Monday, December 31, 2012

New Saints Martyred for Rejecting Islam

You probably know that Pope Benedict recently (20th December 2012) declared Venerable, Pope Paul VI.  He was a good man who could achieve relatively little in a very turbulent time.  Two highlights of his Papacy where the encyclicals Humanae Vitae, which explained the true meaning of sex in the context of God's love, correcting the culture of lust; and Mysterium Fidei, on the correct understanding of the Most Holy Eucharist (correcting the doctrinal vagueness of Sacrosanctum Concilium).

What you probably did not notice was that the Holy Father also approved the canonization of some 800 martyrs slaughtered by Islam.  Here is a brief history of the event (taken from the Holy Persons webpage).  The picture above is the massive reliquaries (rows and rows of piled up skulls and bones, etc.) of the saints over the Otranto Cathedral's main altar.

The Martyrs of Otranto, 1480

In 1480, Italy celebrated the feast of the Assumption with spectacular liturgies, processions and, of course, banquets. With the exception of Otranto, a tiny town on the Adriatic coast, where 800 men offered their lives for Christ. They were the Martyrs of Otranto.

A few weeks earlier the Turkish fleet had docked just outside the Otranto harbor. Their arrival had been feared for years; since the fall of Constantinople in 1454, it was only a matter of time before the Ottoman Turks encroached on Europe.

Otranto stands closest to the Ottoman-controlled eastern side of the Adriatic.
St. Francis de Paul recognized the imminent danger to the town and its Christian citizens and pleaded for reinforcements to protect Otranto. He predicted, "Oh unhappy citizens, how many cadavers do I see covering your streets? How much Christian blood do I see flooding you?" But the leaders of Christendom refused to address the danger.

On July 28, 1480, 18,000 Turkish sailors swarmed the harbor of Otranto. They offered terms of surrender to the citizens, hoping to gain this first foothold into Italy without resistance and complete a lightening conquest of the Adriatic coast. The Sultan Mehmed II had boasted to Pope Sixtus IV that he would "allow his horse to eat his oats on the Tomb of St. Peter."

Pope Sixtus, recognizing the seriousness of the threat, exclaimed: "People of Italy, if you wish to continue to call yourselves Christians, defend yourselves!"

Although his pleas fell on deaf ears among most of the crowned heads of the peninsula -- they were too busy fighting among themselves -- the people of Otranto listened.

Fisherman, not fighters, they had no artillery and numbered under 15,000 including women, children and the elderly. But by common consent they took the keys to the city and cast them into sea, committing themselves completely to resisting the Turkish fleet.

The sophisticated Turkish artillery ripped at the strong defensive walls, but the Otrantini repaired the breaches as soon as they opened. Charging the walls, the Turks found the determined citizens impavidly defending the ramparts with boiling oil, without armor, and often using their bare hands.

The citizens of Otranto foiled the Sultan’s plan for a sneak attack and bought Italy two weeks of precious time to organize defenses and prepare to repel the invaders, but on Aug. 11, the Turks broke through the walls and overwhelmed the city.

The Turkish army methodically passed from house to house, sacking, looting and then setting them on fire. The few survivors took refuge in the cathedral. Archbishop Stefano, heroically calm, distributed the Eucharist and sat among the women and children of Otranto while a Dominican friar led the faithful in prayer from the pulpit.

The invading army broke open the door of the cathedral and the subsequent violence to the women, children and Archbishop -- who was beheaded on the altar -- shocked the Italian peninsula into action.

The Turks had taken the city, destroyed homes, enslaved its people and turned the cathedral into a mosque. Some 14,000 people had died in the capture of Otranto, mostly its own citizens, but a little band of 800 were left alive, so the Turks could fully dominate the proud partisans by forcing them to convert.

Their option was Islam or death. Eight hundred men, chained together, had lost home and family and seemed utterly subjugated to the victorious Turks.

One of the 800, a textile worker named Antonio Primaldo Pezzula, rose from humble craftsman to heroic leader on that day. Before the Pasha Agomat, Antonio turned to his fellow Otrantini and declared: "You have heard what it will cost to buy the remainder of our little lives! My brothers, we have fought to save our city; now it is time to battle for our souls!"

The 800 men aged 15 and up unanimously decided to follow the example of Antonio and offered their lives to Christ.

The Turks, who had hoped for a moment of triumphant propaganda, wanted to avoid a massacre. They offered the return of the women and children who were about to be shipped off as slaves, in return for the conversion of the men, and they threatened a mass beheading if they failed to comply. Antonio refused, followed by the rest of men.

On the vigil of the Assumption, the 800 were led outside the city and beheaded. Tradition has it that Antonio Pezzula was beheaded first, but his acephalous body remained standing until the last Otrantino had been killed.

