Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion -- Mother Teresa

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
 – Matthew 25:35
LifeSiteNews (LSN) has been working hard for years to expose the anti-Life policies of the Canadian Catholic Church's "Development and Peace" organization. This is the official international aid agency of the Canadian bishops. The latest development is the good news that the Bishop of Pembroke, Ontario has decided to withhold all funds from the controversial group.

An example of the anti-Life work of "Development and Peace" is shown in the following video. LSN discovered that in 2009 they were funding a group called The Freedom From Debt Coalition (FDC) that was working in the Philippines to pass the "Reproductive Health" bill which is forcefully opposed by the Catholic Church in the Philippines because it promotes contraception and sterilization.



Here is the response of Mother Teresa to those who foolishly seek to achieve peace while promoting contraception and abortion:
Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today - abortion which brings people to such blindness.
 – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
 + + +


The excerpt above is from a speech that Mother Teresa gave at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC on February 3, 1994. You can listen to it here:
Audio of Mother Teresa's speech
The text of the speech is also available at the Priests for Life website at:
Text of Mother Teresa's speech

Priest for Life is currently inviting everyone to join them in a novena for Blessed Mother Teresa in remembrance of her passing from this world into heavenly bliss on September 5, 1997.

A promise

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
 – Matthew 25:35


Why do some people accept the killing of unborn children? Is it because they can't cry out as their lives are being cut short? Would we tolerate the killing of a baby that was born less than perfect or who was "unwanted" for other reasons?

Let's promise as a society that we will never kill another child in the womb or call that baby "unwanted". It is a matter of equality for all persons. It is a matter of love for the Christ within each of us.

The child growing in the womb is a hungry and thirsty stranger. Will we welcome him or her with the love and compassion that Jesus asked of us?

Abortion is never a "choice" for a civilized society. Every child is innocent and we must sacrifice as a society to welcome that child into the world that God has given us.

 + + +

We must teach children the virtue of chastity if we really love them and want them to live full and happy lives and then go on to their reward in heaven. Chastity is one of the treasures of Christianity that we have to offer the modern world. This virtue that has been ridiculed and trampled upon by the secular culture, is one of the greatest ways to show our love for God.

Chastity is not simply abstaining. It is not motivated by fear of disease or pregnancy. It is motivated by love of God and of ourselves. It is not based on saying "no" to the choices that the secular culture offers, but on saying "yes" to the choices that a life centered on Christ offers.

Chastity is a "yes" to love, to marriage, to parenthood and to life. It is time to unbury this hidden treasure of Christianity and let its light shine throughout the world.

 + + +

The alternative is this house of horrors that former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson describes in her account of working there late at night alone.
I walked in and heard the heavy door slam behind me.  It echoed as it closed.  The clinic had high ceilings and every noise echoed like you were in a cave.  It was silent…no creaks, no water dripping, nothing…totally silent.  So silent in fact, I could almost hear something…and I’m telling you, it almost sounded like babies crying.  I know that sounds crazy and I totally disregarded it at the time.  I ran up to the front of the clinic, away from the freezer where the babies were kept until the medical waste came to pick them up.  I didn’t want to be next to that freezer.  Did I really hear that?  Surely it was just my imagination.
This is the end result of the lie of "freedom" of "choice" that our society has bought into -- the haunting silent cries of the unborn.

Pray for the children who never felt the warmth of a mother's hug or a father's kiss.

Blessed Virgin Mary, out of love you said "yes" to God and life, pray for us.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Michele Bachmann has a message for America

O great and mighty God whose name is the LORD of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of men, rewarding every man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings; who hast shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind.
 – Jeremiah 32:18-20
Michele Bachmann is not afraid to talk about God. Even if it is in a half joking way about the earthquake and the hurricane being signs from God. You don't need a natural disaster or an act of God to tell you that American society is suffering from a man-made disaster created by the godless technocrats that have taken over our government.

(Sorry about the ad. Just mute your sound for 30 seconds.)



And the corporate world and the mass media have joined in on the God bashing. This rejection of God by society is something that the Popes have been warning us about for over a century. And now we are seeing the fruits of the rejection of God from our public lives. Abortion, "homosexual marriage", economic decline, divorce, fornication, addiction... The list goes on and on. If we were living in a society guided by Christian principles -- as America always was in the past -- we would not be seeing these types of problems.

God bless Michele Bachmann. Keep speaking out, Michele. America is listening and we are with you.

 + + +

Related articles:

Pray for marriage

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force.
Matthew 11:12
Mary - Jesus - St. John the Baptist
A month ago I highlighted an effort to introduce a National Day of Prayer for Marriage on August 29. Unfortunately, the effort did not receive very much popular support. I don't think we have to wait for this to become a huge event. The need is certainly clear for just this type of action.

So even if it is just a handful of us. Let's take the time to pray for the Holy Sacrament of Marriage. And in fact I would say that this should be a World Day of Prayer for Marriage. Because the scope of the problem the Church faces is international and indeed affects people of every nation in the world. Let this just be the beginning of our constant prayer vigil for marriage. The same way we would pray for any dear loved one that was faced with a life threatening illness, this is the way that we need to pray for marriage.

Pray for marriage.
Pray for the unborn.
Pray for young people.
Pray for those with same-sex attraction.
Pray for those addicted to pornography.
Pray for the children.
Pray for the Church.
Pray for the bishops.
Pray for the priests.
Pray for the nuns.
Pray for the lay people.
Pray for those using artificial birth control.
Pray for married couples.
Pray for those who are engaged in unmarried sex.
Pray for those trapped in a life of prostitution.
Pray for those addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Pray for those seduced by the culture of death
Pray for those who are slaves of lust.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill their hearts with Christ's message of peace, hope and love.
Amen.

Today is the memorial day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist. He was put to death because he preached against King Herod's sexual immorality.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

 + + +

I highly recommend this article which addresses many of these issues:
The slavery of lust

 + + +

Related articles:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Struck down but not destroyed

As hurricanes and earthquakes hit the east coast of the United States, we can take comfort in the message of the Gospel.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
 – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Here is a video to cheer you up.



And here is a passage from the Old Testament that speaks of earthquakes and fierce winds.
And a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
 – 1 Kings 19:11-13
What does it mean that Elijah heard the voice of the Lord in a "still small voice"?

My own view is that these verses are a condemnation of those that constantly ask for visible signs of the Lord's presence. Jesus also spoke of this. Why do we ask for signs? Those who believe do not need signs, and those who don't will not believe the signs when they see them.
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.
 – 2 Corinthians 4:4
"The god of this world" is satan. It was satan that tempted Jesus to produce a sign.

