Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Maximilian Kolbe's Ultimate Sacrafice in a Nazi Death Camp

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.

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Last Rites (also known as Extreme Unction)

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

Warlord Attila the Hun's meeting with Pope Leo the Great

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.

Amazing Story of how Joseph Ratzinger's (now Pope Benedict XVI's) parents met

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)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Amazing Origins of the Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross, or Via Dolorosa (Way of Agony), is a special remembrance of the suffering and death which Jesus Christ endured for our salvation. In this brief essay, I will look at this event and what brought it about.

Many believe that Mary was the first person to trace the steps that Jesus took through his final hours. It makes sense as she is his mother and this is something she would do. However, most people place the start of this practice with St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis and his followers formed a great devotion to the suffering of Jesus, including his suffering and death on the Cross. During his life in the 13th century, the Muslims had unfortunately taken control of the Holy Lands, which prevented Christian pilgrims from retracing the steps of Christ in his final hours. In order that they could continue this practice, St. Francis initiated the stations of the cross within Churches across Europe. Eventually almost every church had the stations of the cross going around their church. People would contemplate on these things, especially during Good Friday. The practice became very widespread, and today is pretty much ubiquitous in Catholic Churches. St. Francis in fact was so devoted to contemplating the suffering of Christ, that he was the first person to receive the Stigmata, or the visible wounds which Jesus bore (some people also receive the pain without the visible wounds).

This is an amazing practice, which is especially popular on Good Friday. The following is the list of the 14 stations of the Cross:

1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus receives the cross
3. The first fall
4. Jesus meets His Mother
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
6. Veronica wipes Jesus' face with her veil
7. The second fall
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9. The third fall
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus' body removed from the cross (Pieta)
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Next time you pray on the stations of the Cross, remember the history of it, and remember how Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

Development and Progress of this Blog

This blog, holymotherchurch.blogspot.com is all about issues surrounding the Catholic Church. I have been interested in this area for quite some time now, and started to research it more intensely over the past year. Prior to this, I was involved with various Church activities and went go to Church weekly. This is a report on how this blog has been doing so far.

I started this blog in August, 2006, and added a few articles, mostly in the form of Catholic Apologetics. The posts were more infrequent until one day I noticed the site had an Alexa ranking. Alexa tracks the ranking of sites on the Internet, once it reaches a certain level of viewership. To even be in Alexa, a site must be doing relatively well. Once I noticed that this blog was listed in Alexa, I became excited at the possibility that I was reaching many people. It wasn't until January of this year that I noticed the ranking, and it was around 6.7 million (closer to 1 is better). A couple of week later, it was around 3.3 million, then it went to around 2.4 million, and now it's very close to 2 million. This all happened in just a few weeks. Looking also to Google Analytics which tracks visitors and such, this blog gets visitors from around the world, including many from the US and Canada, but also in Europe, China, and India. I'm very pleased so far. My goal right now is to get the site past 1 million in Alexa, and eventually to get it past 100,000. This is would very wonderful.

This is all made possible by people like you who come to this site and read it. I like to include very interesting articles that Catholics and non-Catholics alike will enjoy reading. This includes articles on miracles, saints, famous Catholics, dogmas, doctrines, and more. Please feel very welcome and free to view any or all of these articles. I would like to encourage people to comment on these articles, as well as send me questions, and also to suggest articles by emailing me at philinaberdeen at gmail.com You can even submit an article and I will review it to see if I can include it on this blog.

Thank you to everyone who is helping make this blog a success. The information here can be seen by millions of people worldwide, and I think everyone will agree, the information I present is very useful, interesting, and important. Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Girl's Heroic Holy Hour with the Blessed Sacrament, which inspired Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

A few months before he died in 1979, Bishop Fulton Sheen gave a television interview. The reporter asked, “Your Excellency, you have inspired millions. Who inspired you? Was it the pope?”

Bishop Sheen responded that it was not the pope or a cardinal or another bishop or even a priest or nun. It was an eleven-year-old girl. He explained that when the communists took over China in the late forties, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory. Looking through the window, he saw the soldier enter the church and break open the tabernacle, scattering the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. The priest knew the exact number of hosts: thirty-two.

Unnoticed by the soldiers, a young girl had been praying in the back of the church and she hid when they came in. That night the girl returned and spent an hour in prayer. She then entered the sanctuary, knelt and bent over to take one of the hosts on her tongue.

The girl came back each night, spent an hour in prayer and received Jesus by picking up a sacred host with her tongue. The thirty-second night, after consuming the final host, she made an accidental sound, awakening a soldier. He ran after her and when he caught her, he struck her with his rifle butt. The noise woke the priest – but too late. From his house, he saw the girl die.

Bishop Sheen said that when he heard about this, it inspired him so much that he made a promise that he would spend one hour each day before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He always said that the power of his priesthood came from the holy hour.

Tonight, brothers and sisters, we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. At the end of the Mass we will have a procession inside the church to adore our Savior. We will invite you to spend an hour with Jesus. From him comes our strength.

(Special Thanks for this article goes to Fr. Phil Bloom from http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2964/homilyholythursday.html)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pope Pius XII and the Jews: the Real Truth

Pope Pius XII was a holy and reverent pope who did his utmost to help humanity. His papacy was during the time of one of humanity's greatest tragedies, the Holocaust. Perpetrated by Hitler, the Holocaust eventually left millions of people dead, and those remaining, scarred. It was a total failure of peace and justice. Yet during this dark time, a bright light continued to shine. This bright light is the Catholic Church, and the actions of Pope Pius XII. Far from being the fictitious pope who did nothing to stop the Holocaust, Pope Pius XII did everything he could to save countless lives. However, you do not have to take my word for this. The best way to discover how someone has treated a group of people is to find out from that group of people. In other words, the best way to find out what Pope Pius XII did to help the Jews, is to ask the Jews. In the following essay, I will not give a history lesson, so much as I will show the reaction of the Jews to the actions of the Catholic Church during the time of the Holocaust.

