…to Godparent or not to Godparent, that is the question?
When I hear anyone talking about who they might ask to be Godparents for their soon to be born child, the first picture that comes to mind is this: Two young women that have been friends all their lives and one asks the other, “Would you be my child’s Godmother?” Well, her friend’s jaw drops and then come the squeals and jumping up and down. The answer, “o my god, yes!” Now, these two young women are both Catholic, but their practice of the Faith is truly lacking. I ask myself, “With the horrific catechesis over the past 40 years or so, what are the chances of that child being raised in the true Catholic Faith?” I would guess, rather slim.
You see, it is very important to chose godparents that are going to take an active part in your child’s religious up-bringing. Too often, that task is left solely to the lay people that teach CCD, and I can assure you that not all CCD teachers are the best qualified instructors of the Faith. Nor is the material a parish provides for the child’s instruction necessarily sound. So leaving this task to your parish’s CCD programs is not the best option. That’s why it is so crucial to chose someone knowledgeable in the Apostolic Traditions of the Church. It is the duty of Catholic parents to educate their children and the catechesis of the children should be at the top of the list. (DIVINI ILLIUS MAGISTRI,ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI ON CHRISTIAN EDUCATION) You need someone that can help you be sure that your child is getting the best religious education. You must also seek out someone who is willing to take on the task with fervor, especially if you become unable to fulfill the task yourself, or feel you are not educated well enough in the Church Apostolic Traditions to take this on alone.
The Church does have some guidelines to follow when choosing godparents, but first, I want to stress some other important things to take into consideration: (1) Catholic parents should arrange for the Baptism of their newborn as soon as possible. Do not delay! (2) The name you choose for your child should, ideally, be that of a Saint; at the least, he or she should not be given a name that conflicts with the Faith or recalls anything unsavory. For example, don’t chose a name like Sabrina that brings to mind witches. There is no saint named Sabrina. The name you choose for your new baby will be known as its “Christian” name. Also remember, that your child will receive yet another new name at Confirmation, it too, should be a “Christian” name.
The godparents act as witnesses and perform ritually that which the child would do if he or she could speak for themselves.
Ideally, there should, be one male and one female for this task. Both baptized Catholics in good standing with the Church and who’ve reached the minimum age of sixteen. I would like to add here, that even though the age requirement is sixteens years, it would stand to reason that someone more mature and well versed in the Traditional teachings of the Church would be preferable. If two sponsors are unavailable, one will suffice, as long as this person meets all the requirements. Among those who may not act as godparents are: members of religious orders, spouses in respect to each other, parents in respect to their own children, infidels, heretics (Protestant cults) ,members of condemned secret societies, and public sinners (Note: the 1983 Code As to Christian heretics, it says that while Protestants may not act as godparents, they may act as “witnesses”). So, if one of the people you choose is non-Catholic, it’s fine as long as the other meets the requirements. As stated, the Protestant can only be a witness and not a godparent. In this case it is important that a Protestant witness is fully aware of this ,and that, they have no duty to help in the child’s religious education.
Duties of Godparents
In the case of children, the role of the godparent is to be that of “spiritual guardian” who takes up any “slack” in the child’s catechesis, helps ensure that his godchild learns the True Faith, and prays for the godchild throughout his life. St. Thomas Aquinas writes in his Summa Theologica III-67-8:
“Now, it has been stated…that godparents take upon themselves the duties of a tutor. Consequently they are bound to watch over their godchildren when there is need for them to do so: for instance when and where children are brought up among unbelievers. But if they are brought up among [orthodox] Catholic Christians, the godparents may well be excused from this responsibility, since it may be presumed that the children will be carefully instructed by their parents. If, however, they perceive in any way that the contrary is the case, [heterodox Catholics, for example] they would be bound, as far as they are able, to see to the spiritual welfare of their godchildren.“
This is a very solemn obligation, not to be entered into lightly. Parents should choose their child’s godparents very carefully and select traditional Catholics who know the Faith, understand the obligations of god-parenting, and are willing and able to live up to those obligations. Parents and godparents should work together for the goal of helping the child to know, love, and serve God!
During the Rite of Baptism, the godparents will answer for the child, that is, they will make the replies to the questions asked by the priest of the one to be baptized. Being a godparent is not just a badge of honor, but a Catholic duty to be taken very seriously. Not only does a godparent hold in their hands the little body of their godchild, but also, their tiny little souls and answers for them before God that they will keep the promises that are made on that beautiful day when that little soul is set free from all stain of original sin and becomes a saint. It’s the duty of the parents and godparents that this is done throughout their lives to help them remain saints. Being a godparent doesn’t end after all the festivities are over, on the contrary, it begins in earnest.
May God bless you and may the Holy Ghost guide you on your journey together with your godchild.
Below are excerpts taken from Canon Law regarding Baptism that they may help you in your decision making process in choosing godparents, the place of baptism, the duties and requirements of the godparents/parents:
- BOOK IV FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH (Cann. 834 – 848)
PART I. THE SACRAMENTS
- TITLE I. BAPTISM (Cann. 849 – 878)
Baptism (Cann. 850-874)
THE CELEBRATION OF BAPTISM
Can. 850 Baptism is administered according to the order prescribed in the approved liturgical books, except in case of urgent necessity when only those things required for the validity of the sacrament must be observed.
Can. 851 The celebration of baptism must be prepared properly; consequently:
1/ an adult who intends to receive baptism is to be admitted to the catechumenate and is to be led insofar as possible through the various stages to sacramental initiation, according to the order of initiation adapted by the conference of bishops and the special norms issued by it;
2/ the parents of an infant to be baptized and those who are to undertake the function of sponsor are to be instructed properly on the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations attached to it. The pastor personally or through others is to take care that the parents are properly instructed through both pastoral advice and common prayer, bringing several families together and, where possible, visiting them.
Can. 852 §1. The prescripts of the canons on adult baptism are to be applied to all those who, no longer infants, have attained the use of reason.
§2. A person who is not responsible for oneself (non sui compos) is also regarded as an infant with respect to baptism.
Can. 853 Apart from a case of necessity, the water to be used in conferring baptism must be blessed according to the prescripts of the liturgical books.
Can. 854 Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion or by pouring; the prescripts of the conference of bishops are to be observed.
Can. 855 Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given.
Can. 856 Although baptism can be celebrated on any day, it is nevertheless recommended that it be celebrated ordinarily on Sunday or, if possible, at the Easter Vigil.
Can. 857 §1. Apart from a case of necessity, the proper place of baptism is a church or oratory.
§2. As a rule an adult is to be baptized in his or her parish church and an infant in the parish church of the parents unless a just cause suggests otherwise.
Can. 858 §1. Every parish church is to have a baptismal font, without prejudice to the cumulative right already acquired by other churches.
§2. After having heard the local pastor, the local ordinary can permit or order for the convenience of the faithful that there also be a baptismal font in another church or oratory within the boundaries of the parish.
Can. 859 If because of distance or other circumstances the one to be baptized cannot go or be brought to the parish church or to the other church or oratory mentioned in ? can. 858, §2 without grave inconvenience, baptism can and must be conferred in another nearer church or oratory, or even in another fitting place.
Can. 860 §1. Apart from a case of necessity, baptism is not to be conferred in private houses, unless the local ordinary has permitted it for a grave cause.
§2. Except in a case of necessity or for some other compelling pastoral reason, baptism is not to be celebrated in hospitals unless the diocesan bishop has established otherwise.
Can. 872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.
Can. 873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.
Can. 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:
1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;
2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;
3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;
4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;
5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.
§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.
April 14 2014 | Vale of Tears | 41 Comments »
In this day and age, there are so many temptations and distractions to keep us busy throughout the entire day. But do we ever give thought to the One who created all that we see, hear and feel, like a cool breeze on a hot summer day? It’s easy to follow the trends and fashions of the day, being like everyone else, robots. Saint Rafael Amáiz Barón had many distractions and temptations, but finally gave in to the true desires of his heart, giving himself totally to God. Do we have the courage to say no to our temptations and surrender to God? Do we truly believe?
In December 1936, in his monastery alongside a very busy road and a railroad line that made the walls shake, Brother Rafael Amáiz Barón wrote a very humorous meditation titled, “Freedom”. So many travelers coming and going at such speed! They think they are free. But “true freedom is often enclosed between the four walls of a monastery.” Freedom, the Brother added, “is in the heart of the man who loves only God. It is in the man whose soul is attached neither to the mind nor to matter, but to God alone.” During his canonization on October 11, 2009, Brother Rafael was put forward by Pope Benedict XVI as a young man who answered “yes to the call to follow Jesus, instantly and with determination, without limits or conditions.” Given as a model for youth throughout the world, he was one of the Patrons of World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011.
Rafael was born on April 9, 1911 in Burgos, Spain, the eldest in a family of four children. Baptized the following April 21, he received confirmation when he was not quite three years old, and made his first communion on October 25, 1919. When he was nine, he entered a Jesuit school. His great sensitivity was well as his intellectual and artistic gifts revealed themselves at an early age. In January 1922, his family moved to Oviedo, and the boy entered the Jesuit school there. His great piety led him to join the committee in charge of the Solidarity of Saint Stanislaus. According to the Father Prefect of Studies, he was already seeking God, “as if he were magnetized by Him.”
Of a lively temperament, Rafael lost his patience if he was not served quickly and efficiently. Little rumors in his circle greatly upset him. However, he never had disagreeable words for the house staff. He was very scrupulous about the cleanliness of his clothes and his personal affairs. Anything ugly, dirty, or crude, and vulgar stories or expressions were repugnant to him. When he traveled he brought along his boxes of pencils and always returned with a large number of sketches and drawings of landscapes that, once finished were stuffed into folders or given away.
An emotion that makes you think
In 1930, he began studying architecture in Madrid. He dreamed of drawing, of painting, of expressing on canvass and paper what his artistic soul conceived. He was also a musician. That year during the vacation he spent with his Uncle Polin and aunt Maria, the duke and duchess of Maqueda, he discovered the Trappist Abbey of San Isidro de Dueñas. (In the seventeenth century, Abbot de Rancé reformed the Cistercian abbey in la Trappe, in Normandy, France. All the monasteries connected to it are called Trappist and observe the Benedictine rule with particular austerity.) The evening he arrived at the monastery, Rafael felt an intense emotion while attending the Office of Compline; “Above all,” he wrote to his uncle, “I heard a ‘Salve Regina’ that God alone knows what I felt… It was something sublime.” Six years later, returning to these first impressions, Rafael would say that the Lord used the impression made on his sensitivity to make him think. In 1931, he became a member of Catholic Action, and participated in Saint Vincent de Paul meetings and nocturnal adoration. His great piety did not keep him from being first-class gastronome and being familiar with many restaurants. But in everyday life, he was hard to please and ate whatever was offered to him. Brimming with an infectious liveliness, he was nonetheless deeply meditative at times.
In September 1931, during a stay at the Abbey of San Isidro de Dueñas, he wrote, “The Trappist lives in God and for God. God is the only reason for his existence in this world. How different from some so-called Christian souls, for whom God is secondary, to be dealt with from 8 AM to 9AM and then abandoned until the same time the next day, and then again forgotten!” He later added, “The artist possesses a high degree of sensitivity, and so a Trappist monastery and the life of its monks makes an impression on him, as does a painting or a sonata. The artist who is Christian, who has faith, sees in the Trappist monastery something more than that. He sees God in a palpable manner. He leaves strengthened in his faith and, if the Lord grants him the grace, he leaves knowing himself a little better and, alone with God and his conscience, he changes his way of thinking, his way of feeling things and, most importantly, his way of behaving in the world.
During the general audience of August 10, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said, “These places [where monastic life is led] combine two very important elements for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which evokes the beauty of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great thoroughfares of the media. Silence is the environmental condition most conducive to contemplation, to listening to God and to meditation. …God speaks in silence, but we must know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity.”
Everything turns out much better
In 1932-1933, Rafael performed his military service in the engineers, and then continued his studies in architecture. Living in Madrid, he set himself a precise schedule that included early morning Mass and an evening Rosary. He wrote to his parents: “I have noticed that when I place myself in God’s hands at the beginning of the day, everything turns out much better.” A documentary of Cistercian life, created for the occasion of the eight hundredth anniversary of the French abbey of Sept-Fons, confirmed the favorable impression he’d had during his visit to San Isidro, and led him to choose monastic life. While at the monastery over November 24 and 25, his request to enter was accepted.
In his eagerness to devote himself to the Lord, he wished to enter the monastery without taking leave of anyone, even his parents, for he feared his heart’s response. But he apostolic nuncio (the Pope’s ambassador), to whom he had opened his heart, told him: “I think that you must say goodbye to your parents and receive their blessing.” So Rafael spent the month and a half that remained before he entered the monastery with his family. He waited—not without profound interior suffering—until the Christmas celebrations had passed and, the afternoon of January 7, 1934, calmly declared to his mother, who was playing the piano: “Stop playing for a moment, I have something to tell you.”–”What’s happened? Tell me?”–”Mother,” he began again with tears in his voice, “God is calling me… I want to leave for the Trappist monastery.” She lowered her head and could only say “Son!” When his wife told him about it, Rafael’s father, after a moment of barely perceptible emotion, blessed God, and then asked his son: “When do you want to go? I’ll drive you.” The date for his departure was set for January 15.
The young postulant adapted well to his new life. He believed he had achieved the aim of his aspirations and his vocation. “God has made the Trappists for me and me for the Trappists… Now I can die happy. I am a Trappist!” But a few months later he suddenly developed diabetes. During the month of May, he lost twenty-four kilos in eight days and almost went blind. Forced to return to his family for proper treatment, he reluctantly left the monastery, hoping to be able to return. After receiving the initial care the disease requires, Rafael’s health improved. He suffered from having to be immersed again in a life which he had had so much difficulty leaving. He himself would describe himself, when he returned to his home, as grumbling about his silence and meditation being ruined: “I believe I had to be a Trappist at home… How wrong I was… I was seeking myself in external recollection.” Nevertheless, he began to smoke, play the violin, and paint again. On June 3, he wrote in a letter to his uncle Polin: “What is happening is very much… At the monastery, I was happy, I considered myself the happiest of mortals, I had succeeded in freeing myself from creatures, and I sought nothing but God… But one thing remained—my love of the Trappist monastery. And Jesus who is very demanding and jealous of the love of His sons, wanted me to detach myself from my beloved monastery, even if temporarily.” Rafael quickly understood that his trial was leading him toward a greater freedom of heart.
