The members of the Army of Mary have been excommunicated by the Pope because of their heretical beliefs. The following is a brief overview of what happened:
Calling it a "very grave situation," the Vatican has excommunicated members of a controversial Quebec Catholic movement, the Army of Mary, for their heretical beliefs that derive from the writings of Marie-Paule Giguère, an 86-year-old mystic who claims to be a reincarnation of the Virgin Mary.
That information came from the National Post in Canada.
The group should not be confused with the Army of the Immaculate founded by Maximilian Kolbe, who died in a concentration camp, which has a legitimate following of the Virgin Mary.
The teachings of the Quebec-based group went too far by proclaiming that Mary is divine, and that the foundress of the group is the reincarnation of Mary. This would be impossible according to Catholic theology, because Mary was assumed bodily into heaven where she continues to live. In order for Mary to appear, she would not come in the form of another person, because she is still alive.
Another obvious issue with this is to claim that Mary is divine. Neither Catholics or any other Christian group claims that Mary is divine. Although the greatest of creatures, she is still a creature, who owes all of her existence to God Almighty.
My suspicious is that they also have a misunderstanding of Mary's role as Co-Redemptrix. This theology which is not officially sanctioned by the Church does not mean that Christ and Mary work together for salvation, we believe that only Christ is responsible for salvation. Co-redemptrix is understood as Mary's obedience to God which allowed our Savior to come into the world. Her "yes" allowed Christ to come into the world so that we may attain salvation.
This story is sad in many ways because many of the ladies involved are quite aged, and reconciliation is something which must be sought for them. On the other hand, this story is good to show that the Church continues to exercise her authority over her people and to guide them into all truth, as is her mission with the help of God.
This group is also accused of ordaining priests, but these ordinations were done by other priests which is against Church, or Canon, Law. Therefore these ordinations are deemed invalid as are marriages which were attended by these priests, in other words they are null.
We must all pray for these people that they will rejoin Christ's True Church, Holy Mother Church, the Catholic Church.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The members of the Army of Mary have been excommunicated by the Pope because of their heretical beliefs. The following is a brief overview of what happened:
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
A couple of months ago in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, Archbishop Brendan O'Brien was sent to Kingston Ontario to be their new Archbishop. So, St. John's is waiting patiently for the arrival of a new Archbishop.
The following is information from the official archdiocesan website concerning this situation:
Father Francis Puddister Elected Archdiocesan Administrator (St. John's) The priests of the Archdiocese of St. John's of the Presbyteral Council which is also the Archdiocesan College of Consultors have elected Father Francis Puddister, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of St.John's and Parish Priest of Mary Queen of Peace Parish, Torbay Road, St.John's as the Archdiocesan Administrator for the Archdiocese of St.John's.
After Archbishop Brendan O'Brien took possession of the Archdiocese of Kingston on July 25, 2007 the College of Consultors was required by Canon Law to assume the administration of the Archdiocese and to elect a priest as Archdiocesan Administrator. Following a secret ballot, Father Francis Puddister was elected according to Canons 419 and 421.
Father Frank Puddister is originally from Bay Bulls. He received his elementary education at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish School, Bay Bulls. He later moved to St.John's where he attended St. Patrick's and later St. Bonaventure's College. He completed his high school studies at Brother Rice High School, St.John's.
He holds academic degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland (B.A.,1971) and St. Paul's University of Ottawa (Bachelor of Theology, 1976; Licence and Master's in Canon Law, 1986).
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1977 by Archbishop Patrick James Skinner.
Since ordination he has served in a number of parishes throughout the Archdiocese of St.John's. In addition to being responsible for the pastoral administration of a number of parishes he has also been responsible for the Archdiocesan Marriage Tribunal (1982-1994, 2007 to the present) and has served as the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of St.John's since 2001.
Upon his election, as the Archdiocesan Administrator, Father Puddister assumes the administration of the diocese until a new archbishop is installed or takes possession of the diocese (Canon 430).
Until his installation in the Archdiocese of Kingston, Archbsihop O'Brien was mentioned in the usual way during the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. The name of the archbishop is now omitted until a new one is named by the Holy See. The Archdiocesan Liturgy Office suggests that prayers be offered from time to time for the Archdiocesan Administrator (Father Francis Puddister), and for all who work with him in Archdiocesan offices, in the Prayers of the Faithful of the Mass, of the Liturgy of the Hours and of the Liturgy of the Word.
May the Holy Spirit be active in the process of selecting our new archbishop. May he be a man of deep faith, integrity, fidelity and compassion. Let's pray daily!
Prayer for the election of our new bishop
Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose the new Archbishop for the Archdiocese of St. John's, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries. We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Kathy Griffin has joined the likes of George Carlin in her renunciation of religion, specifically her renunciation of Catholicism, the religion into which she was born. Her comments, which I will not post here, were revoked from the Emmy's because they were considered offensive.
We must pray for these two actors and all those who were born to Catholic families, that instead of blaspheming against their religion and God, they will praise and worship God in everything they do.
We, of course, must also pray for all actors and all people.
Maybe one day they will all be very proud of their Catholic heritage, just as Martin Sheen is. He actually took the name Sheen after Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a great event in our history, and Martin Sheen continues to be very involved with his faith and represents it well in Hollywood, he being one of the most respected actors of all time.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
This is an appeal to all Catholics out there to boycott Vision TV, which has, over the years become more and more anti-Catholic. I obviously find this trend very disturbing. I was watching a review show they had for their 100th episode which shows some of the programs they had on there. One was on a gay priest, another was on 2 women who were sexually assaulted by a priest like 30 years ago, another was on evangelicals going to the Dominican Republic or something spreading the Gospel even though most of them are Catholic already. Another show was about Islamic terrorism and a threat issued by the Canadian government warning of this threat. Basically, the show was about how this was false or something or not totally true, and that it was very negative towards Muslims. Oh no, you wouldn't want to offend anyone now would you.
It seems like Vision television supports every religion except Catholicism, while at the same time making the Catholic Church look as bad as it possibly can. Any issue, be it gay "marriage", or priestly sexual abuse, that makes the Church look bad to some people is shown all the time.
Customarily Vision runs shows which condemn the Church from every angle. Care is taken to avoid offending any group, but when it comes to Catholics, they take information from the seediest sources, just to make their contrarian viewpoints. I would suggest that any Catholic does not watch Vision Television. The Catholic Church is the One True Church founded by Jesus Christ, and it IS THE TRUTH, that's why it's so viciously attacked by the likes of Vision.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
I am writing a letter to the fifth estate, a Canadian investigative journalism program. Here it is:
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
Dear Ms. Gartner,
Please let me congratulate the Fifth Estate on producing some fine documentaries in the legacy of investigative journalism. Over the years, journalists of the Fifth Estate have taken it upon themselves to expose some of the most unpalatable behavior occurring in Canada and elsewhere. Many of your programs are head and shoulders above anything else I have seen from other networks, including from American and British television. Shows like the Fifth Estate are valuable for keeping the public informed and public figures in check.
Having said this, however, I am very disappointed at your recent report on the Catholic Church and sexual abuse. Although you are a dedicated and tireless journalist, it seems on this one you were lazy, and instead of uncovering something truly worthwhile, you decided to beat a dead horse. The story of Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse is so overdone on Canadian and American television, you would think it is the only thing happening in the world. Instead of being a real trailblazer and reporting that not all priests are pedophiles, you took the low road, perhaps a road with more ratings, but certainly not more honorable.
To go the road of television sensationalism is something one might expect from American tabloid-style news broadcasts, but not from the CBC. The fact is your story portrayed a few individual priests. If you did a story on 5 rabbis who were murderers, some people could become very suspicious of the Jewish people. Instead of emphasizing that only a tiny percentage of priests ever committed such crimes, you tried to implicate the whole church. You profiled people leaving the church and never returning. Why, all of a sudden, does the minority represent the whole? The vast majority of priests would never hurt a fly, but no one would have that impression after watching your show.
As an investigative journalist, you have an obligation to remain unbiased, and to present all the evidence. You chose not to do this however. Take for example, the following information. Christianity Today noted that there were "70 child abuse allegations reported against American Protestant churches each week during the last ten years," a quarter of which were against pastors ("Go Figure," May 21, 2002).
When the American federal government shut down the "Candyman" pedophile web site last March, it was reported that the site’s more than 7,000 visitors included members of the military, police and fire departments, teachers, Little League coaches, and eight members of the clergy, including two Catholic priests—two out of 7,000.
Another statistic I read said teachers were charged with sexual abuse at a rate 4 times higher than Catholic clergy. I do not know the source, but it is the job of a journalist to find out.