The "still small voice" is the voice of our Lord which is ever present to those who believe. We are surrounded with His angels -- His messengers. Our God is a living God "who has shone in our hearts".
For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.
 – 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
We are the fallen children of Adam, and are born with original sin which is the darkness that St. Paul speaks of in this passage. But God says, "Let light shine out of darkness." Christ is that light which illuminates us from within.

We are "earthen vessels". We are not worthy of holding a precious treasure like the light of Christ and to gaze upon His face. But God in His Divine Mercy has granted us this gift through His Son.

This shows "the transcendent power" of God. None of the priests of "the god of this world" have the power to conjure up such a miracle. Do not put your faith in false idols like the science of man. This power "belongs to God and not to us."
We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
 – 2 Corinthians 4:18
Brothers and sisters in Christ, listen for the unseen "still small voice" inside your heart. May the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you; may the Blessed Virgin Mary take you by the hand and lead you to Her Son.

God bless you and your family, and protect you from all evil.

All the Saints in Heaven, pray for us. All the souls in Purgatory, pray for us.

 + + +

NOTE: The video above was produced by the Animated Catholic. I discovered by going to the YouTube channel that he (or she) is from the Philippines. There is also a related blog. Here are the links:
The Animated Catholic YouTube Channel
The Animated Catholic Blog

Friday, August 26, 2011

Commitment

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
 – Romans 6:17-18
I know we're all looking for some positive signs that things are going to get better. World Youth Day was one and here is another.



You can read more here:
I Commit: Youth speak up for lifelong committed love in powerful new video

NOTE: Just one thing. I did a search in the Bible for the word "commit". Almost all of the things that came up were not good. But we know what they mean. :)

Why doesn't the MSM like us?

Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva'nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.
 – 2 Corinthians 1:17-20
Father Robert Barron has a commentary on the commentary by the mainstream media (MSM) of World Youth Day. So, I suggest that you watch it and then read my commentary on his commentary of the MSM's commentary.



[Please see my apology below for the uncharitable tone of this article. I didn't intend it to come out that way. I'm sorry Father Barron.]

After I finished watching this video, I just wasn't impressed. And it bothered me because I wanted to like it, but something about it just rubbed me the wrong way. Partly it was because I had just finished reading an article which Father Barron had written on the exact same subject and much of the article and his YouTube video were word-for-word identical.

"So what?" you say. Well, the style of the "Word on Fire" videos is that Fr. Barron is giving his off the cuff remarks. So obviously he is not. "Big deal" you say. And you're right it shouldn't be a big deal, it's just that the whole style has an air of phoniness. He wants to create the impression that he is engaged in an intimate conversation with us, the viewers. When really he is just talking to a camera on a stand while occasionally glancing off to the side to look at his notes on a laptop.

Maybe I'm too "sophisticated", but I can detect an acting job when I see it. And I don't like it. Especially an acting job that is intended to give the impression that the actor is not acting. This is the style of a Madison Avenue commercial. And I would expect a priest of the Church to reject this type of commercialism. It is as if we are watching a professional actor pretending to be a priest. And that bothers me. I want to see a real priest.

Compare that with Pope Benedict XVI addressing a live audience of over a million young people. He reads his text straight from a paper on his lap. He doesn't even use a teleprompter. He doesn't pretend that his speech is impromptu. He doesn't do anything artificial to create an air of intimacy. And yet there is an intimacy there despite all that. What he manages to convey is sincerity. But it's not through anything he intentionally does, but rather through his own persona. He just radiates sincerity. He truly looks happy and appreciative to be surrounded by young Catholics listening attentively to his every word. His style is that of an old professor. But the warmth he radiates is that of a grandfatherly figure.

No ad agency would ever come up with this concept. It shouldn't work. It's counter-cultural to the extreme. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, it does. And young people are buying what he is selling. Actually he isn't even selling it -- he's giving it away. It was already paid for two thousand years ago. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The blood of the martyrs throughout the ages speaks to this.

Alright, but so far I have not addressed the content of Father Barron's talk. So let's go there. I bristled a little (a lot actually) when he described Archbishop Timothy Dolan as "delivering one-liners like David Letterman". Is that a good thing?

Here's the meat of my argument of why I'm not a fan of Father Barron's. And again, I want to be. He seems likable enough.

If we are going to confront the evils of the culture, we have to be willing to utterly reject what it is trying to sell us. You can't pretend to be "cool" as defined by the popular culture and be a faithful Catholic at the same time. You have to decide to be one or the other.

So for example, when Father Barron references David Letterman, does it suggest that he likes Letterman's late night comedy show? I think it does. Well, that's a problem. It's not that I'm trying to be puritanical about this, but any young person that is regularly watching Letterman just before going to sleep is not going to remain a faithful Catholic for long. Late night talk shows are absolutely notorious for anti-Catholic jokes. But even that isn't the problem.

What do these talk shows consist of? Well, they are nothing but one big long infomercial for the culture of death. Their "guests" are there for one reason only. It is to promote their latest movie or song or TV show. These are the same movies and songs and TV shows that promote the culture of death. I wish this wasn't true, but it clearly is.

The movies are filled with fornication, homosexuality, contraceptive sex, violence, drunkenness, drug use, etc. They are also full of negative images of Christianity.

So to pay a complement to an archbishop by saying he reminds you of an apostle of the anti-Church is sending a very confusing message to young people. "Big deal" you say. Yes, it is a "big deal". In the culture we live in which has become so saturated with anti-Christian messages we are forced to make a choice. It used to be, not that long ago, that you could get away with a sort of lukewarm Catholicism and not get totally lost along the way. But not anymore. We must decide who we are going to serve. Who is your master? You're either a slave of Christ or a slave of sin. That's the choice you have.

All that was just about one line in his talk. OK, so let me get to the end part of his talk where Father Barron speaks about the media. That's what I originally said I was going to be writing about. It may seem as if I have not addressed his criticism of the media, but actually I have.

So here is the problem. When Father Barron complains about the way that the mainstream news media like CNN and the BBC covered World Youth Day, he is absolutely right. But his message doesn't go far enough. (This is the criticism I issued previously about the Word On Fire ministry, which is that it is superficial when it comes to dealing with the secular culture.)

I mean, who doesn't realize that the media is anti-Catholic? They don't even try to hide it anymore. It's so blatant and out in the open. It's hardly subtle. It's as if Father Barron wants to give CNN and the BBC a break, but he's forced to engage in some reluctant criticism.

And that's the point. We have to be constantly vigilant. We have to be en garde and wary of the products of the secular culture. We need to be highly suspicious and approach every news report from a critical viewpoint. If we get lazy, then we will quickly get swept up in the culture again. And we will lose our faith.

