Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Lady of Fatima, Russia, and Abortion

In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima said: “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” I have always assumed that this message concerned Soviet Russia and the rise of world-wide Communism. Now that the Soviet Union has fallen, I began to wonder if Our Lady was actually speaking of abortion. As Russian, in 1920, was the first country to allow abortions without restrictions. In addition, Russia now has the highest number of abortions per woman of child-bearing age in the world. China, its former Communist ally, has the highest total number of abortions in the world. Since 1920, almost every Western nation enacted laws that allow legal abortions.

God's Garden

For some reason, the recent keynote address given by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia reminded me of something else the Holy Father said back in 2008. In his speech, Chaput remarked woefully that 80% of disabled children are aborted. Pope Benedict made this remake: “When one visits a botanical garden, he is impressed by the variety of plants and flowers, and spontaneously thinks of the fancy of a Creator who has made on earth a marvelous garden. An analogous sentiment washes over us when we consider the spectacle of sanctity: The world seems to be a 'garden' where the Spirit of God has called forth with admirable imagination a multitude of men and women saints, of every age and social condition, of every language, people and culture.” When viewed with Chaput's statements, what a dull and drab garden we are planting for ourselves. The Lord will always raise-up saints, but how many are we killing before they are born. For the Holy Father went on to speak that through their embracing of the cross, the commonalty among so many divergent saints become apparent. No one wants to see a child suffer, but the Lord said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Most Over-Rated People of All Time

Most over-rated people of all time:
  1. Martin Luther: Broke with the Church, then on his deathbed said “It is easier to live as a Protestant, but better to die as a Catholic.”
  2. Karl Marx: His faulty philosophy would inspire violent revolutionaries for decades.
  3. Friedrich Nietzsche: “God is dead.”
  4. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Another bad philosopher. He inspired the anti-Christian French Revolution.
  5. Queen Elizabeth I: When it came to the persecution of Catholics she was far bloodier than her sister “Bloody Mary.”
  6. Jacques Derrida: Taught a modern form of Nihilism. There is no truth.
  7. Nelson Mandela: Refused to recognize the existence of AIDS as President of South Africa. Now, the country has the highest infection rate in the world.
  8. Andy Warhol: Called a soup-can high-art.
  9. Bob Dylan: Horrible voice and worse songs.
  10. Allen Ginsberg: Called boring pornography great poetry. Inspired later generations of filthy and talentless rock and rap stars
Dishonorable Mention: Che Guevara; Pablo Picasso; and Margaret Sanger.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Kathleen Sebelius: Obama's Catholic Ghoul

    Starting August 1, 2012, most healthcare plans will be required to cover birth control without charging co-pays or deductibles. Religious-affiliated hospitals and universities only get a one-year delay and must comply by Aug. 1, 2013. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spear-headed and resoundingly supports the plan. Although she claims to be a Roman Catholic, during her four decades in politics, she has been a vehemently outspoken advocate for abortion rights. In 2006, Sebelius said: “My Catholic faith teaches me that all life is sacred, and personally I believe abortion is wrong. However, I disagree with the suggestion that criminalizing women and their doctors is an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the number of abortions in our nation.” This is essentially the same argument used by former guards at the Nazi concentration camps. They did not believe in mass-extermination of the Jews, but they were “following orders.” They thought what they were doing was for the “greater good.” In fact, Nazi doctors who experimented on helpless prisoners said: “involuntary research on prisoners had a long history, prisoners were already sentenced to death, they were only following orders, there were no clear international ethics standards respecting research, the toleration of a lesser evil to tolerate a greater good...” Also, while researching Sebelius, I found many photographs of her with President Obama. She is shown constantly hovering and fawning over him. The effect is incredibly creepy. Her level of bizarre admiration for Obama is only surpassed by fellow “Catholic” Nancy Pelosi. The only modern equivalent I can find are the grotesque female vampires in the British Hammer films of the 1950s and 60s. 

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Pope Benedict on the USA: Right As Always

    Today, the Holy Father addressed the Bishops of the United States during their “Ad Limina” (every 5 year) visit to Rome. The speech he delivered was solemn and foreboding. The Pope is already well known as a great theologian, but it is also becoming more evident that he is likewise a great visionary. In one paragraph, he precisely and eloquently summarizes what is currently taking place in the US. Pope Benedict said:
    “One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.”
    Right now, as a nation we have lost our moral anchor, our centeredness. We no longer recognize “the nature of reality.” I know this is a base example, but look at our current obsession with so-called “reality” shows. These programs display everything but. Going hand-in-hand, is the rise of the reality star. Without exception these people are completely talentless and witless, yet they are who we emulate. How I long for the days when we had real stars like: Grace Kelly and Charlton Heston. But the Holy Father is certainly more concerned about the current matters of abortion, promiscuity and gay-marriage than in our popular culture trends. A growing acceptance in the US of the once morally reprehensible, speaks much about who we have become as a people. And who we have elected to represent us. In this election year, I think the Holy Father's words are especially relevant: do we continue on this coarse of moral degradation or do we begin to examine ourselves as a nation and return to our founder's Christian principles.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Ivanhoe: A Lesson on Religious Respect