One of the executioners, a Turk named Barlabei, was so amazed by this prodigy that he converted to Christianity, and was also martyred.

The remains were lovingly collected, and are to this day kept in the Cathedral of Otranto. On the 500th anniversary of the sacrifice of the Otrantini, Pope John Paul II visited the city and paid homage to the martyrs.

Benedict XVI officially recognized their martyrdom in 2007, and 
on 20 December 2012 he approved their canonization of Antonio Pezzula and his companions.  This "hour of the laity" at Otranto, separated from us by a half a millennium, still resonates as an example of witness to the love of Christ. Few of us will ever be asked the same heroic sacrifice as Antonio Pezzuli and his fellow weavers, farmers and townsfolk, but how would we answer his exhortation?: "Stand strong and constant in the faith: With this temporal death we will gain eternal life!"

Friday, December 28, 2012

On "Seasons Greetings"

What a curious greeting, don't you agree? Since when does a season greet anyone? And why should we have "seasons greetings" in winter and not at the start of, say, spring or, at least, summer! I suppose we are all thankful and a bit unconsciously surprised that the seasons continue despite all of the evil in the world, including in me and in you.

Merry Christmas!  May Christ have mercy on all of us, unwelcoming and ungrateful as we are at His coming into the world.

Christ, in coming to the cold, dark world, brought us God to do with Him as we would!

"He came to His own and His own rejected Him.  But to as many as received Him He gave the power of becoming sons of God..."  (John 1:11-12) 

The world prefers the senselessness of "Seasons Greetings" to the Wisdom and the Power and the Love of Christ!  Christ is the reason for every Season!  Acknowledge Him!  Become a son of God.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Christmas Star Ornament

The Christmas Star Ornament should preferably not be five pointed (viz. a pentagram) because that happens to be a favorite symbol for devil worshipers, witches, free masonry, etc.  It is a symbol of luck for them.  Good luck if pointed upward and bad luck (i.e. for a curse) if upside down!

This came to mind when I again saw the ornament on the tree in our parish Church, which happens to be an upside down pentagram. Besides being the ugliest type of star, and in it's ugliest position it also happens to be an occult symbol for the devil himself.  It should be replaced by something at least more neutral in cult and more pleasing in form.

N.B. Not all stars are the same.  E.g. The star of David, which is a legitimate Christian symbol (of Christ, son of David), has six points (a hexagram).

An eight pointed star (octagram) is perhaps optimal since eight is the symbol of Creation and the Lord's Resurrection (Sunday, the first day of Creation and the Resurrection day, being the eighth day).

Twelve is also very significant in the Judeo-Christian dispensation: twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles, twelve days of Christmas.  Notice the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Swarovski Star is twelve points (a dodecagram)!

BTW, angels are great tree toppers too, and, to my knowledge, the devil worshipers have not hijacked any of them for their cult.  I think they just use fallen angels (devils) in their cult images!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas is All About Advent: Christ Comes Now in You Who Keep Him!

"Behold I am coming says the Lord: come Lord Jesus!"  These, the next to the last words of Sacred Scripture (Revelation 22:21), are the Christmas/Advent yearning for God: "come, be with us Lord; be in us and stay in us; make us keep You in us and among us!"  Adveniat regnum tuum! is what we say habitually and repeatedly daily in the Pater noster: grant that your Kingdom advent!

That is my short summary reflection on Saint Bernard of Clairvaux's incisive 5th Sermon On the Advent of the Lord: On the Middle Advent and the Triple Innovation.  Below is my translation.

Saint Bernard says that Advent is making Christ take over your heart and your entire being.  It's not enough to have Christ in your head or even in good works but first of all in the heart, forming all your affections, habits and your entire manner of being.  Advent is having Christ within you really, always reshaping you from the old man to the new man!  Advent is every day, every moment and it is the same as Christmas: Christ in the world between His first and last coming: the middle Advent: the now.  It must be Christ's at least in you.  "Keep Christ in Christmas!" indeed! especially on your heart!