The Fifth Estate is ultimately paid for by Canadian citizens in the form of taxes, as well as advertising from sponsors. Forty three percent of these Canadians are Roman Catholic, and I think it would be high time for your program to earn its reputation again by doing a real investigative report that shows the hypocrisy of singling out the Roman Catholic Church when it comes to sexual abuse.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
The following article had a great beginning, but some parts throughout may be offensive to devout Catholics. The first part is quite nice, however, please read. This is an article I found at the following address:
Some Roman Catholic liturgical customs aestheticize human relations to the divine with exquisite sensibility: the pope's slippers, for example, were made in a shell-like shade of pink, and his pallium, a long white band worn over the pope's shoulders, is woven from the first shearings of lambs that have been blessed on Jan. 21, the feast day of St. Agnes, in Rome's Sant'Agnese Fuori le Mura (St. Agnes Outside the Walls), where the saint is buried; the lambs are then raised in the papal summer palace of Castel Gandolfo until their wool is ready, at which point Benedictine nuns in a convent in Trastevere work it into the papal vestment. I chanced upon the ceremony several years ago, and saw two of the new year's lambs, garlanded with white and red roses, trot up a scarlet carpet (symbolizing martyrdom) to the altar where the priest, in full fig, awaited them. I almost expected the little creatures to kneel down.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Recently the president of Human Life International, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, appeared on Fox television on the Colmes-Hannity show to speak with Hannity who openly expressed his beliefs about contraception which are contrary to Catholic belief. Fr. Euteneur was invited onto the show to speak with Hannity. Hannity showed absolutely no respect to this priest, and went on a tirade against him. Euteneur, however, remained calm. This article, taken from the Human Life International (the largest pro-life organization in the world), explains the situation, in the words of Fr. Euteneur himself:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth.” (2 Tim 4:3-4)
Many Spirit and Life readers may know that after last Friday’s column (“Sean Hannity’s Gospel”) I was invited to defend my position on the Hannity and Colmes show that very night. It’s nice to know that my emails are being read in the hallowed halls of Fox News! I suspected, however, that Hannity wanted to defend his “devout Catholic” credentials, and I was not disabused of this notion when I went on the show. What the show did, above all, was to show not that the Church was wrong or incoherent, but that Hannity, like so many other cultural Catholics, is really a liberal when it comes to certain aspects of sexual morality.
The first point I have to straighten out is for those who were concerned that this was not handled first in private. Well, in fact, I did attempt to handle this matter in private with Mr. Hannity in 2004, but I never received a response to my letter asking him for a meeting. [See side bar item, “Fr. Euteneuer asks to meet with Hannity about birth control.”] As far as I am concerned, I did my due diligence before I went public with my complaint about his hypocrisy; but even if I had not, it was Mr. Hannity’s schedulers who called me to make an issue of it, not I who demanded to appear on his show! In this age of culpable clerical silence on many serious issues affecting people’s souls, do we now want a priest to keep silent about something so important? We can’t have it both ways.
Second, concerning the actual debate, what some are calling Sean’s “disrespect” for me as a member of the clergy was not of concern to me. In that sense, Sean is typical of his generation that has been taught that nobody has any special consecration (even if they technically do) and that everyone has to prove his mettle in the realm of public debate. No problem. I am a holder of this office, and I did not feel that his callous disregard for the priesthood did anything to diminish the sanctity of it, but I can see how it was an extra element of scandal for those who value the priestly office highly. Nor did I really care that he cut me off time and time again in the debate; he’s a known quantity—did you expect anything else from Hannity?
Just for the record, Sean Hannity really is a dissenting Catholic and a public scandal to the Faith. He should be rebuked by his pastor or bishop, not by me, but since that has not been forthcoming in his decade or so of public dissent on radio and TV, somebody in authority had to say something. Hannity, as we know, is shameless on birth control, and judging from the interview, he hasn’t even the vocabulary to rationally defend his position in the face of his Church’s clear teaching. Hannity is also clearly pro-choice on abortion in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother, and he is really cozy with the likes of Rudy Giuliani whose love for abortion and everything gay is hardly a secret. It has even been revealed that Hannity’s website, Hannity.com has a gay dating service that Sean knows about and apparently “has no problem with;” no different from his attitude in regard to birth control. So much for the “devout Catholic” Hannity. If that is devout, then Hugh Heffner is reverent.
The interview on Friday night was enlightening in many senses but mostly because it showed Hannity’s true liberal side. The “Judge not lest ye be judged” comment I have heard only and exclusively in debates with liberals and others with guilty consciences. It is the whine of the person who is doing something that he knows in his heart is wrong but can’t stand anyone pointing out. Hannity’s “judge not” rant can be summarized in one phrase which, if it were put this way, would have been much more identifiable as liberal claptrap: “How dare you question my choice!” Face it: Hannity is a liberal when it comes to sex. In his position next to Colmes, Hannity wears the conservative mantle, but when he comes face to face with the truth of his Church, which I as a priest am obliged to uphold faithfully, he is no more than a liberal relativist.
And in that matter, how different is his position on birth control from that of Planned Parenthood? They have “no problem” with birth control either. In fact it’s much more than a personal matter for them. It fuels their business. Yes, about 60% of women going into abortion clinics are doing it because of failed birth control and no amount of feigned pragmatism about stopping abortions with birth control is going to change the fact that birth control teaches people to be selfish and leads them down the garden path to the killing centers of this nation—or any nation for that matter. And by the way, for those who wanted me to object to both abortion and birth control as a solution to any problem, please go back and listen carefully to the clip—I did object to both! The Catholic Church’s teaching on sexual morality is the only coherent dissenting viewpoint from PP’s gospel of free sex and baby killing, and sadly, Hannity, the “devout Catholic,” just aids and abets those criminals.
Most surprising of all, however, was Hannity’s use of what I call the “argument from pedophilia;” namely, the tendency to fall back on the Church sex abuse scandal when you’re losing an argument with a priest and have to grab for something. I have had people do this to me in front of abortion clinics, at Da Vinci Code protests and in private conversations about Catholicism for the past several years. Let’s just say I didn’t expect it from Hannity! Was it me or did Sean just disconnect from reality at that moment? Where in the world did that come from? Well, it’s because Hannity’s really a closet liberal when pushed to the wall. True colors come out in the wash, and the birth control issue just has a greater tendency to touch the sensitive areas of people’s philosophies of life.
Hannity’s worldview is full of holes. He may have gone to seminary but, if that is the case, his seminary background and knowledge of Latin (!) gives him a greater responsibility to get it right when he wants to spout off about Church teaching in the public forum.
For your reading interest you can click on the side bar items to see some of the incredible feedback that we got on both sides of the debate. Of particular interest is the recent statement of Cardinal Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, who has said that “dissident Catholics are more worrying than atheists.” Whew—words of warning for Hannity and O’Reilly and company. In the end, we all have to undergo our own “Judgment Day,” and it is the Church’s job to let people know ahead of time that God is not a moral relativist on the issue of birth control.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International
I would like to write about an incident, involving me and another person, which shows how misinformation can lead to anti-catholicism. In order to protect the identity of those involved, I will leave out names and identifying details.
I was speaking with a girl I know and whom I considered a friend. We weren't very close, but close enough that we could talk about many issues and had a good laugh every now and then. For the most part, she was a very fine individual who I felt was caring and sensitive. I continue to believe she is caring and sensitive, however there is a side of her, which I had until that point not noticed.
We were speaking about various topics as we usually did through email. We would send a sentence or two of discussion on light topics. It was never a big deal, and just casual chat. Knowing that she's been with her significant other for quite some time, the topic of marriage and children came up. Then I asked her if she would marry in a church. She said she would like to because it is the traditional way of getting married, however she felt she may be somewhat hypocritical in doing so, since neither she nor her family attend church.
Then she said she honestly didn't believe a lot of things about the Catholic faith. This was fine, and I emailed her back and said I honestly do. This is when she completely lost it. She went on a tirade about the bad things the Catholic Church has done. The following is a quote from what she said:
"Most of the priests are a bunch of homosexual child molesters. I believe some of the rules should be changed and altered as the times progress. They are very backwards in their thinking."
Remember, we were used to having light topics on things like the weather, friends, music, etc. We had never engaged in heated discussion, yet she felt the need at that point to go berserk and verbally ransack the Catholic Church. I was literally shocked from what she wrote. Even the most fervent anti-Catholics do not believe that "most priest are a bunch of child molesters". I was sad to hear she had such a poor opinion of the Catholic Church.