Before Pope Pius XII became pope, he was Cardinal Pacelli.

Former Israeli diplomat and now Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide states that Pius XI "had good reason to make Pacelli the architect of his anti-Nazi policy. Of the forty-four speeches which the Nuncio Pacelli had made on German soil between 1917 and 1929, at least forty contained attacks on Nazism or condemnations of Hitler’s doctrines. . . . Pacelli, who never met the Führer, called it ‘neo-Paganism.’ "

As can be seen, much before becoming pope, Pope Pius XII was very strongly against Nazism and Hitler's regime.

It is estimated that the Catholic Church saved about 860,000 lives during the Holocaust, more than all other organizations combined, including the Red Cross. In fact, to honor the lives saved by Pius XII and the Catholic Church, 800,000 trees were planted in Isreal.

Instead of taking my word for how the Pope acted during the Holocaust, let's look at what people said during the time of Pope Pius XII. If you were to select a list of people to speak on behalf of Holocaust victims, those who most represented the Jews at the time, including politician, scientists, etc., it would probably resemble the following list. Take a look at what these prominent people had to say (Special Thanks to Catholic Answers for this information):

"We share the grief of the world over the death of His Holiness Pius XII. . . . During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people passed through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims" (Golda Meir, Israeli representative to the U.N. and future prime minister of Israel).

"With special gratitude we remember all he has done for the persecuted Jews during one of the darkest periods in their entire history” (Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress).

"More than anyone else, we have had the opportunity to appreciate the great kindness, filled with compassion and magnanimity, that the Pope displayed during the terrible years of persecution and terror" (Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, following Rabbi Zolli’s conversion).

Finally, let us conclude with a quotation from Lapide’s record that was not given at the death of Pius XII, but was given after the War by the most well-known Jewish figure of this century, Albert Einstein: "Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty."

Abortion and the Catholic Church

As most people know, the Catholic Church is firmly against abortion. In fact, the Catholic Church is against killing any person, from the moment of conception to natural death. This includes abortion, mercy killing or euthanasia, suicide, murder, etc. In this short essay, I will discuss some of the major Catholic teachings surrounding these areas, and my personal feelings on the subject.

According to Catholic teaching, life begins at conception, the moment the sperm and egg join to form a single cell. At this point, the person receives a soul. It makes sense to say life begins at conception, because after that point the person does not come into existence, but rather grows and develops. However, he remains the same person. To say life doesn't being at conception, causes a contradiction for the entire definition of life. A person will start developing as a zygote, and continue to grow and develop until they reach full maturity. The points along the way are different stages of this development. A child is not fully developed at 3 months of age. They are still very dependent on their mother for nourishment and support. Yet no one would say these children are not alive, of course they are. Therefore, aborting a baby is killing a living being.

Abortion is also wrong because it takes away a person's right to have a life. Even if you do not believe that abortion is killing a living being, you cannot deny the fact that aborting a baby will remove its potential to live. You are removing its right to life. As an analogy for this, consider going to university and paying a large tuition fee. You are completing a 4-year program in order to become a nurse, which has been a life-long dream for you. However, 2 years into your program, a professor decides he doesn't like teaching anymore. You think this is no big deal, but then for some reason you get a letter stating that you are no longer allowed to continue your program and you've been kicked out of the university. You are assured that it had nothing to do with any of your actions and that your grades were fine. Panicked, you look around for another university that will help you complete your courses, but none will take you, and soon you learn no university will ever accept you. In fact, you learn, you will no longer be allowed to read any books. Even though nothing was taken away from you, you have lost the potential to earn a degree, and it was not due to anything you did. This example shows a great injustice. However, think about how much more unjust it is if it involves a life!

These are just two reasons to consider for being pro-life. Read the surveys on your own. They always show a huge proportion of women who have abortions not because of rape or incest, but because it wasn't "right" for them at the time. However, people fail to remember that you are placing your "convenience" above someone else's life. If you were walking down the road, to get to the store to buy candy, and on your way you noticed a man trapped beneath his car, would you say to yourself, I "would" rescue him, but it's not the right time in my life right now, I need to get some candy. No matter how embarrassing or inconvenient having a baby may be, it is not worth a life. Plus, there are many other options available, which do not consist of destroying a life.

I hope these few examples help you realize how important life is, and that our mission as Catholics, Christians, and indeed people of this Earth, is to help everyone have the right to life!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bishop and Television Star: Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, born on May 8, 1895, was America's first famous televangelist. He did some amazing work for the Catholic Church, and indeed for humanity.

Sheen starred in a show called The Catholic Hour, which eventually acquired 4 million viewers. Later, he starred in Life is Worth Living on ABC, which aired 8pm on Tuesday nights. His show did so well that it rivaled the shows of Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra. In it, he would talk about issued related to religion, such as communism. One particularly poignant show was one in which he condemned communism. He condemned the actions of Stalin in his February, 1953 show, saying "Stalin must one day meet his judgment". A few days later Stalin fell ill, and on March 5, 1953, Stalin died. Sheen's program was so famous, it drew as many as 40 million viewers weekly.

He even won an Emmy for his program. The Archbishop accepted the Emmy by thanking his four writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Sheen was famous in Hollywood, and Martin Sheen took his name after Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, in admiration of him.