On the Middle Advent and the Triple Innovation

1.  We were just saying to those who covered their wings with silver with the imitation of the virtues of Christ, sleeping in the midst of dangers, signifying two advents (the first and the last), but we did not say where they should be sleeping.  There is a third advent in the middle between those (two advents) and in which those who know Him sleep delightfully: the other two (advents) are manifest, but this (middle) one is not.  In the first the Lord was seen on the earth and related to men; as He Himself testifies: "They saw Him and hated Him" (Jn. 15:24); in the last, "all flesh shall see the salvation of our God (Lk. 3:6); and "they shall look on the One they transfixed" (Jn. 19:37).  The middle one is hidden, in which only the elect see Him in themselves and their souls are saved.  In the first He came in the flesh and in weakness (infirmitate); in this middle one, in spirit and virtue; in the last one, in glory and majestyl  For through virtue glory is achieved; since "the Lord of virtues Himself is the King of glory (Ps. 23:10).  And in another place the same prophet says: "that I may see your virtue and your glory" (Ps. 62:3).  Thus this middle advent is a type of path, by which from the first the last is attained.  In the first Christ was our redemption; in the last He shall appear as our life; in this one He is our rest and consolation that we might sleep in the midst of dangers.

2.  But so that these things we say about this middle advent might not appear invented, listen to the Lord Himself.  "If anyone loves Me," He says, "he will keep My words (sermones) and My Father will love him and We will come to him (Jn. 14:23).  But what does it mean "If anyone loves Me, he will keep my words?"  For I have read in another place "He who fears God will do good works (bona)  (Ecclesiasticus 15:1).  But, I sense that something more than this applies to the one who loves God, when it says that he will keep his words.  For where are they to be kept (servandi)?  In the heart, no doubt!  as the prophet says: "I hid your words in my heart to not sin before you." (Ps. 18:11)  And how are they to be kept in the heart?  Would it be enough to keep them in the memory?  To the one who would keep them in this way the Apostle would say that "knowledge puffs up." (I Cor. 8:1)  And, in the end, the memory easily forgets too.  You can best keep the word of God the same way that you best keep food for the body, for it also is living bread and nourishment for the soul. Earthly bread, while in the breadbox can be stolen by a thief, eaten by mice or spoil with time.  But when you shall have eaten it do you fear any of this?  Keep the Word of God in this way, because "blessed are they that keep it. (Lk. 11:28)  Make it go to the entrails of your soul.  Make it go to your very customs and affections.  Eat what is good and you will delight in the fatness of your soul.  Do not forget to eat your bread, lest your heart dry up.  Rather, fill your soul with fat and substance.

3.  If you keep the word of God thus, He will no doubt keep you, for the Son will come to you with the Father, the great Prophet will come Who will renew Jerusalem and He will make all things new.  This coming will make it such that just as we carried the image of the earthly man, we shall also carry the image of the heavenly man (I Cor. 15:49); it make it such that just as the old Adam was spread throughout the whole man and occupied the whole, so now Christ possesses him totally, Who created him totally, redeemed him totally and will glorify him totally; just as He is that Lord Whom made the total man entirely saved on the Sabbath.  At one time the old man was in us, that liar was in us, so in our hands as in our mouth as in our heart.  In the hands in two ways: by evil deeds and shameful acts.  In the mouth likewise by arrogance and detraction.  In the heart by the desires of the flesh and the love of temporal glory.  But if man is now made a new creature in Him, the old things pass away, and against the hands' evil deeds: innocence; against shameful acts: continence; against arrogance in the mouth: the word of confession; against detraction the edifying word, that the old things should leave our mouth.  In the heart, against carnal desire: chastity; against temporal glory: humility.  And see if it is not so that each of the elect receives Christ, the Word of God in these three things (hands, mouth and heart), when it is said to them: "Put me like a seal upon your arm, like a seal upon your heart; (Cant. 8:6) and in another place: "The word is close to you in your mouth and in your heart." (Rom. 10:8)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"...A Good Guy With a Gun is (Usually)...the Only Thing That Stops a Bad Guy With a Gun..."

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA is eloquent in the promotion of self defense and the defense of the defenseless and, as necessary to that, the defense of the constitutional right of upright citizens to bear arms.  Click on his name above to listen to the audio conference.  Bravo, NRA, for indicating that guns and gun laws are not the problem.

The problem is cultural and moral relativism which glamorizes every type of violence and immorality and prides itself on the absence of God and his law.  In the face of violent criminality law enforcement (by force, when necessary) is the urgent necessary solution for anyone entrusted with care for the common good.

The deeper solution, of course, is faith in Jesus Christ and the raising of more wholesome citizens who are trained to control themselves and their disordered appetites for the love of God.  But, since the America of today cannot distinguish right from wrong and is brainwashing our children in the same moral confusion, we need to be able to conveniently restrain the evildoers who are not content with keeping their evil doings to themselves but want to inflict evil on others.  Solution: we need many good guys with guns!

In the Wild Wild West you need guns to survive!

Even the Jews violated the Sabbath rest and took up arms in order to defend the innocent and the cause of right and the holiness of the Temple of God against the unscrupulous tyrant.  (2 Maccabees 15)  A fitting analogy to the evils in America today given that the Sandy Hook massacre took place during Hannukah (8-16 December 2012) on 14 December 2012!