She went on to lambaste what she felt were "backward" practices of the Catholic church, such as not allowing homosexuals to marry each other, etc. She continuously called the practices of the church backward and old-fashioned, and said the Church should focus on more important issues than homosexual marriage, such as war, poverty, AIDS, etc. She even attacked beliefs held by all Christians, such as the Virgin Birth. However, her beef against the Catholic church had really nothing to do with how much the Church did in these areas. I know this because I sent her a response email outlining the things the Church has done. For example, I said the Catholic Church helps more people in Africa living with AIDS than all other relief organizations (including the Red Cross, the UN, etc) combined. I told her how Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church helped more Jews during the holocaust than anyone else, and that this is attested to by the then Prime Minister of Israel, the Chief Rabbi of Rome (who converted to Catholicism), and Albert Einstein. But she was not interested in this information.
I also responded to her comments about "Most of the priests are a bunch of homosexual child molesters". Obviously this comment is not only offensive, but also false. As I've wrote about in previous articles, the idea that "most" or even "a lot" of priests are child molesters is outright false. A study done by non-Catholic Philip Jenkins from Penn State University shows that celibate priests are no more likely to commit sexual abuse than any other religious person, or non-religious person. Other studies have shown that teacher sexual abuse is 4 times higher than priestly abuse. One of the reasons why it seems there is a lot of priestly abuse is because the information that the media has presented recently has been accumulated from a 40 or 50 year period. Think about it. Whenever you hear on the news a story about a priest who sexually assaulted children, etc. it's always happened in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. In fact, studies show that there is a large decline in sexual abuse by priests recently. It's also important to realize that what the media is reporting is not completely accurate. For example, most of the 1-2% of priests involved were charged with one incident, not serial incidences. This includes the vast majority (about 80%). Also, 80% of cases did not involve pedophilia (sexual abuse of pre-pubescent children), but in fact involved post-pubescent people, aged from 13 to 18. Although sexual abuse is sexual abuse regardless of age, it is worse to abuse a pre- rather than a post-pubescent child. The media of course, does not report on this difference. The media is well-known for going with the most taboo stories they can find. There are never studies done on, for example, the incidence of sexual abuse among truck drivers, or cooks, for example. Sexual abuse among priests is a popular story for the media because priests are seen as holy and pure, and to discredit them enters into a rather taboo area. Rarely does 1 to 2% of a group come to represent the entire group, like this has for many people.
In dealing with anti-Catholic sentiment, it is important to realize that while many people will viciously attack the Church for having sexual abuse, or for various other historical events, which they misrepresent, their true purpose is something else. Most of the time, people have certain opinions which are contrary to Natural Law and the Catholic Church, and in order to lash out against them, instead of talking about the issue, they seek to discredit the Church. In doing so, they seek to make everything the Church teaches seem absurd. Basically, they try to say, "How can you believe what this organization says if it does this, this, and this." This is the same case with this friend of mine. She lashed out at the Catholic Church in order to make it easy for her points to be accepted, even though they had nothing to do with her points. It's akin to saying, I don't believe what that person is saying about art because he failed a math test in grade 9. It's using the information about this person failing his grade 9 test to show how stupid, immature, and unreliable this person is. Once you have discredited this person, you feel it is easier to make the point that he knows nothing about art. If this person is an art critic and he is critiquing your art, you then proceed to say, My art is perfect, and I don't need to believe you, because you are stupid, immature, and unreliable. This approach is very popular among anti-Catholics. The best approach for dealing with this is to make sure they stay on topic, and one topic at a time. Catholic doctrine is easily defended because it reflects logic, reason, and natural law, because it is from God.
I will pray for this person and for all anti-catholics in general that they may see the Truth of the Catholic faith and realize that by living a life prescribed by Holy Mother Church, they may come to have joy and happiness.
Monday, March 12, 2007
This article is from Reuters
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict was opposed to Bob Dylan appearing at a youth event with the late Pope John Paul in 1997 because he considered the pop star the wrong kind of "prophet," Benedict writes in a new book issued on Thursday.
Benedict, who was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the time of the concert in Bologna, Italy, makes the disclosure in a new book of memoirs about his predecessor, who died in 2005.
"There was reason to be skeptical, -- I was, and in a certain sense I still am, -- to doubt if it was really right to let these types of prophets intervene," Benedict writes, only mentioning Dylan among the stars who appeared.
At the 1997 concert, Dylan, the anti-conformist troubadour of the 1960s and one of the 20th century's greatest influences on popular music, sang three songs before the Pope as part of a concert that included a number of other, mostly Italian artists.
Dylan sang "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," his 1960s anti-war classic "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and "Forever Young," a song of hope and courage.
In his new book, Pope Benedict does not explain why he does not like Bob Dylan or why he considers him a false "prophet."
Benedict is a lover of classical and sacred music, and an accomplished classical pianist. Last year, he canceled the Vatican's traditional fund-raising Christmas concert, which was a magnet for pop stars.
Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman into a middle-class Jewish family in Minnesota, has been at times agnostic, Jewish and a born-again Christian during his musical career.
At the 1997 concert, John Paul referred to what is perhaps Dylan's most famous song, "Blowing in the Wind," which became an anthem for young people seeking meaning in life in the 1960s.
John Paul told the crowd of some 300,000 young Italian Catholics that the answer was indeed "in the wind" -- but not in the wind that blew things away, rather "in the wind of the spirit" that would lead them to Christ.
After Dylan sang, he took off his beige cowboy hat and went up to a podium to greet John Paul.
Benedict's new book, called "John Paul II, My Beloved Predecessor," is mostly a reflection on John Paul's personality and his religious writings.
This article is from The Times Online
John Follain, Milan
POPE BENEDICT XVI plans to bring back the celebration of mass in Latin, overriding a rare show of protest from senior cardinals.
With a papal decree said to be imminent, Catholic publishers in Rome are preparing new editions of the Latin missal. They have sent proofs to Vatican authorities for approval, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica reported yesterday.
Vatican sources said Benedict, who is fluent in Latin, is considering publication of a papal “motu proprio” (literally, on his own initiative), which does not require the approval of church bodies. This would enable Benedict to ignore opposition from several cardinals.
The decree would officially declare the Latin, or Tridentine, mass an “extraordinary universal rite”, and the vernacular mass, with which most Catholics are familiar, an “ordinary universal rite”.
The late French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was excommunicated for opposing changes in the church agreed by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, including the replacement of the Tridentine mass with updated liturgy in local languages. The pope’s proposal will be cheered by Lefebvre’s traditionalist followers, said to number about 1m. A special Vatican commission, appointed to examine the demands of traditionalists, met in December to help draft the decree.
Today celebration of the Tridentine rite is limited. Bishops can allow it, but only on the condition that the celebration is deemed a sign of “affection for the ancient tradition” and not a criticism of the reforms.
Benedict wrote in his memoirs, My Life: Memories 1927-1977, published when he was still a cardinal: “I was stunned by the ban on the ancient missal.”
Friday, March 09, 2007
There are many things which can potentially enslave people, including alcohol, sex, drugs, and gambling. Many who gamble lose their cars, homes, and even livelihoods, and in the worst case scenarios lead to suicide by those who cannot cope with this. So, what does the Catholic Church have to say about all this? Don't Catholic Churches hold bingos and garden parties where gambling occurs? Yes. So, is this contradictory to its teaching, even hypocritical? The answer is no.
The Catholic Church does not ban all games of chance, only ones which can be harmful to those playing, or affect others in a negative way. Here's what the catechism officially states:
Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant.
So, go ahead and have a little bit of fun, but be very cautious. Make sure you pre-set a limit of how much you plan on spending on these games before you start.
Monday, February 26, 2007
This story was reported by the Sunday Times from the UK:
John Paul miracles hasten sainthood
THE VATICAN is close to making the late pope John Paul II a saint after investigating three "miracles" attributed to him.
John Paul had already been credited with curing a nun of Parkinson's disease and now it has emerged he has been credited with two other cures, proof of which will confer on him beatification and then canonisation.
This weekend the cardinal in charge of the process said he expected the checks performed by the local dioceses on all three miracles to be complete by April. A formal announcement is expected on April 2, the second anniversary of John Paul's death, and senior Vatican sources expect him to be declared a saint within 18 months.
Pope Benedict XVI has put his predecessor on a fast-track to canonisation, waiving a rule under which the Vatican normally waits five years after the candidate's death before launching the process. A similar waiver led to the rapid elevation of Mother Teresa in 2003.
However, Benedict made it clear in a document released last year that he will not emulate John Paul, who was said to run a "saint factory" after announcing 120 new names in one day. His foreign journeys were often marked by canonisations or beatifications of people from the countries he visited. Altogether, he created 482 saints, more than the total in the previous 500 years.
The French nun, who is not named, was suffering from the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease when members of her convent prayed to the spirit of John Paul to ask God for her recovery in May 2005. The late pope himself suffered from Parkinson's.
Several hours after the prayers began, the nun said that she could write without difficulty and within two weeks she rose from her bed, reporting "no more pain, no rigidity".