Sheen denounced the Vietnam War. He also rallied against racial discrimination, which was unusual in society those days. Sheen wrote some 90 books, and countless articles in his day. He produced television as well as audio broadcasts which you can still find on the Internet today.

Bishop Fulton J Sheen's cause for sainthood is now opened, and he is called a Servant of God, the first step towards Canonization. God willing, some day he will be officially recognized as a Saint in the Catholic Church.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Process of Electing a New Pope

Anytime a Pope dies, or theoretically resigns, a new pope must be elected. There is a process which must be undertaken, many elements of which are quite secret. In this short essay, I will explore the process involved in electing a new Pope, and some interesting facts about it.

Around 12 to 15 days after a Pope dies, the cardinals of the church gather in Rome. Cardinals are bishops, who have been elevated to a special level of duty within the church. They sometimes advice the Pope on various issues, and play a special role in guiding people spiritually. They are called the Princes of the Church. You can tell they are cardinals because they wear distinctive red vestments. As a piece of trivia, the cardinal bird was named after Church Cardinals because their colour resembled the color of these churchmen.

Pope Paul VI changed some of the rules associated with electing a new Pope. One rule was that the cardinals electing the pope had to be less than 80. In the last election, about 118 out of the total 180 cardinals voted for the new pope. Some were too old and some were too ill to vote.

In order for a pope to be elected, two thirds of cardinals must be in agreement. John Paul II made a rule that if, after 7 votes, a pope is not chosen, a simple majority will do in electing the new Bishop of Rome.

Once a Pope is successfully elected, the public is informed of this by the emission of a smoke from the Sistine Chapel. If the smoke is black, no pope has been elected. If the smoke is white, a pope has been elected. The Sistine Chapel was designed by Michelangelo, and contains some very beautiful Biblical art. Also, large bells around the Vatican sound joyously.

Once the pope is elected, he is introduced to the public by the Senior Cardinal Deacon, who announces in Latin, "Habemus Papem", which means "We have a Pope!" This is accompanied by the applause of hundreds of thousands, as the new Earthly head of the Church is introduced.

Basilica of St. Mark in Venice and the Muslims

St. Mark was one of the Gospel writers, and a companion to St. Peter. He died in Alexandria, Egypt, but his amazing tale has much left to be told. St. Mark was buried, and in 828, Italian sailors went to recover his body, as a relic. The problem was, the Muslims were in control of Alexandria, and getting something such as this out would prove very difficult, but the sailors came up with an impressive plan.

Muslims are very much against anything to do with pork, so with this knowledge, the Italian sailors took the sarcophagus of St. Mark which they had located, and placed it beneath a large shipment of pork. The border inspectors would not go near the pork, and let the boat go out of port without being thoroughly inspected.

The body of St. Mark was transported to Venice, where he soon became its patron saint. A most unbelievable Basilica was built in honour of St. Mark, which is adorned with gold, rubies, diamonds, and many other fine jewels.

The design of St. Mark's Basilica is inspired in some ways by Muslim architecture. At the time, Muslims were very advanced in science and math, and several Muslim architects were hired to work on this magnificent project. At the time, Muslims may have been more advanced technologically than Christians.

The Basilica of St. Mark is an amazing Church and Shrine to one of the writers of the Gospels, which record to life of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Priestly Celibacy - Allowing Priests to Marry

The topic of priestly celibacy is one which is on the topical radar of a lot of people when it comes to the Catholic Church. Some view this as an important issue, while others view it as less serious, and concern themselves more with following Church doctrines and disciplines. Some ask whether allowing priests to marry would eliminate or reduce child sexual abuse among clergy, while others think a celibate clergy may be unncessary or at odds with the rest of society. Some even wonder if there is a Biblical basis for the practice of remaining celibate and unmarried. In this essay, I will address these concerns and see where the facts lie on the issue of priestly celibacy.

Priestly celibacy is considered a discipline of the church, as opposed to a dogma or doctrine. This means that it is something the teaching authority within the church has said is beneficial within the Church. Disciplines can and have in the past changed, and are not essential to our understanding of Christianity. Other disciplines include the previous ban on eating flesh meat on Fridays, or the Tridentine Mass, which was celebrated in Latin. Both of these disciplines were reviewed and changed during the Second Vatican Council. Therefore, it is possible that the rule of priestly celibacy could change, and the Pope would be fully within his role and rights to declare that it will no longer be necessary or may make it optional. It is important to note that any such decision would not affect current priests, who have already taken a vow of lifelong celibacy.

Where does the practice of priestly celibacy originate and what is its basis? The practice of celibacy is mentioned in the Bible by Jesus and Paul, who both describe it in favourable terms. Paul endorses celibacy when he says, "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). So basically Paul says that if you CANNOT remain celibate, it is better to get married, but if you can, it is better to remain celibate.

Paul also says, "Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. . . those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. . . . The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband" (1 Corinthians 7:27-34).

The most convincing argument for marriage is by Jesus himself. In Matthew chapter 19, verses 11 and 12, Jesus says: ""Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it". Jesus says that anyone who can accept celibacy ought to.

As we can see from the Bible, celibacy is not only acceptable, but quite desirable, according to Jesus and Paul. But would allowing priests do to reduce or eliminate child sexual abuse?

There is absolutely no evidence that celibacy has an effect on sexual abuse cases, or that getting rid of it would reduce abuses. The following information is from Post-Gazette.com, which quotes Philip Jenkins, Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State University:

"My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination -- or indeed, than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported."

I will discuss the issue of clergy sexual abuse in a later blog.

