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In what follows I will, without referencing Scripture or Church teaching, attempt to show why the legal recognition of same-sex marriage would be undesirable from a moral point of view. To do this, I will first argue that homosexual acts are unhealthy, and then that homosexual relationships are unhealthy, and finally that the state should not support or celebrate unhealthy behaviors or relationships. Please note that at no point is judgment passed on the intentions or the culpability of the persons involved.

Why Homosexual acts are not Sexually Loving.

Most people agree that sex is supposed to be a form of love. And love, in any profound sense, is about meaningful giving and receiving. This is what we mean by complementarity. Complementarity is when it’s possible for two people to give and receive in a relationship – and you can’t have any deep love without that.

But a gift loses its meaning when it’s already possessed by the recipient. For example, one year I got two copies of the same DVD for my birthday. That second gift wasn’t really a gift; I couldn’t use it. I already had it. It was redundant, superfluous, even though the second person to give it to me meant well.

Now apply that to relationships. I have plenty of male friends, and we are complementary in a lot of ways – maybe in terms of knowledge, in terms of temperament, in terms of humor. We can give and take from each other in many meaningful ways. But we can’t give to each other meaningfully in a context where we already have the same thing; I can’t give what they already have, and vice versa.

I can’t give my knowledge to someone with the same knowledge, (if I tried, they’d say, “yeah, I already know”). I can’t give them a conviction when they already have the same conviction (if I tried, they’d say, “Yeah, man, you’re preaching to the choir”).

And by the same token I can’t give my sex to someone with the same sex. And that’s precisely what the sexual gift is: it’s giving yourself as a man or as a woman . That’s why we call it “sexual,” because it’s the act by which you give the other person the richness of your sex. And if the other person already has that richness, then it’s not a meaningful gift.

So two men can be complementary on a lot of levels; they can give and take in a lot of meaningful ways.

For instance, two men will have different personalities, so they can complement one another personally (the way my friends and I are complementary).

Two men will have two bodies, so they can complement each other physically (the way a small point guard complements a large center).

But two men only have one sex, so they can’t complement one another sexually. Which means they can’t sexually love each other – they can’t meaningfully give to each other on the sexual level. And for them to try is to misunderstand and misuse sex.

Homosexual activity uses a gesture of sexual love in a way that’s not sexually complementary – not sexually give-and-take. So it uses a gesture of sexual love in a way that’s not sexually loving.

Remember: What gives sex its depth and its power is that it’s not just the union of two personalities, it’s not just the union of two bodies; it’s the union of two sexes. Again, that’s why we call it “sex.”

 

Why Homosexual Acts are not Procreative

The lack of complementarity, this inability to give the other the sexual gift, becomes especially vivid at the level of fertility. After all, part of the gift that you give in the sexual act is your procreative potential. But there’s no procreative potential – there’s no giving and receiving of fertility – in sexual behavior between two men or two women.

Now you could say procreative potential has nothing to do with sex. But I think that’s pretty obviously untrue. After all, the organs we use to sexually bond to our partners are called “genitals,” since they’re the organs which are geared towards generating.

And it’s not just in the sexual organs that you have these two forms of love going together. After all, a body part can have different functions, but you don’t have to perform all the body parts’ functions at the same time. (I.e., mouth is for talking and for eating, but you don’t have to eat every time you talk, or vice versa).

But the connection between sexual union and procreation is stronger than that. It’s not just at the level of our organs, it’s at the level of our urges. In men, for instance, sex includes the urge to ejaculate; but what is ejaculation if not the giving of one’s procreative potential? We don’t get that with eating and talking. We don’t start talking and then think, “You know, this is just no fun unless I’m chewing too.”

So in men, sex is linked by desire to fertility. And the same goes for women. A woman’s libido peaks at ovulation; in other words, a woman desires sex when she’s most fertile. So in women, fertility is linked by desire to sex.

The point is that there’s this inseparable connection between the union we have with our partner and this procreative potential.

If this connection between sex and giving one’s sexual potential is at the level of our organs, and more, at the level of our lived experience and our desires, then that tells us something very important about how we’re supposed to live sexually.

It tells us that to try and separate sexual union from sexual fertility, is, I think, bound to be frustrating. And what’s inherently frustrating to the human person isn’t good for the human person. What’s inherently frustrating is inherently unhealthy.

Of course, that doesn’t mean every time we have sexual union we’re going to be procreating. There will be factors beyond our control that may prevent that from happening. But when you’re doing sex in a way that breaks the connection between sex and fertility, I think you’re ripping apart two things that our experience tells us belong together.

You could summarize it like this: I think it’s always unhealthy when you separate two things that belong together in the human person. That’s why decapitation is so unhealthy – because it separates the head from the body. It’s also, for instance, why it’s unhealthy to separate your beliefs from your actions. And it seems very clear to me that it’s unhealthy to separate sexual behavior from sexual complementarity, and from sexually procreative love. Which is precisely what homosexual activity does.

 

Why can’t sex just be about giving each other pleasure?

Well, in the first case, if someone were to claim that sex is simply for pleasure, then that basically implies that sexual activity has nothing to do with sex (i.e., our objective status as men and woman) – and I think that’s a very counter-intuitive claim. After all, why do we call it sex, instead of, say, orgasmia, if sex isn’t a key factor?

Secondly, just look at the view of human sexuality this objection suggests. We started out by saying that sex and marriage is about giving the richness of your sex, including your procreative potential. Now we’ve come to the point of saying, “It’s about two people touching each other until the point of orgasm. It’s about pleasure-touching.” No matter what side you’re on, that’s an impoverishment of the idea of sex and marriage. That’s a drastic reduction of a great human good.

Any time you reduce something essentially human, I think it’s bad. I think it’s bad to reduce truth to utility, I think it’s bad to reduce people to their economic value, and I think it’s bad to reduce human sexuality to pleasure-touching.

