Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The End was almost nigh

This man could have sent us all over the edge, but didn't

Remember his name:Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov.
24 years on - The man who saved millions of lives

Sat, 22 September 2007
The date is 1 September 1983 and the Cold War between the Soviet Union and USA is in full gear, when from the New York skies Korean Air Lines Flight 007 flies from JFK, destination Seoul, South Korea.

In the middle of the flight, while accidently passing through Soviet air space, Soviet fighter jets appear getting close the aircraft. The Soviets, who didn't know the plane contained civilians, warned the pilot that they will shoot down the aircraft if it doesn't identify itself, and the pilot, for some unknown reason, doesn't respond.

Reports say the pilot never actually received the information, although theories about this are still unclear. An hour passes as the fighter jets still accompany the aircraft, and the orders from Soviet military is to shoot down the aircraft just as the plane was leaving Soviet airspace.

The Soviet fighter jets shot down the plane, with the aircraft plunging 35,000 feet in less than 90 seconds, killing 269 civilians, including a US congressman.

Hell broke loose. As the Soviets tried to defend their 'mistake', US President Ronald Raegan described the Soviets actions as "barbaric" and "a crime against humanity that must never be forgotten".

The tension between the two mega-powers hit an all-time high, and on 15 September 1983 the US administration banned Soviet aircrafts from operating in US airspace. With the political climate in dangerous territory, both US and Soviet government were on high-alert believing an attack was imminent.

It was a cold night at the Serpukhov-15 bunker in Moscow on 26 September 1983 as Strategic Rocket Forces lieutenant colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov resumed his duty, monitoring the skies of the Soviet Union, after taking a shift of someone else who couldn't go to work.

Just past midnight, Petrov received a computer report he'd dreaded all his military career to see, the computer captured a nuclear military missile being launched from the US, destination Moscow.

In the event of such an attack, the Soviet Union’s strategy protocol was to to launch an immediate all-out nuclear weapons counterattack against the United States with nuclear power, and immediately afterwards inform top political and military figures. From there, it would be taken a decision to further the military offensive on America.

Stanislav Petrov

The bunker was in full-alarm, with red lights all over the place as the missile was captured by the Soviet satellites via computers. Petrov wasn't convinced though. He believed that if the US attacked, they would have attacked all-out, not just sending one missile and giving a chance for them (the Soviets) to attack back.

Petrov figured something didn't make sense, as strategically, just one missile from the US would be a strategic disaster. He took some time to think and decided not to give the order a nuclear attack against America, since in his opinion, one missile didn't make sense strategically and it could easily have been a computer error.

But then, seconds later, the situation turned extremely serious. A second missile was spotted by the satellite. The pressure by the officers in the bunker to commence responsive actions against America started growing. A third missile was spotted, followed by a fourth. A couple of seconds later, a fifth one was spotted... everyone in the bunker was agitated as the USSR was under missile attack.

He had two options. Go with his instinct and dismiss the missiles as computer errors, breaking military protocol in the process or take responsive action and commence full-blown nuclear actions against America, potentially killing millions.

He decided it was a computer error, knowing deep down that if he was wrong, missiles would be raining down in Moscow in minutes.

Seconds turned to minutes, and as time passed it was clear Petrov was right, it was a computer error after all. Stanislav Petrov had prevented a worldwide nuclear war, a doomsday scenario that would have annihilated entire cities. He was a hero. Those around him congratulated him for his superb judgment.

Upon further investigation it resulted that the error came from a very rare sunlight alignment, which the computer read as missile.

Of course, top brass in the Kremlin didn't find it so heroic, as he broke military protocol and if he would have been wrong, risked millions of Russian lives. He was sent into early retirement, with a measly $200 a month pension, suffering a nervous breakdown in the process.

Due to military secrecy, nobody knew Petrov's heroic judgment until 1998, when a book written by a Russian officer present at the bunker revealed that World War 3 was closer than people thought, and a nuclear holocaust was avoided by a close shave.

Petrov reminisces what could have been if he didn't get that extra shift that night

Even though the Russian have little sympathy to the man who saved millions of American lives, the United Nations and a number of US agencies honoured the man who could have started a nuclear war, but didn't.

In 2008, a documentary film entitled 'The Man who saved the World' is set to be released, perhaps giving Petrov some financial help, thanking him for the incredible part he had in keeping the US and the USSR out of a full-blown war.

Without knowing on the cold Moscow night back in 1983, a badly paid 44 year old military officer saved the world, and made himself one of the most influential persons of the century in the process, saving more lives than anyone ever did.

Most of today's people don't know it, but today's world as we know it, is like it is because of Stanislav Petrov.
H/T: Dprice

Friday, October 26, 2007

Recent Popes and the Holy Rosary

Have YOU prayed the Holy Rosary?

In Malaysia, there is a saying in the Native Malay language which goes:

Sembahyanglah anda sebelum anda disembahyangkan.

Translated, it means 'Pray, before you are prayed for'.

In Malaysia, it is tradition to pray the rosary at the someone's funeral wake.
So, let take that saying to heart and pray the Holy Rosary, especially during this month, the month og October dedicated to it before it is prayed over us.

Happy praying!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bloggers Choice Awards 2008

I got nominated Best Religion Blog!

Many thanks to those who had taken the time to cast their votes for me for the 2007 Bloggers Choice Awards. I'm humbled and honoured.

It turns out that I received a total of 26 votes and was on page 10 under the Best Religion Blog category. Which was pretty good considering the many great blogs out there and I'm happy to be in such illustrious company. Many thanks to those who voted for me.

