Value Voters Summit 2012 I

The Values Voter Summit is gaveled open by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins

FRC President Tony Perkins [Photo: BD Matt]

Former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron testified on his road from atheism to his fervent Christian faith. Cameron earnestly explained the symbolism of the subject matter in the Monumental film which he recently directed

First term Senator Dr. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the first elected official to address the Value Voters Summit. Sen. Paul’s gentle remarks were striking for the understanding that his brand of Libertarianism was imbued with morality, particularly concerning pro-life issues.

House Intelligence Committee Member and former Republican Presidential Candidate Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN 6th) fires up the crowd with a rousing speech over the danger of creeping shariah and into American government.

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN 6th) at Value Voters Summit 2012 [photo: BD Matt]

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) suggests that Tea Party friendly politicians can change the status quo in Washington.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) at Value Voters Summit [Photo: BD Matt]

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA 7th) proclaims that this is an election that is more than just about the economy but about preserving the moral fabric which allows Liberty and Freedom.

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA 7th) [Photo: BD Matt]

Dr. Bill Bennett, host of “Morning in America” radio show introduces his former intern from Empower America, Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st).

Dr. Bill Bennett at the Value Voters Summit 2012 [Photo: BD Matt]

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) gave a hard hitting speech tailored to appeal to the Value Voters Summit which scrutinized how President Obama’s record in office does not comport with the mores and priorities of the audience.

GOP VP nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) [Photo: BD Matt]

GOP VP nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) [Photo: BD Matt]

Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) gave a joyful, free wheeling speech which touted the virtues of the Commonwealth of Virginia which noting how prudent conservative governors had turned around many “Red” states.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) at the Value Voters Summit 2012 [Photo: BD Matt]

Ted Cruz, the Republican candidate for the Texas Senate race highlighted how the Democrats now have problems with recognizing God in their platform or traditional morality in their governance.

Ted Cruz at the Value Voters Summit 2012 [Photo: BD Matt]

Gary Bauer, the one time Republican Presidential candidate and former head of the Family Research Council, gave a fire and brimstone speech condemning how the Obama Administration slights Americans’ Religious Liberty.

Gary Bauer at the Value Voters Summit 2012 [Photo: BD Matt]

Representative Steve King (R-IA 5th) recounted how President Obama has ignored establish law, especially when it pertains to upholding traditional morality.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA 5th) at the Value Voters Summit [Photo: BD Matt]

The afternoon session on the first day of the Values Voters Summit was closed by the dynamic testimony of Kamal Saleem, a former Muslim terrorist who came to know the unconditional love of God and convert to Christianity by y the kindness and example of Good Samaritan Christians who helped him recover from a serious accident as well as experiencing the Voice of the God. It was remarkable that in a gathering with so many faith filled speakers and attendees that Christian convert Saleem was the one to quote the most scripture.

Kamal Saleem at the Value Voters Summit 2012 [Photo: BD Matt]

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Nellie Gray Funeral August 24, 2012 St. Mary Mother of God Church, Washington, DC

Preparing the High Altar for Nellie Gray Requiem, St. Mary’s Church Washington, DC (photo BD Matt)

Casket of Nellie Gray lying in repose at St. Mary’s Church Washington, DC [photo BD Matt]

Fr. Alfred Harris celebrating Nellie Gray Requiem Mass, St. Mary’s Church, Washington, DC [photo BD Matt]

Terry Scanlon offers eulogy for Nellie Gray, St. Mary’s Church, Washington, DC [photo: BD Matt]

Archbishop Sean Cardinal O’Malley reminisces on Nellie Gray [photo: BD Matt]

Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl reflections on Nellie Gray’s importance [photo: BD Matt]

Celebrant Fr. Albert Harris incenses Nellie Gray’s Casket [photo: BD Matt]

Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl offers a final benediction for Nellie Gray [photo: BD Matt]


Pall bearers for Nellie Gray’s casket as Knights of Columbus look on [photo: BD Matt]

Boston Archbishop Sean Cardinal O’Malley conforting Nellie Gray mourners [photo: BD Matt]


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Special Mass Texts?

