Monday, November 26, 2012

Song of songs

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride!
how much better is your love than wine.

 -- Song of Songs 4:9-10
For the great lovers of God -- the saints -- these words speak of the love of Christ for His Church.

The saints -- with their eyes always looking towards Heaven -- have a very different view of the world than ours. We, in contrast, seem to always be looking down. We fail to see God in His marvelous  creation -- we see only lifeless matter. Our eyes look back at ourselves in a selfish and egotistical gaze.

Our pride at our great accomplishments makes us blind to the true author of all truth and knowledge.

Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the attitude of our culture towards human love. When God which is love and the source of all love is cast aside, what is left of human love but a selfish physical act of pleasure which evokes a hormonal reaction? Love has no meaning when it is separated from God.

This has been the mission of the champions of secular humanist philosophy -- to separate God from love and in this way to deny the existence of God. It would seem like a hard idea to sell, but the secularists came prepared with a killer marketing scheme.

They offered in exchange for the love of God the oldest temptation in the world -- sex. Sex that is free from guilt and free from consequences. Somehow it never really works out that way in reality, but that doesn't stop the secular marketing machine from making that same sales pitch over and over again in different ways -- there's contraception, there's abortion, there's safe sex, there's gay sex, there's pornography, there's sex before marriage, there's extra-marital sex, there's divorce, there's re-marriage, there's another divorce, there's single mothers, there's sex in the movies, sex on the TV, sex on the radio, sex on the internet. And where is God?

Psychology teaches us to see sex in everything, while the saints teach us to see God in everything.

If you believe the secular humanists then with all this access to unrestrained sex people should be happier than ever -- but instead we see more unhappiness, despair and violence than ever. Is it that we need more sex? Do we need to "lower our inhibitions" even further?

The secular humanists want to make contraception free -- a right -- and soon after they will want to make abortion free as well. "Free" in this case means you pay for it with your taxes of course.

Will the pendulum reach its maximum and begin to swing back or are we watching a runaway train that won't stop until it accelerates to such speeds that it jumps the track?

With God out of the picture the stage is set for some sort of socialist dictatorship. With the kind of reproductive technology that is now available, this would lead to a type of eugenics that the Nazis could only dream of.

Our only hope is God. Our only weapon is prayer.

The good news is that Christ has conquered death and that we have a Pope -- Benedict XVI -- that is well aware of the challenges that the Church faces.

Pray for us O Holy Mary, mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Who is this that looks forth like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
terrible as an army with banners?

-- Song of Songs 6:10

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thy Kingdom come

He answered them, "When it is evening, you say, `It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.' And in the morning, `It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times."
 -- Matthew 16:2-3
Michael Voris has another thought provoking Daily Vortex show today. Please watch it before reading my comments.

Underlying what Michael V. is talking about is the idea of democracy beginning with the French Revolution and including our own American Revolution.

The principal "culture war" of that time was between monarchy and democracy. Or was it?

More and more I have come to the conclusion that this was the beginning of the present culture war between the secular state and the Church.

The european monarchies and the Church were intertwined. And so the attack on the monarchies was also an attack on the Church. The "religious freedom" of the American Constitution is a statement that no one religion should have a preeminent place in society which is protected and enforced by the state. But this is what the monarchies did for the Catholic Church.

The first strike against the ties between the Catholic Church and the state was the Protestant Revolution (a better word than "reformation" in my opinion). This led to rival monarchies in Europe, some of which supported the Protestants and some of which continued to support the Catholic Church. This was a major blow to the Catholic faith.

But the heaviest blow has been dealt by democracy and the accompanying false notion of religious freedom.

The model for monarchies is expressed in the Our Father, "Thy kingdom come ... on earth as it is in heaven." Christ is a king not an elected president. But no earthly king can pretend to stand in for Christ except in the case of the Pope which is not a "king" in the sense of a secular leader of a state, but a "pontiff" -- a bridge between the Church militant and the heavenly King.

As we have learned tyranny can take on many forms including the form of democracy. It is only when a nation follows the teachings of Christ that true freedom is found. It does not matter whether the government power is held by elected officials or appointed ones. What matters is whether they govern according to the will of God or according to the will of man.

