the resurrection of the flesh is fundamental. A human cadaver is not trash” and an anonymous burial or scattering of ashes “is not compatible with the Christian faith. The name, the person, the concrete identity of the person” is important because God created each individual and calls each individual to himself.
He also clarified why a person should not be buried in an unmarked grave.
“ . . . [W]hen a person is buried in the ground — and, at least to some extent — when the urn of the person’s ashes is placed in a columbarium or tomb, the final resting place is marked with the person’s name, the same name with which the person was baptized and by which the person is called by God.”
Our souls, our bodies, even our names, are sacred in God’s eyes, which raises grave concerns about the practice of human composting
Thankfully, the Washington bill does not make human composting mandatory (at least not yet) so it will be left up to the individual to decide how they wish their body to be treated after death.
AJ asks: “I have been hearing about these beads called chokti beads that you use while praying and focusing on your breathing. Is this a Christian practice? It sounds eastern to me!”
Most definitely. Chokti beads – or prayer ropes as they are also called – are part of the practice of Eastern Orthodox and Eastern-Catholic nuns and monks who use them to count the number of times they recite the Jesus Prayer. Although they are sometimes used by the laity, and for counting other prayers, this is their intended use.
Typically, the prayer rope (also known as a Komboskini) is used to keep one focused on reciting the Jesus prayer – “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
There is beautiful Christian symbolism in how these ropes are made and used. For example, the typical prayer rope has 33 beads, one for every year of Jesus’ life on earth. A knotted cross is fashioned where the rope joins to the tassel which is provided to dry tears wept in sorrow for sins. The rope is commonly fashioned out of wool which symbolizes the flock of Christ, and the usual color is black to signify mourning for sins. Some of the beads and at least a portion of the tassel is red which symbolizes the blood Jesus shed for our sins.
The prayer ropes in use today may have up to 103 beads and can be made out of different materials and colors, but their intended use remains the same as it has since ancient times that predate even the Rosary.
According to this site, the legend behind its creation concerns a monk named St. Pachomius the Great who was using the beads to pray when he suddenly had a vision of the Devil. The vision interrupted his concentration and when he returned to his rope, he found that all of the knots were untied. He re-tied them, went back to prayer, then had the same experience again. Finally, St. Gabriel came to him in a dream and showed him how to tie special knots that consisted of seven small interlocking crosses. When the devil appeared again and tried to untie the knots, he was unable to do so and was vanquished back to hell.
Although prayer ropes can have anywhere from 25 to 103 beads, they are still used to keep track of recitations of the Jesus Prayer which is said on every knot or bead.
As for the breathing element, recitation of the Jesus Prayer is supposed to accompany one’s natural breathing. For example, inhaling while reciting the first part of the prayer and exhaling when you say the second part. The object is to make the prayer become as automatic as breathing, thus fulfilling the exhortation of St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.”
“The concept is to make it so that your corporeal and your spiritual are so intertwined that your breathe becomes a prayer in itself,” the site explains. ”When this prayer finally becomes somewhat automatic, the next step is to move the prayer from the head to the heart. One does this by trying to focus the prayer on the heart. The prayer itself is an act of humility calling out for God’s merciful help. This can sometimes even grant the gift of tears for repentance of your sins or tears of joy due to the love of God.”
Many people also invoke Our Lady’s intercession in the prayer by saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, by the intercession of the Mother of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
It’s important to note that prayer ropes are not a substitute for the Rosary. As Johnnette Williams reminds in her book, The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare, the Rosary’s long history of victory over evil is reason enough for it to remain in the hands of every Christian. In our day and time, which is so riddled by discord, immorality and vice, she says, the Rosary remains “the most effective way to battle the enemy’s forces invading our homes, our families, our community, our country and our culture.”
Today’s feminism, with its trendy slogans and undying support for the right to choose even when it costs the life of another, is nothing new, and it’s just as mean-spirited as it was in the 1960’s when feminism was birthed. This is because the foundation of this movement was built on the rage of its wounded founders who chose to make a living off their wrath rather than seek healing and restoration. If more women understood the sad roots of this movement, they might think twice before putting on those pink hats.