But that kind of debasement happens any time an activity becomes just about pleasure. Look at eating. If you base your eating habits on what gives you pleasure, you’re going to have some very unhealthy eating habits. If the food we give to our kids is based on what will give them pleasure, they’re going to have some very unhealthy eating habits. There’s a whole class of food that people just eat for the pleasure of it (cookies, ice cream, popcorn). We don’t call that health food. We call it junk food. What does that say about the kind of sex just based on pleasure?

 

What Does All this have to Do with Same Sex Marriage?

From all this it seems we’re entitled to conclude that homosexual activity is unhealthy. But that has implications for homosexual relationships as well. Because when something’s deeply wrong with the sexual aspect of a relationship, then something’s wrong with the relationship.

If, in a sexually charged relationship, the sex is abusive, then the relationship is abusive; if the sex is exploitative, then the relationship is exploitative; so if the sexual aspect is fundamentally unhealthy, then it seems to me that that such a relationship is fundamentally unhealthy.

So, since the sexual aspect of homosexual relationships is fundamentally unhealthy, it seems to me that homosexual relationships themselves are fundamentally unhealthy.

But when you’re talking about marriage, you’re talking about a relationship with a sexual aspect to it. If the two people aren’t even going to offer themselves to the other person sexually, I don’t know why we wouldn’t just call that a friendship.

Furthermore, it should be obvious that our laws should neither celebrate nor support unhealthy relationships. But that’s precisely what state recognition of same-sex-marriage would be.

Now of course it is very frequently necessary for the government to tolerate unhealthy behaviors. I wouldn’t argue for legislation that prohibits homosexual relationships, any more than I’d argue for the state to outlaw smoking. But I don’t think the state should celebrate homosexual relationships any more than it should celebrate smoking.

Often times you hear people saying, “Don’t legislate morality.” But our laws are supposed to be an expression of our insights about what’s good for people and what isn’t. That’s why we have laws to support the creation and maintenance of roads; and we have no such laws for supporting the creation and maintenance of cigarette factories. Again, that doesn’t mean we make a law against anything unhealthy, but it does mean that we don’t legally support or celebrate something unhealthy. And, since homosexual relationships are, as we’ve seen, unhealthy, if we were to support them by legally recognizing same-sex marriage, we would be disconnecting the law from what’s really good for people. And that’s an unjust law.

 

COMMON OBJECTIONS:

Why does marriage have to have a sexual aspect? If there’s not a sexual aspect, at least in the beginning, why call it a marriage at all? It seems that for a marriage to be a marriage there has to be the minimum condition that at the beginning one person makes a meaningful offer of himself or herself on the sexual level – even if the other person doesn’t take them up on the offer. Otherwise I don’t know why we wouldn’t just call that a friendship.

In fact, the connection between marriage and sex is what’s behind the pro-gay – marriage movement in the first place. After all, they don’t want acceptance of friendship, or same-sex cohabitation, or same-sex cooperation. Everybody already accepts that. What they want is acceptance of same-sex sex, and that’s precisely what’s unacceptable.

Why does the sexual aspect have to determine the character of a marriage? Any sexually charged relationship between two people is deeply affected by the sexual aspect itself. I don’t say that the sex is the only aspect of a sexual relationship, but I think it’s a profound enough factor that it can tarnish the relationship as a whole if it’s dysfunctional.

So what will happen when same-sex-marriage is legalized? Well, first of all there will be a disalignment between the law and what’s really right. So it will encourage people to form and sustain unhealthy relationships, and because our thinking as a society is often affected by our legal structure, it will also confuse people about what a healthy sexual relationship really is.

But gay people need someone to take care of them too – someone who can help them in medical emergencies, or financially, etc… If we want to make certain social prerogatives accessible to those outside the marriage bond, that’s a very valuable discussion to have. If I want to extend financial or medical rights to my brother or my best friend, in addition to my wife, that might be kind of convenient, and I can see why people would like that. But that’s a completely different question than “Who can get married?”

Should homosexuals be allowed to adopt? No, because it sends the message to the kid that this is a fine situation. When a kid’s in foster-care, or with a foster-family, I think usually the message isn’t This is a perfectly fine situation. It’s We know this isn’t right; We’re hoping this is transitional. But when you put them with a same-sex couple, the message loud and clear is: This is a fine situation. In fact, this situation was deliberate, because we don’t think you need a man and a woman, a father and a mother, to complete the family unit. We don’t need the man and the woman to complete the human picture. And I don’t think that’s a good message to be sending kids.

Gay people are able to fit their sexual parts together, same as straight people. Right, but the parts don’t work together. You can devise all kinds of ingenious ways to fit two plugs together, but you know there’s not going to be an electricity transfer, because that’s not the way plugs work. And that’s not the way people work sexually. The fact is, humanity is divided into males and females, and sex is about bringing those two halves together. We all know that, as far as sex is concerned, two men can only ever be two of the same half; they can never be a whole.

Of course you can give meaningfully somebody something they already have. If my friend has one hundred dollars, I can still give him one hundred dollars. So a man can give another man the sex he already has. If your friend has a hundred dollars, you can meaningfully give him another hundred dollars, but you can’t give him the same hundred dollars. You can give him another hundred dollars. You certainly can’t meaningfully give him the same hundred dollars he already has. And you can’t meaningfully give another man the same sex that he already has.

Why can’t you just leave procreative love out of it? Well, as long as you’re going to leave procreative love out of it, why not just leave love for your partner out of it? As long as you’re subtracting loves from the equation. Why not let someone marry himself or herself? After all, plenty of people live with themselves, care for themselves, have a very vigorous sexual life with themselves; if we’re going to be removing two sexes from the marriage equation, why not remove two persons from the marriage equation. You see, the same-sex marriage movement isn’t really about expanding marriage; it’s about shrinking it, impoverishing it, and that’s why it’s such an insidious movement.

You let infertile people get married, even though they can’t have kids. How are homosexual relationships less fertile than a marriage between a man and woman where one of the partners is sterile? The word “fertile” means “conducive to fertilization.” We say soil is fertile, even if it doesn’t have any plants growing out of it, because it’s “conducive to fertilization.”