We are headed towards a new form of dictatorship of secularism. This is a repeat of the original "Kulturkampf" or culture war led by Bismarck against the Catholic Church at the end of the 19th century. This was defeated by the Catholic Church under the direction of Pope Leo XIII.

Hitler later modeled his own culture war after that of Bismarck's -- embracing the same materialist and atheistic philosophies as Bismarck had. We see this happening again in the United States today. The same philosophies are at work which deny God and deny that man is made in the image of God. And so the inherent dignity of all human life is denied.

Abortion is the spiritual sign of our times. A nation that accepts abortion has lost all concept of God the creator and His only son Jesus Christ.

May God have mercy on us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pray for our country

"Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"
 -- Job 2:20
The civil rights movement which begun with Reverend Martin Luther King championing the rights of African Americans has been a failure. It failed because it did not convert others to Christ. We see in a tragic and monumental way the fallacy of protest and why the saints have not followed that path.

The early fruits of the civil rights movement seemed to be good. It made great progress in racial equality, but what has become of that? Too many African Americans are still trapped in poverty and the the faith in God which once sustained their communities has been severely eroded. Their fate has also been the fate of our nation as a whole.

As a result of this loss of faith families have been torn apart, drug addiction has become an epidemic, and the sins of the flesh have ensnared us.

The mature fruits of the protest movements of the 1960s which were spawned by the civil rights movement are abortion, fatherless children, divorce. The Church itself is forced to defend its teachings on marriage and the priesthood.

How has it come to pass that the first black President of the United States is also the most pro-abortion one? Especially when abortion is targeted at black and hispanic communities?

Eugenics has made a comeback disguised as women's rights and environmentalism. But the disguise is wearing thin.

We pray that the African American community will lead us in a new direction by restoring that faith in God. But this is not an easy path and requires great sacrifice, and the evil one will put up many obstacles which will be difficult to overcome. It will require the virtues of patience and perseverance and faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to triumph.

The Israelites lost their faith as they crossed the desert on their way to the Promised Land. They rebelled, but eventually they came back to God. We saw how God punished them before giving them their final reward. We must be willing to accept God's punishment and trust in His Mercy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Death with dignity

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.
 -- John 6:48-50
Watching these nuns approaching their final moment of life while singing a hymn in Latin brought me to tears.

We should not understand their act as an act of protest -- it is a public act of faith. As Catholics we do not protest. We pray, we speak out in defense of our faith, but we have no need to protest because we know what we believe in.

We accept our fate. We trust in God and His plan for humanity.

Protest is an act of rebellion by those who do not accept the authority of God and His Church. This can never be in accord with the virtues of humility and obedience.

We have Christ as our example and the martyrs throughout history and in every part of the world. It is the highest honor that a Christian can have to follow the path of the Cross.

We will have our opportunity to face death. May God give us the strength and the faith to face it with dignity.

Thank you Michael Voris for sharing this with us.

On this election night as we wait for the final results to be revealed, let us pray for our great country. Let us put ourselves in God's hands and ask Him to show us how to be better Christians so that through our example we can bring others to Christ.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Killing the sick is not merciful

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

 -- Luke 23:43
"Euthanasia" or "physician assisted suicide" is not merciful. True mercy only comes from God in the forgiveness of our sins.

The good news of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the triumph over death. The Christian faith explains the true meaning of death and in so doing gives new meaning to our lives. Christ gives us hope even in our pain and suffering.

We have become numb to the message of Christ, but if we could only listen to it as if it were the first time -- the way that the Greeks heard it from St. Paul shortly after the resurrection -- then we would understand just how powerful that message is. It was like a holy fire that swept through the Roman empire destroying all false belief systems in its path.

Perhaps the most powerful part of that message are Christ's teachings on life after death. Christ promises us that we can attain the Kingdom of Heaven through our love of God and through our love of neighbor -- and not through burnt offerings and sacrifices.

There is no earthly path to Heaven. It is only through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for us that the door is opened.