I hope that Father Barron will learn to cast a critical eye on other news reports that don't specifically target the Catholic Church. For example, when news reports constantly focus on global warming and environmentalism, are they really promoting a "population control" agenda which seeks to promote contraception and abortion? We can't just ignore these things, because ultimately they are an attack on the Church.

One thing that I liked about the World Youth Day events that the Pope participated in, which I watched on television were that they did not make concessions to the secular culture in terms of music. There were no Christian rock bands. There was an orchestra and a choir. And the music they performed was based on classic themes from the history of the Church. We have a rich culture that stretches back thousands of years. We should be nourishing our young people with that -- instead of offering them the products of the fast-food culture which encourage immoral behavior.

I got the impression that the smaller events which were targeted at English speaking audiences were much more conciliatory to the popular culture. I know that the organizers want to appeal to the tastes of young people, but they should do so with caution.

So, I don't envy Father Barron. He has undertaken a tremendously difficult task, which is to reach out to the young people by engaging the secular culture. It is something that the Church needs to be doing, but we need to be careful not to compromise ourselves along the way. And that criticism is as much addressed to Archbishop Timothy Dolan as it is to Father Barron.

 + + +

UPDATE (Aug 26):

After posting this article I thought it seemed rather uncharitable and mean spirited. I hope that Father Barron will forgive me for getting carried away in my criticism. We all need to work together. As I said before, I'm praying for Father Barron. I didn't intend to say that he is in any way "phony" and I realized later that it came off that way. I know he is sincere and committed in his work as a priest of the Catholic Church. I hope he will accept my apology.

My comments are not just directed at him. I know that Pope Benedict XVI has warned against watering down the faith in order to achieve popularity in the new media. At times we may not want to offend people or challenge them to change their ways by giving up the things they love. But this is exactly what Jesus did. And people today have a lot more material and ideological things that they hold onto and which keep them from accepting Christ, taking up their cross and following Him. So the job of delivering this message doesn't get any easier. I especially pray for all of our bishops, who have the weighty burden of guiding our flocks. May the Holy Spirit guide them and may Mary the Queen of Heaven be a shining light for them to follow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Very disturbing anti-Christian news

"Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy."
 – Revelation 22:11
There are some incredibly disturbing and mind boggling stories out today. I can't quite get my head around them enough to write a full article so I'll limit myself to making a few comments.
NYT's Bill Keller Questions Faith of G.O.P. Candidates, Compares Belief in God to Belief in Aliens
Keller, the outgoing executive editor for the Times, got off on the wrong foot by mockingly comparing the candidates’ Christian beliefs to belief in space aliens. Then he made the latest in his impressive string of column factual errors, identifying the Catholic politician Rick Santorum as an evangelical Christian.

Google Won't Give Churches Same Break It Gives Other Non-Profits
The new initiative united a robust set of Google's tools into one program, but it also came with new guidelines that excluded numerous entities, including schools, political thinktanks, churches, proselytizing groups, and any organization that considers religion or sexual orientation in hiring decisions.
The common theme here is the blatant anti-Christian nature of these two news stories. I can't believe that American society would tolerate this level of anti-Christian bigotry by two major US companies - the New York Times and Google.

I have criticized both of these companies in the past for having an anti-Christian bias, but these latest actions are far beyond anything that I could have imagined.

As I ponder in my mind what could be motivating such attacks on Christianity, the one thing that sticks out for me is the Obama presidency. As Michele Bachmann said, this is "the most radical" President we have ever had. He is the most anti-Christian and it creates an environment in which these type of actions become permissible. These companies know that they are not going to get a call from the White House saying that what they are doing is un-American.

Everything changed when Barack Obama stepped into the White House. Suddenly, "homosexual marriage" is considered acceptable. Even the legalization of pedophilia is being openly discussed:
‘Evil’: Attendees at prominent pro-pedophilia conference horrified by sessions
Also discussed were arguments that an adult’s desire to have sex with children is “normative” and that the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) ignores the fact that pedophiles “have feelings of love and romance for children” in the same way adult heterosexuals and homosexuals have romantic feelings for one another.
President Obama has destroyed the US economy, but what is even worse is the damage he has done to the moral infrastructure of our nation. Without an underlying moral foundation, American society will crumble. And I'm afraid we are already seeing that happen.

Honestly. I feel sick to my stomach right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Signs of the end times

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.
 – Matthew 24:7-8

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.
 – Revelation 11:19-12:2
OK. There is probably no truth to this at all. But it was reported on Fox News that the Washington Monument is tilting as a result of the 5.9 earthquake that hit the Washington area today. Here's video. (The comment occurs around 1:45):



Yes, there are earthquakes. Yes, there are wars -- especially in the Holy Land. Yes, there are famines. There is persecution of Christians. Additionally, there is tumult in the financial and political worlds.

Now, it is very extremely unlikely that these are signs of the end times. But you should always be ready, right? No one knows when this day will come. And even if we are given a sign by God, how would we know whether to trust it or not?

And on a personal level, anyone of us could die at any instant. We might be given a warning in the form of a terminal illness or we might be struck by a sudden accident. Either way, it is better to prepare our souls now. If we are not willing to allow Jesus into our hearts now, why would the threat of our own death change anything?

Sta. Terésa of Ávila in the "Way of Perfection" recommended reciting the Lord's prayer slowly and thoughtfully. Imagine at the moment of death as you are about to face God's judgement, how these words would take on new meaning if you have allowed Jesus into your heart.
Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed by Thy Name
Thy Kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day
Our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from Evil
Amen.
And please remember to pray for your loved ones and all the lost souls as Our Lady of Fatima requested of us. It could be that your prayer may convert them at the last moment. It may provide that small spark of faith that they need to accept God's Divine Mercy, rather than being led into temptation and being delivered to the Evil One for an eternity of damnation.
From the third secret of Fatima

At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: "Penance, Penance, Penance!"
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

WYD 2011: Six days of Truth and Love

"Father, glorify thy name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine."
I was thinking about World Youth Day and especially about the Vigil. That evening, shortly after sunset, a violent storm hit the event. The wind was howling and great sheets of rain fell upon the gathered pilgrims. There was lightning and thunder. And then -- just as suddenly as it arrived -- the rain stopped.



The storm came just as Our Holy Father was beginning to address the young people to answer their questions. Pope Benedict XVI remained seated during the whole endeavor. He could be seen beneath the umbrellas that his assistants held up to shelter him smiling; seeming to enjoy the moment. After the rain stopped and the winds grew calmer, the Pope greeted the crowd in various languages. He decided not to continue with the address he had planned for that evening.

Then El Papa was escorted off the stage. We did not know if he would return. But in a short while he came back onstage to lead the young people in Eucharistic Adoration.

Watching the crowd of a million and a half young pilgrims fall to their knees before the Real Presence of Our Lord was a moving sight. The same young boisterous crowd that just moments before had been dancing and chanting in the rain, now fell into silent adoration led by an eighty four year old white-haired Catholic priest.