    Last night I had the pleasure of watching the 1952 film version of Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Ivanhoe.” What a great somewhat forgotten film. I would recommend this movie for children as it contains a great hidden lesson on racial and religious respect. Kids will just like the action and frequent battle scenes that are none too bloody. But they will also receive, maybe without them knowing, a wonderful example of how Christians should value those of other faiths and cultural backgrounds. Besides the anti-Semitism background story, the other revelation in “Ivanhoe” is the remarkable performance by a very youthful Elizabeth Taylor as the Jewess Rebecca. She was always at her best playing vulnerable but willful young women as in her finest films: “Father of the Bride,” “Elephant Walk,” and “Giant.” As she got older, she lost that naiveté and began to look heavy and burdened: weighted down by the excesses of her own life. Taylor was also most effective when a part of a strong and talented ensemble. In her most famous film, Cleopatra, she had great co-stars however she had to carry the picture. Surrounded by massive sets, her image shrinks whenever she speaks. Though she looked beautiful in the costumes, her tiny and sometimes high-pitched voice makes the Egyptian queen seem annoyingly whiny. I would recommend all the films I mentioned above.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Whose Next?

    In the recent 2011 Egyptian election, the ultra-Islamic Al-Nour Party won 20% of the vote: coming in second only to the equally scary Muslim Brotherhood. One of their platforms is to do away with all forms of “idolatry,” including the Pyramids. Remember back in 2001, when the Taliban blew-up several ancient colossal Buddha statues in Afghanistan. Later that same year, they were blowing up people.

    Pope Benedict on Family, Marriage and Education

    Today, the internet is all a twitter about Pope Benedict's recent address to members of the diplomatic corps who are accredited to the Holy See. In his speech he discussed the family, marriage, youth and education:
    “Education is a crucial theme for every generation, for it determines the healthy development of each person and the future of all society. It thus represents a task of primary importance in this difficult and demanding time. In addition to a clear goal, that of leading young people to a full knowledge of reality and thus of truth, education needs settings. Among these, pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman. This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself. The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and States; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue. It is in the family that we become open to the world and to life and, as I pointed out during my visit to Croatia, 'openness to life is a sign of openness to the future.'”
    As a former teacher, I totally get what the Holy Father is saying. I saw, first-hand, how a once bright and promising student suddenly crashed and burned when their parents divorced. The girls usually became smart-mouthed and loose; the boys got angry or withdrawn. In this atmosphere, education becomes difficult if not impossible. Also, the Holy Father's statement that marriage is not a “simple social convention” or cultural construct is right-on-the-money. I remember all too well arguing with various other students back at Berkeley about sexual roles and their genetic determinance and ultimate synchronicity. They argued that such “roles” were all societally manufactured. Now, that is why some are trying to hypothesize and then build a new marriage paradigm. For them there are no absolutes: a man is not a man; a woman is not a woman.

    For the full text of the Pope's address, follow the link below:

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Not Another Devil Movie: The World Becomes Obsessed with Possession

    This week's top grossing movie was “The Devil Inside,” which brought-in $34.5 million over the weekend. It is the latest in a rash of devil/exorcism films that includes: “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “The Rite.” There has not been such a preoccupation in film with demonic possession since the early 1970's with the release of the “The Exorcist.” I think the success of these films has much to do with the era we are now living - which is non-dissimilar from the early-70s. When “The Exorcist” was released in 1973, the US was still entrenched in Vietnam, the country was trying to recover from the chaos of the previous decade, and the economy was sliding quickly into a recession. After the success of “The Exorcist,” several cheap rip-off possession films crowded theaters. At the same time, the post-conciliar Church struggled the problem of addressing an increasing secular and cynical world. Everything was in a state of flux. Now, it seems, history is repeating itself. When the artificial world of modern-reality begins to break-down, people often return to old and almost forgotten archetypes. Besides God, there is no more ancient image in Man's unconscious than that of the devil. After “The Exorcist,” the “me-generation” reverted inwards. The confusion and pain of the time became drowned-out by the incessant thumping of disco music. In addition, middle-class society began to fully embrace recreational drug use and pornography became acceptable with the cross-over success of such films as “Deep Throat.” Most disturbingly, the lost fell for false prophets and religious cults prospered: these included the Moonies, Hare Krishnas, and culminating with Jim Jones and The People's Temple. Today, we are all living with the fruits of that precipitous slide into decadence: wars continue, the world is enveloped in economic uncertainty, drug use is now rampant and bloody, and pornography has gone high-tech. Will the world again fall into abject debasement? Will we follow those who promise salvation in this world? Or will we embrace a true religious renaissance.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    St. John of Avila: Doctor of the Church