God’s judgment is near
In July, he wrote to his brother Cistercian novices:”You do not know what you have, and you will never be able to thank God enough for so great a blessing. I myself did not know until I was forced to return into the world… in their suicidal pride, men cry out: ‘We do not need God!…’ Our society has broken down, and cares about everything except for what is truly important. I tell you frankly—in seeing men so blind, one is filled with sadness, and wants to shout to them: ‘Where are going, you crazy, insane people? You are crucifying Jesus, this Nazarean who asked us to love one another!… Don’t you see that you have taken the wrong path, that life is very short, and that we must take advantage of it, because God’s judgment is near?’ But it is useless. In the world, God and His judgments are no longer spoken of.” Rafael understood that men can be freed from the shadow of spiritual death only by opening their hearts to Christ, who is the Light of the nations.
In January 1935, he went with his brother Leopold to the French border to pick up a car his father has bought. He wanted to be the first to drive it, and on this trip he didn’t skimp on comfort and pleasures. But the attraction that life in the world still exerted on him did not keep him from writing to his Father Abbot several months later: “(My brother monks) believe that I have forgotten them, but one does not forget souls one loves in God. In loving them one loves God, and loving Him in His creatures is a great consolation that takes nothing away from His glory.”
The Blessed Virgin will cure you
In May 1935, Mercedes, Rafael’s sister, was diagnosed with acute peritonitis, with no recovery possible. Rafael took close care of her, but suffered intensely from seeing her in this condition. On June 9, the sick girl was at the end of her strength and her ability to endure any more suffering. “Don’t worry, my little sister,” he told her, “I’m going right now to the church to tell the Blessed Virgin everything, so that she will free you and our mother from suffering. You’ll have a good night—you’ll see.” Fifteen minutes later, he came back, smiling. “It’s done, I spoke to the Blessed Virgin: ‘See what you can do, Mother, for my Mom. Cure my sister.’ Now you will see how the Blessed Virgin will cure you.” After a last injection of morphine, the sick girl slept through the entire night. The pain stopped completely and, in a month, against all expectations, she gained back, the twenty-five lios she had lost.
Brother Rafael Amáiz Barón
But the desire for Trappist life still burned within the young man. Speaking of himself, he wrote to his uncle in December 1935: “His vocation is to want to be forgotten by the world and by creatures, so as to offer himself to God in the silence and humility of the oblate’s habit. He wants to be an offering for God, but without the world knowing it; to be a shadow who passed his life loving God much and silently. He wants to help worldly souls to love God, but without their knowing it.”Thanks to his health being restored, Rafael was able to enter the monastery again on January11, 1936. Since his diabetes kept him from following the Rule, he was received as an oblate, meaning he would not make public vows like the others. This was for him even more humbling, since his soul was greedy for the Trappist life with its penances, its work, and its rigor in the observance of the Rule. But he perceived being an oblate as a detachment from the Trappist vocation: “I do not deserve to be a monk… Saying the Holy Mass?… Lord, if I am to see you very soon, what does that matter?… Vows?… Do I not love God with all my strength? So what good are vows? Nothing prevents me from being close to Him and loving Him silently, humbly, in the simplicity of the oblature.” He associated his state as oblate with the mystery of Christ’s Passion. However, his detachment from everything did not make him indifferent to others; he wrote his father: “I want to be a very human saint, “ and “love for God does not exclude that of creatures.” To be able to be best cared for, Rafael was put in the infirmary. The former novice master had passed away, and his relationship with the new novice master was not an easy one. He experienced loneliness and misunderstanding, because some monks were scandalized by his exemptions from the Rule. Fortunately, he could rely on the Abbot and his confessor. In the beginning all went well with the nurse, young Brother Tescelino, but in fall 1936 the nurse was drafted, and his replacement was much less understanding. Rafael himself admitted that he was not given enough to eat.
In July 1936, the Spanish Civil War began. Rafael was aware he did not know much about what was happening in Spain. Called up on September 29, he was declared unfit for military service. Many young monks were drafted into the army. Brother Rafael suffered to see his Bothers leave while he was discharged as unfit. After a stay with his family, who had taken refuge in a very quiet Castilian village, Brother Rafael returned to the monastery for the third time on December 6.
The hand of God
On February 7, 1937, Rafael left the monastery for a third time due to his deteriorating health. The war made it impossible for him to receive the care he needed in the monastery. On the occasion of this latest departure he stated: “I see the hand of God so clearly that whatever happens is all the same to me.” He returned to the Castilian village where his parents still were, and took up canvas and brush once more. He took walks in the country, conversed with the tenant farmers, took an interest in his father’s country estate, spent long hours in the garden contemplating the sky, listened to music, and said the Rosary. But in the midst of a certain level of comfort, he found ways to mortify himself in many small things. His mother was his only nurse this entire time. Little by little, Rafael’s health improved, but he was not cured of his disease. However he reached a new stage—from then on, he not only accepted but loved his circumstances, whatever they were.
Rafael felt on him the loving gaze of Jesus, calling him back to the monastery, and an interior battle took place in his soul because of the sufferings that awaited him. “The Lord,” he confessed, “is greatly testing me with my illness, which makes me come and go without having a place to stop—now in the world, now in the monastery. It’s something that one must experience to understand…” Several days later, Rafael told his mother: “Mother, I need to leave.”–”Already, my son?” she replied, her heart wrung with anguish. It was the fourth time she would have to offer her son, and each time the pain was just as intense. “I must leave… Tomorrow I return to the monastery, “ Rafael declared. He went back to San Isidro on December 15. His farewell to his mother was simple but painful. Not seeing her husband getting ready, she asked Rafael: “Isn’t your father going with you?”–”No. This time, I’m leaving alone.”
Rafael wrote in his journal: “My vocation is only to love God, in sacrifice and renunciation, with no rule other than blind obedience to his Divine Will. I believe I am fulfilling it today, in obeying, without vows and as an oblate, the superiors of the Cistercian abbey of San Isidro de Dueñas…” Suffering physically and morally, he noted, “They do not know my vocation. If the world knew the continual martyrdom that is my life… If my family knew that my center is not the monastery, nor the world, nor any creature, but God, and God crucified… My vocation is to suffer.” From then on, he abandoned all his desires and renounced any official vocation. “I have realized what my vocation is. I am not a monk…, I am not a lay person…, I am nothing… Blessed be God, I am nothing but a soul in love with Christ.”
Constantly loving God
At the beginning of Lent 1938, the father Abbot informed him that he would give him the cowl, (the ultimate monastic habit, usually reserved for monks who have taken their vows), and the black scapular (until then, he had worn the white cope and scapular of the novice). At the moment, he was delirious with joy, but very quickly he responded: “I have seen clearly that, for me, this is vanity.” His confessor would report that at this time in his life, he spent entire hours before the tabernacle, after which he would be transformed, his limpid gaze reflecting the fiery blaze of love that consumed him. Sometimes, as a diversion to his long hours of solitude that, despite everything, weighed on him, he would be given work to do, peeling potatoes, working in the chocolate factory, making blueprints or drawings for Father Abbot, or studying Latin. Nothing, however, could turn him away from his constant thought of loving God. But the depth of his spiritual life was more visible to others than to himself. It seems to him, in fact, that he was not making any progress. “Dearest Jesus, My God,” he wrote on April 13, “I see Lord, that I am doing nothing in your service. I am afraid of wasting my time… When will I begin, my Jesus, to truly serve you?… I am useless and sick.” Addressing himself, he added, “Poor Brother Rafael!”… Let it be enough for you to constantly purify your intention at every moment, and at every moment to love God. Do everything out of love and with love.”
On Easter Sunday, April 17, 1938, the Father Abbot vested Brother Rafael with the black scapular and the monastic cowl. In his meditation that day, Brother Rafael wrote, “I would be lying if I said that today I did not allow myself to be carried away in vanity… Jesus alone fills up the heart and soul.” Shortly before, he had written to a Trappist brother. “He who gives up everything gives up very little, for he gives up only that which he must one day (the day of his death) give up anyway, whether he wants to or not.” On April 22, his father came to spend the day with him. Brother Rafael seemed fine. But on the 23rd, he took to his bed and suffered attacks of delirium, accompanied by intense pains. He died the morning of April 26, 1938, at the age of 27.
During his second stay at the Trappist monastery, Rafael discovered the deep meaning of monastic silence which becomes transformed into prayer: “People say that the silence in the monastery is sad,” he would write… “There could not be a more wrong view… The silence there is the most joyous language that could be imagined… From the soul of the Trappist living in silence who appears pitiable, bursts forth abundantly and unceasingly a glorious song of joy, full of love and joy to his Creator, to his God, to a loving Father who takes care of and consoles him…” On September 18, 2010, in Westminster Cathedral, Pope Benedict XVI reminded youth of the benefit of silence: “I ask you to look into your hearts each day to find the source of all true love. Jesus is always there, quietly waiting for us to be still with Him and to hear His voice. Deep within your heart, He is calling you to spend time with Him in prayer. But this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline; requires making time for moments of silence every day… Even amid the ‘busy-ness’ and stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self.” Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to teach us to seek God in the silence of our heart.
Dom Antoine Marie, o.s.b.
This article is made possible with the permission of the Monks of Claival
March 19 2014 | Benedictine Monks of Clairval | No Comments »
The following article has been published before and is of great importance and should not be taken lightly. I have not gotten permission from the author and apologize if necessary for publishing this on Catholic-Truths.com, but I’m confident that Mr. Salza would appreciate the word being passed on to others that have not seen it. It should be read, prayed about and acted upon. It doesn’t make any difference if you are Catholic or not, the situation and condition of this world today should be of great concern. There is a solution! Read on! Then take action! There are instructions at the bottom of the article.
The Possible Chastisement of the Third Secret of Fatima
John F. Salza, Esq.
(Published in The Remnant, January 31, A.D. 2013)
There has been much speculation about the contents of the Third Secret of Fatima. Our Lady commanded “by express order” that the Third Secret of Fatima be released in 1960. When Cardinal Ottaviani in 1955 asked Sister Lucia “Why this date?” she said the meaning of the Secret will “seem clearer” (“mais claro”) at that time. It is common knowledge that the most impactful event for the Church at that time was the ensuing Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and this book proves the Third Secret prophesies an apostasy in the Church as a result of the council’s novel “reforms.” Sister Lucia confirmed that the Third Secret begins with Our Lady’s mysterious phrase, “In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved etc…,” implying that the Faith will not be preserved elsewhere, even at the highest levels of the Church.
But are Vatican II and the New Mass the only warnings of the Third Secret? No. In June 2000, the Vatican revealed that in the third part of the Secret Our Lady prophesies a possible execution of a Pope, along with bishops, priests, religious and laity in a city half in ruins, perhaps devastated by a nuclear attack. Our Lady in the second part of the Secret also accurately predicted World War II. Hence, the Great Secret of Fatima reveals terrifying material, not just spiritual, chastisements. How might additional, yet-to-be revealed material chastisements of the Third Secret be connected to 1960? Especially when the conditional prophesies of the execution of a Pope and the devastation of a city have not yet occurred as of 2013? My research has led me to a frightening though plausible conclusion: Beginning in 1960, Russia and the United States became formally aware of the biggest material threat to modern civilization.
That threat is referred to as an electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP). An EMP is created by the detonation of a nuclear bomb over a geographical area which damages or destroys all of the electronic systems within the targeted area. In 1960, both the Soviet Union and the United States formalized its plans to test nuclear weapons that would be able to bring about a paralyzing EMP attack against their enemies.1 These tests would reveal the potential damage of an EMP attack which far surpassed scientific expectations. In 1961 and 1962, the Soviet Union launched a series of nuclear bombs over a large geographical area in Kazakhstan whose infrastructure was heavily electrified. The series of test launches was known as K-3 or Test 184.2 Reports were later issued which revealed that the civilian infrastructure of Kazakhstan was severely damaged. Major underground power lines failed, diesel generators malfunctioned, radar was disabled and telephone lines were shut down. All overvoltage protectors fired, and all of the fuses on the power line were blown.3 Even with the usage of relatively smaller nuclear bombs in these tests, debilitating damage was achieved.4
On July 9, 1962, the United States also performed an EMP test known as “Starfish Prime” by launching a high-altitude nuclear bomb over Johnston Island in the mid-Pacific Ocean.5 It was discovered that electromagnetic fields were adversely affected in Honolulu, Hawaii almost 900 miles away. Streetlights were extinguished, microwave communications were disrupted and burglar alarms were sounded off. A number of orbiting satellites were also destroyed. While these effects were not overly dramatic, the test burst was very distant from Hawaii6 and electronic technology has become much more sensitive to EMP since 1962.7 Moreover, the thermonuclear warhead (so-called “hydrogen bomb”) used in Starfish was very inefficient at producing EMP. Nevertheless, the effects of the blast surprised the experts and confirmed that our critical infrastructures, including the electrical power grid itself, would be subject to incalculable damage in an effective EMP attack.8 In other words, the potential damage of an EMP attack became “clearer” with these nuclear tests beginning in 1960 – the year Our Lady commanded the Third Secret to be revealed.
Because almost all aspects of modern American life are run by electricity, primarily through computer chips (food storage, water distribution, utilities, transportation, communication, financial services), the United States is extremely vulnerable to this type of attack. This vulnerability has increased significantly over the last 40 years as more and more of our infrastructure has become increasingly dependent upon electronics. Moreover, based on Congressional reports, we are currently defenseless in most aspects against such warfare.9 The United States Congress formed a Commission in 2001 to examine the impact of EMP on our country, with particular focus on the Soviet and American testing of 1962. The Commission concluded:
Several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication. EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of US society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power.10
Within seconds of a full-blown EMP attack against our country, millions of Americans would die instantly – in planes that would fall from the sky, in cars that would malfunction, and in hospitals whose life-supporting systems would shut down.11 The rest who are not prepared for such an attack would eventually die either of starvation or disease, or at the hands of hunger- crazed citizens or enemy invaders.12 The effects would be more immediate in populated areas, with survivors frantically attempting to escape to the country in search of food and protection. Information sharing would cease as nearly all radio and television programs would go off the air, further paralyzing our nation with fear of the unknown. Financial systems would shut down and American currency would become worthless. Our country would sink into physical and spiritual darkness beyond all imagination and comprehension.