Who would have dreamed that it would even be possible to organize such an event? Yes, it was Blessed Pope John Paul II, whose presence was mightily felt throughout the events of World Youth Day in 2011.

Seeing the rain coming down on the open field where the nearly two million young people were camped out for the night, people of my generation could not help but think of the half-million flower children that gathered at Woodstock in 1969, which was billed as "3 days of Peace and Music". There too the rain came and drenched the crowd.

But then I remembered a different gathering in Europe on the Iberian Peninsula that took place in 1917 which was overtaken by a sudden and unexpected rain storm. This was on October 13 when a crowd of 70,000 gathered to watch three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady kept her promise and they were greeted with the Miracle of the Sun.

Afterwards, the crowd at Fatima said that their clothes were miraculously dried. It seemed to me that something similar happened outside Madrid, Spain at Cuatro Vientos airfield. The Lord seemed to use the rain to baptize the young pilgrims and to cleanse them of all impurities before the moment of adoration.

It could have been a total disaster like we saw occur recently at a concert where several people died from their injuries when sudden winds toppled a stage in Indiana. But instead somehow the event at Cuatro Vientos was able to continue. How is it possible that the huge elaborate sound system and the giant video screens continued functioning after such a furious deluge?

The next morning the weather was perfect and Our Holy Father returned to celebrate Mass with the pilgrims who had gathered from all parts of the world. And across the planet they were joined by the faithful who watched via cable television and the internet.

In her song "Woodstock", Joni Mitchell says:
We are stardust
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've go to get ourselves
back to the garden.
World Youth Day is in one sense a Catholic response to Woodstock. It is the answer to the young people of the world who want to know: How do I get out of this "devil's bargain" and find my way "back to the garden"? The answer is the timeless message of the Gospel as pronounced by Pope Benedict XVI.
Jesus gives us an answer to this urgent question: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).

Yes, dear friends, God loves us. This is the great truth of our life; it is what makes everything else meaningful. We are not the product of blind chance or absurdity; instead our life originates as part of a loving plan of God. To abide in his love, then, means living a life rooted in faith, since faith is more than the mere acceptance of certain abstract truths: it is an intimate relationship with Christ, who enables us to open our hearts to this mystery of love and to live as men and women conscious of being loved by God.

If you abide in the love of Christ, rooted in the faith, you will encounter, even amid setbacks and suffering, the source of true happiness and joy. Faith does not run counter to your highest ideals; on the contrary, it elevates and perfects those ideals. Dear young people, do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Philippines: Preserving a Culture of Life

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
 – John 10:10

Don't miss this documentary! See it on EWTN:
August 23 at 3:30 AM
August 25 at 1:30 PM
August 26 at 9:00 PM
(All times EST. The documentary is 28 minutes long.)
Learn more at www.hli.org/thephilippines.


“The Philippines: Preserving a Culture of Life” Documentary Debuts on EWTN This Week
(HLI - Human Life International)

As debate over the anti-life Reproductive Health (RH) Bill heats up in the Philippine legislature, a new documentary highlighting the fight for life in the Philippines is set to air on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

The short documentary film “The Philippines: Preserving a Culture of Life,” produced by Human Life International (HLI), underscores one of the most dramatic social and political struggles for life and family in the world. The film is already in heavy rotation on EWTN in the Philippines, and will debut in the United States and Canada on Tuesday, August 23.

This powerful pro-life documentary airs on EWTN in America and Canada on August 23 at 3:30 AM, then runs again on August 25 at 1:30 PM and August 26 at 9:00 PM. All times EST.

The program, shot in cinematic widescreen format, captures stunning scenes and heartfelt interviews with Filipino pro-lifers leading the charge against the RH Bill including Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma, Philippine Congressman Dr. Anthony Golez, HLI Philippines Director Dr. Rene Bullecer and Dr. Ligaya Acosta, a former pro-abortion Philippine Department of Health manager who is now HLI’s Regional Director for Asia and Oceania.

“Right now, proponents of the anti-life RH Bill are still a few votes short of achieving their deadly goal,” said Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carambula, interim president of HLI. “Our wish is that this documentary will inspire not only Filipinos, but pro-lifers around the world, to stand with our brothers and sisters in the Philippines against the culture of death.”

“It is profoundly inspiring to hear everyday Filipinos, as well as leaders from the political realm and the Catholic Church talk about how they have fought off this intrusive, anti-life and anti-family bill in its different forms for twelve years,” said Stephen Phelan, executive producer of the documentary and director of communications for HLI.

“It is in some ways reminiscent of the struggle over health care in [the United States] – a detached political elite continues to force through a bill that the people have said time and again that they don’t want,” said Phelan. “The bill’s backers use deceptive language, they are funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from outside the Philippines, and they are attempting to attack and divide the Catholic Church.”

“Everyone must understand what is going on in the Philippines, and how we are all bound in the struggle for life and family,” Phelan added.

HLI is currently working with Filipino pro-life organizations such as CBCP for Life and Filipinos for Life to spread the word about opposition to the RH Bill, and to promote the new documentary.

HLI is also hosting a contest on Facebook where pro-lifers are invited to leave a brief prayer for the Philippines or a note of encouragement for a chance to win a free DVD copy of the documentary.

To learn more about the film and the situation in the Philippines, visit www.hli.org/thephilippines.

The Queenship of Mary

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
 – Revelation 12:1


Today, August 22, used to be celebrated as the feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This celebration was instituted when Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 31, 1942. This was done in response to the petition of Our Lady of Fatima. In 1969, the feast day was moved to the Saturday after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. August 22 is now the day that the Catholic Church celebrates the Queenship of Mary.

The day of celebration of the Queenship of Mary was originally the 31st of May. This Marian feast was instituted on October 11, 1954 by Pope Pius XII in the encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam. His intent was that this would be a day when the Church would re-consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that "a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion." He was clearly concerned with the spread of "many great moral evils" and sought the intercession of Mother Mary to combat these threats.

One may presume that Pius XII had in mind the Cold War and the threat of the spread of communism. And while communism has mostly been defeated since that time, the spread of atheism continues under the guise of secularism. This is the new "moral evil" that young people of today face and which Pope Benedict XVI has dedicated his Pontificate to battle.