A brief look at the women who emerged as the goddesses of the Feminist movement makes it clear that none of these women had a happy and carefree childhood. Gloria Steinem had a doting and loving father, but he was ever chasing the next get-rich-quick deal, leaving young Gloria as the caretaker of her bitter and mentally ill mother for many years.
Meanwhile, Germaine Greer’s attention-loving mother, while her husband was away fighting in the African theater, entertained the troops in Australia. When the doting father returned from the war, the handsome man was so disfigured from battle and starvation that his family had a hard time finding him on the train platform. Germaine described her mom as “mean as cat p—s” who would beat her, not often, but with passion, even though Germaine was a good child. Germaine concluded that her unaffectionate mother simply didn’t like her.
Phyllis Chesler has perhaps been the most outspoken about the resentment she held toward her own mother. “She criticized me constantly, yelled at me a lot, hit me sometimes and always threatened to turn me over to my father for more serious discipline.” Later in life, Chesler realized that her mother suffered from mental illness.
Betty Friedan and her mother would rage at each other. Her mother, a rare beauty who looked like she stepped out of a magazine, was frustrated with Betty, who seemed to work at being ugly. “I was very dominated by my mother. She was very critical of me and made me feel very insecure.” Betty hated her mother’s phoniness, so she did the opposite, developing acerbic and rough ways of communicating with just about anyone.
A psychologist and author of seventeen books, Chesler seems to have dismissed a remarkable piece of evidence about feminism’s source: the embattled relationship almost all of these women had with their parents, especially their mothers. These founders of feminism, whom Chesler dubs the Lost Girls, were women from broken homes who carried around deep mother wounds inflicted by little to no emotional support and physical affection. They matured physically, but somewhere inside they remained little girls. Their thirst to fill this gap was displayed in their rampant homosexuality and in their infantile effort to ignore the problems they were creating through their “groundbreaking” behavior.
“We are the women our parents warned us against, and we are proud,” boasted Gloria Steinem.
Yes, the era was full of sexual abuse and social inequalities, but their answer to fix them didn’t help. “We picketed, marched, protested, sat in, and famously took over offices and buildings; helped women obtain illegal abortions, joined consciousness-raising groups; learned about orgasms, condemned incest, rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence; organized speak-outs, crisis hotlines, and shelters for battered women; and came out as lesbians.”
The appearance of trying to help every woman who is treated unjustly provided much of the fuel to the cause. Who wouldn’t want to help battered wives or a single mother who struggles to make ends meet? Their problem solving, however, through promiscuity, abortion, lesbianism, goddess worship, astrology charts, divorce and drugs was like adding gas to the fire of these social problems. . . .
This excerpt is reprinted here with the kind permission of Tan Books.
A healthy feminism never destroys – it is always true to itself and life-giving. You can bring this counter-cultural message to your parish and community by starting a Women of Grace® Foundational Study and Young Women of Grace: Embrace Your Femininity Study today! Click here for more information.
Where is your resting place? In every home we purchase, I find that God gives me a spot where I can snuggle up and rest in His loving arms. Whether it is a favorite chair, a prayer room, or a place with the perfect view, for me it is the place where I am best able to enter into prayer. I know that my Heavenly Father is waiting there for me to meet with Him each day, so I go.
I must admit, that as a cradle Catholic, a prayer time at church, at the Adoration chapel, or assisting at Mass is my first choice for a Jesus encounter. It tops my favorite prayer place in my home, hands down.
In every church to which I have belonged, God seems to draw my attention to a meaningful stained-glass window. As I kneel down in prayer and gaze at the window, it begins to speak to me. In our new church, St. John the Evangelist in Viera, Florida, I have already found my window. This window is displayed about fifty feet in the air above the altar. It is in plain view for all to see, but to me, it is my window drawing me close to my Heavenly Daddy.