Candidates being considered for sainthood must not only have led a virtuous life but also to have been responsible for a medically inexplicable cure after their death by responding to prayers from the afterlife.
Cardinal JosŽ Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said in an interview to be broadcast tomorrow by Rome Reports, a television news agency, that the diocesan phase of assessing the cure was almost complete. "Cardinal Ruini, in charge of causes for the diocese of Rome, believes that this phase will be complete by April," said Martins.
Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is leading the process for the beatification, told The Sunday Times last week that he was examining three miracles altogether. There is a second elsewhere in Europe and a third in South America. However, he said he could not be drawn on whether they had been authenticated.
John Paul is likely to be declared "venerable" in the coming months, and, pending a satisfactory outcome of the investigation, Benedict is likely to beatify John Paul in the autumn.
The summer of 2008 is believed to be the most likely time for Benedict to canonise John Paul in an open air mass in St Peter's Square. At his funeral in the square huge crowds roared: "Santo subito [sainthood now]!"
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
For Christians, and specifically Catholics, today is Ash Wednesday and marks the first day of Lent, a time of repentence and fasting. Today is especially marked for fasting, as only one full meal and two smaller meals not equally the one meal in size are permitted to be eaten. Also, Catholics are obligied to abstain from meat.
At mass today, Catholics will receive a cross on their foreheads using ashes. This comes from the Biblical practice of people covering themselves in ashes as penitents. Also, a mark on the forehead represents ownership, so a cross represents that we are servants of Christ.
The following information is very valuable, and is from Jimmy Akin, from Catholic Answers Live:
On the first day of Lent, this signing is done with ashes because they are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance. In Bible times the custom was to fast, wear sackcloth, sit in dust and ashes, and put dust and ashes on one's head (cf. 1 Sam. 4:12; 2 Sam. 1:20, 13:19, 15:32). Ashes also symbolize death and so remind us of our mortality. When the priest uses his thumb to sign one of the faithful with the ashes and says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return," he is echoing God's address to Adam (Gen. 3:19; cf. Job 34:15; Ps. 90:3, 104:29; Eccles. 3:20). This phrase also echoes the words at a Catholic burial, "Ashes to ashes; dust to dust," which is based on God's words to Adam in Genesis 3 and Abraham's confession, "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:27).
Catholics are not required to have their foreheads signed with ashes. It is, though, strongly advised as a visible spiritual reminder that encourages us to adopt an attitude of prayer, repentance, and humility.
Neither is Ash Wednesday a holy day of obligation. Holy days are either commemorations of particular events (such as the birth of Christ), particular people (such as Jesus' earthly father, Joseph), or important theological concepts (such as the Kingship of Christ). Ash Wednesday does not commemorate any event and could be said only indirectly to commemorate a Person (Christ), since it is the beginning of preparation for the greater celebrations of Christ's saving work that follow. However, attending Mass is a fitting way to mark the beginning of penitential season of Lent. Also, it is a day of fast and abstinence.
Monday, February 19, 2007
I found the following article very interesting. It was taken from www.catholic.net.
The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition
by Ellen Rice
"The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition," a 1994 BBC/A&E production, will re-air on the History Channel this December 3 at 10 p.m. It is a definite must-see for anyone who wishes to know how historians now evaluate the Spanish Inquisition since the opening of an investigation into the Inquisition's archives. The special includes commentary from historians whose studies verify that the tale of the darkest hour of the Church was greatly fabricated.
In its brief sixty-minute presentation, "The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition" provides only an overview of the origins and debunking of the myths of torture and genocide. The documentary definitely succeeds in leaving the viewer hungry to know more. The long-held beliefs of the audience are sufficiently weakened by the testimony of experts and the expose of the making of the myth.
The Inquisition began in 1480. Spain was beginning a historic reunification of Aragon and Castile. The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile created a unified Hispania not seen since Roman times. Afraid that laws commanding the exile or conversion of Jews were thwarted by conversos, i.e. synagogue-going "Catholics," Ferdinand and Isabella commissioned an investigation or Inquisition. They began the Inquisition hoping that religious unity would foster political unity, and other heads of state heralded Spain's labors for the advent of a unified Christendom. The documentary clearly and boldly narrates the historical context, which intimates that the Spanish were not acting odd by their contemporary standards.
The Inquisition Myth, which Spaniards call "The Black Legend," did not arise in 1480. It began almost 100 years later, and exactly one year after the Protestant defeat at the Battle of Mühlberg at the hands of Ferdinand's grandson, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In 1567 a fierce propaganda campaign began with the publication of a Protestant leaflet penned by a supposed Inquisition victim named Montanus. This character (Protestant of course) painted Spaniards as barbarians who ravished women and sodomized young boys. The propagandists soon created "hooded fiends" who tortured their victims in horrible devices like the knife-filled Iron Maiden (which never was used in Spain). The BBC/A&E special plainly states a reason for the war of words: the Protestants fought with words because they could not win on the battlefield.
The Inquisition had a secular character, although the crime was heresy. Inquisitors did not have to be clerics, but they did have to be lawyers. The investigation was rule-based and carefully kept in check. And most significantly, historians have declared fraudulent a supposed Inquisition document claiming the genocide of millions of heretics.
What is documented is that 3000 to 5000 people died during the Inquisition's 350 year history. Also documented are the "Acts of Faith," public sentencings of heretics in town squares. But the grand myth of thought control by sinister fiends has been debunked by the archival evidence. The inquisitors enjoyed a powerful position in the towns, but it was one constantly jostled by other power brokers. In the outlying areas, they were understaffed - in those days it was nearly impossible for 1 or 2 inquisitors to cover the thousand-mile territory allotted to each team. In the outlying areas no one cared and no one spoke to them. As the program documents, the 3,000 to 5,000 documented executions of the Inquisition pale in comparison to the 150,000 documented witch burnings elsewhere in Europe over the same centuries.
The approach is purely historical, and therefore does not delve into ecclesial issues surrounding religious freedom. But perhaps this is proper. Because the crime was heresy, the Church is implicated, but the facts show it was a secular event.
One facet of the Black Legend that evaporates under scrutiny in this film is the rumor that Philip II, son of Charles V, killed his son Don Carlos on the advisement of the aging blind Grand Inquisitor. But without a shred of evidence, the legend of Don Carlos has been enshrined in a glorious opera by Verdi.
The special may be disturbing to young children. There are scenes of poor souls burning at the stake, and close-ups of the alleged torture devices. Scenes depicting witches consorting with pot-bellied devils are especially grotesque. For kids, this is the stuff of nightmares.
Discrediting the Black Legend brings up the sticky subject of revisionism. Re-investigating history is only invalid if it puts an agenda ahead of reality. The experts - once true believers in the Inquisition myth - were not out to do a feminist canonization of Isabella or claim that Tomas de Torquemada was a Marxist. Henry Kamen of the Higher Council for Scientific Research in Barcelona said on camera that researching the Inquisition's archives "demolished the previous image all of us (historians) had."
And the future of the Black Legend? For many it may continue to hold more weight than reality. There is the emotional appeal against the Church. The dissenters of today may easily imagine Torquemada's beady eyes as a metaphor of the Church's "dictatorial, controlling, damning" pronouncements. The myth is also the easiest endorsement of the secular state: "de-faith" the state and de-criminalize heresy. Who will be the revisionists in this case? Will the many follow Montanas' lead in rewriting history?
Our 20th century crisis of man playing God - usurping power over conception, life, and death - leaves us with no alternative but to qualify our demythologization of the Inquisition with a reminder: 3,000 to 5,000 victims are 3,000 to 5,000 too many.
Ellen Rice is assistant to the editor of Catholic Dossier.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Alexa ranks webpages on the Internet, and with your help as readers, this blog has surpassed 1,000,000 in its ranking and currently ranks at 887,363! I wish to thank everyone who reads this blog, and who makes this possible. If you want to help the rank go even higher, you can install the Alexa Toolbar, by clicking here.
This is a great milestone for this blog. Please continue to stop by, as I will continue to update this website regularly!
Friday, February 16, 2007
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before the papal conclave gathered to elect a new pope, made a speech about the Catholic Church and the world. He said we as citizens must seek to avoid the "dictatorship of relativism". I have been reading a book called A Refutation of Moral Relativism, put together by Peter Kreeft. The following is a short essay of mine of why moral relativism is untenable.
Slavery is wrong, as is murder. Most people accept these. But, how do these people know these things are true? Someone told them, but who told the tellers? Eventually it comes from reason. Each person possesses reason; each has a conscience. How can an action be judged as right or wrong? We must appeal to an authority, and that authority is natural law.