Priestly celibacy has formed part of the Christian lifestyle for thousands of years. It allows priests to devote themselves fully to their spiritual tasks and spiritual fatherhood to billions of people worldwide. The Catholic Church has no intention of changing this practice, which is a powerful way of devoting one's life to Christ.

Stigmata: A Sign from God

Stigmata, also known as Mystical Stigmata, is from the word used in the Latin Vulgate Bible, meaning marks, such as was described by St. Paul in his letters to the Galatians when he said, "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." Starting with the most well-known example of St. Francis of Assisi, there have been hundreds of Stigmatics, almost all of whom were pious Catholics.

Stigmata is a state in which a person receives wounds corresponding to those which Christ suffered during his torture and execution in Nazareth. Stigmata can be had in various ways, which represent any combination of the wounds of our Lord. Some receive bleeding wounds on the hands, some on their feet, some on their side (representing where Christ was pierced by the sword), others on their shoulder, representing the mark of soreness Jesus received while carrying the cross. Some may also receive stigmata corresponding to Jesus' Crown of Thorns.

Within Stigmata, there are two important kinds: visible and invisible. Visible stigmata is stigmata which is present and can be seen in the form of wounds. Invisible stigmata is stigmata which does not show physical signs, but gives the pain and suffering associated with Christ's afflictions. Visible stigmata is pretty much always combined with invisible stigmata in this regard.

There have been many hundreds of cases of stigmata, mostly involving women. Many who experience these are devout Catholics, and indeed saints on Earth. The wounds of those who receive Stigmata are clearly visible, and continue to bleed without healing. Sometimes, they just mysteriously vanish, only to possibly reappear later. Everyone, even skeptics, agree that stigmata exists.

As an added sign that this is from God, often the odour produced from the wounds of the stigmatics do not reek of a bad odour, as unhealing wounds might, but rather emit a very pleasant odour, such as that of a rose or other flower.

Stigmatics are known to be very shy and try often to conceal their miraculous sign. These are almost always very pious people who seek to love and serve God, and wish to proclaim God's greatness, and in humility would rather stay in the background. However, these people are miraculous signs to all of us that God interacts in a special way with mankind, and gives us miraculous signs so we know he is close.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The God of Reason

Christians, and particularly Catholics, believe in a God of reason, as opposed to a God of pure will without reason. We are to submit ourselves to God's will, but his will and reason are perfectly aligned. This doctrine is very beneficial to our religion as a whole, because it allows for thing such as justice and peace on Earth. In this short essay, I will briefly describe why this is the case.

As Catholics, we believe there are two sources of information from which a person can live his life. The first is natural law, or reason, which is within all people. The other is revealed truth, which is truth given to us by God, in various forms, including the Bible, the Church, the teachers of the church or Magisterium, which includes the Pope, Bishops, etc., as well as information obtained from ecumenical councils, and similar meetings.

Revealed truths cannot necessarily be ascertained through reason alone. It is important to understand also that revealed truth does not contradict reason, for they both contain truth.

Believing God to be the God of reason is important in how we live our lives. Believing that we can know things through our own minds is very important. This allows us to explore nature and discover scientific information and come to conclusions about nature. It allows us to know whether something is just or unjust, as well as how to treat one another. Many horrible things have been done in the name of religion, and sometimes these things have been done by people who have rejected reason. They do things in the "name of religion", as if religion was commanding them to behave in a certain way, despite how they personally felt about it. They may say they were opposed to it personally, but had to become somehow God had commanded them to do this. This is sort of like suicide bombers. Obviously, it goes against reason to be a suicide bomber for two reasons. First of all, we should not desire to kill ourselves, and secondly because we should not desire to kill others, especially innocent people. Reason would caution us against doing such a thing, whereas someone might look in the Bible or other holy book and based on their own personal interpretation think that God requires this action from us, even though it makes no moral sense. God is ultimately just, and would not want us to commit an unjust and immoral act, such as killing innocent people.

As an example of the negative impact of denying reason, we can look to Muslim Extremists, who promote such things as suicide bombings, etc. They reject reason, saying the only thing they can really know is God's pure will, which they say is impossible to understand, therefore should not be questioned at all or even understood. This position can lead to some very dangerous acts. People stop questioning whether something is right or wrong and instead rely on others to tell them what to do. They blindly commit crimes against humanity, without listening to their own reason. This point of view has lead to many problems, especially in the Muslim world. Around a thousand years ago, the Muslim world was flourishing with many discovers in science, the arts, mathematics, and other areas. This was possible because God was viewed as the essence of reason, and it was believed that humanity could possess reason as well. This knew that humans could know things such as science, math, arts, etc. In fact, Muslims, in many ways, especially the sciences were more advanced than Christianity. St. Mark's Cathedral was constructed mostly by Muslims nearly 1,000 years ago in Venice. I will discuss this in another blog posting.

This opinion and way of life however was conquered by Muslims who felt that we as humans could know nothing except the will of God, which might seem pleasant or scary for humans, but which only made sense to God. By abandoning reason, they essentially abandoned God's gift of understanding and violence took over.

Many evils in the world could be prevented if people used the reason God gave them. Deep down, I believe everyone knows that killing unborn children is wrong, for example. I will discuss this topic further in another blog, but I think people have abandoned their reason on this topic, and their own human ability to understand good from evil. We must all be careful to use reason when making decisions. Pray that God may impart true reason and love into our minds and hearts so that we may always do what the God of Reason and Loves wants of us.