The National Rifle Association's 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters join the nation in horror, outrage, grief and earnest prayer for the families of Newtown, Connecticut ... who suffered such incomprehensible loss as a result of this unspeakable crime.

Out of respect for those grieving families, and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment. While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent.

Now, we must speak ... for the safety of our nation's children. Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one — nobody — has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?

The only way to answer that question is to face up to the truth. Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases braggingabout them. They post signs advertising them.

And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are theirsafest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.

How have our nation's priorities gotten so far out of order? Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.

We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers.

Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it. That must change now!

The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school he's already identified at this very moment?

How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine thatrewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to try to make their mark?

A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?

And the fact is, that wouldn't even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country. Meanwhile, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% — to the lowest levels in a decade.

So now, due to a declining willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals, violent crime is increasing again for the first time in 19 years! Add another hurricane, terrorist attack or some other natural or man-made disaster, and you've got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.

And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.

Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: it's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?

Then there's the blood-soaked slasher films like "American Psycho" and "Natural Born Killers" that are aired like propaganda loops on "Splatterdays" and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it "entertainment."

But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?

In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.

A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.

And throughout it all, too many in our national media ... their corporate owners ... and their stockholders ... act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.

The media call semi-automatic firearms "machine guns" — they claim these civilian semi-automatic firearms are used by the military, and they tell us that the .223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers ... when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don't know what they're talking about!

Worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban — or one more law imposed on peaceful, lawful people — will protect us where 20,000 others have failed!

As brave, heroic and self-sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms, and as prompt, professional and well-trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable — through no fault of their own — to stop it.

As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It is now time for us to assume responsibility for their safety at school. The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away ... or a minute away?

Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you'll print tomorrow morning: "More guns," you'll claim, "are the NRA's answer to everything!" Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools. But since when did the word "gun" automatically become a bad word?

A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting the President isn't a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States isn't a bad word. And when you hear the glass breaking in your living room at 3 a.m. and call 911, you won't be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you.

So why is the idea of a gun good when it's used to protect our President or our country or our police, but bad when it's used to protect our children in their schools?

They're our kids. They're our responsibility. And it's not just our duty to protect them — it's our right to protect them.

You know, five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?

Will you at least admit it's possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared? Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative?

Is the press and political class here in Washington so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and America's gun owners that you're willing to accept a world where real resistance to evil monsters is a lone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life to shield the children in her care? No one — regardless of personal political prejudice — has the right to impose that sacrifice.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no national, one-size-fits-all solution to protecting our children. But do know this President zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year's budget, and scrapped "Secure Our Schools"policing grants in next year's budget.

With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget, we can't afford to put a police officer in every school?Even if they did that, politicians have no business — and no authority — denying us the right, the ability, or the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm.

Now, the National Rifle Association knows that there are millions of qualified active and retired police; active, reserve and retired military; security professionals; certified firefighters and rescue personnel; and an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained qualified citizens to join with local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every school. We can deploy them to protect our kids now. We can immediately make America's schools safer — relying on the brave men and women of America's police force.

The budget of our local police departments are strained and resources are limited, but their dedication and courage are second to none and they can be deployed right now.

I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.

Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work — and by that I mean armed security.

Right now, today, every school in the United States should plan meetings with parents, school administrators, teachers and local authorities — and draw upon every resource available — to erect a cordon of protection around our kids right now. Every school will have a different solution based on its own unique situation.

Every school in America needs to immediately identify, dedicate and deploy the resources necessary to put these security forces in place right now. And the National Rifle Association, as America's preeminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years, is ready, willing and uniquely qualified to help.

Our training programs are the most advanced in the world. That expertise must be brought to bear to protect our schools and our children now. We did it for the nation's defense industries and military installations during World War II, and we'll do it for our schools today.

The NRA is going to bring all of its knowledge, dedication and resources to develop a model National School Shield Emergency Response Program for every school that wants it. From armed security to building design and access control to information technology to student and teacher training, this multi-faceted program will be developed by the very best experts in their fields.

Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson will lead this effort as National Director of the National School Shield Program, with a budget provided by the NRA of whatever scope the task requires. His experience as a U.S. Attorney, Director of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security will give him the knowledge and expertise to hire the most knowledgeable and credentialed experts available anywhere, to get this program up and running from the first day forward.

If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained — armed — good guy.

Under Asa's leadership, our team of security experts will make this the best program in the world for protecting our children at school, and we will make that program available to every school in America free of charge.

That's a plan of action that can, and will, make a real, positive and indisputable difference in the safety of our children — starting right now.

There'll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action.