Within hours of a successful attack, city riots would precipitate and stores would be looted for food before it rotted.13 Killers and rapists would escape from prisons and rain terror upon their victims. After only a month or two, there would be a proliferation of infectious disease, mass-murder and suicide, and starving people would resort to cannibalism, some even eating their own children. If the attack occurred in the winter, millions would also freeze to death. Under any scenario, our military would be paralyzed, as electronically governed aircraft, tanks, submarines and weaponry would no longer function and communications would almost completely break down.14 We would be unable to successfully defend against the inevitable foreign invasion. It would be a literal hell on Earth. It is the most horrific and terrifying scenario that could ever be conceived by the human mind. As Pope John Paul I said, “The secret; it’s terrible.”15
And it could be the conditional chastisement revealed by Our Lady in the Third Secret of Fatima – a chastisement that could befall us if the Pope does not consecrate Russia in time. If this is the Secret, it must be the reason why Sister Lucia could not initially write it down, even after having been commanded to do so by her bishop. What could possibly have scared Lucia in such a manner? After all, she had seen a vision of hell and had been threatened with torture and death as a child. Surely, Our Lady’s description of the aftermath of an EMP attack could have done so. A well-respected professional (who has chosen to remain anonymous) contacted me about this article on the EMP threat after it was published in The Remnant Newspaper.16 The article deeply startled him as it brought back to his memory a conversation he had with the late Father Malachi Martin during their lunch in New York City shortly before Martin died. Father Martin, who read the Third Secret (but was oath-bound not to divulge its particulars), said the Secret reveals “a new form of energy” in the context of a material chastisement. This would explain why Father Martin revealed on the Art Bell Show in 1997 that the Third Secret is more shocking than people can imagine. After revealing the Secret is “much worse” than a natural disaster, he said it “would give a shock, would terrify people, would fill confessionals on Saturday night, would fill the cathedrals, the basilicas, and the churches with believers on their knees, beating their breasts.”17 People do not react that way for warnings of apostasy, especially when these warnings are in Scripture and most of the world is already apostate. But such a reaction is not only conceivable, but expected from those faithful who believe their lives could suddenly be transformed by “a new form of energy” into incomprehensible terror, knowing their fate is in the hands of one man, the Pope (with whom they must now publicly plead to be spared through the consecration).
As we will see, Our Lady repeated the warnings of the Third Secret in Her apparitions at Akita, Japan in 1973. In 1998, Howard Dee, the former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican revealed to Inside the Vatican that “Cardinal Ratzinger personally confirmed to me that these two messages, of Fatima and Akita, are essentially the same.”18 At Akita, Our Lady warned of “a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will have never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad.”19 In an EMP attack, fire does indeed fall from the sky through the nuclear explosion that creates the damaging current of positive ions, resulting in the eventual indiscriminate loss of life in its wake. At Akita, Our Lady also revealed, “The survivors will envy the dead.” This would be the case if survivors were imprisoned in a world of physical and mental torture with no way to escape – the inevitable consequence of an EMP attack. This could be why Cardinal Ratzinger, in his 1984 interview with Vittorio Messori, stated that Fatima reveals “dangers threatening the faith and life of the Christian, and therefore of the world.”20 In his May 13, 1967 sermon at Fatima, Paul VI also warned that “the world is in danger.”21
This may also be why the Popes have chosen not to release the Third Secret. In their minds, revealing it would risk precipitating the prophesied events. For example, when John Paul II in Fulda, Germany (1981) was asked why the Secret was not released, he replied: “Given the seriousness of the contents, my predecessors in the Petrine office diplomatically preferred to postpone publication so as to not encourage the world power of Communism to make certain moves.”22 Cardinal Ottaviani had similarly stated in 1967 that the Secret was not revealed in order “To avoid that something so delicate, not destined for public consumption, come for whatever reason, even fortuitous, to fall into alien hands.”23 When Messori in his 1984 interview with Ratzinger pressed him by concluding “I venture, it seems that here [in the Third Secret], also as in the two other ‘secrets,’ Russia is mentioned?” the Cardinal refused to go further and discuss any of the details.
These statements indicate the Third Secret may reveal a devastating attack by Russia against the West, which could most easily be achieved through EMP warfare. This information would indeed be “delicate” and extremely dangerous in “alien hands,” because it would publicly reveal the outcome of Russia’s successful military strategy against the U.S., which it sought to confirm during its EMP testing in 1961-1962. Note well that it takes only a single scud missile, at a cost of only $100,000, with a single nuclear warhead, launched from an inexpensive base or shipboard in international waters, and detonated at 250 miles over the central U.S. to fatally cripple our nation in an instant. This is also why such an attack could easily come from the less sophisticated, rogue nations of the Middle East, who are under the direction and control of “the world power of Communism.”24
The Blessed Elena Aiello prophesied, in 1960 of all years, that “another terrible war will come from the East to the West. Russia with her secret armies will battle America; will overcome Europe.” She also said “Russia will march upon all the nations of Europe, particularly Italy, and will raise her flag over the Dome of St. Peter’s” [Is Rome the city in ruins revealed in the Third Secret?]. In the 1854 prophecy of Zachary, it is also revealed that Russia and China will go to war against the West and “North America will fall and be conquered and brought into bondage.”25 For Russia or China to overrun the United States military and its armed citizens in such manner would seemingly presuppose we were previously rendered incapacitated to some extent to defend ourselves. This would indeed be the case after an EMP attack. When in his 1946 interview Professor William Walsh asked Lucia if the United States would “be overcome by Communism” if Russia is not consecrated in time, she replied “Yes.”26
Of course, only faithless men would believe that hiding Our Lady’s prophecies in the Third Secret would somehow prevent those prophecies from being fulfilled. But that is exactly what the last five Popes have done. This is why Lucia said the Church is under a “diabolical disorientation.” The Popes have chosen to disobey Our Lady, favoring their own remedies of diplomacy and ecumenism rather than Heaven’s remedy of the consecration of Russia. Pope John XXIII, who was responsible for revealing the Third Secret in 1960, may have believed the EMP threat did not exist during his reign. He declared the inapplicability of the Third Secret to his pontificate immediately after reading the Secret in 1959. While this was no excuse to disobey Our Lady’s express order to reveal the Secret in 1960, Pope John’s decision can be rationalized, humanly speaking of course. The EMP threat was not as real or comprehensible during his pontificate.
However, John Paul II and Benedict XVI had no such excuse. Reports have been released, nuclear programs have advanced, and the threat has been substantiated.27 Nevertheless, in the words of John Paul II, “truly the publication of such a message [the Third Secret] is no longer something to be so much desired.”28 Similarly, in the words of Benedict XVI, “To publish the ‘third secret’ would mean exposing the Church to the danger of sensationalism, exploitation of the content.”29 As inconceivable as it is, the conciliar Popes have been more concerned about the world’s reaction to the Secret rather than preventing the prophecies of the Secret from coming true through the consecration of Russia. Instead of obeying Our Lady of Fatima and saving the world from disaster, these Popes have chosen the Communist tactic of “perception management,” as the Communists themselves plan to destroy us and plunge the world into hell.
All of the Popes in question have not only publicly promoted the cult of Fatima, but have also expressed their personal belief in the Fatima apparitions. That is what makes their treatment of the consecration of Russia and the Third Secret so incredible to comprehend. If a devastating EMP attack is revealed in the Third Secret, how could these Popes have rejected the Message of Fatima’s remedy to prevent it? How could they have ignored Our Lady’s warnings and put our lives in such grave danger? We can conclude that they not only fear man more than God, but they also trust man more than God. This has been the program of the conciliar Popes’ pontificates, fueled by the anti-supernatural spirit of Vatican II.
John Paul II and Benedict XVI have particularly manifested their faith in man rather than God by assembling the false religions of the world for world peace, rather than the Catholic bishops of the world to consecrate Russia for world peace. A greater affront to Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother cannot be imagined. Even if an EMP attack is not revealed in the Third Secret, the threat of such an attack increases more every day, as our enemies continue to enrich uranium and harvest nuclear power. Moreover, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger) have acknowledged this very threat of nuclear war – of all places – in their June 2000 release of part of the Third Secret called The Message of Fatima.30 Thus, whether an EMP attack is or is not part of the Third Secret is ultimately academic; what’s critical is that EMP and any other nuclear threat could be swiftly eliminated with the consecration of Russia.31
Our Lady commanded the consecration of Russia to be performed in 1929 when an EMP attack was not a legitimate threat. That threat became known around 1960 when Our Lady commanded the Secret to be revealed. In anyone’s estimation, it is reasonable to hypothesize that an EMP attack (perhaps by Russia against the United States) is the material chastisement revealed in the Third Secret (through the use of “a new form of energy” that Malachi Martin says is revealed in the Secret). Our Lady obviously wanted the consecration to be performed (in 1929) before the world knew of the EMP risk (in 1960), so that the risk would be moot as the world experienced the promised period of peace. But the Popes of Vatican II have chosen their own ways, not Heaven’s way. They have disobeyed God and led humanity to a frightful abyss. They have brought turmoil to the Church and the world. In the end, we know a Pope will consecrate Russia and Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph. Whether we must first suffer the chastisements of the Third Secret, however, remains to be seen.32 If these facts do not inspire us to pray daily for the consecration of Russia, nothing will.
May God spare us from the coming chastisement through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima and the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.
For more information, please see my book, co-authored with Robert Sungenis, called The Consecration of Russia – How Seven Popes Failed to Heed Heaven’s Command and Brought Turmoil to the Church and the World (Hometown Publications, 375 pages, 100 photographs), available at www.scripturecatholic.com.
1 Note that a rudimentary analysis of the effects of EMP was recording by the U.S. government’s first nuclear weapon test which took place in July, 1945.
2 The Soviet Union conducted these EMP tests on September 6, 1961 (Test No. 88, Thunderstorm), October 6, 1961 (Test No. 115, Thunder), October 27, 1961 (Test No. 128, K-1), October 27, 1961 (Test No. 127, K-2), October 22, 1961 (Test No. 184, K-3), October 28, 1961 (Test No. 187, K-4), and November 1, 1962 (Test No. 195, K-5).
3 Most of the data still remain classified by the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, but an informative report was prepared by Vasily N. Greetsai et. al. “Response of Long Lines to Nuclear High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP)” IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility, Vol. 40, No. 4, November 1998.
4 Nuclear EMP is usually described in terms of three components: E1 (the fastest pulse which induces very high voltages and destroys computers and communications equipment); E2 (similar to the electrical pulses produced by lightning and the easiest to protect against); and E3 (a very slow pulse producing effects similar to a geomagnetic storm caused by a severe solar flare). Further, EMP has the potential to vaporize targets, such as people and buildings, which disintegrate into nothingness (the U.S. government may have already used such techniques in its geo-political military conquests).
5 The “Starfish” test used a 1.44 megaton W49 thermonuclear warhead detonated at an altitude of 250 miles. The U.S. also conducted the Bluegill Triple Prime, Checkmate and Kingfish high altitude tests of 1962, as well as the Hardtack-Teak and Hardtack-Orange tests of 1958. Most of the test results have remained classified.
6 A similar detonation over the continental U.S. would have had much more damaging effects due to the Earth’s greater magnetic field.
7 For example, we have seen the change from analog to digital, with operating frequencies increasing from megahertz to gigahertz, and with the operating voltages of chips reaching ever lower levels.
8 Since the 1962 testing, further nuclear EMP tests are currently prohibited under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which forbids weapons testing in the atmosphere or outer space.
9 See, for example, the United States EMP Commission’s 2004 Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack (“Commission’s 2004 Report”), and its 2008 Critical National Infrastructure Report (“Commission’s 2008 Report”). See also the Commission’s testimony in 2005 before the U.S. Senate as well as Major Colin R. Miller’s Electromagnetic Pulse Threats in 2010.
10 See the Commission’s 2004 Report at http://www.empcommission.org/docs /empc_exec_rpt.pdf and the 2008 Report at http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf. See also Jerry Emanuelson’s Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse at http://www.futurescience.com/emp.html. It is estimated that it would take up to ten years after an EMP attack to restore our electric power grid to functionality (and such restoration would depend upon the capability and freedom of the worker-survivors after such an attack).
11 There is significant debate concerning the extent of such damage. For example, short cabling and metallic construction in cars may actually serve to protect most of them, although the increased use of non-metallic materials reduces this protection. Test results have been inconsistent. In fact, the malfunctioning of only a portion of all automobiles (say ten percent) would create greater chaos than if all cars were affected (in recent years, declassified information from the Starfish test revealed that cars in Hawaii with non-electronic ignition systems were also damaged by the EMP test, suggesting that potential damage to autos may be greater than anticipated). Further, the damage would depend upon the intensity and frequency of the pulse. Government reports have been conspicuously silent about the horrific impact on airplanes which are completely computer driven.
12 To survive, most people would need to store at least six months worth of nonperishable food and water in their homes, along with a means to cook food (e.g., propane fueled stoves), as well as have access to first aid and medicine. The best prepared will have generators or other emergency power sources, batteries, flashlights, kerosene lamps, portable heaters, two-way and emergency radios. Many will use “Faraday” cages to protect their backup electronic devices. People will also need guns and a stockpile of ammunition to protect themselves from looters. Many will survive by being able to hunt and fish, as well as grow/eat vegetables and fruits from trees. Those who possess gold and silver coins will also be able to barter and transact business when the value of American currency plummets or becomes completely worthless.
13 Such mayhem occurred in the New York City blackout of 1977 in only a single day.
14 The U.S. military currently has some protective measures in place against EMP, but the majority of its infrastructure, systems and communications remain exposed (almost the entire commercial sector has no EMP protection).