But the voting for 2008 awards is now open and if you like this blog, have found it interesting or informative and have the time, do click here or on the logo below to cast your vote. You can also vote by clicking the logo on top of the sidebar at anytime. Do also vote for the many other great Catholic blogs out there, of which many can be found on my sidebar.

I got nominated Best Religion Blog!

Thanks a bunch!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima at IC


Ok, I guarantee that this is really, really the last post on Fatima =) Really.

At Casa Andrew, we have a strong devotion to Our Lady of Fatima as you can see in the altar dedicated to her in my home.


And where in many other parishes, there is usually a Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, in my parish, our Marian Shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, a testament to the Portuguese heritage of many of the Eurasians whose ancestry is Portuguese who live in my parish who brought along their great devotion to her from the homelands.


We have Masses on the outdoor altar at the Shrine every 13th day of the month to commemorate the apparitions at Fatima.


But as this is the month of October it was a little bit grander. Throughout the whole of this month (as well as in May), before every Mass, the Holy Rosary was led by the various ministries and apostolates of the parish and also the cell groups.


On the 13th of October, the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, the celebrations culminated in a grand candle lit procession where an old statue of Our Lady of Fatima, shown above decked out with roses on its processional pedestal.


Before Mass, the Holy Rosary was prayed, as we meditated on the Joyful Mysteries. Then, after the anticipated Sunday Mass, the procession began as the altar servers and the flower girls processed before the Statue of Our Lady which was born in procession by members of the Chinese and Tamil Apostolate.


Note the incense rising before the Statue as it passes through the Church portals. As I've told the servers many times before, if I can see my hand in front of my face, they're not using enough incense =)


The procession, followed by the people bearing lighted candles, then made it's way around the Church.


Unfortunately, I was unable to witness all of this personally as I was leading the chanting of the Litany of Loreto during the procession with fellow cantor Mark Yeoh.



In the photos above and below, you can see the little lights of the candles help by the people.


The procession then made it's way back into the Church for the Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.



After the Mass, the roses and flowers from the Processional Canopy was distributed to the people to bring blessing to their homes. I was fortunate to obtain a white rose which was put in a brass vase in front of the Statue of Our Lady of Grace on the main altar in my home. This is the first thing you see when you come through the door and in fact, can be seen from the street.



I've never posted on this altar before but look for it as it's coming soon in an issue of Sacred Spaces in Casa Andrew =)


Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The New Building in front of the Basilica of Fatima

Because our good friend Arch had such tender words (which I share) for the new building which was constructed in front of the Basilica of Fatima, I'm posting this series of photos showing the dedication of the building by Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State on the 12th of Oct this year.

Endure... err.. I mean enjoy =)

A veritable icon of inculturation, if there ever was one. Inculturation of alien culture, that is. Although the intent of the architect was not to overshadow the Basilica, but still.... is this the best they could come up with?

The appeal of Holy Father Benedict XVI: “Never forget the Pope!”

At the Shrine of Fatima, on the morning of October 14th, a time of great joy was had in union with Holy Father Benedict XVI, at the conclusion of the celebrations commemorative of the 90th Anniversary of the Apparitions. The International Mass, celebrated in Most Holy Trinity Church, after a procession with the Statue of Our Lady from the Little Chapel of Apparitions, was presided over by the Secretary of State of the Vatican, His Eminence Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.

The Holy Mass was attended by 38 groups of pilgrims from 15 countries and a lot of parishioners from parishes neighboring the Shrine of Fatima.
Thousands of other pilgrims, which the new church couldn’t welcome despite having almost nine thousand seats, followed the ceremonies on television screens placed outside the new church.
At the end of Mass, with the help of the media, in this case the television, the faithful present in Fatima welcomed with great joy the television images coming from St. Peter’s Square, during the Angelus prayer led by Holy Father Benedict XVI.

It was an emotional time lived spiritually and fraternally in several countries, which was made possible by live television broadcasting.

Speaking in Portuguese, the Holy Father said: “I willingly extend to all those pilgrims gathered at the Shrine of Fatima, Portugal, this Blessing of Mine given to all those praying here with Me the Angelus prayer – whether physically present or united to Us by the media. There (in Fatima), since ninety years ago, the appeals of the Virgin Mother continue to echo, calling Her children to live their own baptismal consecration at every minute of their lives. Everything becomes possible and easier if we live that entrustment to Mary made by Jesus Himself on the Cross, when He said: “Woman, behold Your son!” She is the refuge and the way which leads to God. The daily recitation of the Rosary is the tangible sign of that entrustment.

While I salute the Pontifical Legate, His Eminence Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Most Reverend Bishop of Leiria-Fatima and all the Portuguese Bishops, as well as all the other bishops present and each and every pilgrim of Fatima, let me urge everybody to renew personally their own consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to live this act of devotion by a live ever more conformed to the Divine Will and in spirit of filial service and devoted imitation of their Heavenly Queen. Never forget the Pope!”

You can read more about it here:
1Church of the Most Holy Trinity – Iconography
Prototype of the Crucifix of the altar of Most Holy Trinity Church by Catherine Green, Ireland Artists...
2Main Entrance – Main Door and Side Upper Panels, by Pedro Calapez
In interview to the Press Center of the Shrine of Fatima, Portuguese plastic artist Pedro Calapez, author...
3First Stone, donated by John Paul II, will stay in front of the Altar
Since the Shrine of Fatima thought that the First Stone of Most Holy Trinity Church, donated...
4Interview of the author of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, the Architect Alexandros Tombazis
In interview to the Press Center of the Shrine of Fatima, the author of the project of Most Holy Trinity...