We can't wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act. We can't lose precious time debating legislation that won't work. We mustn't allow politics or personal prejudice to divide us. We must act now.

For the sake of the safety of every child in America, I call on every parent, every teacher, every school administrator and every law enforcement officer in this country to join us in the National School Shield Program and protect our children with the only line of positive defense that's tested and proven to work.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Thing Remains

Kristian Stanfill

Great song I heard on K-Love coming through the West Virginia mountains on a long drive from Kentucky in November.  Great Christian radio station (from a traditional Catholic priest who does not generally care for this type of thing).  They do Christian radio and contemporary Christian music very well!  I've added their link to my sidebar Greats!  Enjoy!

Jesus Nazarenus

Pope Benedict gives, in his new book, three providential reasons for this title of our Lord: "of Nazareth."

1.  Jesus is the perfect "Nazirite," meaning His essential and indelible supernatural consecration by the natural divine union of the Son with the Father.  "He was no Nazirite in the classical sense of the term.  Nevertheless, it could be said of him, in a manner far surpassing such external details, that he was totally consecrated to God, completely made over to God, from his mother's womb to the day of his death." p. 116

2.  Fulfillment of the Davidic prophecy.  "Indeed we have good reason to suppose that Matthew detected in the name of Nazareth a prophetic reference to the 'shoot' (nezer), and that he saw the use of the designation Nazoraios for Jesus as a sign of the fulfillment of God's promise to draw new life from the dead stump of Jesse, upon whom the Spirit of God would rest."  Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narratives,  p. 117.

3.  Nazareth was his hometown, hence the Roman title on the Cross.

This thought came to mind in light of today's readings regarding the miraculous conception and divine pre-conception election and consecration of Samson (Judges 13) and Saint John the Baptist (Luke 1) both cited by the Holy Father's book.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why My Mother Did Not Abort Me (POR QUE NO FUI ABORTADO): Spanish Television

Aqui una entrevista con Rafa Lozano explicando como se salvo del aborto.

Here is an interview from Spanish TV (EN ESPANOL) with Rafa Lozano on how his mother saved him from abortion. (No es bueno que Dios este solo...)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Priest in Crisis => Renegade Priests

Having recently received a circular e-mail letter from a brother priest on his "decision" to leave the ministry (because his heart was never in it and he fears being unfaithful) I thought it propitious to offer my top ten reasons for a priest never to renege.


1. God exists.

2. Death, the Judgment, Heaven, Hell.

3. Honesty.  It is dishonest, viz. breaking solemn vows.  To express, publicize, or act out on, one's disordered appetites and distorted ideas is not an act of honesty but rather dishonesty.  Honesty has to coincide with the Good and with what is right, and it is good and right for a man to keep his solemn and holy vows.

4. You are a priest forever: the indelible character conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders never goes away.  Even if you leave you remain a priest.  (Priestly ordination [unlike the sacraments of marriage and confession] is not effected by the action of the recipient but solely by the action of the ordaining minister. [cf. Summa Suppl. Q. 39, 2]).

5. The Faith is the Church's and not at all dependent upon your disposition, wit, zeal or faith.  Do not  measure the faith by your mind but rather treasure and present and defend the Deposit of Faith and always adjust to it: Jesus Christ.

6. Stability.  Never act on impulse in life changing decisions.

7. Gratia gratis data.  Your priestly ministry itself does not principally depend on your worthiness.  God gives the grace!

8. The witness of fidelity vs. the great scandal of infidelity.  Fidelity in difficulty may be more meritorious than fidelity with ease.

9. Humility and intellectual modesty.  You do not need to figure everything out yourself.

10. Repentance and Penitence.  Every Christian, especially those in charge of others, need Sacramental assistance again and again.  Do not tire of beginning again!  That is the essence of holiness, to depend on the mercy and the wisdom of Jesus Christ.

"You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you , and have appointed you..."  John 15:16

The Pope Proves The Wise Men and the Star Really Existed

In The Infancy Narratives: Jesus of Nazareth Pope Benedict makes a strong case for the star which led "the Magi", really, to Jerusalem and to Bethlehem.  The Magi were members of the Persian priesthood and probably with some connection with the scientific research in Babylon which had previously had a center of scientific astronomy.  And it is certain that there was a peculiar conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Pisces in the years 7-6 B.C.--now believed to be the actual time of Jesus' birth--which the Babylonian astronomers were quite capable of calculating..."and it may well have pointed them toward the land of Judea and to a newborn "'king of the Jews.'"  p. 94 ff.