So too with the act of intercourse between a man and a woman – even if it doesn’t ultimately result in a child, it’s conducive to having a child. It’s procreative because it’s the first step in the procreative process, and as such it has procreative potential. Even if a later step in that process proves to be infertile (how many sperm come out, how far they make it on their itinerary, whether there’s an egg waiting for them), that first step is fertile.

Now, none of this applies to sexual acts between two men or two women. No one would say that such an act starts the procreative process, that it’s conducive to fertilization, that it’s the first step in procreation. So there’s no procreative potential there: the procreative potential is wasted.

Why are you against Incest, Bestiality, and Polygamy?

I’m against Incest and Bestiality for a similar reason to why I’m against Homosexuality. I’m against homosexuality, because you can’t have sexual complementarity when you’ve only got one sex. I’m against Bestiality because you can’t have personal complementarity when you’ve only got one Person. And I’m against Incest because you can’t have physical complementarity, at least not much, when you’ve got so similar a genetic structure.

Polygamy, I think, goes against the full gift of self that marriage is supposed to be about. In the act of sex you say, “I’m giving you everything physically, even my genetic info.” It’s appropriate, if you’re going to do that, to give everything you can personally and sexually too. But when you’re unfaithful or polygamous, you can’t give everything sexually or personally to one person, because you’re busy giving part of yourself to someone else. And I think that makes a farce of the sexual gesture. It’s like saying, “I’m all yours. Except when I’m with her. You mean everything to me. So does she.”

Just because two different things share the same name doesn’t prove anything. (the French use the same word for avocados and lawyers). So it’s irrelevant that our status as men and women has the same name as our orgasmic activity (i.e., sex). It’s true that sometimes unrelated things have the same name: like lawyers and avocadoes in French and baseball clubs and flying rodents in English. But when we have the same word describing an agent and that agent’s activity, it’s probably not an accident.

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal “Everybody knows Lou Gerig, he died of Lou Gerig’s disease.” “Whoa, what are the odds of that happening?”

We call a bug a fly because it flies. We call an appliance a refrigerator a refrigerator because it refrigerates. And we call our status as men or women our sex because that’s what comes into play in our sexual activity.

What’s your definition of marriage? Well, abstractly, I think it’s the project in which two people try to love each other in as many ways as it’s possible for two people to love each other: physically, sexually, personally, totally, forever. Practically, I think it’s a life-long and exclusive commitment between a man and a woman which is geared towards mutual support, sexual reproduction and the raising of children.

Do you think gay marriage will hurt heterosexual marriages. Yes, I do, because once the message gets out that it’s okay to cut out essential aspects of marriage, all the other aspects of marriage are jeopardized too. I may think, “Hey, if marriage doesn’t require fertility, then maybe it doesn’t require permanence. If it doesn’t require sexual complementarity, maybe it doesn’t require fidelity. If these folks can redefine marriage to suit their own preferences, why can’t I just redefine marriage to suit my preferences?” And that will signal the dismantling of marriage as a whole.

 

  Dr. John-Mark L. Miravalle received his doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University “Regina Apostolorum” In Rome. He currently teaches for the School of Faith in Lawrence, Kansas and has published articles in several theological and philosophical journals. He has has conducted nationally distributed debates against Atheism and Same-Sex Marriage which are available on Youtube.com.

 

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Lord, Almighty God,
Life is not for our destruction-but for our living.

You remain ever one and the same in Yourself,
but there goes forth from you continually
a power and virtue, which by its contact
is our strength and good….

The living God is life giving.
You are the font and the center,
as well as the seat of all good.
And so, make me like Yourself, O, My God,
since, in spite of myself,
such you can make me, such I can be made….

Lord, I am asking for Yourself,
for nothing short of You, O My God,
who has given Yourself wholly to us.

Enter into my heart substantially and personally
And fill it with fervor by filling it with You.

You alone can fill the soul of men,
and you have promised to do so.
You are the living Flame,
And You are ever burning with love of man.

Enter into me and set me on fire
after Your pattern and likeness. (1)

This prayer by the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman at once bespeaks the sublimity of the gift of human life and the sublimity of the gift of Eucharistic union with God Himself.

The Eucharist and the Unborn Child mutually embody a supernatural sacredness in hidden forms.

The Eucharist is the Omnipotent God made man in His most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, but humbly hidden, veiled under the appearance of bread and wine. The unborn child is a living icon of the Omnipotent God, sacred and precious, but likewise humbly hidden from the world’s eyes, veiled in the womb

The heavenly choirs of angels surround their Lord in the Eucharist in constant and perpetual adoration, praise, and love. The heavenly angels are also sent to reverence and protect the sacredness of every unborn child from the moment of conception, in obedience to God the Father of all mankind, and in conformity with the testimony of the Redeemer: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 18:10).

The Mother from whom the Savior received His flesh and blood, His nurturing in inexpressible love, and His companionship throughout His earthly mission, which culminated at the cross in a bloody sacrifice of redemption, was Mary Immaculate.

The Mother, to whom every unborn child has been spiritually entrusted by the Crucified Christ at Calvary as members of the human family (cf. Jn. 19:25-27) is likewise Mary Immaculate, the spiritual mother who nurtures them in her inexpressible love and who is their maternal companion throughout life, even when their life is tragically ended in a bloody sacrifice in a Calvary of the womb. The Mother of the Eucharist is also the Mother of the Unborn.

The Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, in His great kenosis to become man (cf. Ph. 2:5-11) and in His further unprecedented self-emptying in becoming a living Sacrament in the Eucharist, makes Himself exceedingly vulnerable (as all great acts of love make us vulnerable). Likewise, God the Father has willed that all later sons and daughters in the womb would enter life in the state of being exceedingly vulnerable, but with the desire that these unborn treasures be recognized and reverenced as sacred during that time of vulnerability.