15 Before he became Pope John Paul I, Cardinal Albino Luciano in 1977 traveled to Fatima and met with Sister Lucia. It is believed that Lucia explained to him the Secret and also revealed he would become Pope and be murdered by his own Vatican curia. His visit with Lucia was reported in Gente Veneta, July 23, 1977.
16 John Salza, “The Possible Chastisement of the Third Secret of Fatima,” The Remnant, January 31, 2013.
17 Antonio Socci, The Fourth Secret of Fatima (Fitzwilliam: Loreto Publications, 2009), p. 125.
18 Reported by Catholic World News, October 11, 2001.
19 Pope John Paul II has also indicated the Third Secret reveals “that from one moment to the next millions of people will perish.” Stimmes Des Glaubins (Voice of Faith), cited in Chris Ferrara’s The Secret Still Hidden (Pound Ridge, NY: Good Counsel Publications, 2008), p. 37.
20 Reported in the Italian journal Jesus, “Here is Why the Faith is in Crisis,” November 11, 1984.
21 On September 10, 1984, Bishop Alberto Cosme do Amaral of Fatima stated the Third Secret did not speak of “atomic bombs” or “nuclear warheads.” While his statement undermines the proposed thesis, note the following: First, the bishop did not read the Secret and admitted his conclusions were based on his personal study of the matter (he wouldn’t say Lucia agreed with his interpretation until 11 years later, in 1995). Second, he withdrew his 1984 remarks before reasserting them again in 1995, which calls into question the reliability of his statement. Third, his statement attempted to summarize “the meaning of the message” and its primary import, namely, the “loss of faith” which he said was “worse than the annihilation of a nation”; hence, his statement does not preclude the conclusion that a nuclear holocaust is the revealed punishment for that “loss of faith.” Fourth, both Cardinal Ratzinger and John Paul II have collectively confirmed the Third Secret reveals material chastisements which threaten the world and where millions will die instantly (and Ratzinger’s statement came after that of do Amaral). Fifth, as noted, Ratzinger has said the chastisement revealed at Akita (fire raining from the sky) is essentially the same as that revealed in the Third Secret. Sixth, the part of the Third Secret released by the Vatican in 2000 reveals a putative war scene with the execution of the Pope and a city in ruins and hence is not limited to spiritual chastisements. Finally, Our Lady revealed that various nations would be annihilated, which is most certainly explained in the Third Secret (and, interestingly, Bishop do Amaral equated “nuclear holocaust” with “the annihilation of a nation” in his 1984 statement).
22 Stimmes Des Glaubins (Voice of Faith), cited in Ferrara’s The Secret Still Hidden, p. 37.
23 Documentation Catholique, March 19, 1967, Col. 543.
24 While it is unlikely that smaller countries such as Iran and North Korea could currently create the necessary megaton bomb to detonate at the required altitude for a full-scale EMP attack against the U.S., they are certainly getting closer. Moreover, Russia and China currently do have the capability, and have also been supplying arms and related materials to Iran and North Korea for their nuclear weapons programs.
25 See Fr. Paul Kramer’s “What are the Missing Contents of the Third Secret?,” The Fatima Crusader, Issue 95, Summer 2010, p.45. We note that, 170 years removed from this prophecy, Russia and China have entered into a formal military alliance against the West, in what has been called “The Beijing-Moscow Axis.” Perhaps this is why the United States has given so many trade concessions to nations such as China. The U.S. is attempting to appease China and the rest of its enemies, for we cannot currently defend against a universal EMP attack. Perhaps so long as China can continue to profit from our concessions on their artificially inflated currency, China will keep us alive. But, at some point – if the Pope does not timely consecrate Russia – that time will pass and we will be their victims.
26 Louis Kaczmarek, The Wonders She Performs (Manassas, VA: Trinity Communications, 1986), p. 160.
27 The effects of high-altitude nuclear EMP have been known since at least 1962. Information on the Soviet Union testing of 1961-1962 became available in the mid and late 1990s after the Soviet Union’s political restructuring. Certain information concerning the U.S. tests of 1962 also became available. The U.S. Department of Defense and other experts in the field have published information on nuclear weapon effects since the 1970s. We have also already noted the detailed reports from the United States EMP Commission issued in 2004 and 2008, as well as its testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2005.
28 Stimmes Des Glaubins (Voice of Faith), cited inFerrara’s The Secret Still Hidden, p. 37.
29 As Cardinal Ratzinger, in the Italian journal Jesus, “Here is Why the Faith is in Crisis,” November 11, 1984.
30 For example, in the Vatican’s The Message of Fatima, Cardinal Ratzinger writes: “Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword.”
Yet, in the same document, then Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone says the so-called revelation of the Third Secret of Fatima “brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil…” Not only is Bertone’s statement absurd, it obviously contradicts that of Cardinal Ratzinger, and calls into question the credibility of the entire document.
31 Theoretically, even if a Pope didn’t believe in Fatima, some question why he wouldn’t use the apologia of Pascal’s Wager and consecrate Russia anyway, for there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. However, a Pope who didn’t believe in Our Lady’s promises would be motivated not to consecrate Russia because, desiring the praise of men more than God, he would not want to be embarrassed when the promises of the consecration (as he would believe) “do not come true.” In that sense, such a Pope would have something to “lose,” namely, human and worldly respect.
32 If a devastating EMP attack occurs prior to the papal consecration of Russia, it is unclear how the Pope during such chaos will communicate with the world’s bishops in summoning them to perform the consecration on the same day and at the same hour with him. This possibility would be a further punishment from God for the Popes’ many years of disobedience.
Copyright © by John F. Salza. All Rights Reserved.
Now here’s the instructions on what you should do immediately- -Send a petition to the Holy Father:
Petition to His Holiness Pope Francis
Consecrate Russia to The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Dear Holy Father, I (we) know you love Our Blessed Mother and have consecrated your Papacy to Our Lady of Fatima. This is why I am (we are) emboldened to ask you to do one thing that will please Our Lady the most and secure for the world the blessing of peace She longs to bestow upon it: Consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, along with all the Bishops of he Catholic Church.
Our Lady asked for this Consecration, with the specific mention of Russia. I know that you intend to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart on Oct. 13, and graces would certainly flow from such a Holy Act, but Our Lady did not ask for the consecration of the world – She asked specifically for the consecration of Russia, by the Pope and the Bishops. When this is done solemnly and publicly as She specified Our Lady promises world peace.
Dear Holy Father, you have it in your power to end so much suffering in the world. Only you can do this Your Holiness so (I) we, the undersigned, appeal to you as (one of) your faithful children. Please fulfill the request of Our Lady of Fatima! (My) our peace , the peace of (my) our family, the Church and the world depends upon it. You have (my) our prayers, (my) our loyalty and (my) our love.
It will cost about a $1.10 to send this simple note. It is surely the best purchase you could ever make. Copy, past, print and mail NOW.
October 02 2013 | Vale of Tears | No Comments »
Il valore sofferenza
If you don’t speak or understand Italian, the title of this piece is beyond your understanding. But, if you have a knack for figuring out what another language is saying, you may discover that it means, “The Value of Suffering.” The reason for choosing Italian is that it is the language of Madre Provvidenza, a dear friend and the Foundress of the Missionaries of Faith. Mamma, as her children call her, passed from this life in 2001. Even though Madre was totally blind she has many writings in the form of recorded cassettes that are being reviewed to help bring her cause forward. The Sisters send out a booklet on a regular basis with small articles of some of Madre’s writings. The most recent mailing gave me the idea for this post.
I want to begin with something that Madre Provvidenza had in her article to help explain the value of suffering. I’ll do my best to translate as closely as possible without changing any of Madre’s meaning. First of all, she chose the word “martyr” in Italian “martirio” to give a clear explanation. Here is how she did it:
M = Morire a tutto-Dying at all
To die to all
Denouncing the world
A = Amare Iddio-Loving God
To love God with
all your strength, heart and soul
R = Redimere le anime-To redeem the souls
To win souls for Jesus
To be a part of Christ’s redemption
T = Testimoniare il Cristo-Testiminiare the Christ
To give testimony to Christ
Be a witness to Christ
I = Insegnare ai frateli-Teach brothers
To give instruction
R = Rettificare le vie-Rectify the streets
To give assurance
To publicly acclaim the Truth
I- Imitare il Crocefisso-Imitate the Crucifix
To be a living sacrifice
Place yourself on the cross
O = Operare il Bene-Operate the Good
To do good works
To follow God’s will
In following the progression of the meaning given to each letter, I think the word martyr or martirio comes to life. First of all, you have to understand that a martyr is not always someone who was burned at the stake, beheaded or stoned to death for the sake of the faith and love of God. These are the truest martyrs and have been given a special grace to suffer in such a manner. However, we all suffer some kind of martyrdom everyday. But, do we accept what we suffer or do we complain and shake our fist at God and say, “Why do you do this to me? It’s all your fault! Blah, blah, blah. . ..”
No, it’s not God’s fault that we suffer, but our own. We must pay for our own faults and those of others if necessary, to gain eternal life and/or lessen our or their stint in Purgatory. Shaking our fist and getting angry can only increase our sentence, or even worse, cause us damnation should we fall so far away from God.
Madre Provvidenza embraced her suffering and she was an advocate of suffering. She did her share of suffering while she lived, beginning with her blindness and then the seven years until the Foundation of the Missionaries of Faith. She was sent out with no money or means of support to find a bishop who would accept her and the foundation of a new Order. Madre relied on Divine Providence to take care of all her needs. There were times of hunger, cold, no sleep, no shelter. This would be scary enough for someone with sight. Madre developed more maladies as time went on, but she suffered them all for the love of God, for priests in particular and any soul in need. I’m sure she knew some of the souls for which she suffered, but we don’t always know who. Sometimes it’s necessary to ask for the grace to suffer for the conversion of a soul, or the health of a loved one. But if we ask, we must be ready to pay for that soul and not complain. Rather, we should say “thank you” for being allowed to participate in the work of Christ’s redemption. That’s what being a martyr is all about and we need to keep this in mind always at the ready to offer our aches, pains, misfortunes, or whatever God sends us for the sake of souls.
As Catholics, how fortunate we are to have this available to us. To have those willing to suffer for us and with us for those most in need. Offering your day with all its ups and downs for the poor souls in Purgatory is a wonderful grace and should not be overlooked. Offer your day when the alarm sounds in the morning, “Lord, I give you this day for the soul of N. or the souls in Purgatory. They need us and we need them! Keep a smile on your face and have a great day!
So, you’ve given the day for a particular soul or the poor souls. Now, before you retire for the night, make your examination of conscience and see how you did. Think of the worst thing that happened to you today… how did you handle the situation? Not so good . . . well now think of the best thing that happened today. How did you handle that? Hmm . . . a bit prideful or with great charity? Well, you know where and what your faults were for the day, make a good Act of Contrition. Don’t let these failings go to waste, offer them as well for those souls that you offered all your sufferings and pray again, “Thank you for sending all that had to suffer today for N. and I pray it was beneficial and I offer my failings and ask for the grace to handle the situation or one like it more to Your liking.”
I hope this piece has been beneficial to you in understanding the value of suffering and why it is so necessary. Suffering brings grace to those in need that cannot or will not pray for themselves. We also benefit from suffering to shorten our stay in Purgatory. So, no more complaining or fist shaking, embrace, accept and win souls for Jesus. Suffer well, pilgrim, suffer well!
Before you go, pick a martyr and see if their life and suffering included all the points made by Madre Provvidenza. I’m sure you’ll find that it truly did. There are two kinds of martyrs: red and white. Red martyrs die by violence, shedding their blood. White saints die a death of total love of God usually accompanied with physical ailments, for example. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.
To learn more about Madre Provvidenza visit the official web site.
September 12 2013 | Vale of Tears | No Comments »
Pope St. Pius X part 2
“O God, Who to safeguard the Catholic Faith and to restore all things in
Christ, didst fill the Supreme Pontiff, Saint Pius, with heavenly wisdom and
apostolic fortitude: grant in Thy mercy: that by striving to fulfill his
ordinances and to follow his example, we may reap eternal rewards.”
On this day in the history of Holy Church, the Roman Martyrology teaches us that St. Gregory the Great was raised to the Sovereign Pontificate, saying, “This incomparable man, being forced to take that burden upon himself, sent forth from the exalted throne brighter rays of sanctity upon the world.” How fitting that the Church makes this day the feast day of another great Pope …namely St. Pius X.The readings from Matins says of him: “After the death of Pope Leo XIII he took up the supreme pontificate like a cross, having refused it in vain.”
When asked what name he would take, he replied: “Because the Popes who suffered the most for the Church in the previous century bore the name Pius, I will take this name.”
The reading from Matins goes on to say of him: “Placed upon the chair of Peter, he gave up nothing of his former way of life. He shone especially in humility, simplicity and poverty. He ruled the Church firmly and adorned it with brilliant teachings. As a most vigilant guardian of the faith, he condemnedand suppressed Modernism, the sum of all heresies; as a most zealous defender of the freedom of the Church, he boldly resisted those who strove to bring about her downfall; he provided for the sound education of clerics, brought the laws of the Church together into one body; and greatly fostered the worship and more frequent reception of the Eucharist.”
Knowing his Spouse and Mother, the Holy Church, was deeply wounded by heresy on the inside and being attacked from the outside, he is said to have never smiled as Pope. He knew there was a cosmic battle being waged…and he, as the Vicar of Christ, assumed his role most fittingly with EVANGELICAL SERIOUSNESS. He knew this was no time to be laughing. Read the Gospels… you will find the same seriousness in His Majesty, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
For our meditation today, let us concentrate on his love for the priesthood. In this month of Our Lady of Sorrows, we can think of how Pope St. Pius used to test seminarians and priests about devotion to Our Lady. He would simply ask them why we should be devoted to her. The answer he was looking for, “so that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
Deeply dedicated to the priesthood, St. Pius often used to say, “Sicut sacerdos, sic populos” … as the priest, so the people. This motivated him to seek complete reform of the clergy whenever and however he could… by teaching and by example… knowing it would lead to the reform of the whole Church. He understood that this a priestly Universe. There will be
no reform without holy priests. Here are some considerations.