Why do I eye this particular one? To be honest, God drew my attention to it when I walked into the church for the first time. It has been my window ever since. As I examined this window a little closer, I realized that the artist has used this window to display a portrait of my Heavenly Father’s love. He has captured it in stained-glass beauty. This is the first church where I have seen this particular stained-glass window. Each time I prayerfully view the window, God reveals Himself to me in a deeper way.
As I gaze, I am reminded that the arms of the Heavenly Father are being extended out towards all of His children. He wants all to know how much He loves them. As I gaze upon the portrait in living color, my heart leaps. I want to run up to Him and never leave His arms. Like the prodigal son, we all desire to have the blessed assurance that no matter how far we stray, He will be there waiting for our return. With open arms, our Father will welcome us home. No matter how many times we fail Him, He will forgive us. No matter how many ways we disappoint Him, He will never leave us or forsake us. Would a mother forget the child of her womb? God is waiting to put those loving arms around each of us and assure us of His love. He loves us all best.
I do not know about you, but I want my heart to be so open to my Father’s love that I can reach out and hug Him and let Him hold me close. Our Father’s everlasting arms are so full of love that He is able to wrap His arms around the whole world and hug us all at the same time.
How about you? Do you need a heavenly hug? Go to your prayer spot and let the Heavenly Father wrap those everlasting arms of love around you. Let Him hold you close. He is waiting for you!
Just hours after a French hospital withdrew nutrition and hydration to a young man who has been in a vegetative state since a motorcycle accident in 2008, a French court intervened and ordered the hospital to restore life support.
LiveActionNews.org is reporting on the case of Vincent Lambert, who was rendered a quadriplegic with minimal consciousness after a motorcycle accident. In spite of the fact that Lambert is not terminally ill, and euthanasia is not legal in France, Lambert’s wife and several family members insist that he wouldn’t want to live this way and wants his nutrition and hydration removed. However, his parents, and several other family members, disagree and are fighting equally hard to keep him alive.
According to the BBC, after several years of trying to improve Lambert’s condition, his medical team, with the approval of his wife, decided in 2013 to remove him from the food and water he was receiving and place him under heavy sedation until he passed away. His devout Catholic parents, Pierre and Viviane, challenged the decision because the rest of the family was not consulted, and a lengthy legal battle began.
Much like the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case that gripped the US in 2005, Lambert’s parents fought publicly for his life, publishing videos showing their son seeming to interact with family members. The story went viral and public debate only intensified when, in 2015, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the decision of a French court to remove his life support. However, doctors did not carry out the order.
The battle raged on and eventually seemed to come to a conclusion in favor of Lambert’s wife when the French ministry of health argued against the advice of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities who wanted the family to wait until they could investigate the case further. The ministry claimed that it was not bound by the Committee and Minister Agnes Buzy claimed that “all legal appeals had been exhausted.”
Lambert’s parents then reached out to President Emmanuel Macron asking him to intervene, saying, “In France, in 2019, no one should die of hunger and thirst.”
But Macron refused to help: “The decision to stop treatment was taken after a constant dialogue between his doctors and his wife, who is his legal representative.”
On Monday, the hospital withdrew food and water from Lambert and put him under heavy sedation.
However, just a few hours later, the Paris court of appeals ordered that nutrition be reinstated and the sedation be stopped, pending a review of the case by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink,” his mother said. “For once I am proud of the courts.”
Even the Vatican weighed in on the matter. In a statement signed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect President of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, and Cardinal Vincenzo Paglia, Prefect President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, attempts to prematurely end Lambert’s life were referred to as a “grave violation of the dignity of person.”
They call nutrition and hydration “a form of essential care that is always proportionate to the maintenance of life” saying that feeding a sick person can never be a form of unreasonable care as long as the person’s body can absorb nutrition and hydration with causing suffering or harm to the patient.