Anti-Catholicism on the Internet

The Internet is a great place of collaboration, where people from all walks of life, social status, or country, can come together to speak on various issues. The Internet connects the world like never before, and a lot of information is available. But not all information is accurate, and may even be deceitful. One of the worse problems on the Internet is that of Anti-Catholicism. In this short essay, I will explore this issue, and ways to view the problem.

The Internet does not know who is using it. You could be a Gandhi or Mother Teresa, or you could be a full-blown member of the Ku Klux Klan. The thing about the internet though, is that you do not get a biography of the person who made the website you are visiting. And even if you do, the person himself made it, so it could very possibly be skewed. Do not take anyone's word for things on the Internet unless you completely trust that person.

Anti-Catholicism is rampant on the Internet, and there are even communities which revolve around spreading lies about the Catholic Faith. The problem is that when one person distorts the truth, especially if they do it in a very grevious way, others quickly use the information to spread propaganda. Some spread these lies unwittingly, because they actually believe them.

Some sites are set up to look like they are somehow helping Catholics... they claim they want to "rescue" Catholics, or show Catholics the "correct path". They like to use the Bible to show Catholics why what they believe is wrong. Do they not realize that the Bible is a book written by and for Catholics, preserved through the centuries by Catholics who believe it in its entirety? Even Martin Luther, the pre-eminent anti-Catholic admitted to this fact.

My advice for people who encounter anti-Catholic information is to do your homework. Do not accept these people's claims at face value, find out the real information yourself. All the doctrines, dogmas, and disciplines of the Catholic religion are freely available at the library or the Internet. Catholics are not shy about what they believe, nor do they ever try to hide it. It's out in the open for everyone to see. Like Bishop Fulton J. Sheen once said, not a hundred people disagree with the Catholic Church, but millions disagree with what they wrongly believe to be the Catholics Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was promulgated by the Pope, is a sure way of knowing what Catholics believe. Think about if you were having a debate with someone on, say, being vegetarian. You were against being vegetarian, and the other was debating for being vegetarian. Would it make sense if your opponent who was debating for vegetarianism was a staunch anti-vegetarian? Or would it make more sense to debate an actual vegetarian? Obviously, it makes more sense to debate the actual vegetarian. This is the same as with Catholicism.

Another question is, who do you ask? I admit that you cannot necessarily ask any regular Catholic what they Catholic Church believes. They may or may not know, and if you ask in a confrontational way, they may not know how to respond to your questions. The best thing to do is to go straight to the source. Go to the Vatican.va website, or Catholic.com, or check out the Catechism. These are the best ways to get information.

Finally, be careful of people who seem like they could be Catholic, but in actually are not. I am speaking mostly of schismatics and heretics. Some like to say they are Catholic, but in actuality are not. The best way to know if someone is truly Catholic is to find out their relationship with Pope Benedict XVI. If they say they are in full union with the Bishop of Rome, and submit to his authority, then you have a safe bet that you can trust their information. But be careful. Some schismatic groups may claim they listen to the Pope, but find out the name of "their" Pope. There is only one. Some schismatic groups claim another man, besides Benedict XVI, as their Pope, but this man is a mockery to the real Papacy established by Christ.

As you use these tips, I pray that, with the grace of God, you can navigate away from lies and toward the Truth of the Catholic Faith.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Secret Cardinal

Cardinals play a very special role in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinals, who are bishops with a special designation, are in charge of electing a new pope upon the current Pope's death. Traditionally they have chosen a pope from amongst their own ranks. In another blog posting, I will get into the process of electing a new Pope. In this blog, I will focus on the secret Cardinal.

A cardinal is selected by the Pope, as a special leader in the Church. This selection is accompanied by celebrations and festivities, as this sacred honor is bestowed upon a shepherd to the people. This man will guide his people spiritually in a special way, and play a part, along with the Holy Spirit, in protecting the Church against error, as her new Earthly leader is chosen. While this is the norm, sometimes circumstances call for a much different situation.

Not all countries are peaceful, some are openly hostile towards religion, and sometimes toward the Roman Catholic Church. China, for example, has tried to set up its own Church, so that people will join that instead of the true church, fearing those who join the Roman Catholic Church may have an authority outside China. Other countries are hostile toward Christianity in general, and the Roman Catholic Church in particular. Many of these regions are war-torn and violence is common. Practicing Catholics must sometimes hide or be quite secretive to avoid being punished. In such circumstances, the Church must be very careful.

Sometimes if a region is unstable and violence is very common, a pope will choose a Cardinal for that area, but will keep it a secret. Nobody knows the identity of the chosen cardinal, not even the cardinal himself, except for the Pope. These Cardinals are called Cardinals in pectore, which is Latin for in the breast. This symbolizes that they are hidden and only the Pope knows their identity. This situation is rare, but not non-existent.

If the Pope feels the situation has ameliorated enough to justify revealing the name of the cardinal, he may very well do so. The priest or bishop to whom this honor had been given may be surprised to know that he was in fact selected. It is also possible for the pope to write the name of the man in his will so that upon his death, the name of the cardinal would be revealed. This however, is unlikely, since the death of the pope does not seem to be a possible cause to improve the situation.

This is where the secret cardinal comes in. Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, on April 2, 2005, it was revealed that Pope John Paul II had named a cardinal in pectore. He had named a man to the Cardinalate sometime during his papacy, but could not reveal his name. He could have been living in a very violent or communist country which did not accept religion too well, or perhaps he was living in a country that did not accept Catholicism or Christianity in general. There are many possibilities. Yet, to this very day, we know not, and may never know, the identity of the man who was selected Cardinal!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Titles and Ranks within the Catholic Church

To some, the Catholic Church's system of positions may be confusing for some. If understood in the proper context, we see that the positions used within the Church are necessary and Biblical.