    Sorrowfully, this event passed by me without notice. On August 20th, 2011, Pope Benedict announced that he would be declaring 16th Century Spanish mystic St. John of Avila a Doctor of the Church. He has been one of my favorite Catholic writers, mainly due to the influence his ideas had over the young St. Teresa of Avila. His greatest published work is probably the “Audi Fili.” The book consists of a series of letters he wrote to various spiritual students who had written to him asking for advice. They are profound but no-nonsense. They remind me somewhat of the later letters written by St. Padre Pio. I think the main thrust of his advice consists of encouraging his readers to embrace the Cross. For after the Cross, is the Resurrection. His writing is very blunt and straight-to-the-point, but also very loving and tender. He has a blocky masculine style of writing that I appreciate, but he is also quite lyrical. In this way, he is also similar to our current Holy Father. This is one of my favorite passages from “Audi Fili:”
    Our repose is being kept for the future and it will indeed be sweet. Here let us work manfully. Our Lord has many ready to share His Table, but few to partake of His sorrows, and it is for us to be among those few, if we would be in the number of His friends. Let us help Him to drink His chalice, for that will show that we love Him sincerely. It is no easy matter to be the friend of Jesus Christ. Suffering borne for him is the only sure way to test which is the true and which is the false friend. Although the draught may be bitter, you drink it – think of Whom you take it; how soon its taste will pass away; what a reward it will bring you, and it will taste so sweet that you will complain that there is so little given you....None of those who are already there have passed through the world without greater afflictions than you have; if some of them had less to bear, their tortures were incomparably more severe in Purgatory, for Our Lord has ordained that none shall take part in His joys but they who have shared His pains.”

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Bishop Vasa Letter from 2008

    When I was researching what various US Bishops have stated about Catholics who vote for pro-abortion candidates, I saw this letter written by our own precious Bishop Vasa referenced several times, but I had a difficult time locating it in it's entirety on the internet. After much searching, I found it. For everyone’s benefit, I have reproduced the letter here. This document is invaluable to all Catholics especially with the upcoming Presidential election.

    As you form conscience, know not all issues are equal (2008)

    By Bishop Robert Vasa

    BEND — “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” is the document of the United States Catholic Bishops which is intended to provide some moral guidelines for discerning difficult election choices.
    The document does, in fact, provide very sound guidance. It is important, however, to properly discern what the document says and what it does not say. The document does not say, for instance, that it is just fine to vote for a pro-abortion candidate as long as one votes for that candidate only because of his or her stand on other important social issues.
    It seems to me that paragraph 22 of the document is quite clear: “There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called ‘intrinsically evil’ actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our nation, abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.”
    Casting a vote, even for reasons other than the candidate’s pro-abortion position, is still casting a vote for the preservation of “a legal system which violates the basic right to life,” it is still casting a vote for a system which is “fundamentally flawed.”
    In this election year there has been some discussion of freedom of conscience and it is no accident that the Bishops chose to include the phrase “Forming Consciences” in the document’s title. As the Bishops state in paragraph 18: “The formation of conscience includes several elements. First, there is a desire to embrace goodness and truth. For Catholics this begins with a willingness and openness to seek the truth and what is right by studying Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is also important to examine the facts and background information about various choices. Finally, prayerful reflection is essential to discern the will of God. Catholics must also understand that if they fail to form their consciences they can make erroneous judgments.”
    The matters, in this election, around which consciences must be formed include a variety of issues. However, not all of those issues are of equal weight. The document cites a number of serious violations of human life and dignity which must always be avoided. “Other direct assaults on innocent human life and violations of human dignity, such as genocide, torture, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war, can never be justified.”
    I am quite confident that if a candidate made a bold proclamation that he or she would actively seek to institute in these United States a concerted program of genocide against any minority group every Catholic, without exception, would oppose that candidate. I am also confident that if a candidate swore that he or she, as the first act of the new Administration, would institute an aggressive program of torture to root out crime, violence and terrorism in this country there would be no doubt that such a candidate would be categorically unacceptable. Rightly so! Further, if any candidate would attest that he or she intended to prosecute the war on terror by the aggressive and random targeting of civilian non-combatants no one, of either party, would give even the slightest thought to wasting their vote on such a position even if the candidate had a marvelous record in the area of all the other social programs. Unfortunately, when candidates for office in these United States make bold assertions that they have every intention of working to assure that the alleged right of a woman to kill her pre-born child is either preserved or even expanded, many Catholics seem to think that it would be morally acceptable to vote for such a candidate as long as they somehow miraculously excised the candidate’s pro-abortion mindset out of the equation. A vote for such a candidate, like it or not, is likewise a vote for the firmly held abortion position; it is inseparable from the person. Just as a vote for a genocidal maniac is a vote for genocide and a vote for the avowed torturer is a vote for torture and a vote for the indiscriminant targeter of innocent women and children is a vote for such targeting so a vote for a promoter of abortion, when there is another less evil alternative available, is a vote for abortion.
    Someone brought to my attention paragraph 1868 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which teaches about the sin of cooperation: “Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them: by participating directly or voluntarily in them; by ordering, advising, praising, or approving; by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so; by protecting evil doers.” It is essential that we take this teaching seriously. The question to be asked is: “Does a Catholic who votes for a pro-abortion candidate, whose pro-abortion leanings are very well known, share in that candidate’s guilty responsibility for abortion?” It seems to me that a vote for such a candidate involves “not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so,” and it further involves the direct promotion and support of the person whose abortion expansion intentions are boldly proclaimed.