Natural law is as strong and binding as physical laws such as gravity and energy. They do not depend on our interpretation or feelings, they exist independently. Murder is wrong regardless. It doesn’t matter how angry we are, how much higher our status is than the victim’s, it makes no difference how much the person “deserves” it, because it is inherently wrong. Sometimes however, this distinction is hard to make, and we cannot determine ourselves right from wrong.
Most people nowadays accept that slavery is wrong and an affront to each person’s dignity as a human being. It cannot be accepted. But what if you were to speak to someone from 300 years ago who owned slaves. You two could argue about whether or not owning a slave is right or wrong. But the truth cannot have it both ways, truth can only be one. Truth never has and never will change. Your opinion is not the truth, your status does not give you the truth, the truth is the truth, and exists independently. If morals are not based on an absolute truth, what are they based on? The only alternative is a relative truth. This, by definition, is a truth which one person accepts, but someone else may reject. It comes down to opinions. In one person’s opinion, slavery is right, in another’s, it is wrong. So who’s right? According to relative morality, either could be or simple is correct. This makes no sense. You have an opinion, but an opinion cannot be an opinion about an opinion, an opinion is an opinion about the truth. Therefore, you must discover the truth in order to determine if your opinion is right. Your opinion could be wrong.
You cannot simply say something is wrong, especially if you admit you do not know. You just have to sit back and watch things happen and hope they turn out for the best. The only model which you sanction is anarchy. You can accept your own opinions, but you must then also accept everyone else’s, no matter how much they offend you. Otherwise, you are saying that a relative morality applies to you, but that an absolute morality applies to everyone else’s. In other words, you have to accept that a person owns a slave, because in their opinion or their own “personal” morals, that is alright. If you say they should not own a slave, you are overriding their moral perspective, and appealing to a superseding value which surpasses this person’s belief. Therefore you are appealing to something greater than personal relative morality; you are appealing to an objective, transcendent morality. You have two options: you can admit there is an absolute morality, or you can maintain a relative morality, but by doing so you must accept everyone else’s behavior and morals. Law enforcement cannot stop them from doing something, because that would be saying your morals are more worthy than the other person’s morals. You could only do something personally to rectify the situation. Saying something is right or wrong would not be valid either, because you would have to admit that you did not know, and you could not impose your personal morals on anyone else. You could at most say, “I do not personally believe that is right”. Only when you admit that there is a natural law, one which is above personal opinion and beliefs, one which is unchanging, can you claim that an action is morally right or wrong.
Vladimir Lenin, a political leader who taught a form of communism and was the first head of the Soviet Union, came to power in an effort to force everyone into the same social class. Many believe communism can be beneficial to society, but in practice it never works, and there are many reasons why it cannot work. In fact, the Catholic Church is officially against communism. One of Lenin's goals was to eliminate religion from his country. This destroys the concept of freedom and goes against principles of humanity. Ultimately, Leninism failed, and millions of people lost their lives fighting wars to implement it. Lenin was very sad on his deathbed because of all the suffering and loss he brought to his country. He said he felt as though he was lying in a giant pool of blood, the blood of his fellow countrymen.
In his last words, Lenin, who was against religion in general, set his sights to one of Christianity's greatest heroes - St. Francis of Assisi. Lenin knew that his ideology had lost, and that Russia had lost, and contemplated what would be required to restore Russia, when he said these words:
"I have deluded myself. Without doubt, it was necessary to free the oppressed masses. However, our methods resulted in other oppressions and gruesome massacres. You know I am deathly ill; I feel lost in an ocean of blood formed by countless victims. This was necessary to save our Russia, but it is too late to turn back. We would need ten Francis of Assisi."
This shows the amazing character of St. Francis, which is attested to by Lenin.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
It is well-known by many holy men and women of God, that the holier one is and the more pious one strives to be, the more the Devil will seek to tempt you. This was no different than many of the great saints we venerate today. I will profile three of these saints in this posting, and show how they were tempted, and how they dealt with it. These men are Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and Saint Benedict.
Saint Francis of Assisi knew well the temptations of the body and how they interfered with the desires of the soul. Because the body is made to carry burdens, and sometimes is sluggish and needs to be beaten, St. Francis called it Brother Ass. In his early years in the 1200s, Francis was often tempted, sometimes almost unbearably. To overcome this temptation, he sometimes rolled around in the snow. This must have an effect similar to getting a cold shower, except it is probably a lot colder. When there was no snow and St. Francis was strongly tempted, he would throw himself onto thorn bushes. This would tear his skin and cause him to bleed. St. Francis understood the dangers of temptation, and avoided them at all costs.
From the book "A History of the Church: from the birth of Christ to the present time", written in 1834 by Charles A. Goodrich, the author describes the lengths to which St. Bernard of Clairvaux would go to avoid temptation. It states: "Such was his austerity, that happening one day to fix his eyes on a female face, he immediately reflected that this was a temptation, and running to a pond, he leaped up to his neck into the water, which was of an icy coldness, to punish himself and vanquish the enemy."
St. Benedict, the founder of Western monastic life, was also tempted thoroughly by the Devil. Yet, with grace, he was able to overcome his tempter. The following information was found on EWTN.com's website, and is quoted from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc:
Benedict, like the Desert Fathers, had to struggle with temptations of the flesh and the devil. One of these struggles is described by Gregory. "On a certain day when he was alone the tempter presented himself. A small dark bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his face and came so near him that, if he had wished, he could have seized it with his hand. But on his making the sign of the cross, the bird flew away. Then followed a violent temptation of the flesh, such as he had never before experienced. The evil spirit brought before his imagination a woman whom he had formerly seen, and inflamed his heart with such vehement desire at the memory of her that he had very great difficulty in repressing it. He was almost overcome and thought of leaving his solitude. Suddenly, however, with the help of divine grace, he found the strength he needed. Seeing near at hand a thick growth of briars and nettles, he stripped off his habit and cast himself into the midst of them and plunged and tossed about until his whole body was lacerated. Thus, through those bodily wounds, he cured the wounds of his soul." Never again was he troubled in the same way.
As the founder of Opus Dei, Josemaria Escriva said, "To defend his purity, Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, Saint Benedict threw himself into a thorn bush, Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond... You..., what have you done?"
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
After reading more about Padre Pio, my interest grew in this amazing man of Christ and of miracles. There is hardly a charism which Padre Pio did not receive from God, and he performed many miracles while alive, and continues to do so through his powerful intercessions to Christ. In fact, as was the title of a post not too long ago, Padre Pio said he would do his most powerful work after his death.
After reading more information on Padre Pio, I downloaded a radio program broadcast by Catholic Answers Live, a Catholic radio call-in show. I have a link for the website on my blog. The particular program which I downloaded was on Padre Pio. The lady on the show wrote several book on Padre Pio and described one particular miracle which was attributed to him. I sought and found a website which describes this miracle in further detail. The article is below:
More astounding still may be the thoroughly-documented cure of a construction worker named Giovanni Savino, who was severely injured on February 15, 1949, in a dynamite mishap. When Dr. Guglielmo San- guinetti, a physican, and Padre Raffaele, another Capuchin, and Father Dominic Meyer rushed to the injured man's side, “all three men noted that among Savino's numerous injuries, his right eye was gone entirely. They agreed that 'the socket was empty',” reports biographer Bernard Ruffin. Other doctors confirmed that the eye was completely annihilated and the other one badly damaged.
It looked like Savino was also going to be totally blind. For three days, the worker lay on a hospital bed with his head and face bandaged. When a surgeon entered the room three days later, Savino reported that Padre Pio had visited him — something Savino recognized because he had detected the beautiful aroma so often reported around the priest. A week later, at about one a.m. on February 25, 1949, Savino felt a slap on the right side of his face — the side where the eye was completely gone. “I asked, 'Who touched me?'” testified Savino. “There was nobody. Again I smelled the aroma of Padre Pio. It was beautiful.”
When later the ophthalmologist — an atheist — came to examine the remaining eye, there was a shock. “To their amazement,” writes Ruffin, “the doctors found that his shattered face was fully healed and covered with new skin. Savino, however, was most delighted at the fact that he could see. 'I can see you!' he said excitedly to the eye specialist.”
And indeed, as is medically documented, the doctor saw, to his “utter astonishment”, that Savino had his right eye back. Somehow, the eye had materialized. (“Now I believe too,” exclaimed the doctor, “because of what my own hands have touched!”) As Ruffin notes, it's one thing when diseases disappear; this is exciting. It's tremendous to hear of diabetes or arthritis or even cancer leaving a person. “For a missing part of the body to be restored, however, is another matter,” noted the expert biographer.
(Special thanks goes to Pilgrims of St. Michael - http://www.michaeljournal.org/stpio.htm)
In a fascinating article by the British Daily Mail, the top Vatican Exorcist Gabriele Amorth, who wrote the book titled "An Exorcist Tells his Story", which I profiled in another blog posting and which I am currently in the process of reading. The following is from the Daily Mail website:
Adolf Hitler and Russian leader Stalin were possessed by the Devil, the Vatican's chief exorcist has claimed.