With all things sacred, there is inherently the proximate danger of sacrilege. Sacrilege is to treat something sacred in an unsacred manner. Eucharistic sacrilege is the greatest abomination that man can commit in the supernatural order. It is ironic that the Catholic faithful (and members of our Eastern Lung, the Orthodox faithful) are joined in our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist by members of Satanic cults. Satanic cults take the risk of entering into Catholic Churches in efforts to get possession of Holy Communion for the sake of their Satanic rites of Eucharistic sacrilege.

Why? Because the summit of sacrilege demands the summit of the sacred, and there is nothing more sacred on the face of this earth than our Eucharistic Jesus. To this, even Satan himself assents.

Abortion, too, is by its very nature a sacrilege. Abortion is, in its own order of creation, the natural order, the greatest abomination that man can commit. Abortion is to willingly and violently destroy the greatest icon of God the Father in the natural order, an icon signed in His own image and likeness. With the sacrilege of abortion, the sacredness of human life is, by extension, sacrileged in all other spheres of human existence.

We see this, for example, with the January 12, 2005, announcement by the Dutch Royal Medical Association in Holland, which concluded a three-year study of euthanasia with the ruling that now permits Dutch doctors to kill any non-infirm human being who is solely “suffering from life.” The sacrilege of the life in the womb leads to the sacrilege of life outside of the womb.

The sacrilege of abortion, moreover, leads to the sacrilege of the family and of God’s commandment to “Honor your mother and father.” In the state of California it is now easier for a minor to get an abortion than to purchase a tan. A new state law prohibits youth under fourteen from entering a tanning center, and those from fourteen to seventeen need parental permission. But California courts recently upheld the “right” of a minor to have an abortion and miss school without parental consent. In Great Britain in July of 2004, the Department of Health published guidelines allowing doctors to provide abortions for girls under sixteen without informing their parents. One in five abortions in Britain involves a teenager, and about 3500 girls under sixteen have abortions annually. South African high courts also ruled in 2004 that girls under eighteen can exercise the “right” of abortion without parental consent.

Thus parental authority is sacrificed upon the altar of abortion in a domestic abomination.

Back in the United States where approximately twenty-five percent of all pregnancies end in abortion, there are now numerous studies that identify a link between abortion and breast cancer. The pro-abortion social climate, however, is contributing to a denial of this information, which is directly endangering the lives of women. Abortion sacrilege leads to family sacrilege; to sacrilege of our youth; and to sacrilege of our women.

We must continue to wage the battle for the unborn child today with unmitigated fervor, compromised neither by the length of time we have been at battle (now, over thirty years since Roe v. Wade), nor by our own human prognoses of potential future political success or failure. As long as there is a single unborn child at risk we have our mission, regardless of the dubious agendas or inconsistencies of U.S. judges, court rulings, and legislation. We must adopt the mind and heart of the Savior, who accepts the mission to save souls one person at a time out of obedience to the Heavenly Father and in virtue of the unquestioned necessity of human redemption. Abba Father’s desire for each one of us to pray and work to protect His own unborn image, and the necessity to do so in our tragic times of the culture of death, is simply beyond question.

But it is high time to wage the battle for the sacredness of the unborn with the omnipotent “weapon” of the Eucharist. Divine hidden holiness will come to the rescue of human hidden holiness, if we, the People of God, will cooperate in releasing the cosmic powers of our Eucharistic Jesus on behalf of our unborn brothers and sisters.

Beyond the imperative for political action, we must also utilize the inestimable graces of the Eucharist for the defense of the child in utero. Whenever we attend the holy sacrifice of the Mass and receive the Bread of Angels, we must petition heaven with full hearts for the end of the scourge of abortion. We must offer Holy Hours of Eucharistic adoration with the special intention of protection for our unborn children. We can also offer spiritual communions regularly for the end of abortion, and especially during our pro-life activities, for example, offering spiritual communions every hour or half hour when driving to pro-life functions, or during abortion clinic prayer rallies.

The sacredness of the unborn child will only truly be restored through the sacredness of the Eucharist.

Let us each do our own part, especially with so much at stake, to rescue the hidden child in the womb through the untold power of the hidden Jesus in the Eucharist. Mass, Eucharistic reception, and Eucharistic adoration have the supernatural power to change the course of human history. That is precisely what we need right now—a change in the present course of human history—a change for unborn life. Let us pursue this goal, with the commitment to fidelity and to eventual success, with the hope and assurance that truly nothing is impossible with our Eucharistic God (cf. Lk. 1:37).

 

Notes

(1) Ven. Henry Cardinal Newman, as quoted in M.V. Bernadot, O.P., The Eucharist and the Trinity, Michael Glazier, Inc., p. 43

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The following account was written by a Catholic missionary priest in China who both witnessed and participated in the events described. As a record of exceptional brutality, it is a shocking tale. At the same time, it delights and edifies by the extraordinary power of faith, to which it bears witness.

Kneeling down in front of the altar, I began to pray, waiting to see what would happen next. Each time I heard a noise in the church or some peremptory shout in the street, I expected a brush with death. But nothing happened that day. The next day I had an unexpected visit. “The police!” I said to myself and felt the shivers run down my spine. But no. It was only an officer, who spoke perfect Chinese. He gave me the following caution: “Please go on with what you were doing.” I offered him a cigar. He bowed and left. Nothing happened over the course of the next few days either. The soldiers treated me with reserve and watched me curiously as I walked down the street.

The months passed, and I was growing used to the communist regime. But this did not go on indefinitely. One summer afternoon, the police inspector arrived at the school accompanied by four armed soldiers. They entered the class room without knocking.

“Times have changed for China,” said the inspector loudly. “All these devotional articles are destined for the fire. Come on, boys. Get to work!”

After a while he joined the soldiers in tearing down pictures, the crucifix, and statues from the walls and piling them on the desks. Next, he ordered the children to put the articles in cardboard boxes and take them to the lavatory. The terrified children sat motionless.

“Move!” yelled the Inspector. “Or I’ll have to use my revolver!” But the children put up the same resistance. At the very back of the class, biting her lips, was a little girl. Arms folded, she sat still as a statue. “You back there!” bellowed the inspector, going toward her.