Due to his outstanding work as a pastor and later as the director of spiritual formation in the local seminary, he was chosen to be bishop of Mantua. He tried to evade the promotion just as, later on, he tried to flee from the papacy. He wrote a long letter to Rome, setting out all the reasons why he should not be appointed. Back came the reply, one word,
written by Pope Leo XIII himself. “Obey!” SoFr. Sarto obeyed, and was consecrated bishop. Soon afterwards, he went home and showed his motherthe episcopal ring which he had been given. Signora Sarto held out her own work-worn hand, with the simple gold wedding-band on the third finger. “You have a beautiful ring,” she said, “but you would not be wearing ittoday if I had not first worn this one.” Pope Pius always kept a picture of his mother on his desk. In Rome, Leo XIII soon had cause to be proud that he had chosen Fr. Giuseppe Sarto for Mantua, saying: “He is the best bishop in Lombardy!”
The biggest problem facing the diocese was a shortage of priests: during his first year only one was ordained, though forty were needed. So the new bishop launched a very energetic campaign for vocations. He took over personally the running of the seminary, engaged the best professors and taught some of the more important courses himself. He told his priests to keep a constant look-out for young men who might possibly be called to the priesthood and ordered that they be given every encouragement and brought to see him atthe earliest opportunity.
Within a very few years, nearly 150 new priests had been ordained. They must have been very good men… because later he would write as the Pope: “Bear well in mind, Venerable Brethren, the Apostle’s warning to Timothy: ‘Do not lay hands hastily upon anyone.’ In fact, haste in admitting men to Sacred Orders naturally opens the way to a multiplication of people in the sanctuary who do not increase joy. … The eagerness of the aspirants is no excuse for haste. The priesthood that Jesus Christ instituted for the salvation of souls is by no means a human profession or office which anyone desiring it for any reason can say he
has a right to receive” (PIENI L’ANIMO No. 4).
“…you have a very serious obligation before God of guarding and fostering most solicitously the proper conduct of the seminaries. Your priests will be as you have trained them” (No. 5). “Let philosophy, theology, and the related sciences, especially Sacred Scripture, be
studied along the lines of pontifical directives: according to the teaching of Saint Thomas…” (No. 6). As the priest, so the people. Like St. Francis de Sales, he told his priests that he wanted no special preparations when he called: the ordinary fare of the presbytery was
good enough for him. He kept in constant touch, knew all their problems and had his own way of dealing with those who were not up to their duties. For example, one parish priest had become especially careless in his duties: he was constantly late in getting to church so that people who wanted to go to confession before Mass had no opportunity to do so. When the laggard arrived one morning, late as usual, he was astonished to find that someone was already hearing confessions.
Pulling back the curtain, he found himself face to face with Bishop Sarto. Crestfallen, he waited for the rebuke. It did not come. “Any time you have trouble getting to church, Father, just let me know,” said the gentle Bishop. “I’ll always be happy to stand in for you.” That priest was never late again.
Story of St. Luigi Orioni
When the father of a boy he knew complained that Cardinal Sarto, the Patriarch of Venice, was spoiling his boy by inviting him to his room to talk alone, play cards and smoke cigarettes, Don Orione grew indignant and wrote a scathing letter to the Cardinal. He regretted his action shortly after posting the letter. Some years later, when the same Cardinal became Pope Pius X, he feared their first meeting. Yet, Pius X granted all his wishes and more. Before they parted company, however, Pius showed Luigi the letter he sent. The Pope had kept it in his breviary all that time for the sake of humility.
At the beginning of his pontificate, Pius X wrote, “To seek peace without God is an absurdity.”This is same as saying to seek peace without God’s Pontiff on earth is an absurdity.Having often foreseen and foretold a great war between European nations, he stepped up diplomatic measures to prevent this tragedy. Nonetheless, in the summer of 1914, the First World War broke out. The Holy Father’s heart was broken. In his distress, he
repeated day and night: “I offer my miserable life as a sacrifice, to prevent the massacre of so many of my children… I suffer for all those who fall on the battlefields…” On August 15, he felt unwell, and on the 19th,he was on the verge of death. “I place myself in the hands of God,” he said with otherworldly tranquility. Around noon, he was given the last Sacraments, which he received, calm and serene, in complete lucidity and admirable devotion. On August 20, at oneo’clock in the morning, making a slow sign of the Cross and joining his hands, as if he were celebrating Mass, having kissed a little Crucifix, the holy Pontiff entered into eternal life. His body remains incorrupt and able to be viewed in St. Peter’s Basilica under the Altar of the Presentation.
“Dear Saint Pius come back!We need you again! Holy Church needs you again! In the name of the Father . . ..
Homily given on September 3, 2013, Feast of Pope Saint Pius X
September 04 2013 | From the Pulpit | No Comments »
Pope St. Pius X and Modernism
I found this homily to be quite prevalent for the world today and to be listened to with great intensity. -Admin
Although today is the feast of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, I would like to offer the first of two reflections on tomorrow’s Saint, Pope Pius X. I am sure that St. Stephen would approve of this plan since he himself “obtained his royal crown from the Pope and, when he had been anointed king at the Pope’s command, he offered his kingdom to the Apostolic See” (Matins). Furthermore, we might call to mind that when Prince Karl and Zita Hapsburg met with Pope Pius X, he prophesied that Karl would soon be king of Austrian-Hungarian Empire…something that did not seem likely given that there were others in front of him. …but the prophecy soon came true.
Turning to St. Pius X, in his first encyclical, E supremi apostolatus, of October 4, 1903, he made known to the whole world the program of his pontificate: “To restore all things in Christ, so that Christ may be all and in all (cf. Ephesians 1:10 & Colossians 3:11)… To lead back mankind under the dominion of Christ; this done, We shall have brought it back to God… Now the way to reach Christ is not hard to find: it is the Church… It was for this that Christ founded it, gaining it at the price of His Blood, and made it the depositary of His doctrine and His laws, bestowing upon it at the same time an inexhaustible treasury of graces for the sanctification and salvation of men… The duty has been imposed of bringing back to the discipline of the Church human society, now estranged from the wisdom of Christ; the Church will then subject it to Christ, and Christ to God.”
Due to the intense pressure of the Enlightenment (which was running rampant with the spread of Rationalism and Liberalism) many theologians and priests started to adopt its principles as the 19th Century progressed. They formed a new theological system that came to be known as “modernism.” It attempted to wed the Church with the modern age, making it more relevant. The modern age was and still is rationalistic… naturalistic… humanistic. Consequently, they sought to remove the Divine from everything we believe… to remove the vertical, making all horizontal or natural. No miracles, no piety, no Mystical Body of Christ, etc. They pretended to believe, holding all the doctrines of the Church by name…but giving them new meaning (e.g., The Church, Hell,… ). Thus, Modernism is called “the sum of all heresies” (Matins for Pius X).
By the time Pope Pius took office, he exclaimed that its errors had “nearly [reached] the very bowels and veins of the Church.” He also said, “the rationalists are not wanting in their applause, and the most frank and sincere among them congratulate themselves on having found in the Modernists the most valuable of all allies” (Pascendi, no. 39).
The steps taken by Pius X to find a remedy for this evil system resulted in the decline of Modernism in just a few years. The principal agitators were removed from teaching positions in the Catholic Church, and new impetus was given to philosophical and theological studies in keeping with the principles of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Although firm in doctrine, Pius X nevertheless showed great kindness towards those who had gone astray. In 1908, he recommended to the new bishop of Châlons (France): “You are going to be Father Loisy’s bishop (Loisy, called the “father of modernism” by some, was excommunicated because of his persistence in the heresy.) Treat him with kindness and, if he makes one step towards you, make two steps towards him.” This was a concrete application of his principle: “Fight error, without touching the individual.” Hate sin and error…but seek the salvation of the sinner.
Like the Cure of Ars, whom St. Pius beatified, he did not miss an opportunity to do his enemies a good turn. One day, a certain citizen of Mantua penned a newspaper article libeling its bishop, an offence for which he could have been sent to jail. Despite the advice of his assistants, the good bishop refused to prosecute, or to take any other action. “What that poor man needs is prayer, not punishment,” he declared. When, soon afterwards, the libeler went bankrupt and it looked as though he really would go to jail, it was St. Pius who saved him by sending him money anonymously. “Say that it is a gift from Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” he told the messenger.
Yet, Modernism, so vigorously denounced by St. Pius X, unfortunately did not disappear. In 1950, Pius XII, in the encyclical Humani generis, warned against various errors, many of which were related to Modernism. The philosopher Jacques Maritain, not free of the heresy himself, stated in one of his books (Le Paysan de la Garonne (1966)) that “the Modernism of Pius X’s time was a mere hayfever” in comparison to the neo-Modernist movement that was currently in vogue.
During the General Audience of January 19, 1972, Pope Paul VI denounced “errors which could completely ruin our Christian conception of life and history. These errors were expressed in a typical manner in Modernism which, under other names, is still widespread.” On September 14th of the same year, Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, echoed the Pope’s declaration, observing that, although the word “heretic” is no longer used in our times, “heretics have by no means ceased to exist. Heresy number one is what we are accustomed to calling Modernism… Modernism is back, and will appear again as the primary threat to the Church of tomorrow. As authority of all sorts has become universally unpopular, the climate has never been more favorable towards a renewed attack against the authority of God and the Magisterium of His Church. The Resurrection, the Holy Trinity, the immortality of the soul, the Sacraments, the Sacrifice of the Mass, the indissolubility of marriage, the right to life of unborn children, of the elderly and the incurably ill—all these doctrines accepted without problem by Catholics till now, will very likely be the object of attacks in the Church of tomorrow.” The experience of the few decades reveals the truth of this analysis. Cardinal Joseph Siri of Genoa in his work Gethsemane: Reflections on the Contemporary Theological Movement (1981) proves and verifies that Modernism is alive and well in our times. All this makes us appreciate the efforts, writings and teachings of St. Pius X … and that we seek to understand them to keep ourselves free of this heresy.
We are living in a time in which to keep our faith alive, we must study and know our faith. We must know it as it has always been known… and that is why Tradition will keep us sane in such times as these…
Homily given on September 2, 2013, the Feast of St. Stephen of Hungry
September 02 2013 | From the Pulpit and Vale of Tears | No Comments »
“O God…grant to us… that by Thine inspirations we may think what is right, and under Thy guidance perform it.” Collect
The Easter Season contains many very important lessons for overcoming our fallen human nature. Today let’s consider a lesson about keeping our sense of humor in trying situations… a lesson about attaining true happiness even in this life.
The lesson I have in mind flows from this simple fact: in every account of the Resurrection, the disciples were caught off guard because they were expecting something else. The key word here is expecting… Expectations. Ah! Those little mental concepts we formulate ahead of time… little concepts that are very often the sourceof much gain for the devil and much misery for man.
Consider for a moment the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Walking away from the apostles in the Upper Room on Easter Sunday, they were discussing the things that had happened in Holy Week as well as what St. Mary Magdalene and the other women had lately reported. And the Scriptures tell us, they weresad. They were depressed. Why? Things did not turn out as they had expected! “we hoped that it was He that should have redeemed Israel…”So, they were expecting A-B-C to happen…and instead they got X-Y-Z. Ah…they failed to realize just how good the X-Y-Z was! The Resurrection! The Ascension! Eternal Life!
The effects of these expectations on the disciples are sobering: (i) they were walking away from the Apostolic Church symbolized by the apostles gathered in the Upper Room. “This is not what I was looking for in the Church. I am taking a breather.” How many people, falling into some disillusionment start walking away from the Church? Most converts leave the Church within the first year. (ii) Their tongues were loosed. As they were walking away they mulled over their disappointments. The Scriptures say, “in the multitude of words there shall not want sin” (Proverbs 10:19). Surely in their words were various complaints, detractions and perhaps even gossip… “Mary Magdalene…she is sinner, what does she know anyway.” Oh how this is greatly amplified in our times… with blogging, Facebook, texting, cell phones and email! My goodness how the devil must love these times! (iii) Third, they were sad. They were depressed. They were down. Failed expectations cause sadness. More on this in a moment. (iv) They did not recognize the glorious and wonderful truth when it was presented to them… They did not believe St. Mary Magdalene’s report of angels and they did not recognize the Word made flesh when He came to walk among them. Expectations cause a certain blindness in the soul.
In a word, we can safely say, forming expectations and holding on to them very often takes away our sense of humor. St. Mary Magdalene was expecting to find the body of Jesus in the tomb in order to give it a proper burial. This is why she and the other women had brought spices with them. When she did not find the body, she wept.
Recall the Old Testament story of Naaman found in the 4th Book of Kings. He was the great Syrian general who had leprosy. At the beckoning of a little Hebrew maiden he was encouraged to visit the prophet Eliseus. After making his way to the door of the prophet, not without some trials, he was ready to be healed. But the prophet stayed inside and sent a message to the general to go and bath in the Jordan seven times. The response of Naaman is of key importance.“Naaman was angry, and went away, saying: I thought he would have come out to me, and standing, would have invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy, and healed me” (4Kings 5:10). Ah there it is! “I thought…” The great general was expecting A-B-C…and he got X-Y- Z. Ah!… once again, he failed to see how good the X-Y-Z really was! The result? His tongue was loosed, complaints rolled out… and he became angry. Failed expectations produce anger! No sense of humor here. Yet, we know that cooler heads prevailed, Naaman obeyed and became a wonderful type of the Resurrection… coming out of the waters of the Jordan, with “his flesh restored, like the flesh of a little child: and he was made clean.” And what is more,he was now able to SEE the prophet face to face. His sense of humor was restored, he professed the faith and was glad. “And returning to the man of God, with all his train, he came, and stood before him, and said: In truth, I know there is no other God, in all the earth, but only in Israel: I beseech thee, therefore, take a blessing of thy servant.”
When St. Bernadette was seeking to fulfill the 15 days of visits to the Grotto in Lourdes, she was devastated on the 5th day when Our Lady did not come to visit her with an apparition. She was almost inconsolable… She was expecting A-B-C and got X-Y-Z.