Having finished the last published volume of the Jesus of Nazareth trilogy I have to say that this last volume is the least satisfying, though, for that, it is filled with insights and the present state of theological and historical knowledge on a number of Incarnation events.  One thing the Holy Father could have mentioned and did not is the dates of Christmas, Epiphany and the chronology of the arrival of the Magi in relation to the birth.  When did the Magi come in relation to the birth of Christ and the Presentation, for instance?  It seems to me that this volume was rushed to the press without being properly finished.  Perhaps the Holy Father might consider making a fuller volume, a full volume one, on the Infancy Narratives and the hidden life of Jesus.

Here is an attempt at an explanation which I found regarding the possible historical origins of the 25th of December as the date for Christmas (besides the obvious answer that it could have been the actual day of the birth of Christ; although we all know that there are twelve days of Christmas anyway).

The key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover. This view was first suggested to the modern world by French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and fully developed by American Thomas Talley in more recent years.8 But they were certainly not the first to note a connection between the traditional date of Jesus’ death and his birth.

The baby Jesus flies down from heaven on the back of a cross, in this detail from Master Bertram’s 14th-century Annunciation scene. Jesus’ conception carried with it the promise of salvation through his death. It may be no coincidence, then, that the early church celebrated Jesus’ conception and death on the same calendar day: March 25, exactly nine months before December 25. Kunsthalle, Hamburg/Bridgeman Art Library, NY
Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar.9 March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception.10 Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.d
This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25], which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.”11 Based on this, the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.
Augustine, too, was familiar with this association. In On the Trinity (c. 399–419) he writes: “For he [Jesus] is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.”12
In the East, too, the dates of Jesus’ conception and death were linked. But instead of working from the 14th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, the easterners used the 14th of the first spring month (Artemisios) in their local Greek calendar—April 6 to us. April 6 is, of course, exactly nine months before January 6—the eastern date for Christmas. In the East, too, we have evidence that April was associated with Jesus’ conception and crucifixion. Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis writes that on April 6, “The lamb was shut up in the spotless womb of the holy virgin, he who took away and takes away in perpetual sacrifice the sins of the world.”13 Even today, the Armenian Church celebrates the Annunciation in early April (on the 7th, not the 6th) and Christmas on January 6.e
Thus, we have Christians in two parts of the world calculating Jesus’ birth on the basis that his death and conception took place on the same day (March 25 or April 6) and coming up with two close but different results (December 25 and January 6).
Connecting Jesus’ conception and death in this way will certainly seem odd to modern readers, but it reflects ancient and medieval understandings of the whole of salvation being bound up together. One of the most poignant expressions of this belief is found in Christian art. In numerous paintings of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary—the moment of Jesus’ conception—the baby Jesus is shown gliding down from heaven on or with a small cross (see photo above of detail from Master Bertram’s Annunciation scene); a visual reminder that the conception brings the promise of salvation through Jesus’ death.
The notion that creation and redemption should occur at the same time of year is also reflected in ancient Jewish tradition, recorded in the Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud preserves a dispute between two early-second-century C.E. rabbis who share this view, but disagree on the date: Rabbi Eliezer states: “In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the Patriarchs were born; on Passover Isaac was born … and in Nisan they [our ancestors] will be redeemed in time to come.” (The other rabbi, Joshua, dates these same events to the following month, Tishri.)14 Thus, the dates of Christmas and Epiphany may well have resulted from Christian theological reflection on such chronologies: Jesus would have been conceived on the same date he died, and born nine months later.15
It is quite remarkable that the whole world celebrates the date of the Lord's birth completely based on the Tradition of the Church, whether it is the 6th of January of the 25th of December, actually we all celebrate the entire twelve days as if one day!  The marvel is that here is a central Christian celebration in the modern world which was determined by the Popes (along with the solar calendar which we follow and the numbering of the years with the Incarnation as the focal point).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Suspend Disbelief: Ten Thousand Difficulties Do Not Make One Doubt

Yesterday, my day off, I watched most of The Recruit (having to avert my eyes for a few suggestive scenes), toward the end of which Al Pacino tells an anecdote about a priest who goes and confesses to the pope that he no longer believes.  The pope's advice: "fake it."

Hollywood anti-Catholicism strikes again!  Fake it?  Which pope would give that advice?  Certainly no pope in the past two hundred years!  The insinuation is that the Truth does not exist and that God does not exist and that religion is an human invention and that religious leaders are humbugs.  Karl Marx is the one who popularized this fundamental Enlightenment bias against belief.

Pope Benedict XVI, in fact, has given very in depth answers to the problem of disbelief.  His answer?  Disbelief is also a belief, but the consequences are devastating for man and for humanity.  It is better to believe, or at least want to believe, goodness, truth, beauty: God.

Wanting God is sufficient.  Wanting to believe is already believing.  Your desire for God is faith!  Jesus Christ never harmed anyone!  He only came to help.  In Him, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  Without Him you lose everything.