Here are some excerpts from Pope Pius XII's encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (on proclaiming the Queenship Of Mary):
From the earliest ages of the catholic church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven.
[...]
Following upon the frightful calamities which before Our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.
[...]
[St. Jerome] makes the following statement amidst various interpretations of Mary's name: "We should realize that Mary means Lady in the Syrian Language." After him St. Chrysologus says the same thing more explicitly in these words: "The Hebrew word 'Mary' means 'Domina.' The Angel therefore addresses her as 'Lady' to preclude all servile fear in the Lord's Mother, who was born and was called 'Lady' by the authority and command of her own Son."
[...]
St. Alphonsus Ligouri, in collecting the testimony of past ages, writes these words with evident devotion: "Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'."
[...]
Art which is based upon Christian principles and is animated by their spirit as something faithfully interpreting the sincere and freely expressed devotion of the faithful, has since the Council of Ephesus portrayed Mary as Queen and Empress seated upon a royal throne adorned with royal insignia, crowned with the royal diadem and surrounded by the host of angels and saints in heaven, and ruling not only over nature and its powers but also over the machinations of Satan.
[...]
In order to understand better this sublime dignity of the Mother of God over all creatures let us recall that the holy Mother of God was, at the very moment of her Immaculate Conception, so filled with grace as to surpass the grace of all the Saints. Wherefore, as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius IX wrote, God "showered her with heavenly gifts and graces from the treasury of His divinity so far beyond what He gave to all the angels and saints that she was ever free from the least stain of sin; she is so beautiful and perfect, and possesses such fullness of innocence and holiness, that under God a greater could not be dreamed, and only God can comprehend the marvel."
[...]
Let all Christians, therefore, glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother's love.
[...]
Since we are convinced, after long and serious reflection, that great good will accrue to the Church if this solidly established truth shines forth more clearly to all, like a luminous lamp raised aloft, by Our Apostolic authority We decree and establish the feast of Mary's Queenship, which is to be celebrated every year in the whole world on the 31st of May. We likewise ordain that on the same day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed, cherishing the hope that through such consecration a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion.
[...]
[Let all] strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. Let her churches be thronged by the faithful, her feast-days honored; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather, in small numbers and large, to sing her praises in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons. May Mary's name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels; may none utter blasphemous words, the sign of a defiled soul, against that name graced with such dignity and revered for its motherly goodness; let no one be so bold as to speak a syllable which lacks the respect due to her name.
[...]
Thus will it come about that all Christians, in honoring and imitating their sublime Queen and Mother, will realize they are truly brothers, and with all envy and avarice thrust aside, will promote love among classes, respect the rights of the weak, cherish peace. No one should think himself a son of Mary, worthy of being received under her powerful protection, unless, like her, he is just, gentle and pure, and shows a sincere desire for true brotherhood, not harming or injuring but rather helping and comforting others.

In some countries of the world there are people who are unjustly persecuted for professing their Christian faith and who are deprived of their divine and human rights to freedom; up till now reasonable demands and repeated protests have availed nothing to remove these evils. May the powerful Queen of creation, whose radiant glance banishes storms and tempests and brings back cloudless skies, look upon these her innocent and tormented children with eyes of mercy; may the Virgin, who is able to subdue violence beneath her foot, grant to them that they may soon enjoy the rightful freedom to practice their religion openly, so that, while serving the cause of the Gospel, they may also contribute to the strength and progress of nations by their harmonious cooperation, by the practice of extraordinary virtues which are a glowing example in the midst of bitter trials.
It's a sign of the times that Marian feast days are mostly ignored here in the United States. When true Marian devotion takes hold in our country, then we will know that we have turned the ocean liner sized institution of the Church around and are headed back in the direction that God showed us when He sacrificed His only begotten Son for our sins.

The celebration of World Youth Day in Madrid is over. Now begins the challenge of nurturing the seeds that were planted there, so that many years from now we can see the abundant harvest.

 + + +
Litany of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

 Lord, have mercy on us.
 Christ, have mercy on us.
 Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
 Christ, graciously hear us.
 God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
 God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
 God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
 Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Response: pray for us.

 Heart of Mary,
 Heart of Mary, like unto the Heart of God,
 Heart of Mary, united to the Heart of Jesus,
 Heart of Mary, instrument of the Holy Spirit,
 Heart of Mary, sanctuary of the Divine Trinity,
 Heart of Mary, tabernacle of God Incarnate,
 Heart of Mary, immaculate from thy creation,
 Heart of Mary, full of grace,
 Heart of Mary, blessed among all hearts,
 Heart of Mary, throne of glory,
 Heart of Mary, most humble,
 Heart of Mary, holocaust of Divine Love,
 Heart of Mary, fastened to the Cross with Jesus Crucified,
 Heart of Mary, comfort of the afflicted,
 Heart of Mary, refuge of sinners,
 Heart of Mary, hope of the agonizing,
 Heart of Mary, seat of mercy.

 Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
 spare us, O Lord.
 Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
 graciously hear us, O Lord.
 Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
 have mercy on us.

 Christ, hear us.
 Christ, graciously hear us.

 V. Immaculate Mary, meek and humble of heart.
 R. Make our hearts like unto the Heart of Jesus.

Let Us Pray:

O most merciful God, Who for the salvation of sinners and the refuge of the miserable, was pleased that the Most Pure Heart of Mary should be most like in charity and pity to the Divine Heart of Your Son, Jesus Christ, grant that we who commemorate this sweet and loving Heart may, by the merits and intercession of the same Blessed Virgin, merit to be found like to the Heart of Jesus, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

 + + +

Related articles:
(I had no idea that I had written so many articles with a Marian theme.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

WYD Madrid 2011 closing Mass

Over a million young people filled Cuatro Vientos to capacity and additional space had to be created for an overflow crowd of two hundred thousand pilgrims.



Pope Benedict XVI announced that the next World Youth Day will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013.

 +++

UPDATE [Aug 21]:

For complete texts of all of Our Holy Father's talks during WYD 2011, you can go to this link on the Vatican website:
Apostolic Journey to Madrid (Spain) on the occasion of the 26th World Youth Day

I just wish I would have known about this particular website sooner. It can sometimes be baffling trying to find the full text of the Pope's speeches online. Most news articles only provide summaries.

To the Youth of the World, with Love

Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.
  – Colossians 2:7

One year ago, in anticipation of World Youth Day, Our Holy Father sent this invitation to the young people of the world. I hope each participant in WYD 2011 in Madrid takes the time to read this very personal letter from Pope Benedict XVI. He is not a young man, but he has not forgotten what it means to be young and to strive to fulfill destiny's call.