During the closing mass for the Fortnight for Freedom at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori followed a special rubric for the mass.  Archbishop Lori asked the gathered faithful to text Freedom or Libertad to 377377.
                                            Audio of Archbishop Lori on Special Mass texting
The assembled Catholic congregation should be happy that they weren’t worshipping at Westminster Presbyterian in Burbank, California.
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Sunset at the Penn Quarter

On a beautiful spring evening, I had the pleasure of spending some time before a dinner in the Penn Quarter enjoying the sunset at the Navy Memorial. Despite only having a smart phone camera, the twilight hues during the Golden Time shed a new light on a familiar part of the Federal City.

Although it was a bit further down “America’s Main Street”, the seeing the setting sun through the glass ceiling of the renovated Old Post Office was stunning.

The beautiful soft light on the National Archives was beautifully complemented by some of the fountains at the Navy Memorial.

My hometown walkabout allowed me to discover the name and present occupants of a distinctive building in the Penn Quarter. The building with turrets on Pennsylvania Avenue had been a hotel in the early 20th century but is now the home of the National Council of Negro Women.

The salmon colored stone looked awesome in the twilight.

After a fine meal, it was a treat to see the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art.

It was reminiscent of the exterior of Night at the Museum.

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Maronite Catholic Easter Vigil

At Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Shepherd’s Park (Washington, DC)  the Easter Vigil begins at midnight.

The interior of the church reflects the austere monastic sensibilities of St. Maron, the 5th Century Lebanese monk  who shaped this Syriac-Antiochian rite Catholic Church.

Prior to the accent lights being turned on, the design was stark and aesthetically challenging for me.  Even with the lights on, the altar is surprisingly barren for the most important feast of the liturgical year for Christians.  There were a few lillies at the foot of the main altar and there was a floral display on the East Apse which also served as the Empty Tomb for the Easter Vigil.

Note the tree stump at the foot of the altar, that is used as a stand for the veneration of the Cross.  Perhaps it harkens back to the Cedars of Lebanon, which is an important symbol amongst Maronite Catholics.

This is the Clergy approaching the altar for the beginning of the Qurbono (Divine Liturgy).  Note the Chorbishop in the center who’s vestimest has a cross with the Cedar of Lebanon.

The Liturgy was conducted in Syriac as well as English.  The hymns that were sung were in Aramaic which was impossible for me to read.  Aramaic was Jesus’ native tongue so it sounded like what  the followers of “The Way” would have sung in the 1st Century A.D.

There were some unusual aspects of this Easter Vigil.  There was incense but no use of Holy Water or candles.  The Maronite Church tends to baptize their Catachumens on the Feast of the Epiphany in January.  Candles are not as import of an symbol at the Easter Vigil, as the Maronite Church breaks fast on noon of Great Saturday during the simple “Awaited Light” ceremony.  This may explain why there is not pent up anticipation for the Easter Vigil as observed amongst the Maronites.

It was remarkable how much this Liturgy celebrating the Resurrection emphasized the Glorious Cross.  The Chorbishop made prayers on the four corners of the altar with the processional cross, as if to proclaim the hope of the resurrection to all the Earth.  The faithful were invited to venerate the Glorified Cross as they received Communion.

Another interesting Easter feature of this vigil Qurbono was the emphasis on the Empty Tomb.  As the faithful departed from the Divine Liturgy, they were given flowers from the Empty Tomb as well as an Easter Egg.

Despite the alternating languages during the Liturgy, it was not challenging to follow.  The order of the Liturgy is different, as the Prayers of the Faithful are offered in the middle of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  In addition, the sign of peace is passed along from the altar to the congregation by youthful altar servers.

For me, the Maronite Qurbono was the most exotic of my Holy Week experiences.  Unfortunately, I found  the Easter Vigil at Our Lady of Lebanon to be anti-climatic and personally unsatisfying.  That being said, I was intrigued by proclaiming the glory of the cross to the four corners of the Earth. In addition, I was touched by the post resurrection highlighting of the Empty Tomb as well as receiving the Easter souvenirs.

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Via Cruces at the Franciscan Monastery

At Three pm on Good Friday, Franciscans lead the faithful through the Stations of the Cross on at Via Dolorosa  in the Old City in Jerusalem commemorating Jesus’ way to Golgatha.  At the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC, following the brown cloaked friars is much greener, yet still so somber.

Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, Franciscan Monestary, Mt. St. Sepulchre, Washington, DC

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Great and Holy Friday at Holy Transfiguration Melkite Catholic

Choir prepares for Great and Holy Friday Jerusalem Matins, Holy Transfiguration Melkite Catholic Church, McLean, Virginia

Iconostasis and Holy Tomb

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