There are a multitude of positions within the Catholic Church when it comes to religious (as opposed to lay people). There are deacons, priests, monsignors, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and the Pope.

Although this number of titles may cause confusion, it is important to realize there are only 3 sacramental positions within the Church: deacon, priest, and bishop, and to some extent Pope. The other positions (including cardinal, monsignor, and archbishop) are offices occupied by members of the first group.

The three sacramental offices are found in the Bible. The word "bishop" comes from the Greek "episcopoi". This means overseer or supervisor, epi meaning over and skopos meaning sight. Bishops are in charge of appointing priests and they have authority to rule theologically over a given area. The bishop can perform all sacraments, including baptism, confession, consecrating the Eucharist, marriage, and annointing of the sick, confirmation, and ordination. Bishops can be found in the Bible in 1 Tim. 5:19–22, 2 Tim. 4:5 and Titus 1:5.

We get the English word "priest" from the Greek word "presbuteroi", which means elders, also known as presbyters. They can be seen in 1 Timothy 5:17 and James 5:14–15. Priests are consecrated by the Bishops to be their helpers. They are authorized to perform many sacrements, except confirmation and ordination.

The third sacramental position is that of deacon, from the Greek word diakonoi. Deacons help priests carry out their duties and also help in other liturgical duties. A reference to deacons can be found in Acts 6:1–6.

The other roles, including monsignor, cardinal, archbishop and pope, are all special designations for certain sacramental positions. A monsignor is a senior priest who has a certain level of authority within his diocese. An archbishop is of course a head bishop, arch meaning chief or main. He has a higher level of authority in certain areas than a normal bishop, however, they are all bishops. A cardinal is a bishop as well, who has a special role in electing the next pope should the current pope die or no longer remain pope for some reason. The Cardinals are sometimes called the Princes of the Church. They also sometimes hold high positions within the Church. Finally, the Pope is a bishop as well. He is the Bishop of Rome. Since Peter was selected as the chief apostle and Pope, by Jesus, we have had a continuous line of Popes throughout the centuries. They have primacy or final say over matters which affect the entire Church. This is due to their special office of Pope. Therefore, although the Pope is a bishop, he is a special bishop with the power to make universal decisions which are binding on all Catholics. Please read my previous article on the Papacy for further information on this.

With the system of religious designations in place in the Catholic Church, Unity and Truth are assured.

Added October 5, 2015:
For a great read about the priesthood, including the Biblical basis for it, and other theological insights, check out Scott Hahn's great book Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood. Purchasing this book from Amazon will help my blog immensely!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Does Papal Infallibility mean Catholics Believe the Pope is Perfect?

The simple answer to this question is no. We believe the Pope is the same as any other man in terms of his sinful nature and need for salvation. But what about Papal Infallibility you ask? There are many misconceptions floating around concerning Papal Infallibility. I will try to address many of these issues.

It is important to note first of all, that Papal Infallibility applies not so much to the man who is pope, but more so to his office, and his role as pope. Papal infallibility means that the pope, when speaking on matters of faith and morals while making an official declaration to the universal church in a general way, is protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error.

Now that I have a definition, I will go over some possible scenarios and describe whether they are instances of infallibility, in a true or false way:

1) The Pope cannot commit sin - FALSE - Popes can and have committed sins throughout history. Pope Benedict XVI and the former pope John Paul II, both went to confession weekly. This is much more often than most Catholics. This would certainly not be the behaviour of someone who felt they could not commit a sin. The fact that a pope sins does not in any way undermine papal infallibility.

2) A Pope is always right - FALSE - The pope may or may not be correct on most issues, just like anyone else. If the pope says who he thinks will win the World Cup, dont put all your money on it.

3) The Pope, due to his position, cannot have heterodox (unorthodox) opinions - FALSE - The Pope could potentially hold opinions which are not orthodox. Because of Papal infallibility, the Holy Spirit restricts the Pope from officially declaring a teaching which is not orthodox, or in line with Catholic belief.

There is Biblical evidence for the dogma of Papal infallibility. While speaking to Peter, Jesus said he is the Rock upon which he builds his Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Peter was the solid foundation upon which the church is built. This is evident when we read the Acts of the Apostles. Anytime there is a disagreement, it is brought to an apostle, and if resolution cannot be had, Peter ultimately weighs in and his decision is final. Jesus gave this authority to Peter so that when he was gone from Earth, Christians would have a guide. Christ wanted that all people would be united and have a source of authority, which is why he established this office, held by Peter. The gates of hell would prevail against the church if it taught error contrary to Truth. Therefore the Church cannot teach error, and since the Pope is the ultimate leader of the Church, the Holy Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity, fulfills God's promise and protects the Pontiff from teaching error.

The role of the Pope and his infallibility are beautiful and essential doctrines for the Church in order to maintain the unity which Christ spoke about in the Gospels.

War in Iraq in light of Catholic Teaching

There is a concept in Catholic theology, developed by Saint Thomas Aquinas among others, called Just War Theory, stating that there are certain circumstances in which a country can justifiably take part in a war. Throughout the centuries, the Church has refined its definition of what constitutes a just war. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that there are criteria for the use of military action:

The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

There are many reasons for which this definition will preclude going to war. These reasons include going to war to build up wealth, to simply conquer a nation, or anything like this. Also, the threat must be real and serious. Therefore, there must be a real threat. If a nation says it will fire canons that may do limited damage to a building, this would probably not justify going to war.