“The suspension of these treatments represents, rather, a form of abandonment of the patient, based on a merciless judgment on his quality of life, expression of a culture of waste that selects the most fragile and defenseless people, without recognizing their uniqueness and immense value. The continuity of assistance is an inescapable duty.”
They conclude: “We therefore hope that effective solutions can be found as soon as possible to protect the life of Mr. Lambert. To this end, we assure the prayer of the Holy Father and of the whole Church.”
Parishioners who came to Mass on Sunday morning at Notre Dame de Lourdes Church in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania were met with a shocking surprise – pro-abortion graffiti written in black spray paint across the church doors and an exterior wall.
CBS3 is reporting on the incident, which took place at the suburban Philadelphia church sometime on Saturday night when someone painted “You do not have the right to decide how others live” in black spray paint across the glass entrance doors to the church. The words “#Pro-Choice” were painted on the side of the building.
“It was very shocking to come up to the church and see that,” parishioner Jessica Prince told CBS3. “I’d have to say the first half of mass was me crying the whole time because I was so upset somebody would do that to the church.”
The vandalism is believed to be connected to the recent passage of an abortion law in the state of Alabama which bans all abortion except in cases where the pregnancy poses a serious health risk to the mother. Included in the new law is a provision holding abortion providers criminally responsible for performing abortions.
Although the culprit(s) has not yet been apprehended, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement on Sunday assuring the public that they are working with the Ridley Police Department.
“The school principal was able to bring up video from the security cameras of the vandalism in progress,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “It will be shared with the Ridley Police Department’ detectives and the parish will cooperate with law enforcement as it investigates the incident.”
They added: “This afternoon, parishioners successfully removed the graffiti.”
This brazen act of hate occurred just weeks after Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims verbally assaulted an older woman who was praying outside of an abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Just two weeks prior to this incident, he filmed himself verbally attacking a young mother and three teen girls and asking for viewers to publicize the names and addresses of the girls.
For the most part, Sims got away with his hateful behavior and the mainstream media, always loathe to report any story that makes abortion supporters look like haters, barely touched the story.
But the truth is well-known to those of us who have been fighting to protect the lives of the innocent. And, most important of all, it’s well-known to God before Whom we will all one day stand whether or not we choose to believe in Him.
Let us pray that the perpetrators of the hate that is poisoning our nation will be exposed to the light and brought to repentance and conversion.
We received a heartbreaking call from a listener to EWTN’s Women of Grace Live show last week about her daughter who had become involved with a group known as the Twelve Tribes. Even more distressing is that the young woman took her son – our caller’s grandson – to live with the group. It was with a heavy heart that we told her what we know about the Twelve Tribes.
First and foremost, the Twelve Tribes is a bona fide cult. It is a communal religious movement comprised of about 2-3,000 members living in roughly 50 communities scattered throughout nine countries. Members of the cult adopt a belief system that is a combination of Christian fundamentalism and Messianic Judaism, which is a blending of Christianity and Judaism that evolved during the 1960’s. They view all denominations as fallen and seek to build their church according to the original form as documented in the Acts of the Apostles, such as by observing the Sabbath and maintaining Mosaic law and Jewish feasts.
However, their lifestyle, particularly where children are concerned, is anything but Godly. For example, they believe children must be caned (beaten) numerous times a day in order to keep them from sin. One former member said he was beaten sometimes 20-30 times a day. Children are made to rise at 5:00 a.m. and stand for an hour of prayer before going off to work in the commune or to one of the cult’s various businesses for the rest of the day.
This site lists numerous countries such as the UK, Germany, and France where Twelve Tribes communities were raided and the children forcibly removed for their own safety and/or for violations of child labor laws.
Other draconian beliefs held by the group include forcing women to give birth without painkillers to atone for Eve’s original sin. One former member named Ruth Williams said she developed placenta previa – a condition in which the placenta blocks the birth canal – and was told to pray to God to move the placenta out of the way. Williams went into labor and began to hemorrhage, then eventually lost consciousness. She was driven to a hospital and dumped on the sidewalk outside the emergency room. When she awoke, she was told her child had been stillborn.