This is a letter that deserves to be read and re-read in its fullness. I only present a few excerpts here. But I hope that this will inspire you to share a moment of reflection with Our Holy Father.
Now, at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots, our meeting will take place in Madrid with the theme:  “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). I encourage you to take part in this event, which is so important for the Church in Europe and for the universal Church. I would like all young people – those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, but also those who are wavering or uncertain, or who do not believe in him – to share this experience, which can prove decisive for their lives. It is an experience of the Lord Jesus, risen and alive, and of his love for each of us.
[...]
Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you”. The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his “imprint”. God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life. Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life.
[...]
In order to highlight the importance of faith in the lives of believers, I would like to reflect with you on each of the three terms used by Saint Paul in the expression: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”  (cf. Col 2:7). We can distinguish three images: “planted” calls to mind a tree and the roots that feed it; “built up” refers to the construction of a house; “firm” indicates growth in physical or moral strength.
[...]
The first image is that of a tree which is firmly planted thanks to its roots, which keep it upright and give it nourishment. Without those roots, it would be blown away by the wind and would die. What are our roots? Naturally our parents, our families and the culture of our country are very important elements of our personal identity. But the Bible reveals a further element. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jer 17:7-8). For the prophet, to send out roots means to put one’s trust in God. From him we draw our life. Without him, we cannot truly live.
[...]
There is a moment, when we are young, when each of us wonders: what meaning does my life have? What purpose and direction should I give to it? This is a very important moment, and it can worry us, perhaps for some time. We start wondering about the kind of work we should take up, the kind of relationships we should establish, the friendships we should cultivate... Here, once more, I think of my own youth. I was somehow aware quite early on that the Lord wanted me to be a priest. Then later, after the war, when I was in the seminary and at university on the way towards that goal, I had to recapture that certainty. I had to ask myself: is this really the path I was meant to take? Is this really God’s will for me? Will I be able to remain faithful to him and completely at his service? A decision like this demands a certain struggle. It cannot be otherwise. But then came the certainty: this is the right thing! Yes, the Lord wants me, and he will give me strength. If I listen to him and walk with him, I become truly myself.
[...]
Just as the roots of a tree keep it firmly planted in the soil, so the foundations of a house give it long-lasting stability.
[...]
Dear friends, build your own house on rock, just like the person who “dug deeply”. Try each day to follow Christ’s word. Listen to him as a true friend with whom you can share your path in life. With him at your side, you will find courage and hope to face difficulties and problems, and even to overcome disappointments and set-backs. You are constantly being offered easier choices, but you yourselves know that these are ultimately deceptive and cannot bring you serenity and joy. Only the word of God can show us the authentic way, and only the faith we have received is the light which shines on our path. Gratefully accept this spiritual gift which you have received from your families; strive to respond responsibly to God’s call, and to grow in your faith. Do not believe those who tell you that you don’t need others to build up your life! Find support in the faith of those who are dear to you, in the faith of the Church, and thank the Lord that you have received it and have made it your own!
[...]
You are “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). The Letter from which these words are taken was written by Saint Paul in order to respond to a specific need of the Christians in the city of Colossae. That community was threatened by the influence of certain cultural trends that were turning the faithful away from the Gospel. Our own cultural context, dear young people, is not unlike that of the ancient Colossians. Indeed, there is a strong current of secularist thought that aims to make God marginal in the lives of people and society by proposing and attempting to create a “paradise” without him. Yet experience tells us that a world without God becomes a “hell”: filled with selfishness, broken families, hatred between individuals and nations, and a great deficit of love, joy and hope. On the other hand, wherever individuals and nations accept God’s presence, worship him in truth and listen to his voice, then the civilization of love is being built, a civilization in which the dignity of all is respected, and communion increases, with all its benefits. Yet some Christians allow themselves to be seduced by secularism or attracted by religious currents that draw them away from faith in Jesus Christ. There are others who, while not yielding to these enticements, have simply allowed their faith to grow cold, with inevitable negative effects on their moral lives.
[...]
Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God’s “yes” to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus’ heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God’s love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.
[...]
Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gloria al Padre - World Youth Day

Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.
 – Colossians 2:7
Slideshow from World Youth Day in Madrid 2011. Original music by Michael of PublicVigil.



Gloria al Padre
© PublicVigil 2011

Gloria al Padre
Gloria al Hijo
Gloria al Espíritu Santo
Como era en el principio
Ahora y siempre
Por los siglos de los siglos
Amén

USA Today's Cathy Grossman blasts World Youth Day

Protestors at World Youth Day

Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today who masquerades as a "religion" reporter once again demonstrates how much she loathes the Catholic Church. I would expect a "religion" reporter to show some interest in World Youth Day with regards to the fact that over a million young people have come from every nation to demonstrate the importance of the Catholic faith in their lives.

Instead Grossman has published two articles [here and here] which are blatantly anti-Catholic.


There is nothing religious about her "Faith & Reason" column. It is all "reason" and no "faith". She is a secular humanist whose sole purpose in life seems to be to destroy Christian religion in the United States.

Check out NewsBusters articles on Cathy Lynn Grossman's dubious reporting on matters of religion:
http://newsbusters.org/people/cathy-lynn-grossman

Which just goes to prove that secularism is really a religion for all practical purposes. And when the government pushes secularism on the rest of us through the schools and courts, it is a violation of the Constitutional separation between Church and State. Just because secularists don't have churches doesn't make them any less of a religious group. They have their set of beliefs which they are entitled to hold in accordance with the First Amendment, but they shouldn't be allowed to force their secular belief system on the rest of us.

And this in a nutshell is exactly what is happening. Christians need to recognize this and force the courts to stop the pretense that Christians can't impose our beliefs because they are based on religion, but its OK for secularists to impose their beliefs because somehow they are "non-religious". Sorry, but beliefs are beliefs. If you say you don't believe in God, that is a belief. If you say you believe that homosexuals should be allowed to marry, that is a belief.

It's absurd to say that as long as a belief is the antithesis of the Christian beliefs of a majority of Americans then it should have some special protected status. And holding up junk science -- like some opinions of psychiatrists -- does not make secularism any less a matter of a belief system. This is just Marxism and socialism which has been repackaged and is being forced upon Christian Americans -- like it or not.

I pray for the day when Christians wake up and begin to confront this assault on our religion. I just hope it comes sooner rather than later.

World Youth Day Screenshots

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pray for Our Holy Father


"What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet."

 – Hebrews 2:6-8

As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to travel to Spain for World Youth Day, he asks us for our prayers.



Today, he offered a beautiful reflection on "mental prayer". This is part of a series of general audiences that he has devoted to the topic of Christian prayer.

I think that St. Teresa of Ávila must have been on his mind, since she wrote considerably on the topic of mental prayer. The great saint seems to be hovering over the gathering of Catholic youth in Spain.