Oh how much these expectations hurt us… cause us much unnecessary pain and anguish. Consider a few more simple examples: I expect to fall asleep when I go to bed…because I have determined that I need so many hours of sleep to function well. I go to bed on time…and what do you know, I cannot fall asleep for some reason. What is the normal human reaction? We start getting angry that we cannot fall asleep. And that only makes it worse, no? What about driving? Expecting others to be courteous and law abiding? I expect the house to be clean when I get home today? What if it is not? We quickly become angry and miserable creatures. I expect Mass to be so long… I expect the sermon to be 10 minutes… I expect people to dress modestly… children to behave…
In getting married, how many fall into this trap! I expect my husband to be like A-B-C…and I got X-Y-Z! Ugggh. I expect my wife to be A-B-C and I got X-Y-Z! Hummm. I wanted children to be this…and I got that. I entered religious life and expected… “I thought…” and I found something very different. “I thought” the priesthood would be like… and well, it was not. So many shipwrecks on these shoals of failed expectations… divorces, failed vocations, addictions and habitual sinners are all floundering here!!!
I expect A-B-C… come now… when was the last time you really gotA-B-C?! No wonder why we are so unhappy! I have found that Catholics waking up to Tradition and striving with all their might to recover what was lost… have also fallen prey to a sort of failed expectation. Many of us have lived through some of the most trying times the Church has ever experienced! The 60’s, 70’s, 80’s. Many fell away during in this period… only to wake up later. Looking back at their path, they come to the conclusion that IF the men leading the Church at those times had only maintained course… which I, even now, expect them to have done no matter what!… THEN I would not have fallen…I would not have led my family astray for so long… my children would not all befallen away right now. And this failed expectation (formulated mentally after the fact… perhaps partially motivated by a sense of guilt), brings anger. So many Catholics seeking to recover Tradition are angry people. This is why some call them “mad Trads” or “sad Trads.” This is the same pattern people use on their families and parents aswell…looking back they get mad at their failure to live up to their present expectations of what should have been.
Let us paint the rest of the picture… as we have seen failed expectations lead to anger. Anger is a passion… meaning that it comes and goes. But anger often produces very powerful experiences at its peak moments. Such strong emotions deposit a bitter memory in the mind. This bitter memory becomes a resentment. Resentments are terrible and nasty things that are hard to overcome. Resentments lead to self-pity…sadness. Poor me! But man hates to feel sorry for himself. It is contrary to his nature. The devil loves to come around at this point and tempt man…with many short cuts to solve his problems… short cuts to feeling good about himself. Giving in, many turn to self-indulge their passions in some way… comfort food, drink, drugs, pleasures of the flesh… entertainment, adventure seeking, etc. … The Poor man then wakes up the next morning…feeling guilty and this renews his anger and the whole cycle begins afresh. Failed expectations, anger, resentment, self-pity, self-indulgence… guilt… anger, resentment, self-pity, self-indulgence.
One of the surest ways out of this spiraling cycle of sin and frustration it so get rid these pre-conceived ideas we call expectations. Expect nothing and work with what you have been given. Work on improving your sense of humor and you will see God behind every event. Writing down our expectations can help clarify them and help us to get a good laugh! I am not God… He is “I Am Who Am.” I am “he who is nothing.”
The saints fought these human expectations by making resolutions. St. Anthony Mary Claret: “Everything that may happen to me I will consider as coming from Almighty God for my good; and so without ever murmuring I will always say: God’s will be done” (autobiography, p. 169). St. Gabriel Possenti: “I will receive all things from the hand of God, as being sent by Him for my own personal benefit.” And so with all the saints. They had a sense of humor! They recognized in the X-Y-Z situations of their life… stepping stones to something greater… stepping stones to heaven!
When we approach a situation without expectations,we are more able to use our reason, to see God working and make good decisions as to what ought to be done. If you came home with no expectations of the house being clean,you would more calmly and reasonably set about cleaning the house and punishing the lazy with a spirit of charity rather than anger. And if the house were clean when coming home, how much more edified you would be!
On the other hand, if we approach the situations of our lives, including our very vocations, with expectations, we will sooner or later fulfill these words of St. Philip Neri: “Men are generally the carpenters of their own crosses.” We will construct cross after cross… we will get angry, sad, blog, Facebook, email, and say things we regret and even start to distance ourselves from the Church.
When St. Bernadette came on the 9th day to find Our Lady not there for the second time, she was not upset nor devastated. Accepting the X-Y-Z of her situation on the 5th day enabled her to grow spiritually mature… and this enabled her to kiss the ground repeatedly for sinners, as well as to drink and wash in the muddy waters on the 8th day. She gained a sense of humor… Tongues were silenced, truths were confirmed… Bernadette heard Our Lady say: “I am the Immaculate Conception!” Millions have been affected ever since, including thousands upon thousands of conversions… people entering the Apostolic Church. Many souls have recovered a sense of gladness and joy in the waters of Lourdes.
I will end with a scene from the life of 19th C. St. Conrad of Parzham which captures these two positions well. As a Capuchin friar working as porter at a Shrine of St. Anne in Germany, St.Conrad had to deal with many beggars. Once a beggar came to the monastery after the best food had been distributed.Br. Conrad explained at that late hour there was little to be had, but he brought him a bowl of soup from the kitchen. After the beggar tasted the food, he immediately threw the bowl at the feet of the brother, saying angrily: “You can eat those slops yourself.” Unruffled, Br. Conrad picked up the pieces of the broken dish and said: “I see you do not like this soup, I will get you something else.”
This is an actual homily given during the Easter season (2013) by a Traditional Roman Catholic Priest.
Hopefully, there will be more to come.
July 02 2013 | From the Pulpit | No Comments »
Saint Catherine of Siena
“There can be no doubt that, in Europe’s complex history, Christianity has been a central and a defining element, “ declared Blessed John Paul II on October 1, 1999, when he proclaimed Saints Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa of the Cross co –patronesses of Europe. “The Christian faith who shaped the culture of the continent and is inextricably bound up with its history… For through their upright and honest lives inspired by love of God and neighbor, and countless Christians in a wide range of consecrated and lay vocations have attained a holiness both authentic and widespread, even if often hidden. The Church has no doubt that this wealth of holiness is itself the secret of her past and the hope of her future. … Saint Catherine of Siena’s role in the unfolding history of the Church and also in the growing theological understanding of revelation has been recognized in significant ways, culminating in her proclamation as a Doctor of the Church [by Pope Paul VI, on October 4, 1970].”
The daughter of a cloth dyer, Giacomo Benincasa, and his wife, Lapa Catherine and her twin sister Giovanna were born in Siena, Italy, on March 25, 1347. They were born after twenty –two brothers and sisters. Giovanna soon died and, in 1348, the Benincasas adopted a ten-year-old orphan, Tommaso della Fonte. From her childhood, Catherine felt a deep attraction to God and Mary. When she was just five, she used to fervently recite the Hail Mary, repeating it on each step going up or down the stairs. Later, she always would recommend recourse to Mary at any opportunity: “Mary is our advocate, the Mother of grace and mercy. She is not ungrateful toward her servants.” Around the age of six, she had a vision of Christ blessing her. This experience increased Catherine’s zeal. Her religious education included reading from the lives of the saints, hermits, and desert fathers, whom she would later try to imitate by a life of asceticism and solitude. Catherine’s attraction to the Dominican order increased when Tommaso entered the Dominican novitiate in 1353. At the age of seven, Catherine made a vow of chastity.
When she was twelve, Catherine allowed herself to be dressed fashionably to satisfy her mother and Bonaventura, her older sister. In August 1362, Bonaventura died in childbirth. After this death, the parents wanted to marry off Catherine, who categorically refused. They sought Tommaso’s support. Given Catherine’s firm resolution to be consecrated to God, her brother convinced her to cut off her hair, which irritated her parents greatly. Besides the punishments and bullying she endured, she was chased from her room where she liked to spend long periods alone in prayer, and she was forced by her mother, who did not understand her, to do the servant’s household tasks. So Catherine decided to make “a little monastic cell” within herself, in which she enclosed herself with Jesus while she worked. To facilitate her recollection and obedience, she strove to see in her mother the Blessed Virgin Mary in serving her father, she imagined herself serving Jesus; her brothers and sisters were Christ’s disciples and the holy women… Her ingenuity enabled Catherine to be contemplative in the midst of the world, to be in the world without being worldly, transforming the circumstances of ordinary life into encounters with God. Later on, she would tell her disciples that “everything done out of charity for one’s neighbor or oneself, all these external works whatever they may be, if they are done with a holy will, are a prayer.”
One day, Catherine had a vision of Saint Dominic offering her a lily and a Dominican religious habit. In the face of Catherine’s determination, her father finally gave her permission to join the Sisters of Penance of St. Dominic (called the Mantellate, because of the black mantles, mantellata in Italian). These were primarily widows who devoted themselves to charitable works and got together to attend Mass and receive religious instruction. Presented by her mother, Catherine was rejected by the sister, who found her too young and perhaps too fanatical. But a bit later, overwhelmed by the zeal and courage Catherine showed in enduring a serious illness, the sisters agreed to accept her, and in late 1364 she received the habit.
“If I had not been there…”
From her novitiate, Catherine, who led a very ascetic life, was favored with apparitions and dialogue with Jesus. Yet along with these mystical gifts came moments of doubt and anxiety, and strong temptations. After an especially strong temptation, Our Lord appeared to Catherine: “Good and most sweet Jesus,” she said to Him gently, “where were you when my soul was prey to such torments?” – “I was in your heart, Catherine, for I only depart from those who first leave me by consenting to sin.” – “What! You were in my heart drowning in such disgusting thoughts?” – “Tell Me, Catherine, did these thoughts cause you joy or sadness?” – “Oh, Lord! Immense sadness and disgust.” – “And what was it that made you sad, if not My presence in your heart? If I had not been there, you would have consented to those temptations. It was I Who made you reject them and be distressed over them. And I was delighted by your fidelity to Me during this painful struggle.” In one of her letters, Catherine would divulge the precious lesson she drew from this trial: “God allows temptation so that our virtues might prove themselves and to increase. His grace; so that we might not be conquered, but conquerors thanks to our trust in the divine assistance that enables us say with the Apostle Paul: I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”
Several figures from the Old Testament—Abel, Abraham, Job, Tobias—remind us that God makes His dearest friends pass through trial and temptation. It is by being tempted that we experience our weakness and the weight of the malice we carry within ourselves. This self-knowledge places us in truth and humility, and is very beneficial for our salvation. Temptation leads us to practice the virtue that is opposed to the vice toward which we are inclined. Finally, it forces us to turn to God in prayer—in this sense, it is a source of union with God. This is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, “There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle” (CCC, 2015).
In 1368, Catherine’s father fell ill and died, in spite of his daughter’s prayers. That same year, in a vision that would forever remain in Catherine’s heart and mind, the Virgin presented her to Jesus, Who gave her a magnificent ring, telling her: “I, your Creator and Savior, espouse you in the faith, that you always will keep pure until you celebrate your eternal nuptials with Me in Heaven.” Catherine continuously felt even saw this ring, although it was visible only to her. From then on, Catherine put her love of God into practice even more by a yet greater care of the sick, and the poor. She did miracles for them. But she was also the object of ridicule and slander—some accused her of being a loose woman.
Catherine was graced with the gift of tears, the expression of a deep sensitivity and a great capacity for emotion and tenderness. Many saints have had this gift, which recalls the emotion of Jesus Himself, Who did not hold back or hide His tears before the tomb of His friend Lazarus and the grief of Mary and Martha, and also at the sight of Jerusalem, during His last days on this earth. “Remember Christ crucified. God and man,” Catherine wrote to a correspondent. … “Make your aim the Crucified Christ, hide in the wounds of the Crucified Christ and drown in the blood of the Crucified Christ.”
“The doctrine of Mary”
Through her brother Tommaso, Catherine met Bartolomeo di Domenico, a young Dominican. A great spiritual friendship was born between them. Bartolomeo taught her theology, and she was generous with her encouragements. Catherine’s fame spread, and she developed an intense activity of spiritual direction for people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated religious, and clerics. Around her formed a group of followers whom she urged to work for the salvation of others. She called zeal for souls “the doctrine of Mary.” For as she explained, “as a man, the Son of God took on the desire for His Father’s honor and our salvation. So great was this desire that in His ardor He ran through sufferings, shame, and insults to His ignominious death on the Cross. But, the same desire was in Mary, for she could desire nothing but God’s honor and salvation of souls.” Catherine also began to travel. But her activity aroused astonishment, both in Siena and in the Dominican General Chapter in Florence. She was given as a spiritual director a learned and humble priest, Raymund of Capua, a future Master General of the Order, who became her confessor as well as her spiritual son (today he is honored as Blessed).
During Pentecost 1374, Catherine received the stigmata of Christ: the wounds in the hands, feet, and side of Jesus Crucified were imprinted in her flesh, but invisibly, as she had formally asked of Christ. For her, spiritual life consisted of union with God Who is a “way of truth,” and on this way, Christ’s Passion is the best guide, “preferred above all books.” Love led Catherine of Siena to imitate Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross, through a life of asceticism, penance, prayer, and service to others. In this way, she became an “alter Christus” (another Christ). Her love of neighbor drove her to the point that one day she did not hesitate to enter the cell of a man condemned to death, in order to implore him to be reconciled with God. Nichcolo di Toldo had been sentenced to death for political reasons. Catherine’s visit to his prison cell transformed the young man, who made his confession, heard Mass, and received Holy Communion. The day of his execution, to his great joy, Catherine was there. He did not stop whispering the name “Jesus” and “Catherine”. After the execution, the saint saw his soul enter the bosom of God like “the bride arriving on the doorstep of her spouse”. Later on, God would reveal to Catherine how this condemnation had allowed Niccolo do Toldo to return to a state of grace and the friendship of God, and so to obtain salvation and eternal life.
An indispensable ministry
From 1375 0n, Catherine worked for the return of the popes from Avignon to Rome (since 1309, the papacy had resided in Avignon for political reasons), as well as for the unity and independence of the Church, which perhaps no saint loved as much as her. “The Church,” she wrote, “is nothing else than Christ Himself”, the depository of God’s love for man; and the hierarchical Church is the indispensable ministry for the salvation of the world. That was the source of Catherine’s passionate respect and love for the Supreme Pontiff, in whom she saw “sweet Christ on earth,” to whom is owed affection and filial obedience. “Whoever disobeys the Christ on earth (that is the Pope) who represents Christ in heaven, will not participate in the fruits of the Son of God.”