Father Gabriele Amorth who is Pope Benedict XVI's 'caster out of demons' made his comments during an interview with Vatican Radio.
Father Amorth said: "Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.
"I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler - and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil.
"You can tell by their behaviour and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That's why we need to defend society from demons."
According to secret Vatican documents recently released wartime pontiff Pope Pius XII attempted a "long distance" exorcism of Hitler which failed to have any effect.
Father Amorth said: "It's very rare that praying and attempting to carry out an exorcism from distance works.
"Of course you can pray for someone from a distance but in this case it would not have any effect.
"One of the key requirements for an exorcism is to be present in front of the possessed person and that person also has to be consenting and willing.
"Therefore trying to carry out an exorcism on someone who is not present, or consenting and willing would prove very difficult.
"However I have no doubt that Hitler was possessed and so it does not surprise me that Pope Pius XII tried a long distance exorcism."
In the past Father Amorth has also spoken out against the Harry Potter books, claiming that reading the novels of the teen wizard open children's minds to dabbling with the occult and black magic.
Father Amorth, who is president of the International Association of Exorcists, said of the JK Rowling books:"Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil."
He said that Rowling's books contain innumerable positive references to magic, "the satanic art" and added the books attempt to make a false distinction between black and white magic, when in fact, the distinction "does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil."
Father Amorth is said to have carried out more than 30,000 exorcisms in his career and his favourite film is, according to Italian newspapers The Exorcist.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Padre Pio, born Francesco Forgione in 1887, was one of our centuries most miraculous saints. Throughout his life, Padre Pio journeyed with Christ, in a very intimate way. As one may have guessed, this caused anger from Satan, whose attacks become all the stronger the closer someone comes to Christ. With this relationship, Padre Pio suffered greatly, and bore the afflictions of Christ. In this essay, I will explore the life of Padre Pio, and explain the sufferings and joys he endured.
At a very early age, Padre Pio was very pious. His family, though illiterate, memorized the Bible and passed down religious tradition to their children. As a child, Pio communicated with Jesus, Mary, and his Guardian Angel, and did so with such ease that he at first though anyone could easily.
As a youth, Padre Pio experienced visions and ecstacies, and was drawn, by the age of 10 to the life of a Capuchin friar. When he was the right age, his family brought young Pio to the Capuchin community to see if he was eligible to enter their ranks. They said they would willingly accept him, on condition that he further his education first.
Pio's father had to go to the United States in order to make the money necessary for young Pio to get the right education. At the age of 15, Pio entered the Capuchin community. During his novitiate, it is believed that Pio was subjected to attacks by the Devil, which appeared in the form of a monstrous black dog with red eyes.
Padre Pio is famous for his visible stigmata in the form of the wounds bore by Christ. However, much before receiving visible stigmata, Padre Pio was subjected to inivisible stigmata, in which he received the pain of the wounds, without the wounds themselves. The pain was often quite severe.
Padre Pio spent much time in prayer, until he was assigned to go to war during the first world war. Padre Pio disagreed with the War, calling it "the suicide of Europe".
During this period of spiritual suffering, it is believed that Padre Pio was frequently attacked by the Devil, both physically and spiritually. It is believed that the devil also used diabolical tricks in order to increase Padre Pio's torments. These included apparitions as an "angel of light" and the alteration or destruction of letters to and from his spiritual directors. (Thanks to Wikipedia for this information).
As one of his most supernatural sufferings, Padre Pio received Transverberation. World War I was still going on, and in the month of July 1918, Pope Benedict XV who had termed the World War as "the suicide of Europe" appealed to all Christians urging them to pray for an end to the World War. On July 27 of the same year, Padre Pio offered himself as a victim for the end of the war. Days passed and between August 5 and August 7, Padre Pio had a vision in which Christ appeared and pierced his side. As a result of this experience, Padre Pio had a physical wound in his side. This occurrence is considered as a "transverberation" or piercing of the heart indicating the union of love with God.
Padre Pio was very embarrased of his visible stigmata, and tried to hide it as much as possible. Padre Pio prayed, not to be released from the pain of stigmata, but from the visible signs of it. He said: "I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation."
Although Padre Pio would have rathered remain in secret, the world soon knew of the stigmata he suffered, and the miracles he worked. Eventually, everyone in the Christian world and beyond knew of Padre Pio.
People close to Padre Pio affirm that he received many gifts including the gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, extraordinary abstinence from both sleep and nourishment (One account states that Padre Agostino recorded one instance in which Padre Pio was able to subsist for at least 20 days at Verafeno on only the Eucharist without any other nourishment), the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues, the gift of conversions, and the fragrance from his wounds.
The Death of Padre Pio
The deterioration of Padre Pio's health started during the 1960s in spite of which he continued his spiritual works. On the day after the fiftieth anniversary of his receiving the Stigmata, he experienced great tiredness. On September 22 his voice was weak when he said Mass. Early in the morning of September 23, 1968, Padre Pio made his confession and renewed his Franciscan vows. As was customary, he had his Rosary in his hands, though he had not the strength to say the Hail Marys. Till the end, he repeated over and over the words: Gesú, Maria – Jesus, Mary. At around 2:30AM, he said,"I see two mothers" (taken to mean his mother and Mary). At 2:30AM breathed his last in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo with his last breath whispering, "Maria!". His mortal remains were buried on September 26 in a crypt in the Church of Our Lady of Grace, and his funeral was attended by over a hundred thousand people. He was often heard to say, "After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death." The accounts of those who stayed with Padre Pio till the end state that the stigmata had completely disappeared without even leaving a scar . Only a red mark "as if drawn by a red pencil" remained on his side which also then disappeared.
May we all say a prayer to Saint Padre Pio, whose powerful intercession we can count on every day!
Here's a clue: It's not St. Peter's Basilica. The giant Basilica designed by Michelangelo and others throughout the centuries, and completed in the 16th, known as St. Peter's Basilica, which can be seen in St. Peter's Square, and is by far the most well-known basilica in the world, is amazingly, not the highest ranking church in the Catholic Church. It is in fact the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
St. John Lateran Basilica is the cathedral church of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope. Officially named Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris (Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior), it is the oldest and ranks first (being the only cathedral in Rome) among the four major basilicas of Rome, and holds the title of ecumenical mother church (mother church of the whole inhabited world) among Catholics.
This very beautiful cathedral has a very amazing history. The place where the cathedral is now located, was once used by Roman emperors, and was given, as a gift, to the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), by Emperor Constantine, when Christianity was legalized and became the official religion of the Roman empire.
The official dedication of the Basilica and the adjacent Lateran Palace was presided over by Pope Sylvester I in 324, declaring both to be Domus Dei or "House of God." In its interior, the Papal Throne was placed, making it the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. In reflection of the basilica's primacy in the world as mother church, the words Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput are incised in the main door, meaning "Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head."
The Lateran Palace and basilica have been rededicated twice. Pope Sergius III dedicated them to Saint John the Baptist in the 10th century in honor of the newly consecrated baptistry of the Basilica. Pope Lucius II dedicated the Lateran Palace and basilica to Saint John the Evangelist in the 12th century. However, St. John Baptist and St. John the Evangelist are regarded as co-patrons of the Cathedral, the chief patron being Christ the Saviour himself, as the inscription in the entrance of the Basilica indicates, and as is tradition in the Patriachal Cathedrals. Thus, the Basilica remains dedicated to the Saviour. That is why sometimes the Basilica will be referred to by the full title of Archabsilica of the Most Holy Saviour and of Sts. John Baptist and John Evangelist in the Lateran.
Next time you're in Rome, make sure to visit the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
If one is unaware of Catholic teaching in its fullness, there may seem to be a contradiction when it comes to the death penalty. On one hand, the pope, especially the previous one, was very much against the death penalty, in fact, often writing to lawmakers and judges to have execution sentences commuted, in places such as the United States and other developed nations. The previous pope even said that in today's day and age, death sentences should almost never take place. This may seem to contradict the official teaching of the Church that the death penalty is not morally wrong in all cases. To understand the seeming disparity between these statements, it is important to understand the extent to which the death penalty is morally possible.