Another very important aspect which the Catechism addresses is that all other means must be exhausted. This means using peaceful means such as the UN, or other international bodies, sanctions, and various other techniques. Until all of these peaceful techniques are used, war can never be justified.

A third condition is that the war cannot cause even greater destruction than if there had been no response to aggresive action. As a quick example, if a group took up torches and formed a riot, involving dozens of people, it would not be justified to send in tanks and destroy buildings, and kill hundreds of people.

The Catechism also states that those in the correct position, ie in the government, must make these decisions. This would normally preclude vigilante justice.

Finally, wars must conform to certain standards, even if it is found to be justifiable to go to war. War is always regrettable, but this should be minimized.

In light of this information, we must ask ourselves if the war in Iraq is justifiable. To many, including the former Pope, it is not. There is, however, no doctrine or official pronouncement made on this particular war. Therefore, Catholics are free to make their own decision regarding the legitimacy of this war.

There is however, overwhelming support for not being at war with Iraq from Catholic leaders in Rome, and all over the world. The Pope, who was Cardinal Ratzinger at the time, said the following, as reported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Asked by reporters if U.S. military action against Iraq could be justified morally, he answered, "Certainly not in this situation."

"The United Nations exists. It must make the decisive choice," he said. "It is necessary that the community of peoples and not an individual power make the decision.

"And the fact that the United Nations is trying to avoid war seems to me to demonstrate with sufficient evidence that the damage which would result would be greater than the values trying to be saved," Avvenire reported the cardinal said.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops prayed for Peace, in their speech issued in 2002. (The following is from their website):

We pray for President Bush and other world leaders that they will find the will and the ways to step back from the brink of war with Iraq and work for a peace that is just and enduring. We urge them to work with others to fashion an effective global response to Iraq's threats that recognizes legitimate self defense and conforms to traditional moral limits on the use of military force.

The war in Iraq does not seem, for many, to be justifiable given the conditions outlined above. In situations where war is a possibility, all efforts must be made in order to prevent it, and to bring peace instead.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Effects of Nazism on our Current and Previous Popes

Both Karol Józef Wojtyła and Joseph Alois Ratzinger (who became Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, respectively) have both been intimately affected by Nazism throughout their lives. In this short essay, I will explore the direct effect Nazi philosophy and politics had on our latest two Popes.

Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian Pope for over 400 years, was born and raised in Krakow, Poland. His home country was occupied by the Nazis in the Second World War, while Karol was in his late teens and early twenties. In Poland, the Germans established the most infamous concentration camp of all time, Auschwitz. Karol, who would become a young seminarian training for priesthood, was very saddened by the destruction caused by Nazism. Many of John Paul's friend's during childhood were Jewish. He saw many of his friends suffer at the hands of Nazis. This had a great impact on John Paul and in his years as a priest, bishop, cardinal, and of course, Pope, John Paul developed a theology of great love towards the Jewish people in the world.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish Organization, "Throughout his lifetime, the Pontiff has defended the Jewish people, both as a priest in his native Poland and for all the years of his Pontificate. John Paul has denounced anti-Semitism as a "sin against God and humanity,” has normalized relations with the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel, and has paid homage to the victims of the Holocaust in the Vatican and at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel."

The experience of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, with the Nazis has also been poignant. As a young person, living during the time of World War II, Ratzinger was forced to join the Nazis in their organization for younger soldiers. Ratzinger and his family very much dispised the Nazis, and they wanted nothing to do with them. However, at the threat of losing his life, Ratzinger had to join. He did not see military conflict first-hand. In a daring and life-risking move, Ratzinger abandonned his post in the military and fled for home. The punishment for such a crime was punishable by death, but Ratzinger risked his life anyway. At one point of his journey, he was apprehended by a couple of guards. By the grace of God, Ratzinger's life was spared because these soldiers were becoming tired of the war. In fact, the war was only days or weeks until its conclusion. Ratzinger said later he felt quite scared when he was stopped by these men.

We can see by the example of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, that he stood for truth and love toward all people. He risked his own life because of his beliefs. Pope John Paul II also stood firmly against oppression and hatred, which is evident from all his writings. These two great men provide spiritual guidance in their role as Pope, as well as from their personal example.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Catholic Books I am Reading

A few weeks ago, I went on Amazon.ca and bought 4 books on topics related to Catholicism. The books were as follows:

  • A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Conversations with a Moral Absolutist by Peter Kreeft This book is a conversation between two fictional people. A moral relativist interviews an absolutist and explains why her position is untenable. Very good book as a guide to refuting relativism using logic and philosophy.

  • Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton I haven't read this book yet, but being by Chesterton, it's bound to be awesome!

  • What Catholics Really Believe--Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions about the Catholic Faith by Karl Keating I personally prefer this book to Keating's other apologetics book called "The Usual Suspects". The Usual Suspects spends a lot of time outlining what many Protestant groups believe, whereas this book basically gives clarification on Catholic issues which some people have issues with. This is a great book for apologetics.

  • An Exorcist Tells His Story by Benedict J. Groeschel, Gabriele Amorth, and Nicoletta V. MacKenzie Haven't started this book either, but I am very familiar with Benedict Groeschel, who appears on the weekly Sunday Night Live on EWTN. He is a great speaker with a large amount of knowledge, in theology as well as in psychology.

These books seem like great reads and I can't wait to get into them.

Eucharistic Miracles in the Roman Catholic Church involving the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ

Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, innumerable miracles have occurred. Although there are hundreds of officially recognized miracles, these represent but a small percentage of the many thousands, even millions which have occurred throughout the Church's 2000 year history. Today, I will examine one of these miracles, the amazing Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano.