Threatening and berating her with obscene curses, he tried to force her to carry out his order. The girl only lowered her eyes and remained still. The other children sat frozen with terror. A deathly silence ensued. Suddenly, one of the soldiers pulled out his revolver and fired at the window. The children screamed and burst into tears; meanwhile, alarmed by the noise, townsfolk began gathering around the school. The inspector went on terrorizing the girl with his shouts, but she never budged from her seat. A large tear ran down her cheek. Then, seeing the crowd of people outside, he barked:

“Bring me her father, then assemble everyone in the church!”

They brought in the girl’s father with his hands bound behind his back; meanwhile, the church was filling up. The father was told to stand to the right by the balusters, so he could clearly see his daughter, whom they had brought to the front of the altar. The inspector muttered something under his breath, then spoke out aloud:

“You have been taught God is all powerful and resides in the tabernacle. Now I’m going to show you how duped you have been. He can do absolutely nothing! We’re going to crush him under our boots and he won’t even squeal!”

The soldiers blew off the tabernacle doors with a single salvo. A stony silence ensued. The inspector seized the ciborium, opened it, and scattered the hosts on the sanctuary floor.

“Trample on their God!” he yelled to the soldiers, who promptly proceeded to carry out his order.

“What do you say now?” he asked the onlookers. No one dared breathe.

“Do you still believe what the priests tell you?” he said, turning to the girl’s father. “Answer me!”

“Yes, I still believe.” replied the father calmly.

“Bring him here to me!” roared the inspector in fit of rage. But at that moment a subordinate officer came up and whispered some thing in his ear.

“Everyone leave the church!'” ordered the inspector, clearly swayed by what he had heard. ‘The child stays behind!”

They locked me in the church closet where we stored our coal. The keyhole gave me a clear view of the sanctuary. I could see the scattered hosts and the terror-stricken girl. After a while, a woman entered the church. She was richly dressed and wore bracelets and rings. Smiling, arms flung out, she went up to the girl, saying: “What are these people doing to you? Come, I won’t harm you.”

The girl burst into sobs and threw her self in the stranger’s arms. After a while they left the church together.

In the darkness of my prison I lost all sense of time. I prayed, slept, suffered hunger and pains to my head. Around me reigned a deathly silence. It must have been morning when suddenly I heard a door being quietly opened. Whom did I see through the keyhole but my little girl. She made hesitant steps toward the sanctuary, Stopping warily, she looked around, took a few more steps, then, kneeling down, bent over and reverently raised a host with her tongue and consumed it. Upon straightening up, she joined her hands and prayed with closed eyes. Then she rose to her feet and vanished. The same scene repeated itself every morning. It was my one solace in that dark hiding place. I looked forward to the morning when the girl would again come to consume another host. The beauty of her profile, her shining eyes and timid steps delighted me. How many more times would I see her? Then one morning, while she was praying after consuming the Eucharist, the church doors crashed suddenly open. I heard a savage cry and then a gun shot. The girl, leaning on her hands, slumped slowly to the floor. Summoning her last reserves of strength, she took another of the profaned hosts in her tongue. The soldier stood over her and watched her keenly. One more time she tried to straighten up and join her hands in prayer, but then collapsed. The dull thud of her head hitting the floor echoed throughout the church. After taking a look at the dead body and the scattered hosts, the soldier left the church with heavy steps.

While I was still contemplating the body of the young martyr, the closet door suddenly opened. The soldier who had just shot the girl told me I was free to go. Surprised. I thanked him and went right over to the sanctuary. I had scarcely knelt down by the dead body when the soldier, standing over me, said: “If every place had such a girl, there wouldn’t be a single soldier fighting for the communist side.” As soon as I had buried the little martyr’s body, a man came up, took me to a car, and drove me to the border, where he promptly deposited me.

 

‘Love One Another’ magazine has been published in Poland for almost a quarter of a century. For close to ten years, it has been one of the most popular Christian magazines in our country as well as countries abroad. It is aimed at readers of all ages, who wish to think, ponder the meaning of life, seek the truth and faith. 

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Ecumenism is the Issue: On Declaring the Dogma of Our Lady as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Grace, and Advocate  Forthwith!

In chapter seven of Pope John Paul II’s, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, the Holy Father addresses the question of why the Holy Spirit has permitted so many divisions and enmities among those who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ. (1) In his answer, Pope John Paul II offers a profound way of viewing things and presents us with a challenge and a hope.

While the historical reasons for our divisions are well known, the Holy Father says we need to ask ourselves if there is what we might call “a metahistorical reason.” (2)  He explains that from a negative view, this would lead us to see our divisions as the “bitter fruit of sins committed by Christians.” (3) However, if we search for a positive view, we will come to see things quite differently.

By trusting in the God Who brings good out of evil and human weakness, we might come to see these divisions as the very path through which “the untold wealth contained in Christ’s Gospel and in redemption itself” is being discovered. (4) The Holy Father goes on to explain his meaning here:

More generally, we can affirm that for human knowledge and action a certain dialectic is present….  It is necessary for humanity to achieve unity through plurality, to learn to come together in the one Church, even while presenting a plurality of ways of thinking and acting, of cultures and civilizations. Wouldn’t such a way of looking at things be, in a certain sense, more consonant with the wisdom of God, with His goodness and providence? (5)

The Holy Father goes on to say, however, that this cannot be a justification for our divisions to deepen.  When he wrote this over fifteen years ago in 1994, the Holy Father said that many believe it is now time for “the love that unites us to be manifested!”

In 2010, these words of Pope John Paul II seem all the more appropriate, prophetic and urgent.  The crisis of truth, especially in the West, the all-pervasiveness of moral relativism, and the deepening crisis of Faith in every branch of the universal Church have proliferated to the point of threatening the stability and even the continued existence of many of the institutions that have built what we once referred to as Christian civilization.  Historians tell us that we are now living in a period that is best characterized as post-Christian and even neo-pagan.  It is now more urgent than ever that we, who are baptized into Christ Jesus, put aside centuries of animosity and allow ourselves to undergo that purification of heart, conscience and memory that Pope John Paul II challenged us to during the Great Jubilee.  The world is in desperate need of our common witness to Jesus Christ, which must be manifested through our love for one another.  For only if we love one another, will the world believe that the Trinitarian God abides in us (1John 4:12) and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true!