In his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" (The Gospel of Life) issued March 25, 1995 after four years of consultations with the world's Roman Catholic bishops, John Paul II wrote that execution is only appropriate "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady immprovement [sic] in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." (From PBS.org)
In other words, the death penalty should only be used in the case that if it wasn't, society would be at a serious risk, for instance of someone murdering many innocent people. This is very rarely the circumstance in developed nations such as here in Canada, or in the United States. It is possible that in our fallen human nature, we may at times wish to have someone pay the ultimate price, but we must look not at what we want, but what God wants, and ultimately God wants us to forgive those who hate us, and that all people no matter what their sins, seek forgiveness and attain salvation.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Catholics can be found in any country in the entire world. Usually countries where Catholicism is dominant, you can find peace and democracy. Which countries have the largest numbers and percentages of Catholics worldwide? The following is from adherents.com and gives an interesting picture. The country with the highest percentage of Catholics is, as you may have guessed, Vatican City. I will list the highest by percentage and by number (click the tables to see them larger).
As you can see, there are many countries in the world with huge numbers of Catholics, and many where we are the majority. In the entire world, there are well over a billion Catholics.
(Special thanks for this information goes to adherents.com)
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I am very excited about this blog posting, because it is number 50! I would like to thank everyone who has read this blog and is a regular visitor to this site. I appreciate your feedback and comments about this site, and I encourage you to send in your topic suggestions. Thanks. Now on to the article!
The Basilica of St. John the Baptist is located in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. This is where I am from and write my blog. This basilica, which is now considered a cathedral, has a very special place in the ecclesiastical history of Newfoundland, as well as Canada, and even North America.
The Basilica was completed in the year 1855 after 16 years of construction. Amazingly, at the time of its building, it was the largest church in size in all of North America, including all of Canada, the US, and Mexico. It was built under the direction of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, who came from Ireland in the 1800s. Bishop Fleming was integral to shaping Newfoundland culture in those years, and was even responsible for developing the old Newfoundland Flag, which today is used by those seeking an independent Newfoundland. The flag is divided into thirds: pink, white and green. The pink represents Protestants (English pink), the green represents Catholics (from Ireland mostly), and the white in between represents peace between the two. This flag is still in use today, although not officially, as the flag representing those who want an Independent Newfoundland.
The Basilica is the current seat of the Bishop of Newfoundland, Brendan O'Brien, and is the most beautiful structure in Newfoundland. Because of its importance in Newfoundland spirituality and worship, the Basilica of St. John the Baptist holds a special place in the hearts of everyone here.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
In 1961, Portugal was being run by a dictator named António de Oliveira Salazar. Freedoms were stiffled, and the country was run as a dictatorship. A group of students in the city of Coimbra lifted their glasses in a toast to freedom in Portugal. They were found in the cafe, and put into prison for this act, and spent 7 years there. Fortunately for the world, Peter Benenson heard this news, and decided he must do something.
Peter Benenson was a lawyer by trade, who became quite ill. He went to Italy to regain his health, and while there, converted to the Catholic faith. While in Italy, Benenson decided it was necessary to start an International organization which was open to everyone. While in the tube in London, Benenson read an article about the Portuguese students mentioned above. He was outraged and wrote a letter to a newspaper called the Observer. He asked people to write letters concerning this injustice. The letters came in fast and furious, so much so, that Benenson started an organization known as Amnesty International.
Today, Amnesty International is the largest organization dedicated to helping those who are unjustly imprisoned, as political or ideological prisoners. It has been very active and successful in this endeavor so far. It has 1.8 million members worldwide who put pressure on foreign governments to release people who should not be in prison, as well as to end torture and abuse.
The work of Amnesty International cannot be overstated. This vast and strong organization came about because of Peter Benenson's, who unfortunately died in 2005 at the age of 83, conversion to Christ and His Church.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Tom Monaghan didn't have a conversion from another faith, but came to see his own faith in a stronger way. He developed a stronger devotion to ideals with which he was raised. Many have not heard the name Tom Monaghan, but he was the owner of the Baseball team the Detroit Tigers, but more famously he made his fortune as the owner of Domino's pizza. He became extremely rich, in the hundreds of millions, as he owned the most successful pizza franchise in the world. He was rich and he used his money to buy expensive things, such as houses and cars. One example of his extravagence was his leather floor in his huge office.
After reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis in 1989, Monaghan had a great awakening and felt he was living a life with too much pride and ego. He sold most of his expensive possession, and a mansion which he was building remains half-finished. Monaghan took 2 years off to explore spiritual and personal goals. He devoted himself fully to living a Catholic life. The following information is from Wikipedia, and you can go there to find its sources:
Monaghan is a conservative Republican Catholic with a particular interest in advocating for the right to life and for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. In 1983 he established the Mater Christi Foundation, today known as the Ave Maria Foundation. It is a private foundation formed to focus on Catholic education, Catholic media, community projects and other Catholic charities.
He helped form Legatus, an organization of high-profile Catholic business leaders to promote the ideals of the Church in society. The name was taken from the Latin meaning "ambassador". Legatus was to serve as a spiritual resource and social community for those Catholics who stand at the helm of America's entrepreneurial ship. The idea came after he received Holy Communion from Pope John Paul II in his private papal chapel at the Vatican in 1987. Today there are 34 chapters in the U.S. and Canada which encompass nearly 1,500 members who represent over 750 major firms.
That Vatican visit moved him so much he returned to the United States committed to promoting the Catholic faith. He soon established Ave Maria Radio, the Ave Maria List pro-life political action committee, and the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm focused on defending the rights of Christians. The foundation donates resources to help alleviate poverty in Central and South America. In addition, his foundation established the Spritus Sanctus Academies. These elementary schools are administered by the newly established community of nuns, the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist. This thriving order of teaching sisters has benefited from Monaghan's philanthropy, and has so many new young nuns that it had to double the size of its convent almost immediately.
The Ave Maria Foundation has subsequently fine-tuned its focus to higher education, and has established both a university and a law school. Along with that change in focus, many of the other non-profit entities that the Ave Maria Foundation established have become independent or are in the process of being weaned from Ave Maria Foundation grants. This narrowing of focus and the recent geographic re-alignment to Florida (see below) have ignited no small amount of controversy among those who share his religious convictions.
The Ave Maria School of Law, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, opened its doors in 2000, and received full accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2005, the earliest possible date under ABA rules. The school was a dream of several professors from the University of Detroit Mercy, who publicly left that institution when it allowed several pro-choice members of the Michigan Supreme Court to appear at the school's annual "Red Mass." Professors Stephen Safranek, Mollie Murphy, Richard Myers and Joseph Falvey, setting out to form a new orthodox Catholic law school, presented their idea to Monaghan (who had previously been a strong supporter of opening a new law school at Franciscan University) to provide significant funding through his Ave Maria Foundation. Together they enlisted Bernard Dobranski, Dean at The Catholic University of America's law school and former Dean of Detroit Mercy's Law School, to lead up the new school as dean. Monaghan would serve as president of the school's Board of Governors.
A conversion to Christ is a powerful thing and can, as happened in this case, result in a great change in life for the better.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Throughout its history, the Catholic Church has built the most spectacular and awe-inspiring places of the worship the world has ever seen. For centuries, churches were the tallest structures of every town in Europe, and around the world. In many countries, this remains the case. They remain the most breath-taking monuments in society. Often built by members of society as a work of love, these buildings touch the sky, and upon entering, people are transported to a new world. You can feel the presence of God all around you. The Catholic Church realizes the importance of these great structures, and that is why for over 1,000 years, the Church has built some of the most amazing examples of human achievement.
Unfortunately, however, the Church suffered great loss in her history. Many of these amazing places of worship were conquered by heretics and schismatics. Often, the treasures of these churches, preserved for generations for the benefit of all were ransacked and stolen. Often Churches were badly damaged, often left in disrepair. Even if these churches were not damaged, they were still stolen. This is very sad, and unfortunate. Almost every magnificent place for Christian worship that has achieved great fame in a country, be it a church, basilica, or cathedral, was once a Catholic or remains one to this day. I will look at some of the most famous Cathedrals in the World, which were stolen from the Catholic Church.
Located in Germany, it is the tallest church in the world, and was the tallest building in the world from 1890-1908. It was built in 1377 by Catholics, and later taken from them by Lutherans. The Cologne Cathedral of Germany is the second tallest church in the world, but it has 2 spires instead of one.
The building of this amazing Cathedral began in 1191 by Bishop Reginald de Bohun. It was worked on during the 12th and early 13th centuries, and was mostly completed by 1239. In the years and decades to come, more expansions were made to accommodate a growing congregation. Eventually the Cathedral was taken over by Anglicans.
Perhaps the best-known Cathedral in the United Kingdom, Westminster Abbey is the Cathedral where the Kings and Queens of England are crowned. This is quite a spectacular building, which resembles the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. It was completed before King Henry VIII, but Henry violently took over this Cathedral, like many others, when he broke away from the Catholic Church.
These are just 3 examples of Churches which were apprehended illegally by non-Catholic groups. Fortunately, most of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world remain the property of the Catholic Church. The next time you see a magnificent church, remember that it was probably once a Catholic Cathedral.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I am currently reading a book called “An exorcist tells his story” by Father Gabriele Amorth. The Introduction for the English version is written by Fr. Benedict Groschel, who is a famous priest and psychologist from New York, NY.