Our Holy Father begins with a reflection on the Virgin Mary as a model of mental prayer.
The mystery of the incarnation of God's Son, and of the maternity of Mary, is so great that it requires a process of interiorization. It is not only something physical that God accomplishes in her; rather, it is something that demands an interiorization from Mary, who seeks to understand it more deeply, seeks to interpret its meaning, to understand its implications. Thus, day after day, in the silence of ordinary life, Mary continued to keep in her heart the subsequent wondrous events she witnessed, even to the extreme trial of the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection. Mary fully lived her existence, her daily duties, her mission as mother, but she knew how to preserve within herself an interior space for reflection on the word and the will of God, on all that was happening in her, on the mysteries of the life of her Son.
What lovely words. What a warm and compassionate Pope we are blessed with. Later he adds these thoughts.
Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our days -- with all its activities -- moments to recollect ourselves in silence and to ponder all that the Lord wants to teach us, how He is present and acts in the world and in our life: to be able to stop for a moment and meditate.
Lately I have found myself meditating very much like Pope Benedict describes. I didn't know whether to call it prayer or not. But as I lie in bed at night, I try to reach out to God in love. I realize now that all my life I never knew what love is. I only knew of love between a man and a woman and I had experienced it in the fullness of its ecstasy, but I had always confused the human nature of love with the essential divine nature of love.

I am beginning to understand that true love is not merely pleasure, but also sacrifice. Love is a mystery as Benedict says of Mary's divine love for God. It is the supreme gift from God, who is pure love.

This morning during my time of meditation I found myself thinking of angels. I imagine them in eternal devotion to God. Singing his praises.

When Mary was assumed into Heaven, the world changed. The Queen of Heaven had taken her seat upon her throne. The Heavens would never be the same. The angels must have been overjoyed at her arrival.

Sometimes it seems that I can hear the songs of the angels that surround us. It is quite a beautiful chant. And then I look out the window and its raining, and I think isn't God wonderful. Imagine a God that makes water fall from the sky.

Our Holy Father continues.
To meditate therefore means to create within ourselves an atmosphere of recollection, of interior silence, so as to reflect upon and assimilate the mysteries of our faith, and all that God is doing in us -- and not only the things that come and go. We can "ruminate" in many ways; for instance, by taking a short passage of sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostle's Letters, or a page from a spiritual author we are drawn to and which makes the reality of God in our today more present, perhaps taking advice from a confessor or spiritual director; by reading and reflecting on what we've just read, pausing to consider it, seeking to understand it, to understand what it says to me, what it says today -- to open our soul to all that the Lord wants to say to us and teach us.
And then he turns his attention to the Rosary. Sometimes when I am praying the Rosary I feel myself get caught up in meditation. How wonderful to hear that our beloved Pope shares these experiences.
The Holy Rosary is also a prayer of meditation: In repeating the Hail Mary we are invited to think back and to reflect upon the mystery we have announced. But we can also dwell upon some intense spiritual experience, on the words that have remained with us from our participation in the Sunday Eucharist. You see, therefore, there are many ways of meditating and of thereby making contact with God -- of drawing near to God, and in this way, of being on the road to heaven.
As always, Our Holy Father expresses his desire that we find happiness and fulfillment in our lives.
In the end, this is the goal of our meditation: to entrust ourselves ever more to the hands of God, with trust and love, certain that, in the end, it is only in doing His will that we are truly happy.
Some final thoughts. As I was lost in mental prayer this morning and pondering the nature of angels, I wondered why there wasn't a new apparition of Mary. I seemed to receive a reply that this is the time of the angels. And I wondered if when a child is aborted, how that would effect the child's guardian angel. And it seemed as if the answer I received was that this was part of the spiritual battle over the world. We should not try to control the population. God has shared with man the gift of creating life through the marital act. It should be used the way that God designed it. It seems to me that we are each surrounded by angels and that we should try to listen to what they are telling us. The angels are God's messengers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New York Times protests World Youth Day

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him.
 – Matthew 5:1
The New York Times' only story on World Youth Day is titled "Catholic Clergy Protest Pope’s Visit, and Its Price Tag". The fact that one million young people are coming to Spain to celebrate the Catholic faith and to welcome Pope Benedict XVI seems to be of little importance to them.

Somehow the NYT was able to track down a group of Catholics that had something negative to say about this wonderful event. You'd probably assume that this group wants to question the Church's teachings on women's ordination or "homosexual marriage". Hardly.

Fr. Eubilio Rodríguez
His name is Father Eubilio Rodríguez. The name of the group he belongs to is "Curas de Madrid" or Priests of Madrid. His main concern seems to be that the Church does not address more directly the needs of the poor people in Spain and around the world.

His other area of concern seems to be that the Church hierarchy is too distant from the people that it serves. Who would argue with that? I'm sure there are some very good bishops that complain about the very same thing.

I did not find any information on the group's website about the size of the group. The NYT says that 120 clergymen have signed their petition. I don't know where they got that number from. I couldn't find any indication of who the signers might be. I wonder how many priests there are in Madrid altogether? Did the NYT just decide that since the name of the group is Priests of Madrid that all the priests in Madrid automatically are in agreement with Father Eubilio? Maybe. Who knows.

The New York Times article emphasized that Father Eubilio is not happy with the cost of the Papal visit and that he would like to see some of that money spent on the poor. This is not exactly a new issue. See the Gospel account in Matthew for example.
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor."

But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."

 – Matthew 26:6-11
Can you imagine the New York Times headline? "Disciples Protest Jesus' Visit and Its Price Tag". Some things never change.

Who needs God?

Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." Come to your right mind, and sin no more. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
 – 1 Corinthians 15:33-34

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Catholicism project on PBS

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it."
 – Matthew 16:15-18
St. Peter's Basilica

[Please see updates at the bottom for additional comments. There is information on the TV broadcast schedule in UPDATE 2 below.]

Father Barron of Word on Fire is producing a series of programs on Catholicism for PBS. Please join me in prayers for this project. I ask you to first watch the video below before continuing on to my comments.



[The following are my thoughts and impressions. I'm sorry that I have failed in my attempt to organize them well.]

I'm familiar with Father Barron's work. It is hard to be critical of him because he seems so likable. And maybe that's the problem. Christians have to be willing to be disliked and marginalized in order to remain true to our faith. Whenever we become to comfortable with the culture we live in, that is a sign that we may be losing our way. Ours is the narrow path.

I am full of apprehension about this project. My number one concern is that any Catholic work that is done in cooperation with PBS has a difficult mission. PBS is the very height of secular culture in America. All of its programming begins with the assumption that God does not exist as described by Christianity. To be a regular viewer of PBS programming is to be immersed in a slow and gradual indoctrination into the secular worldview. So I see an inherent contradiction in the very premise of this series, that the Catholic Church can be presented on PBS in a way which will strengthen someone's faith in Jesus Christ and His Church.

I even find myself wondering about the name "Catholicism Project". What is "Catholicism"? Christianity is not an "ism" like other belief systems or religions. Christianity is the truth or it is nothing. It is the fullness of all "isms".