The miracle happened in the city of Lanciano, Italy around the year 700. A priest there had trouble understanding the doctrine of transubstantiation, which was believed since the time of Christ and recognized by the Church, but not given its technical name until the 1200s. As he said the words of the consecration (this is my Body, this is my Blood), the bread and wine physically changed into live flesh and live blood. The blood formed into 5 groupings. The priest went into an ecstatic state, and after some time, said to the congregation there, "Behold the Flesh and the blood of our Most Beloved Christ." Upon saying this, the congregation ran to the altar, began to cry and beg for mercy from Jesus Christ.

Although this happened about 1300 years ago, the blood and flesh remain to this day in a church in Lanciano, Italy, and has been thoroughly observed and scientifically examined by top scientists. In 1971, Professor Odoardo Linoli, eminent Professor in Anatomy and Pathological Histology and in Chemistry and Clinical Microscopy, and Professor Ruggero Bertelli of the University of Siena conducted scientific studies on the blood and flesh. All scientists who have studied this miracle have come to the same unbelivable and miraculous conclusions (from Wikipedia):

  • The Flesh of the miracle is real Flesh and the Blood is real Blood.
  • The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species.
  • The Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart, which would be impossible to obtain through dissection.
  • In the Flesh we see present in section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium. The Flesh is a heart complete in its essential structure.
  • The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood type, AB, which is also the same blood type found on the Shroud of Turin and all other Eucharistic Miracles.
  • In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of the fresh normal blood.
  • In the Blood there were also found these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.
  • There is no trace whatsoever of any materials or agents used to preserve the Flesh or Blood.

This is but one of the millions of miracles which have happened through the grace of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father. Hopefully, I will continue to add more of these amazing miracles in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pope John Paul II and his Upside Down Cross

In March 2000, Pope John Paul II, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, was at the Sea of Galilee giving a speech about peace. This is the place where the Beatitudes were preached by Jesus Christ. Some people have spread rumours and lies concerning the cross on the back of the Pope's chair, in which he sat during his speech. The cross is upside down, an inverted cross. It is true that there was an upside down cross on the Pope's seat. Many people have spread the lie that this represents Satanism.

Although the upside-down cross can possibly represent Satanism, it does not do so exclusively, and certainly not in this case. The Cross on the back of the Pope's seat is called St. Peter's Cross. St. Peter, the chief apostle, was crucified upside-down for his beliefs. This was done on Peter's request, who believed he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Christ.

As Catholics, we believe the Pope is the successor of Peter, the first Pope. As such, the upside-down cross is a fitting symbol to be placed on the Pope's Chair during his visit to Israel.

There is a lot of anti-catholic propaganda on the Internet. Hopefully you read this article if you were seeking information on this subject. People who are against the Catholic Church will sometimes distort or invent information to purposely deceive people into believing falsehoods. The ones to blame mostly for this are those who invent falsehoods simply for their anti-catholic agendas. We should pray for these people, as well as for the victims of their false information.

Not Eating Fish on Fridays, including Good Friday and Ash Wednesday

For many centuries, it has been the practice of Catholics of abstaining from eating meat on

Steadfast and Faithful to the Church Part I

Catholic history is full of people who were completely loyal to the Catholic Church. These people displayed unwavering faith in the harshest of times. We should all pray that we may have such faith and strength, especially in our times of struggle. One man I would like to present is John Houghton.

John Houghton was most probably a priest. He lived during the reign of King Henry VIII. King Henry himself felt he was fully Catholic, despite causing, perhaps unknowingly, a heretical group away from the Church. One of the chief instigators of this movement was Thomas Cromwell. Thomas Cromwell set out to remove Papal influence in England. He was brutal and unyielding in doing so, causing great suffering. Many people were victimized, and many cathedrals were sacked. One of the victims of Cromwell's brutality was John Houghton.

John Houghton was an abbot and later a Prior of the London Charterhouse. He was asked to make an oath to the Act of Succession, and upon refusing was sent to the Tower of London, where he was imprisoned. After several months, he was convinced that the oath was fully Catholic, and he agreed to it. In 1534, he was asked to give an oath to the Act of Supremacy. This Act said that King Henry VIII was the head of the Church of England. John Houghton refused to take this oath, because he was fully loyal to the Catholic Church. John Houghton and several others who refused to sentenced to be executed by being hanged, drawn, and quartered. Even this did not deter Houghton.

His last words show us the power of his faith. His last words were: "Our holy mother the Church has decreed otherwise than the king and parliament have decreed. I am therefore bound in conscience and am ready and willing to suffer every kind of torture rather than deny a doctrine of the Church." (Hendriks)

We should all pray that we may have such amazing confidence and hope, through the grace of God.

Feast of Mary the Mother of God

January 1 of each year is the feast of Mary the Mother of God. This is Mary's most important title. The name is appropriate because Jesus came to us as both fully man and fully God. Some people find it hard to call Mary the Mother of God, but logic and reason will have it no other way. Mary gave birth to Jesus, and Jesus is God, therefore she is the mother of God. Mary did not give birth to Jesus' human nature, which doesn't make sense. Jesus is both human and divine, these cannot be separated. In fact, saying Mary gave birth to Jesus's human nature is not only a fallacy, both logically and theologically, it also brings up the old fallacy of Nestorianism. This is an ancient heresy, which was preached by Nestor, and was condemned by the entire Church.

Mary is due great honor, because she accepted God's call, no matter how difficult. Even though what God told her seemed impossible, Mary willingly participated in our salvation, as the handmaiden of the Lord, as she calls herself in the Bible.