The saint was already teaching in her own way the doctrine on the primacy of the Supreme Pontiff, which would be defined by the First Vatican Council in 1870; all, pastors and faithful, “are bound to submit to [the Roman pontiff] by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith, the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one supreme shepherd. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation” (First Vatican Council, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ”, ch. 3, DS 3060.)
Catherine’s exhortations put into action the mission she had received from God. It was not for her to disrupt the essential structures of the Church, or rebel against the shepherds, or make innovations in worship or discipline, but to return to the Spouse of Christ the Church’s original vocation. In fact, “Although by the powers of the Holy Spirit the Church will remain the faithful spouse of her Lord and will never cease to be the sign of salvation on earth, still she is very well aware that among her members, both clerical and lay, some have been unfaithful to the Spirit of God during the course of many centuries … Led by the Holy Spirit, Mother Church unceasingly exhorts her sons to purify and renew themselves so that the sign of Christ can shine more brightly on the face of the Church” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes”, no.43).
As Pope Paul VI remarked, “St. Catherine loved the Church in its reality, which, as we know, has a double aspect. One is mystical, spiritual, invisible, the essential one, fused with Christ the glorious Redeemer…; the other is human, historical, institutional, concrete, but never separate from the divine aspect. One may wonder if our modern critics of the institutional aspect of the Church are ever capable of grasping this simultaneity … Catherine loves the Church as it is… Catherine does not love the Church for the human merits of those who belong to it, or represent it. If we think of the conditions in which the Church was at that time, we can easily understand that her love had very different motives… St. Catherine does not hide the failings of ecclesiastics, but as she inveighs against such decadence, she considers it a motive and a need to love all the more” (General Audience of April 30, 1969).
In His arms
The reform of the Church concerns first and foremost the clerics whom Catherine held in high regard. In fact, she wrote in her DIALOGUES these words God had revealed to her: “I have chosen my ministers for your salvation, so that by them the Blood of the one, humble, and immaculate Lamb, my Son, may be administered to you” But she always worked for the reform of the laity. She wrote to a man who had given himself up to carnal passions: “Oh, my dearest brother, sleep no more in the death of mortal sin! I tell you the ax is already at the root of the tree. Take the spade of the fear of God which the hand of love makes use of. Spare me this corruption of your soul and body. Do not be so cruel to yourself, do not be your own executioner in decapitating yourself, cutting off this head Who is so sweet, Christ Jesus! … Put an end to your disordered living. I have told you and I repeat it; God will punish you if you do not mend your ways. But I also promise you that, if you wish to convert and take advantage of the moments you have remaining, God is so good, so merciful that He will forgive you, will receive you in His arms, will give you a share of the Blood of the Lamb, shed with so much love that there is no sinner who cannot obtain mercy. For God’s mercy is greater than our sins, if only we desire to change our lives.”
Catherine knew that sanctification is attained through the sacraments of Penance and Communion, as she wrote to one of her disciples: “You must frequently purify your soul from the stains of sin through a good and holy confession, and nourish it with the Bread of Angels, that is, the sweet sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, God and Man.” She revived among her disciples the practice of frequent communion, which at the time had become very uncommon, and taught that the best preparation for sacramental communion was spiritual communion. This consists in aspiring to receive the Eucharist with a real and ardent desire, and this desire should not be solely at the moment of communion, but at all times and in all places.
The leaders of the city of Florence asked her to intercede with the Pope to obtain reconciliation between the papacy and their city. Catherine left in April 1376 for Avignon. She met the Pope and asked him for three things: to leave for Rome, to re-launch the Great Crusade, and finally, to fight the vices and sins in the bosom of the Church. In the city of Avignon, Catherine became the object of some mistrust due to her growing influence with the Pope, and also because of her ecstasies which sometimes took place in public. The Pope had theologians secretly keep her under surveillance who after investigating found nothing to reproach her with.
An immense pain
On September 13, 1376, Gregory XI, a French pope, with poor health and a timid spirit, left Avignon for Italy, which was suffering violent disturbances. He arrived in Rome on January 16, 1377. Catherine herself had returned to Siena, before being sent by the Pope to Florence, a city still in revolt against the papacy. Catherine turned the Florentines’ gaze toward “Christ crucified and sweet Mary,” and told them that a society that is inspired by Christian values could never have sufficiently grave grounds for dispute to justify taking recourse to the reason of weapons rather than the weapons of reason. In 1378, she was granted numerous ecstasies which are the basis of the DIALOGUES, spiritual treatises that she dictates to five secretaries.
On March 27, 1378, Pope Gregory XI died. Shortly thereafter, Urban VI was elected to succeed him. But some cardinals, most of them French, who were displeased with the new Pontiff’s authoritarianism, gathered in Fondi on September 18, 1378, and elected Cardinal Robert de Geneve as Pope, who became the antipope Clement VII. This separation from the legitimate Pope was for Catherine of Siena a very serious act insofar as it led to a schism that would last for forty years. Catherine left Siena and arrived in Rome on November 28, 1378. She was received by Pope Urban VI, who viewed her presence as significant support. Feeling this division of the Church as an immense pain, she began a crusade of prayers and recommended acting with charity so that the problems within Christendom might be successfully resolved. She called on princes and cities to obey the Pope, and asked religious and hermits to support him. On January 29, 1380, during her last visit to the Basilica of Saint Peter, Catherine, absorbed in ecstasy in her prayer, saw Jesus approach her and place on her feeble shoulders the heavy and agitated barque of the Church. Overwhelmed by such a great weight, she fainted and fell to the ground. Not long thereafter, sick and exhausted, undoubtedly as a result of her many penances, she said her farewells to her friends. On April 29th, as the sick woman felt her end drawing near, she prayed particularly for the Catholic Church and the Holy Father. Before dying, she declared, “I have consumed and given my life in the Church and for the Holy Church, which is a very special grace for me.” Then, her face radiant, she said these words of the Lord’s: “Father, into Thy Hands, I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46), and gently bowing her head, she fell asleep in the Lord, at the age of 33.
“Historically, Catherine’s sacrifice seemed to fail,” acknowledged Pope Paul VI. “But who can say that burning love of hers disappeared in vain if myriads of virgin souls and hosts of priestly spirits and of faithful and industrious laymen, made their own? It still blazes in Catherine’s words: ‘Sweet Jesus, loving Jesus.’ May that fire be ours, too, may it give us the strength to repeat Catherine’s words and gift, ‘I have given my life for Holy Church.’ “
Dom Antoine Marie, osb
May 14 2013 | Benedictine Monks of Clairval | 1 Comment »
October 1912. A storm was shaking the seminarians’ residence hall in Schoenstatt, Vallendar, not far from Kolblenz, Germany. The older students were protesting a school rule they believed to be too strict. Antiestablishment graffiti were all over the walls. The two priests in charge of spiritual direction resigned. A young priest, Joseph Kentenich, was hurriedly appointed to replace them in order to reestablish trust. During his first talk with the students, he introduced himself with these words: “I place myself entirely at your disposal with everything that I am and have, with my knowledge and my ignorance, with my strength and my powerlessness, but above all, my heart … we are going to learn to educate ourselves on our own, under the protection of Mary, so we become men of firm character, men who are free and priestly.” Right away, the new spiritual father and the seminarians who were rebelling a short time ago got along well. From this meeting was born the Schoenstatt movement. Who is this priest whose memory is venerated by millions of Catholics?
Joseph was born the illegitimate son of Katharina Kentenich on November 18, 1885 in Gymnich, close to Colonge. This very poor women, who was pious notwithstanding the extramarital relationship into which her son was born, passed on to Joseph her profound devotion to Mary. When she brought her eight-year-old son to the Orphanage of St. Vincent in Oberhausen, she brought one of the few valuable objects she possessed, a gold chain with a cross. She hung it around the neck of a statue of Our Lady, asking the Mother of Jesus to see to his upbringing from that point on, and then put the cross around Joseph’s neck. These years in the orphanage were difficult for the child, who ran away twice and played many pranks. But he would earn good grades at the orphanage, and more importantly, was profoundly affected by his consecration to Mary.
Joseph first expressed his desire to become a priest in 1897. Two years later, he was admitted to the minor seminary in Ehrenbreitstein, run by the Pallotine Fathers, members of a missionary congregation founded by Saint Vincent Pallotti in Rome in 1835. In 1904, he entered the Pallotine novitiate in Limburg. He expressed his spiritual process with these words in his journal: “God is my only goal. He must also be the star that guides my life.” However, the novice experienced great difficulties that arose from his intellectual nature. The basic philosophical question “Does truth exist, and how can one know it?” tormented his intellect. He greatly desired perfection, but suffered from tremendous insensitivity, an inability of sorts to love God and neighbor. Devotion to Mary made it possible for him to overcome this crisis, and discover the personal love that God, Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary had for him, a love that was not an abstract idea, but a loving reality.
After receiving permission in 1903 to make religious profession, Joseph Kentenich was ordained a priest in Limburg on July 8, 1910. An attack of tuberculosis prevented him from realizing his dream of going to Africa as a missionary. After arriving in Schoenstatt in 1912 under the circumstances mentioned earlier, he soon founded an association of lay people, which would become a Marian congregation in 1914. The three pillars of Schoenstatt are love for the Virgin Mary, personal sanctification, and commitment to apostolate. His superiors granted the founder permission to use the modest chapel dedicated to Saint Michael, which was disused and had been turned into a tool shed. There, on October 18, 1914, the founder gathered twenty or so young men. Here was heard for the first time the liturgical invocation that was to become the movement’s motto: Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria (May the Virgin Mary with her loving Offspring bless us!) Father Kentenich’s idea was to make this chapel a great pilgrimage site: “May all those who come here to pray experience the splendor of Mary!” This desire was soon fulfilled—pilgrims flocked there.
In 1915, a teacher gave Father Kentenich a picture of the Virgin and Child. In spite of the work’s low artistic value, the founder was attracted by the tenderness of Mary’s gesture, pressing Jesus to her heart. He placed the icon above the altar. Venerated under the name Mater ter admirabilis (Mother Thrice Admirable), the picture appears in every Schoenstatt site. In the middle of the war, a magazine under this same patronage was sent to youth fighting on the front. In May 1918, a twenty-year-old member of Schoenstatt, Joseph Engling, a fervent seminarian who supported peace between nations and an apostle among his fellow soldiers, offered his life to the Mother Thrice Admirable for the growth of Schoenstatt. On October 4th he was killed by a shell in northern France. The founder put forth Joseph Engling as an example.
In 1919, Father Kentenich created an apostolic union to bring together students and teachers across Germany. The aim of the union was “the formation of lay apostles, in the spirit of the Church.” Each member was to : (a) choose a priest as a spiritual director, (b) practice a written examination of conscience, (c) establish a spiritual daily schedule and abide by it, and (d) meet with one’s spiritual director every month. In addition, members of Schoenstatt ask the Immaculate Virgin for “tender sensitivity for the virtue of purity.” Chapels dedicated to the Mother Thrice admirable were erected throughout Germany. In 1920, the movement was opened up to women through the Apostolic Alliance. In 1926, the founder created the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, consecrated women living in the world. The founder reminded the many priests who came to make retreats (1,100 priests in 1930) of their duty to be spiritual fathers. According to him, one of the primary causes of the moral crisis of our time was the absence of the father.
What is meant by the father’s non-participation in the family? It means not raising the child, not appropriately exercising authority, and not providing an example of spiritual life, including practicing one’s faith. Pope Benedict XVI alluded to this in a speech on May 23, 2012: “Today the father figure is often not sufficiently present and all too often is not sufficiently positive in daily life. The father’s absence, the problem of a father who is not present in a child’s life, is a serious problem of our time. It therefore becomes difficult to understand what it means to say that God is really our Father.”
Father Kentenich wished to promote the development of “organic,” as opposed to “mechanical” human thought. In doing so, he intended to emphasize that religion must not be thought of as an abstract system, but as a living reality deeply rooted in the human heart. At the time of the rise of the red (communist) and brown (National-Socialist) totalitarian regimes, he rebelled against the depersonalization of man: “Confronted with the domination of matter and mass, we fight for the splendor and power of God and for men and women filled with God.”
After Hitler rose to power in January 1933, the police began to keep Schoenstatt under surveillance, and its founder in particular, whom the Gestapo considered very dangerous, given that they aimed at stifling spiritual renewal in Germany. Yet starting in 1935, it was certain ecclesiastical circles that created the greatest difficulties for Father Kentenich, by contesting his “peculiar ideas”—his Mariology seemed too eccentric to them. The founder often said that the merits of devoted souls must be offered to the Blessed Virgin, to become the “Capital of graces” on which she would yield a profit. Under this concept borrowed from modern economics, we find a classic spiritual tenet. As early as the beginning of the eighteenth century, Saint Louis-Marie Grignion spoke of the servants of Mary as “capital” that the Mother of God uses for Her actions “to the greatest glory of God, in time and in eternity.” However, the criticisms against Schoenstatt continued, marked by a lack of understanding that pained the founder: “Even if the difficulties grow worse,” Father Kentenich confided, “we have our little motto that works wonders: Mater habebit curam (the Mother will take care of it.)”
Revealing the inner void
In 1940, the Nazi persecution of the Catholic clergy intensified. On September 20, 1941, Father Kentenich was called in by the Gestapo, who quoted back to him something he had said behind closed doors, but had been reported by an informer: “My mission is to reveal the inner void that is National Socialism, and in doing so to defeat it.” The police imprisoned Father Kentenich for a month in an unventilated room, to break his will. He was then transferred to the prison in Koblenz. Thanks to the collusion of two guards, he received what he needed to celebrate Mass there, and exchanged letters with Schoenstatt. He offered himself completely, giving to the Mother of God “an unconditional free hand,” to do with him as she wished, and asking one and all to participate in his sacrifice to obtain “duration, fruitfulness, and holiness” for his spiritual family.