I predict that what this project will end up presenting is the Catholic culture -- a sort of anthropologic study of Catholicism. But that it won't present a spiritual message. It will give a tourist perspective of Catholicism like a museum exhibit; the same way that a PBS program might explore the ancient Egyptian religion. The Catholic Church will be viewed as a living relic.

Now this might be enough to stir some people's imagination and make them want to explore the Church further. And when they begin to discover the true faith of the Church then they might be inspired by the Holy Spirit to commit themselves to Jesus Christ. Let's pray that this happens to many lost souls.

Certainly we have everything to offer that people are searching for. And in fact there is no other alternative as I stated earlier. We can spend our whole lives wandering and searching and never find the answers which are right in front of our own eyes in the Church.

But somehow I'm sure that PBS will manage to wrap enough doubt and ambiguity around this program that it will actually serve in many cases to harden the hearts of viewers. At least I am sure that they will do everything in their power to produce this end result.

They would like Americans to follow the example of the people living in Europe in the shadow of the great Cathedrals who are not moved to come home to the open arms of the Church. Surely the Church itself is mostly to blame for this, having failed in the mission delivered to it by Christ. Still, we should be able to look beyond the failings of the Church and see the beauty which lies in its core and which it still protects and preserves. At its core is a tree with abundant fruit and beautiful flowers. This is Christ, the Tree of Knowledge.

 +++

UPDATE 1 [Aug 15]:

Thanks go to Grace who left a comment and pointed me to this longer video highlight of the Catholicism Project. As before I ask you to watch the video before reading my further comments.



This longer highlight video is certainly reassuring in terms of the Catholic content of the program. It communicates a real sense of the Church as a living institution that is the Body of Christ. I complement Father Barron on this achievement. I continue to pray that this same spirit of truth -- which is so boldly displayed here -- will be present throughout the series.

I also want to complement Father Barron on the quality of the program. From what we can see here and in the previous video, the production quality is excellent. The visuals and the audio are quite stunning. I'm sure that these highlights are taken from some of the best footage, but regardless it shows a dedication to quality which I admire, and is in keeping with the great works of art that have been dedicated to Christ and His Church through the ages.

Just to clarify for Grace, at times I have felt that Father Barron's videos are superficial. And I sometimes feel that he is more inclined to accommodate the secular culture rather than to confront it. Now depending on where one is in their spiritual journey, that may be an appropriate message. For me it doesn't resonate.

Certainly we need to reach out to people where they are at. But then we need to guide them to a deeper faith. That's a tough task to do in a "broadcast medium" like Father Barron's ministry. I suppose that one would hope and pray that those people who are attracted to his message would reach out to others and be led further along in their Christian journey. This is an area that I think most Catholics would admit the Church is not very good at.

Oddly enough I have found that EWTN has been successful in this area. I say it's odd because they are another "broadcast media". Maybe it is because EWTN's mission is centered around the Eucharist.

My own personal experience has been that the very orthodox and unapologetic way that EWTN transmits the message of the Church has helped me to "unattach" myself from the secular culture that surrounds me.

They provide an oasis in the desert, if you will. It is a place of shelter where I can be free to be the person that God wants me to be; free from ridicule and doubt. In order to construct such a shelter, we need to use solid rock as a building material. If we try to build from lighter materials, then the structure is simply swept away by the constant and ever prevalent winds of secularism. It doesn't matter how beautiful the structure may appear, if it is not built on a foundation of rock (Peter) then it will not last.

 + + +

UPDATE 2 [Sep 25]:

The television schedule for Catholicism on PBS stations is now available at:
http://www.catholicismseries.com/watch/tv-schedule

I noticed a few funny things about the schedule. If you look at the Boston, Massachusetts entry, you'll only see one airtime:
10/03/11 Massachusetts-Boston 9:00 PM EST NHPTV
That doesn't jibe with a comment that producer Nancy Ross left below that PBS stations would air four episodes. Does this mean that some will air less than four episodes?

Also, the PBS station in Boston is WGBH as most people are fully aware of. Yet NHPTV is listed for the Boston showing of Catholicism. NHPTV is the New Hampshire public television station which is not available in the Boston area. Apparently, WGBH is not carrying any of the series. This might actually be good news from my point of view, because it might indicate that there are some elements of the series which the left leaning WGBH finds unacceptable. Or it could simply be that WGBH doesn't have time in its busy schedule to fit in this programming. Or it could be that some influential donors to WGBH strongly objected to showing Catholicism. Who knows. I'll bet WGBH never passed up on an opportunity to air a show on the priest sex abuse scandal. Just saying.

And in case you're wondering the schedule for New Hampshire is also the same single entry:
10/03/11 New Hampshire- Statewide 9:00 PM EST NHPTV
I followed the link provided to the NHPTV website where I did a search of the site for the Catholicism series. They have no mention of it at this time. I'm beginning to wonder if this information is incorrect.

There is also a single entry for Maryland and Washington, DC:
9/29/11 Washington, DC & Maryland 9:00 PM EST Maryland PTV
In this case lumping DC in together with Maryland is fine because most people in Washington will probably have access to MPT. If you go to the MPT website you'll easily find this link with information about the showtimes for the Catholicism series:
http://www.mpt.org/schedule/detail/19393

And you'll quickly learn that the series is airing on 4 days -- Sep 22, 23, 29 and 30. So they've already shown the first two episodes.

My advice to you would be to use the information provided on the Catholicism series website with caution and to also "check your local listings" for more detailed information. My advice to the folks at the Catholicism series website is to spend a little time to get the correct information up online. It can't be that hard. I'm sure they have the information at hand. They're not just going to let any station broadcast their programs at any time without getting previous approval. They are the originators and distributors of this series after all.

And in case you're wondering, here is the schedule for EWTN according to the Catholicism series website:

 11/19/11 U.S./Canada/Europe 1:00 PM EST EWTN
 11/16/11 U.S./Canada/Europe 8:00 PM EST EWTN
 11/17/11 U.S./Canada/Europe 11:00 PM EST EWTN
 11/18/11 U.S./Canada/Europe 10:00 PM EST EWTN

Yes, they posted them out of order. This can't possibly be complete because EWTN is supposed to air six episodes. Again, this is according to the comment left below by Nancy Ross. I checked the EWTN website, but they haven't posted their schedule for the Catholicism series yet.

Given that the first four episodes will not be available via PBS in many parts of the country, it sure would be nice if EWTN could host the complete series. You always have the option to buy the whole series on DVD (not available on Blu-ray) but it will cost you $149.95. Not exactly small change.

I asked producer Nancy Ross to provide me with a complementary copy of the series so that I could do a proper review, but I never heard back from her. So I and many others like me that are in areas of the country where the series will not be shown on PBS will simply have to come to our conclusions based on the information that is publicly available on the internet.