Below are the Holy Father's own words (from a lecture which took place April 1, when he received the St. Benedict Award for the promotion of life and the family in Europe, just weeks before his Papal election) recommending to all non-believers to live as if God were self-evident in contrast to the Enlightenment's advice to live as if God did not exist (which has brought so much disaster to the world, e.g. through the false ideologies of totalitarian systems and moral relativism).  Without God the only law is the law of the jungle: survival of the fittest: might is right!  Without God the Truth and the Good would be determined by men: by the strongest, the wealthiest, the most clever, the most popular.

"As if God existed"

But at this point, in my capacity as believer, I would like to make a proposal to the secularists. At the time of the Enlightenment there was an attempt to understand and define the essential moral norms, saying that they would be valid "etsi Deus non daretur," even in the case that God did not exist. In the opposition of the confessions and in the pending crisis of the image of God, an attempt was made to keep the essential values of morality outside the contradictions and to seek for them an evidence that would render them independent of the many divisions and uncertainties of the different philosophies and confessions. In this way, they wanted to ensure the basis of coexistence and, in general, the foundations of humanity. At that time, it was thought to be possible, as the great deep convictions created by Christianity to a large extent remained. But this is no longer the case.

The search for such a reassuring certainty, which could remain uncontested beyond all differences, failed. Not even the truly grandiose effort of Kant was able to create the necessary shared certainty. Kant had denied that God could be known in the realm of pure reason, but at the same time he had represented God, freedom and immortality as postulates of practical reason, without which, coherently, for him no moral behavior was possible.

Does not today's situation of the world make us think perhaps that he might have been right? I would like to express it in a different way: The attempt, carried to the extreme, to manage human affairs disdaining God completely leads us increasingly to the edge of the abyss, to man's ever greater isolation from reality. We must reverse the axiom of the Enlightenment and say: Even one who does not succeed in finding the way of accepting God, should, nevertheless, seek to live and to direct his life "veluti si Deus daretur," as if God existed. This is the advice Pascal gave to his friends who did not believe. In this way, no one is limited in his freedom, but all our affairs find the support and criterion of which they are in urgent need.

Above all, that of which we are in need at this moment in history are men who, through an enlightened and lived faith, render God credible in this world. The negative testimony of Christians who speak about God and live against him, has darkened God's image and opened the door to disbelief. We need men who have their gaze directed to God, to understand true humanity. We need men whose intellects are enlightened by the light of God, and whose hearts God opens, so that their intellects can speak to the intellects of others, and so that their hearts are able to open up to the hearts of others.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman clarifies the matter of religious certainty vis-a-vis any human certitude.  From the Fifth Chapter of his Apologia.

I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive {239} of the difficulties of Religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connexion between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and yet borne in upon our minds with most power.

Every priest, of course, knows that his faith is first of all a treasure which he did not invent himself but received and to which he is responsible.  Jesus Christ is the faith of the priest and every priest must present Him and defend Him and introduce Him to the world.  It is not my faith first of all but the sacred Depositum Fidei of Holy Mother Church with which I, unworthy sinner though I be, have been entrusted.

Furthermore, the Al Pacino anecdote betrays another modern error, viz. that honesty consists in saying how you feel.  No.  Honesty is directly linked to goodness and truth.  Real honesty and integrity is to stand for the truth and for goodness even when you don't fully understand or feel it.  What is often required is a bit of intellectual and emotional modesty.  Do not give way to all of your crazy thoughts or impulses.  Control yourself!  That is a basic point of the penny catechism.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Totalitarian Secularism: The New Religion

"The new soft totalitarianism that is advancing on the left wants to have a state religion. It is an atheist, nihilistic religion - but it is a religion that is obligatory for all."  --Rocco Buttiglione

Rocco Buttiglione is the President of the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC) Party in Italy.  Recall that his 2004 nomination for the European Commision was rejected because as a Roman Catholic, Buttiglione believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that "The family exists in order to allow women to have children and to have the protection of a male who takes care of them".

The new fundamentalist religion of secularism forces everyone to reject True Religion.  The new Inquisition does not tolerate any dissent!  And it is a tyranny that promotes anarchy: "anarchic freedom," in the words of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. 

"Freedom" which knows no absolutes is essentially anarchy!  Freedom needs direction: e.g. rights, duties, the truth, the good    =>  right and wrong!  And for all of that to have any meaning, unshakable meaning, you need the Just Judge, viz. God.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was..., is..., and...ever shall be,...God!"  John 1

Never forget that great name Rocco Buttiglione: one of countless victims to the anarchic machine of the modern totalitarian fundamentalist and secular Inquisition.  How ironic that our critics are many times more guilty of the very crimes of which they accuse us.  Take the plank out of thine own eye if you want to help me with the speck in mine own!