The book gives information on the work of exorcists. I have not yet read the entire book, but so far it is very fascinating. In it, Fr. Amorth says that more dioceses need an exorcist, and that their role has not been given the careful attention it deserves. Amorth goes deeply into the subject of exorcism, and the nature of demonic influences, which go beyond famously portrayed possessions. The Devil can influence and cause suffering to victims in various ways, such as causing scary things to happen around the person, while not actually possessing the person.
Some of the most interesting points in the book so far are that during things such as séances, any voices that people hear are not from the dead, but from demons. People are either in heaven, hell or Purgatory, and do not walk the Earth as spirits. Another interesting subject is how to tell if something is demonic and whether it is from God. Sometimes people are given special abilities, such as being able to speak in other languages, knowing information which is hidden, etc. Fr. Amorth gives ways to determine the source of various seemingly inexplicable phenomena. One indication is the effect a supernatural ability has on a person. If the ability has beneficial effect, such as giving the person greater humility, peace, joy, and comfort, it is usually from God, but if it makes the person more selfish, arrogant, or proud, or gives them a great fear of death where there was none before, it is quite possible this influence is from the Devil.
This book counters the popular belief that all things can be explained by science, such as psychology. The author acknowledges the beneficial role that science plays in society and points out that the Church recognizes the validity of science. However, he cautions that it is unwise to put all belief in it. Many times a person that could not be helped by psychology and psychiatry finds healing in exorcism. No one knows this better than Fr. Amorth, who is the chief exorcist of Rome, and the author of this book. Fr. Amorth makes a great point - that exorcisms can only be beneficial. Even if someone is not possessed or oppressed by Satan or demons in any way, an exorcism can do nothing but help, and will even help those who are not afflicted.
This book contains valuable information which is fascinating to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It is written in an easy-to-read style and appeals to a general audience. To find out more about this book, or to order it from Ignatius Press (the Publisher), please click here.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Maximilian Kolbe was a Roman Catholic priest who was an active voice against the violence perpetrated by the Nazis in Germany during the Second World War. He operated a ham radio, in which he condemned the Nazis. He also provided shelter for 200 Jews during the Holocaust, in order that they may live.
Eventually, Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo and put into the notorious Auschwitz Concentration Camp in John Paul II's homeland, Poland. In July 1941, a man escaped the camp. In order to discourage further escape attempts, a Nazi official sent 10 men from the block where the man escaped to be executed. One man, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out in horror and pleaded not to be killed. He begged because he had a family.
With great compassion and no fear of death, Maximilian Kolbe volunteered himself to be killed instead. This was a completely selfless act. After two weeks of being starved, only 4 of the original 10 men survived, including Kolbe. The Nazis took the remaining 4 and killed them with a lethal injection, saying they needed the room they were occupying. Kolbe was martyred.
On October 10, 1982, in front of a crowd of thousands, John Paul II canonized Maximilian Kolbe a saint. Among the crowd, over 40 years later, was the man who was saved by Kolbe's act of charity - Franciszek Gajowniczek.
In a tragic event which took the United States by surprise was the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm. He was riding along in his Presidential Limousine in Texas, when he was shot in the head. He was obviously dead from the enormous wound he had sustained. Others, including the Governor of Texas were injured as well.
One thing about the assassination of which many are not aware, is that after being shot, a priest gave President John F. Kennedy his Last Rites, also known as Extreme Unction and more recently, Anointing of the Sick. This is one of the seven sacraments established by Christ.
The Priest who performed this sacrament was the Very Reverend Oscar L. Huber. Like all sacraments, Extreme Unction affects the soul of the recipient. According to the priest who performed the ceremony, although JFK appeared dead, his soul may still have been within his body, and although not visible to human eyes, the President could have accepted the sacrament before his soul left his body.
The following is taken from Time Magazine from Friday, November 29, 1963, and gives a lot of information.
At 12:45, two Roman Catholic priests went swiftly into the emergency room. A policeman came out. "How is he?" a reporter asked. "He's dead," came the reply. Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff appeared. To a deluge of questions, he screamed, "I can't say, I just can't say!"
Last Rites. But he was dead. It was about 1 p.m. The Very Rev. Oscar L. Huber drew back a sheet that covered the President's face, and anointed John Kennedy's forehead with oil. He gave him conditional absolution—tendered when a priest has no way of knowing the victim's mind or whether the soul has yet left the body. In Latin, Father Huber said, "I absolve you from all censures and sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. If you are living, may the Lord by this holy anointing forgive whatever you have sinned. Amen. I, by the faculty given to me by the Apostolic See, grant to you a plenary indulgence and remission of all sins and I bless you. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Then he covered the President's face once more with the sheet and in English offered the prayers for the Dying and for the Departed Soul: "May the most clement Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the most loving consoler of the afflicted, commend to her Son the soul of this servant, John . . . Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may I sleep and rest in peace in your holy company . . . Grant, O Lord, that while we here lament the departure of Your servant, we may ever remember that we are most certainly to follow him. Give us grace to prepare for that last hour by a good life, that we may not be surprised by a sudden death but be ever watching, for when Thou shall call that soul, we may enter eternal glory through Christ, Our Lord. Eternal rest grant him, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen."
Jacqueline Kennedy stood next to the President's body, and with a clear voice, prayed with the others: "Our Father, Who art in Heaven . . ." and "Hail, Mary, full of grace. . . ." End of Quote from Time.
These are very beautiful prayers said during a solemn occasion. May we pray that the soul of John F. Kennedy is with the Lord, just as we pray for everyone who leaves this world for the next.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Pope Leo I (b. 430) lived from the years 440 to 461. An unrelenting foe to heresies, he was the first pope to have "the Great" attached to his name, and only the second of all time (the other is Pope Gregory I). Leo, whose name means Lion in Latin, did much for the Universal Church, and as such is considered one of 33 Doctors of the Church. This is a title which started in 1298, and Leo was promoted to this title in 1754.
Pope Leo, who was 30 years old when St. Augustine died in 430, did much for the Catholic Church. In fact, Pope Leo met Augustine while Leo was an acolyte, or someone training to be a priest. Pope Leo confronted and destroyed many heresies at the time, many of which were related to Christ's human and divine nature. At a council, he proclaimed his view that Christ was both man and God, and all those attending gave their accordance, saying that Leo was following Peter, the first Pope.
One of the most spectacular events to happen during Leo's papacy was his encounter with the ruthless Attila the Hun, known as the Scourge of God, whose goal was world domination. He warred against many nations around the world and conquered them wherever he went. His armies killed men, women, and children. In fact, Attila was famous for literally ripping apart his opponents.
Then he arrived in Italy. Italy was a very important country, because it was the seat of the Roman Empire. In fact, the Huns were the only real threat facing the Roman Empire, and was a gateway to the entire European continent. Taking Italy would be a disaster for the entire Western World. An interesting fact is that the history of Venice is intertwined with that of Attila the Hun. To escape the brutality of Attila, many Italians fled to the islands of Venice for protection. Eventually they built a great city there. Attila planned to destroy Italy, and conquered it, as he had done with many other places.
When he arrived in Rome, he met with the Pope. While there, Attila saw Sts. Peter and Paul appearing with swords standing near the Pope. Those around Attila were surprised that he decided not to attack Rome, so he explained to them what he had witnessed. Because of the Pope's eloquence in fending off Attila, he is known as the Shield of God.
Pope Leo I deserved his prototypical title of Great, as well as his namesake of Lion, for he defended the doctrines of the Church against heresy and attack, like a lion protects its young. With the help of God, Pope Leo the Great is known as one of the most faithful servants of Christ.
London, Sep 11, 2006 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI and his brother, Fr. Georg Ratzinger, 82, were surprised to learn this week that their parents, Joseph and Maria, met through a singles ad their father had placed in local Catholic weekly, Liebfraubote.
The disclosure came at the outset of the Pope’s return to his native Bavaria, where he intends to visit his parents’ grave and the village of Marktl am Inn, where he was born, reported the London Times.
The July 1920 ad was found in the Bavarian state archives by a researcher for the tabloid Bild. According to the report, the ad read: “Middle-ranking civil servant, single, Catholic, 43, immaculate past, from the country, is looking for a good Catholic, pure girl who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking with a view to marriage as soon as possible. Fortune desirable but not a precondition.”
Maria Peintner, 36, an illegitimate baker’s daughter and a trained cook, replied. She did not have a fortune, but they married four months later.
The Pope said he remembers his father as “strict but fair” and his mother as warm and open-hearted,” reported the Times.
Special thanks for this report goes to the Catholic News Agency (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=7582)