As Christians we need not fear death nor illness and suffering. Our faith in God strengthens us and carries us. We trust in the mercy of God and in Christ's promise of eternal life for all those who believe in Him.

One of the thieves who was crucified alongside Christ mocked Him just as our secular society mocks Christianity today, while the other thief asked for forgiveness and was granted a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. They were both facing death but one of them recognized Jesus as the Son of God and found new hope.

Pray for the sick and dying that they may find God in the midst of their sufferings.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The false "spirit" of Vatican II

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.
 -- Matthew 7:15-16
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. In 2005 the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI shared his thoughts on the "spirit" of Vatican II. He describes this as a force that attempted to create a rupture in the Church. He uses the expression "hermeneutic of discontinuity". Hermeneutic means "interpretation". So it is an interpretation of Vatican II which says that the pre-Vatican II Church was wrong. All those "medieval" saints like St. Francis and St. Aquinas were wrong. They even question the teachings of Christ. Somehow the Church got it wrong for nearly 2000 years and only now in the godless 21st century have we figured out the "truth".

Here is a short quote from Pope Benedict in which he thoroughly exposes those who like to refer to the "spirit" of Vatican II.
The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word:  it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.
And so in the "spirit" of Vatican II we have priests and bishops who see nothing wrong with "gay marriage" and "women priests". Others disavow the Church's teachings on contraception and abortion.

We have been blessed with a Pope who understands very well the modus operandi of the dissenters within the Church. Please pray for Our Holy Father.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

 -- 1 John 4:1-6
 + + +

Here is a longer quote from the address of Pope Benedict XVI on December 22, 2005 regarding Vatican II.
The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church's situation after the Council of Nicea:  he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things:  "The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith..." (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524).

We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises:  Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?

Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call "a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture"; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word:  it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.

Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord's gift. They are "stewards of the mysteries of God" (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be "faithful" and "wise" (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord's gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator:  "Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs" (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).

These Gospel parables express the dynamic of fidelity required in the Lord's service; and through them it becomes clear that, as in a Council, the dynamic and fidelity must converge.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council's conclusion on 7 December 1965.

Here I shall cite only John XXIII's well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes "to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion". And he continues:  "Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us...". It is necessary that "adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness..." be presented in "faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...", retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.

However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Suffering as a force against evil

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
 -- Job 1:21
Pope Benedict XVI in his reflections on the life and death of his predecessor Pope John Paul II says:
"[We must] do the utmost to ensure that people can discover the meaning of suffering and are thus able to accept their own suffering and to unite it with the suffering of Christ. In this way, it is merged with redemptive love and consequently becomes a force against the evil in the world."
We need to understand this if we are to approach death with true dignity. Pope John Paul II gave us a great personal example of this.

The "choice" to commit suicide rather than to allow God to determine the time and manner of our death is another false choice like abortion and like divorce. It does not give us new freedom but rather enslaves us. Once these options become legally available the forces of society convert them from "choices" to inevitable outcomes.

Unborn but not forgotten

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

They cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb."

He said to me,
"These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb."

 -- Revelation 7:9-10,14
Today as I was worshipping at Mass in celebration of All Saints Day all I could think about was the unborn and especially those millions that had their lives taken from them before they could ever take their first breaths or speak their first words or take their first steps. They are with the angels now.

When I heard the first reading from Revelation about "the great multitude wearing white robes" for some reason my mind immediately thought of them. Later in the reading they are described as "the ones who have survived the time of great distress" and I thought how appropriate this was. Their robes have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb. They are the martyrs without names and without faces. We never had the chance to meet them or talk to them or to get to know them and to love them.

In the following video some of these unborn children that were most at risk but that through the grace of God were given life speak out. These are the children that were conceived in rape.

The second reading of the Mass drew me further into contemplation.
Beloved, we are God's children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.

 -- 1 John 3:2
It's true, we are all God's children. We all share a common Father. And we are all "unborn" because we are not truly "born" until we pass from this life to the next. That is why we celebrate a saint's feast day on the day of their death -- the day on which they enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Peace be with you.