Additionally, we who are baptized into Christ Jesus need to find a way to build bridges to one another, not only for the sake of the world but also for the health of our various households of Faith.  So many of our internal problems could be helped through a respectful and honest exchange of the variety of gifts that the Holy Spirit has developed in each of our households during these years of division, as pointed out by the Pope John Paul II in the quote cited above.  Additionally, our enduring divisions are a scandal and hindrance to evangelizing the next generation, a generation whom so many polls tell us is increasingly skeptical about the trustworthiness of any religious institution, while at the same time longing for a connection with the transcendent.  Our divisions and failure to forgive one another speak so loudly that the young cannot hear the Gospel we proclaim with our lips about the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, given to us so that we might be forgiven, healed from sin by Divine Mercy HimSelf, and brought into communion with the Blessed Trinity.

This brings me to the subject matter of our gathering today, the timeliness and even the urgency of the Successor of St. Peter’s declaring the Dogma of Our Lady’s Coredemption.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we must admit that our mere human efforts at undergoing the spiritual purification Pope John Paul II has rightly said will be necessary for our reunion and actually living together as one Body in Christ have not worked!  We seem to take one step backwards for every step forward.  To say that we are in need of divine intervention for the reunion of Christians is an understatement.  I have come to believe that our Divine Savior has already pointed out and appointed for us the only means through which we will receive the Grace of being brought into a unity that is the image of, and indeed a participation in, the very union that He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, a “perichoretic” union of the Three Persons wherein the Three distinct Persons of the Godhead have been described theologically, with our mere human words, as mutually co-inhering without coalescence.(6)

As with everything else that Our Savior offers us, the union of Christians will have to be “born from above.”  And, in the words of St. Louis de Montfort, “just as in natural and bodily generation there is a father and a mother, so in the supernatural and spiritual generation [of being born from above] there is a father who is God and a mother who is Mary. (7) This is why the Lord’s final words addressed directly to all of us, immediately before He died, as recorded in St. John’s Gospel, were: “Behold, your Mother”(John 19:27).  These words are addressed to us not merely as a suggestion but rather with the weight of a final directive and even a command for us to obey, if we are to be recipients of the new Life of Grace He offers us.  If we look carefully at the wording of chapter 19 in the Gospel of St. John, we notice that only after having given us this directive, through the proxy of the Beloved Disciple, does Our Divine Savior say: “It is finished” (John 19:30).  We must take from this that it is only in our full compliance with His directive to “Behold our Mother,” that the work of the Redemption itself can and will be finished.

And surely, my brothers and sisters, the completion of the work of Redemption will and must include nothing less than the reconciliation and unity of Christians, a reconciliation and unity that our Divine Savior prayed for the night before He died (John 17:20-21) and even a reconciliation that will be required for the full number of Gentiles to brought into the New Covenant of Grace, so that Israel itself will be saved by being grafted back into their own olive tree, as St. Paul tells us (Rom. 11:25-29).  And how could we ever imagine or propose that any of these miraculous events would happen unless we truly follow the Savior’s command to “Behold our Mother?”  In fact, these events simply will not happen otherwise.  Let us explore why this is true.

It is none other than the ontological Reality of Grace indwelling our souls that makes us truly adopted sons and daughters of God, as well as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Because of the Incarnation, all human persons are now united with God the Son through the natural bonds of our common humanity that God the Son has united to His Divine Person.  Confessing Christians are united to Him even more profoundly through the supernatural Life of the Divine Indwelling that we have traditionally called Sanctifying Grace.   Furthermore, all Christians, regardless of which household of faith they live in, have received this totally free and undeserved Gift of Divine Mercy and Grace in Jesus Christ by one means and one means only.  It is mediated to us through the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, i.e., through the material means of a human nature united to the Divine Person of God the Son.  In Jesus Christ, the material reality of our very human flesh and blood, united to His Divine Person, becomes divinized in the fullest sense and provides us with the only way to union with the entire Trinity, and one another, in this life and the next.  That is exactly why He tells us in John 6:53, “unless you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have Life within you.”

And, this Sacred Humanity has only one ontological source, by Divine Design.  It is none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gives God the Son flesh and blood, by the Power of the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, this sublime gift on the part of our Mother occurs only with her free and full consent, a consent that the entire Blessed Trinity and heaven itself sought and waited upon.   It is in the Mystery of the Divine Maternity and the very Incarnation of God the Son from her own humanity that the Blessed Virgin’s Maternal role in salvation history as Coredemptrix and our consequent communion with one another, as her spiritual children, are rooted.

The more we “Behold” the Mystery of Our Lady’s Divine Maternity of God the Son and ponder its meaning, the more we come to understand that the Blessed Virgin is Mother to all who are brothers and sisters “in Christ,” by virtue of His Divine Life in our souls, mediated to us only by His Sacred Humanity taken from her.  She is also the Mother of all people because humanity itself, through the Second Adam’s Incarnation from her “side,” has now been brought into a mysterious union with the Triune God.  In short, just as Jesus directed us to say, “Our Father,” He is also directing and even commanding us to say, “Our Mother,” as the decisive act on our part that is required for His work of Redemption to be “finished” (John 19:30).

And, here’s the clincher.  Because of the ontological Reality of Grace, the Blessed Virgin Mary is our common Mother, whether we understand each other or not, whether we completely agree with each other in all the fine details of theology or not, and even whether we like each other or not.  And, we are, consequently, really and truly, brother and sister to one another, which is what makes our divisions so scandalous!

On the natural level, it is usually the mother that enables siblings who would rather disagree and wrangle with each other to come together, in love, to form a family.  It is also usually the mother who helps the children of a family learn mutual respect for one another because they come to see their mother’s love for a brother or a sister and model it.