Their disbelief in modern medicine has led to numerous tragedies, such as the death of a 15-month-old girl who died during a whooping-cough epidemic that swept through the community in the 1980’s. The elders of the cult told the baby’s father, ‘If God wants her to live, He’ll save her.” She died a few hours later, said the man who eventually left the Tribes.
When the 39-year-old wife of one of the elders died of untreated cervical cancer, the family was told her death was the result of her unconfessed sin.
This horrifying community has its roots in a charismatic man named Eugene Spriggs, a former high school teacher and guidance counselor who, along with his fourth wife, Marsha, began a Bible study in their home in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1972. They recruited youth at local high schools and popular hangouts to come and listen to Sprigg’s Bible commentaries in his living room. A gifted preacher, he was said to leave his audience rapt for hours by his sermons.
Because so many of the youngsters who attended were either drug addicts or runaways, the Spriggs invited them to move in. As their “family” grew, they decided to open a restaurant called the Yellow Deli to help support themselves. “Family” members worked at the restaurant to earn their room and board, but no paycheck. Part of their function in the deli was to recruit others which they did through catchy sayings in the menu such as, “We serve the fruit of the Spirit. Why not ask?”
As the Pacific Standard reports, they eventually opened numerous other Yellow Delis and organic food stores known as Common Sense Markets where they continued to attract new members to the cult.
Spriggs began to refer to his Bible study as the Vine Christian Community Church but all was not idyllic. Disgruntled former members began to speak out about the long hours they were forced to work every week without pay, complaints that should have raised alarms among other members, but by now, Spriggs had convinced them – and himself – that he was a modern-day “super-apostle” and that his teachings came directly from God.
“Spriggs told his followers that God wanted them to cut themselves completely off from modern society,” the Standard reports. “This meant no television, radio, books, or anything else that embodied secular culture. ‘Friendship with the world,’ he preached, ‘is enmity with God.’ Members were required to donate all their possessions to the group—homes, cars, money—in exchange, Spriggs told them, for eternal salvation. When concerned relatives raised objections, Spriggs told his followers to cut them off, too.”
The bad press eventually forced Spriggs to leave Tennessee and relocate to a remote village in Vermont known as Island Pond. Two hundred followers joined him.
“In this new setting, the group became increasingly reclusive. Spriggs decided he was destined to restore the ancient Twelve Tribes of Israel and produce an army of 144,000 male virgins, who would prepare the way for Christ’s second coming,” the Standard reports.
“To this end, he re-named the group the Twelve Tribes. To differentiate the Tribes from mainstream Christianity, he referred to Jesus as Yahshua, a variant of Jesus’ Hebrew name, and insisted members take Hebrew names as well. He called himself Yoneq—a play on his given name that he translated as ‘tender shoot or sprig’.”
Spriggs exercised an iron rule over every facet of members’ lives, “regulating everything from fingernail length to how married couples should engage in intercourse,” the Standard reports.
It’s easy to think that only miscreants and the confused get involved in cults, as was the case when Spriggs first started his commune, but experts say this is not the rule. As this blog explains, what makes a person vulnerable to a cult is not their personality type as much as where they’re at in life. There are certain times when people are just more vulnerable than others, such as after suffering the loss of an important relationship or financial status, or when a young person is making a transition from high school to college, or from college to the working world.
“Times such as these make us vulnerable to people who promise us a new life, a new sense of belonging. This is especially true for people who are naturally dependent on others, who tend to be overly-trusting, have a tendency toward low self-esteem, or who are disillusioned with their religion and are searching for new spiritual meaning in their lives,” the blog states.
As difficult as it was for us to relate this information to this heartbroken caller, we were able to reassure her that there is help available. Steven Hassan, a former member of the cult of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, (known as the “moonies”), who now holds a master’s degree in counseling and psychology, has devoted himself to helping people – and their loved ones – break free from cults. He has also written several excellent books detailing how to help a loved one disengage from a cult.