In March 1942, Father Kentenich left for Dachau, a concentration camp close to Munich, at the very time that living conditions there were getting worse. Of the 12,000 prisoners, 2,600 were priests. The Germans were gathered together in one barrack where they were allowed to attend Mass each day, celebrated by one of them. It wasn’t until March 19, 1943 that Father Kentenich was able to celebrate his first Mass at the camp. Every evening, he gave a spiritual talk to his fellow prisoners thanks to the protection of “kapo” Guttmann (the kapo was the head prisoner in each barrack), a Communist with a very violent nature, but who was fascinated by Father Kentenich’s behavior. He had seen him share his meager daily ration of bread and soup with a needier prisoner. Guttmann would save the life of the founder of Schoenstatt, who was fated for extermination in the gas chamber owing to his poor health. The day an S.S. doctor visited to select the sick prisoners, the kapo his Father Kentenich. Sent to the disinfection commando, Father Kentenich could from then on move freely around the camp.
On July 16, 1942, two new branches of Schoenstatt were created in Dachau, under the responsibility of two lay prisoners—the Secular Institute for Families and the Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Brothers of Mary. Transferred to various blocks, the founder began his apostolate each time again in spite of the personal risk he ran. During the three last months of 1944, the hardening of the Nazi regime and epidemics resulted in the deaths of ten thousand prisoners at Dachau. It was at this time that, in an astonishing act of faith full of hope, Father Kentenich, in a place that resembled hell, founded a group of followers the international movement that extended the Schoenstatt foundation to the whole world. In December, Bishop Piguet, a French bishop who was a prisoner, ordained a Schoenstatt seminarian, Bless Karl Leisner, in the utmost secrecy. Suffering from tuberculosis and very weak, Leisner was able to celebrate only one Mass before he died. He was beatified by John Paul II on June 23, 1996.
On April 6, 1945, with the Americans approaching, the prisoners were freed. On May 20th, the feast of Pentecost, Father Kentenich returned to Schoenstatt. He immediately set to work, to establish a barrier against the double peril the founder lucidly discerned—Communism in the East, and practical materialism in the West. His experience of internment would help him teach his followers how to maintain internal freedom. Two martyrs of Schoenstatt, Fathers Reinisch and Eise, the first succumbing to disease in Dachau, the latter beheaded by the Nazis, would often be involved as heaven protectors by all the members of the Movement.
In March 1947, Father Kentenich, who was received in a private audience by Pope Pius XII, thanked the Supreme Pontiff for publishing the constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia two days earlier, which crated Secular Institutes. This term refers to a group of Christians, lay people and diocesan priests, living in the world and forming among themselves a society of consecrated life. The aim of these institutions is to help their members try to achieve the perfection of charity. Although not religious in the strict sense of the term, the members of secular institutes can make private vows. In October 1948, the Holy See established the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary as a secular institute. At the same time, the founder went to Latin America, then Africa and the United States, to introduce the movement there.
However, opposition continued to mount against the movement, whose solidity and expansion aroused jealously. The opposition was not about points of doctrine, but primarily about expressions used in certain prayers and on the founder‘s role, which was considered too all-encompassing. The bishop of Trier, the bishop of the diocese in which Schoenstatt was situated, ordered a canonical visitation. While the visitor’s report overall spoke very highly of Schoenstatt, it nevertheless lodged several thorough criticisms to which Father Kentenich was invited to respond. Father Kentenich believed he needed to elevate the discussion by drafting a long document on the Schoenstatt movement, which was presented as a remedy for idealism, the disease of Western thought.
Starting in the eighteenth century, this way of thinking, which came from the philosophy of the Enlightenment, radically separated ideas from concrete reality. It is still found in our time, particularly in the form of relativism, a system under which absolute truth does not exist: “To each his own truth.” During the Mass for the opening of the 2005 conclave, Cardinal Ratzinger drew the cardinals’ attention to this danger: “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled a fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine,’ seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires. We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth” (Homily, April 18, 2005).
For the founder, Schoenstatt was an antidote for this poison, because it was not a abstract theory but a practical application of Christian doctrine. Nevertheless, his lengthy declaration annoyed the apostolic visitor, who sent the matter to the Holy Office in Rome. In 1951, Father tromp, a Dutch Jesuit, was appointed apostolic inspector with far-reaching powers. Taken aback by the unconventional terminology Father Kentenich used, he considered the Father a fanatic, an innovator, and even a sectarian. After having relieved him of all his duties leading the movement, he assigned him to reside in the Pallottin house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was prohibited from maintaining any correspondence with the leaders of the movement. Yet, undisturbed and obedient to Providence, which was acting through the ecclesiastical authority, the exile wrote, “Does God not speak clearly through events? The Church wishes to put our obedience to the test, in order to know by it whether our movement, and the bearer of the movement, are marked by God.” In 1959, Father Kentenich was assigned as pastor to the German-speaking parish in Milwaukee, which included many emigrants from this nation. “He spoke to us about the Father of heaven,” some of his parishioner would later report, “like no one we had ever heard before.”
In 1953, some had suggested to Pope Pius XII that he dissolve Schoenstatt, but he refused to do so. The question arose regarding the status of the movement: should it be integrated into the Pallottin congregation, or should it become autonomous? The superiors of the Order recommended the first solution, but other Pallottins thought, with Father Kentenich, that Schoenstatt was liable to deteriorate unless it was completely autonomous. In 1962, through the intervention of several bishops, Bless John XXIII entrusted the matter to the Congregation for Religious. In December 1963, Paul VI named the bishop of Munster, Bishop Hoeffner, Schoenstatt’s moderator and protector. Anew apostolic visitor was appointed, who gave a positive report. In 1964, under unanimous opinion of German bishops, a pontifical decree declared the separation of Schoenstatt from the Pallottins—this separation took place peacefully. The only thing the members of the movement had yet to do was obtain permission from Rome for the founder to return home. In October 1965, Father Kentenich was restored to his duties leading the movement. Now having reached his eighties, he was received by Paul VI a few days after the closing of the Second Vatican Council. He predicted that the council would ‘bear its fruit, but would have negative effects at first, owing to the uncertainty of large portions of the hierarchy, clergy, and laity with regard to the image of the Church … this uncertainty can be overcome by turning our gaze to Mary, the first image and the Mother of the Church.”
During Christmas 1965, Father Kentenich, whose patriarchal face was bedecked with a long white beard, was greeted enthusiastically at Schoenstatt. His movement now included five secular institutes—the Schoenstatt Fathers, the Institute of Diocesan Priests, the Brothers of Mary, the Sisters of Mary, and the Institute of Our Lady of Schoenstatt for consecrated people. In addition, there were Unions and Leagues that brought together priests, lay people, and families. During the final years of his life, the founder devoted his energy to broadly exerting his spiritual fatherhood. In these years after the Second Vatican Council, an influential theology called for an “adult faith,” the individual’s autonomy, and the application of democratic principles in the Church. Father Kentenich countered the fashionable ideas by insisting on the fatherhood of God and on the fatherhood that the priesthood should exert in the Church, particularly in the episcopate. This fatherhood, which has its origins in charity, is also the basis of authority and implies obedience. Mary’s maternal care was the movement’s other essential charism, which was lived out through a covenant of love with the Mother Thrice Admirable.
In a talk to the annual conference of German Catholics in 1967, Father Kentenich declared, “We are living in apocalyptic times… heavenly and diabolical powers are clashing on this earth… What is at stake in this confrontation is domination of the world—this is quite visible today.” The solution is recourse to the Virgin Mary, “the special weapon in the hand of the living God.” During his last year on earth, the year 1968 was maked by the rebellious spirit in the Church as in the qworld. Father Kentenich continually brought up this subject: “Mary’s task is to bring Christ to the world and the world to Christ… we are convinced that the great crises of the present age cannot be overcome without Mary” (September 12, 1968).
Three days later, Father Kentenich celebrated Mass in the brand-new sanctuary of the Adoration Church, which had recently been consecrated on Mount Schoenstatt. Six hundred Sisters of Mary attended the ceremony. When he returned to the sacristy for the prayer of thanksgiving, the celebrant suffered a sudden heart attack. He received last rites and died several minutes later. His mortal remains rest in the very spot where he breathed his dying breath. In accordance with his wished, Delexit Ecclesiam” (He loved the Church; Ephesians 5:25) is inscribed on his tomb. Today, the Schoenstatt movement, active in more than 100 countries, numbers about 100,000 members and exerts an influence on millions of associates. The founder’s process of beatification began in 1975.
May Father Joseph Kentenich’s example encourage us to enter into an alliance of love with the Most Blessed Virgin Mary that will make us instruments in the hands of this Mother Thrice Admirable. Through her, may all men and women go to Jesus Christ, the only Savior, and through Him, to His heavenly Father!
Dom Antoine Marie, o.s.b.
Note: In light of the situation the world is in now and all the abortions that are performed every day, it would do us well to heed Father Joseph Kentenich’s advice and go to Mary for help. Send a note to the Holy Father asking him to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Put the note in a blue envelope. It will cost about $1.10 – 1.30 to send just a small slip of paper with these simple words: “Holy Father for the love of God and obedience to the Blessed Virgin consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart NOW in union with the Bishops of the world.”
This should also be an eye-opener for those thinking of aborting a child. How many babies have been aborted that would have been very holy people, or the one who would develop a cure for cancer or some other disease. Think about it! If you know of someone contemplating this terrible way out of their bad choice, tell them about Father Kentenich. At least his mother had the courage to give him life and to give him a chance to live as God intended.
Address for the Holy Father:
His Holiness, Pope Francis I
The Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City, Europe
April 17 2013 | Benedictine Monks of Clairval | No Comments »
Has it finally dawned on them . . .?
This is a question that I have pondered these past few years. You are probably wondering what is being talked about here? Well, back in January of 2009, there was an article published on this site called “Do They Even Realize What They’ve Done”; so it may do you well to read this article first to get an idea of where this one is coming from in order to understand.
Remember the big campaign word in 2008, “CHANGE”? I guess everyone wanted some changes in hopes of something better than the way the country was going. The sad thing is that the “change” to be made was not for the better, but quite the opposite. It certainly appears that all the things that we hold dear are gradually being taken away; like freedom. You may say, “Well that’s a pretty broad statement, just what freedoms are you talking about?”
Let’s just begin with freedom in general. We can still walk anywhere, drive anywhere, go to church anywhere, laugh, cry, think what we want and pretty much say what we want. These are all freedoms that we take for granted and probably consider part of our daily lives forever. Amen. This is America. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’re a free country, for now. But, all these things that we have taken for granted all our lives are being systematically taken away and people are actually cheering for it and welcoming this “change”.
Have people become so numb and robotic that they follow the direction of those bent on the utter destruction of this country, and the nations of the world? Have you thought about what it would be like to live where there is absolutely no freedom, no food, no water, no fuel, no Church (meaning the Catholic Church in particular and other faiths), and living in designated areas or camps? Can you imagine living in a country or world where there is no consideration for those who do not meet the criteria of the elite who would live as kings and queens over the survivors? The situation is coming to a very critical point and if the proper solution is not sought, we are in for some very difficult times as this world has not seen since Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia.
Have you noticed the increasingly Gestapo-like tactics of our law enforcement? Officers that we think are there to protect and serve now say their duty is to keep us under control. According to one retired police chief, there are an estimated 60,000 sexual predators on police forces across our nation, criminals of every stripe working for TSA, and the list goes on and on. It is not going to get any better unless something is done to bring about a real and Godly “change” for the good. We are bombarded with lies every day, from our politicians to the main stream media, in hopes that all of us will come to believe the “Big Lie” is somehow the truth. Does any of this have a familiar ring to it? Does the reign of Hitler and his final solution at Auschwitz and the millions that died from these very same tactics jog your memory? What about the estimated 120,000,000 to 200,000,000 that have died under communist regimes and in wars played out by our worldly overlords? Ask yourself, “Is history repeating itself?” Then ask yourself if you’re going to sit idly by and allow this heinous crime to simply happen again?
There is only one solution. It’s been there for a long time. What is it? The complete message of FATIMA. We must pray that our Holy Father, Francis I, will finally be obedient to the request of our Blessed Mother to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Don’t believe what the enemies of Fatima have said about this having been done. It hasn’t. Don’t fall for the lie. Ask yourself these simple questions: “Is there peace in the world? Has Russia converted to the Catholic faith as Mary promised will happen when Russia is consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart? Has Russia stopped spreading her errors?” Watch the news, read the paper; has this really been done? What will it take to get you to believe the truth?
For the love of God and the souls of your neighbors, pray the rosary like you’ve never prayed it before. Tell others, even non-Catholics, to pray for the consecration of Russia. To be sure, they probably won’t understand what you’re asking. Just tell them it is the only solution to the nightmare building in the world right before their very eyes. If they see the world crumbling around them and they want to continue to live free and stave off the great persecution, and the annihilation of nations Mary warned about if the consecration was not done, they and we must pray for the Holy Father to do this simple consecration. Don’t believe the world’s lies. That’s my whole point. The media, the world’s leaders, all tell the same lies over and over so many times that it becomes the truth to minds numbed by worldly pleasure.
They have always promised utopia and have only delivered more and more anguish. Look at the track record of these would be saviors throughout recorded history.
Luckily, we don’t need to start a campaign to encourage the Holy Father to join with all the bishops to bring this consecration to fulfillment. The Fatima center has been fighting this fight for many years against the enemies of our Lady’s message delivered at Fatima in 1917. Support them in this fight to get the message out while there is still time.
You could also send a simple note to the Holy Father in a blue envelope (blue for Our Lady) with the message: Holy Father for the love of God and obedience to the Blessed Virgin consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart NOW in union with the Bishops of the world.” We have nothing to lose by this simple act of love and obedience and everything to gain. Oh yes, on the back flap of the envelope write in caps “FATIMA”. Tell others to do this and before you know it there will be tons of blue envelopes in the Vatican mail making a clear statement. If you can’t get a blue envelope, just write “FATIMA” on the back of any envelope. We must act NOW. Our Sword (Rosary) must be swift and sure!
PRAY THE ROSARY DAILY!
Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mary
March 25 2013 | Vale of Tears | 43 Comments »