For a masterful treatment of this topic and the solemn duty of government see Pope Benedict's renowned Address to the German Parliament last year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Today's Gospel in Jesus of Nazareth: Forgiving the Sins of the Paralytic

In Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narratives (pp. 44-45) Pope Benedict points out Jesus' priority of forgiveness (as indicated by the very meaning of His name: Jesus = "Yahweh is salvation") by referring to the scene of today's gospel (Lk. 5:17-26, cf. Mk. 2:5).

Christ, by first forgiving the sins of the crippled man, clearly maintains..."the priority of forgiveness for sins as the foundation of all true healing.

"Man is a relational being.  And if his first, fundamental relationship is disturbed--his relationship with God--then nothing else can be truly in order.  This is where the priority lies in Jesus' message and ministry: before all else, he wants to point man toward the essence of his malady, and to show him--if you are not healed there, then however many good things you  many find, you are not truly healed.

"In this sense, the explanation of Jesus' name that was offered to Joseph in his dream already contains a fundamental clarification of how man's salvation has to be understood and hence what the Savior's essentail task must be."

Heal the soul.  Fix your relationship with God.  That is everything.  "The flesh profiteth nothing, it is the spirit that gives life."  Or as we heard at the end of yesterday's gospel: "All flesh [needs to] see the salvation of God!" Lk. 3:6

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council Was Necessary

In his book Theological Highlights of Vatican II (Paulist Press 1966) Joseph Ratzinger indicates six concrete problems faced by the Council.

1.  The problem of divine worship.
2.  The problem of centralism in the Church.
3.  The problem of relations with non-Catholic Christendom and the ecumenical movement.
4.  The problem of new directions in the relations between Church and State, or what might somewhat imprecisely be labeled the end of the Middle Ages, or even the end of the Constantinian era.
5.  The problem of faith and science, or, more specifically, the problem of faith and history, which had become a basic problem for faith through the triumph of the method of historical criticism.
6.  The problem of the relation of Christianity to the modern ethic of work, to technology, and in general to the new moral problems posed by a technological society.

The Council Fathers, in their attempt to bring the Gospel afresh to the modern world, charted out the course for the way to begin to resolve these difficulties so that all men might come to the knowledge and the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.  As Cardinal and as Pope, Ratzinger has been exemplary in furthering that course of bringing the Gospel, in it's integrity, to all men of good will, of making Christ more and more accessible to the modern mind and circumstance.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to Talk About God

In his Address at last Wednesday's Audience (28 Nov.) His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI spoke on how to talk to others about God, how to evangelize others and introduce them to or bring them closer to Christ.  He made a couple of fundamental points.  To talk about God you must first talk to God and above all listen to God.  The most effective way to bring God to others and them to Him is to first be close to Him yourself and love and follow Him and that way you will have His joy and acquire His mind.  And for that it is also convenient to be part of His Church which speaks authentically in His name.  To speak about God you must also listen to the Church which He sends as our Teacher: Mater et Magistra.

Don't be afraid of the humility of small steps and trust in the leaven that penetrates the mass little by little and makes it grow.

Guided by the Holy Spirit it is necessary to return to the essence of the message: The Good News of a God who is real and concrete, a God who is interested in us, the God-Love who approaches us in Jesus Christ unto the cross, and who in the resurrection gives us hope and opens up for us a life with no end, eternal life, the true life.

You have to be willing to risk and even lose it all (like Saint Paul) to bring God to others and this selflessness makes the necessary room for God in you to hope in His work and His strength and His wisdom through you.

Use contemporary examples and means to communicate God to others.

Especially in the family, the first school for the communication of the faith to the new generations, you have a privileged place to talk about God.

Joy!  Paschal joy which is very aware of pain, suffering, fatigue, problems, misunderstanding and even death, offering criteria for the interpretation of everything from the perspective of Christian hope.  Make people understand that the faith is not a burden, but rather a font of profound joy, it is to see God's action, and recognize the presence of good, which is not noisy, but rather gives a valuable orientation to live well one's own existence.

Finally, "the ability to listen and dialogue": the family should be an environment in which you learn to be together, to reconcile conflicts in mutual dialogue, which consists in listening and speaking, understanding and loving one another, to be a sign for one another of the mercy of God.

To talk about God means to understand, with your words and with your life, that God is not a competitor for our existence but rather the true guarantee, the guarantee of the greatness of the human person.

Saint Francis Xavier, patron of the propagation of the faith, pray for us that God may sanctify others, many others, with His Word through our words.
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