    Paragraphs 27 - 29 of the bishops’ document makes it very clear: “Two temptations in public life can distort the Church’s defense of human life and dignity: The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed. The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity.”

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Tim Tebow: Why the Hate?

    I have no interest in watching sports on television, especially football, but I have become aware of a certain quarter-back: Tim Tebow. The guy is always getting beaten-up in the press: by media-types and other players. A few weeks ago, the liberal-hack Bill Maher made some anti-Christian remarks about Tebow. Now, somebody named Terrell Suggs is bashing Tebow; again by making negative comments about God. Why the hate? I think on one hand it is easy for ignorant people to go after Christianity because it is accepted. There are deafening outcries from all corners if another religion, besides Christianity, is ever remarked upon. For example, those that have spoken out against violent tendencies within Islam are often labeled as bigots. On the other hand, I think a truly masculine man that is also a devout Christian scares many people. They understand the stereotypical Christian as the diligent but quiet missionary or gentle singing nun. But Tebow comes from out-side of the box. He is in your face. Tebow is more in the line of other holy “tough guys” such as St. Francis Xavier, John Bosco, or Eric Lidell (the subject of the film “Chariots of Fire.) Not in quantitative holiness or deeds, but in personality and demeanor. I think he has re-invented (or reintroduced) what it is to be a Christian man. And he has never sunk to any of these haters level by biting back. God bless him.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Two New American Saints

    On the 19th of December, 2011, the Holy Father approved miracles attributed to the intercession of various Holy Souls. Two of those are Americans awaiting to be canonized: they are Blessed Kateri Tekekwitha and Blessed Marianne Cope. They could be canonized this year. See Vatican link below:

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Our Lady of Perpetual Help: A Window to the Soul

    Our Lady of Perpetual Help
    The "New" Lady
    As a Catholic gift store owner, I recently noticed a strange shift in the reproductions being produced of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help.” The original image is widely recognized by most Catholics. But the market has been recently inundated with a new “updated” icon of Our Lady. I find this retooled image to be prettier, happier, and more-Western in appearance. But the original message of the icon is also lost. The icon of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” is of classical Byzantine style: gold background, tempura paint, iconic frontal posture. The image is of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child. According to historians, the icon represents an instant when the child Jesus leapt into his mother’s arms after a dream in which he witnessed his future passion and death; at the same time, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel carry the instruments of the Crucifixion before Jesus: thus frightening the young boy. He ran to the safety of his mother so quickly, that one of the sandals of Jesus is shown falling off his foot. Holding her son tight, Mary stares directly at the viewer. As with many Orthodox icons, the eyes drill right into the soul. The gaze of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” is sad, but also filled with admonishment. For the adorer (the viewer) is the source of her child’s suffering. We nailed him to the cross. And Mary knows it.
    The Fatima Children
    St. Bernadette
      One of the Medjugorje seers.

    The new images have taken away the Virgin’s strong continence and replaced it with a smiling cartoonish facsimile. Even Jesus seems to oddly grin at the Angels carrying the weapons of his effectual death. Our Lady no longer confronts us. We feel no guilt. The power of the image is gone. This reminds me of the unpopularity of sanguine crucifixes in the United States. The blooded Christ hanging on the cross favored in Spain, Italy and Mexico scares many Americans. They tend to favor the sanitized and unscarred corpus, or the resurrected Jesus on the cross, or even worse yet: no corpus at all. A similar phenomena are the disturbingly giddy photos of the so-called Medjugorje seers. While perusing the many photos of them on the internet, I asked myself: “why are they always laughing?” Would not coming face to face with the Mother of God engender a certain heaviness of spirit; a weight of responsibility? The Holy Father always seems to be walking with all the troubles of mankind pressing down on his head. They are in staunch contrast to the stern faces of the Fatima children and St. Bernadette. The eyes of those that have truly seen heaven resembles those of Our Lady. Their eyes peer into a sinful world with pain and sorrow.