If we take the basic rationale of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body a step further, we have to say that mothers are able to work such miracles in the family because, biologically and physiologically speaking, it is the role of the mother to bring unity out of diversity.  In the very act of procreation, the womb of the mother is where the diverse realities of sperm and ovum become an entirely new and single person.  If these things are true in the natural order, how much more true they are on the higher levels of grace and even glory!

If it was the Blessed Virgin’s Role in the economy of salvation to effect the union of Divinity and humanity in the Incarnation of God the Son, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, during her earthly life, how certain we can be that in her life of glory it is the Blessed Virgin’s prerogative and divinely ordained role to reconcile all her spiritual children into one body and bring us together in the fullness of Grace and Truth, a fullness that is her Divine Son, Himself.  It is only through, with and in the Blessed Virgin, who is not only “Our Mother” but also the Mother of the Redemption itself, that we will be given the Grace to forgive, perceive and love one another with the mutual respect that an authentic ecumenism will require.  And, let us not fear that our justifiable theological concerns and debates with one another will cease to be a concern in such a reunion.  Afterall, Our Mother is the woman whom God has put at enmity with the devil (Gen. 3:15)!  Thus, it is also her role to defend and protect her children against all lies and heresy even in bringing us together.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is the hope and prayer of this Anglican that the Successor of St. Peter will soon find a defining way to speak about and “Behold” Our Mother’s Role in Redemption as Coredemptrix.  The dogmatic declaration of the Mystery of Our Mother’s Coredemption is nothing less than the necessary instrumental cause needed to unite Christians, rather than as some fear, divide us.  Furthermore, because the Bishop of Rome is the Successor of St. Peter, even in our separated condition, we need the Bishop of Rome to define and declare the dogma on Our Mother’s Coredemption on behalf of all Christians and even on behalf of all people everywhere.

Such a dogmatic definition will be our human way of giving a public and formal fiat to the Mystery of Our Mother’s work in Redemption, as Coredemptrix, so that the Power of our Mother’s role in Redemption might be unlocked among us by this formal and public correspondence of our minds and hearts on earth, to what is already true in heaven, and, therefore, in Reality.

In this time of great moral laxness, when so many Christians in all of our households of Faith have disregarded their Baptismal promises and completely lost their way, we need nothing less than the intervention and mediation of the Immaculate Conception Herself, the only one who can receive Jesus Christ, the Divine Redeemer, into and on behalf of all humanity, perfectly.

The declaration of the dogma is needed now, even if all Christians don’t yet understand the meaning or significance of the dogma and even if some within the household of the Roman Catholic Church itself do not understand the dogma’s necessity.

The dogmatic declaration of Our Lady’s Coredemption, which is what Our Lady’s Spiritual Motherhood is all about, will affirm that the Blessed Virgin Mary is not just a disciple, a model, a subject of religious piety, or even a type of the Church, as she has sometimes been incorrectly reduced to, by both Catholic and Protestant Christians alike, and, sadly, even by many theologians in our day. The dogma will allow us to reiterate, definitively, with St. Irenaeus, and centuries of saints, doctors, fathers and mothers of the Faith, that the Blessed Virgin Mary is a co-cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race, alongside her Divine Son. (8) The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The loss of sanctifying grace and spiritual death that the virgin Eve had condemned us to through unbelief, the Blessed Virgin Mary has set us free from, through her faith (9) and cooperation with her Divine Son in the work of Redemption, “in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve [and her offspring].  And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued (salvatur) by the means of a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience.” (10)

The Blessed Virgin Mary is nothing less than the Mother of the Redeemer, the Mother of Grace, and the Mother of Redemption itself.  We are redeemed by the Pierced Hearts of both Jesus and Mary in an ineffable Union that we mere humans will be spending all eternity contemplating.  In the words of St. Louis de Montfort, “[t]he salvation of the world began through Mary and through her it must be accomplished.” (11)

Is it any wonder, my friends, that the Blessed Virgin Mary told the three children of Fatima, Portugal, during her apparition on July 13, 1917, in speaking about the Blessed Trinity’s desire to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart at this point in salvation history, that “only She can help you”? (12) Let us pray and work that the Blessed Trinity’s desire in this regard will soon be fulfilled through the declaration of the Dogma that the Mother of God is the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Grace and Advocate.

 

Judith Marie Gentle, Ph.D.

March 25, 2010
Feast of the Annunciation to Mary and the Incarnation of God the Son from Mary
Inside the Vatican Day of Dialogue on the Proclamation of the Fifth Dogma
Rome, Italy

 

Footnotes

(1) John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, ed. Vitorrio Messori, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994) 152.

(2) John Paul II 153

(3) John Paul II 153.

(4) John Paul II 153

(5) John Paul II 153

(6) John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham Univ. Press, 1979) 186

(7) St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin 30

(8) St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, bk 3, ch 22, para 4

(9) St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, bk 3, ch 22, para 4.

(10) St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, bk 5, ch 19, para 1

(11) St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin 49

(12) Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, ed. Fr. Louis Kondor, S.V.D., trans. Dominican Nuns of Perpetual Rosary, 11th edition (Fatima: Secretariado Dos Pastorihnos, 2000) 168

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Christmas Cake

Published on December 16, 2011 by in Christian Culture, December 2004

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Suppose you live in a small town in the hill country, far from the big cities. And suppose that just down the road from you there lives a quiet sort of family about whom there isn’t anything outstanding, except that they are devoted to each other and are very devout in the practice of their faith. The dad is a carpenter who makes furniture in his shop beside their small house. The mother is a “home-maker,” a lovely person really. Their ten-year-old son is a polite sort of lad, helps his dad in the shop, is serious by nature, never says much but is ever-ready to smile at the drop of a hat. You meet him sometimes while walking along the country road or tromping through the bush; you turn a corner or step over a log and there he is kneeling beside a pond watching a beaver build a dam, or there he is gazing up into a tree branch listening to newborn robins chirping in their nest. That’s him—just listening, just looking. He notices you, smiles, bows a little, then seems to gaze at you as if you were as wonder-full as the world. He’s not shy, just quiet. Like his dad, he carves small wooden toys as gifts for the other children in the neighborhood. There’s something special about him, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

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Two Asian bishops have backed a move to formally recognize Mary as “co-redemptrix, mediatrix and advocate for all Christians.”

Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Philippines, and Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa of Madras-Mylapore, India were among six speakers from four continents supporting a movement to officially declare Mary “co-redemptrix, mediatrix and advocate for all Christians,” The Catholic Spirit reports.

They spoke at “A Day of Dialogue on the Fifth Marian Dogma” – a Rome event sponsored by the magazine Inside the Vatican.

Archbishop Chinnappa said a formal recognition of Mary’s role in God’s plan to redeem the world would “favor interreligious dialogue and healthy evangelization.”

It also would help ecumenism, he said, by clarifying that Mary had a subordinate, albeit special, role with Jesus and that “Catholics do not adore Mary, but venerate (her) in light on her unique cooperation with the Lord.”

“Co-” means “with” and such a title does not supersede the real redeemer, who is Christ, he said.

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The following interview was conducted and published by ministryvalues.com. – Asst. Ed.

Last week, Ministryvalues.com was lucky enough to catch Dr. Mark Miravalle between radio broadcasts, and he was kind enough to give us some of his very valuable time to ask him some questions – tough questions, it turns out for many – questions that seem to consistently cause a stir in many circles of a very large family called the Catholic Church.

Today it seems the subject of a Fifth Marian Dogma and the events taking place at Medjugorje, certainly when it comes to debating the issues, can split even the most well meaning Catholics into a veritable Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s family feud. The Fifth Dogma seeks to establish the Blessed Mother as Co-redemptrix and the Mother of all graces. The concept of Co-redemptrix refers to an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption, a status that many say would widen the ecumenical divide between Catholics and Protestants.

Medjugorje is perhaps even more controversial, especially among the Catholic faithful. Medjugorje is a town in Bosnia and since 1981, the Virgin Mary is said to be appearing to six people bringing special messages to the world urging us all to return to prayer and to seek “Peace in our hearts”. The controversy surrounding Medjugoje stems from the fact that the movement has become the fastest growing Marian shrine in the world, rivaling now even Fatima and Lourdes, but has yet to receive official Vatican approval as an authentic apparition of the Blessed Mother of Jesus.

At Ministryvalues.com, we bring these subjects up a lot in our content and we have found ourselves in the middle of the bazooka crossfire many times. Perhaps that is why Dr. Miravalle took pity on us and accepted our request to speak with him.

As soon as we began our conversation with Dr. Miravalle, he quickly insisted we call him Mark. At first we thought we had mispronounced his name and rather than go through the niceties of straightening that business out, we figured he decided it would be simpler and quicker to go with just “Mark”. But that was not the case – turns out one of the most esteemed and respected Marian theologians and authors in the world, a man who has had private meetings with Pope John Paul II and Our Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI, a man who has given his enormous talents and energy to make this world a better place by helping people get to know the Blessed Mother more intimately, more realistically and more lovingly, really likes being called just plain old Mark.

Without a doubt, Dr. Mark Miravalle is not only a treasure within the Catholic Church, but also the politest man you will ever meet. And did we mention patient. Dr. Miravalle, a man who is pulled at once in many directions, and as a father of eight, we mean that literally as well as figuratively, made us feel like he had all the time in the world as we fumbled around trying to get our phone conference buttons to be punched in correctly. It was an eerie feeling, for us anyway, keeping a man on hold who has broken bread with Popes in private rooms. After we managed to work our way through the technological hurdles, Dr. Miravalle’s first words were, “It’s nice to talk with you on this special feast day of the Nativity, the Blessed Mother’s birthday.”

Ministryvalues.com: Dr. Miravalle, when the Catholic Church investigates reports of supernatural phenomena, it often invokes your assistance. What are some of the cases that you have investigated and what are some of the criteria that you use to discern such cases, especially when someone reports experiencing an apparition?

Dr. Miravalle: In investigating and discerning reported cases of supernatural phenomena, I use the official guidelines for criteria that the Church, through the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith), issued and works with. These guidelines were established in 1978 under Cardinal Seper at that time the Prefect of the CDF.

There are three primary criteria that are used to evaluate and judge any claim of supernatural phenomena. They include:

1) The content of the revealed message; does it align with Church teaching on faith and morals, with the Magisterium, does it align with Church history?

2) The nature of the ecstasy and other concurring phenomena

3) The recognized spiritual fruits resulting from the reported message and phenomena.

Ministryvalues.com: As a doctoral student, you wrote your dissertation on the reported Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, which are currently being investigated by the Holy See. Can you tell us how your dissertation came to be and what were your original experiences with Medjugorje?

Dr. Miravalle: I originally traveled to Medjugorje in 1983 while pursuing my doctoral studies at the Angelicum in Rome. I first heard of Medjugorje by finding a book on the subject by Fr. Robert Faricy and Sister Lucy Rooney in a bookstore across the street from the Vatican. Arriving at Medjugorje, I studied and investigated the events there, coming to the conclusion that Medjugorje fully aligns with Church teaching and, in my opinion, is absolutely authentic. Upon arriving in Medjugorje I soon felt a great sense of peace around me and my personal experience could only be described as a supernatural event. The dissertation was called, “The Message of Medjugorje: A Postconcilar Formulation of Lourdes and Fatima.” The dissertation showed how the messages of Medjugorje align with Church tradition, ranging from the Gospels to the teachings of the early Church Fathers in their foundational elements, to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and to the messages of other Church-approved apparitions.

Ministryvalues.com: As you probably know, the Vatican has taken the judgment of the apparitions in Medjugorje away from the local bishop, setting up an international commission under the guidance of the CDF in Rome to examine this phenomenon. What does this tell us about the significance of Medjugorje?

Dr. Miravalle: I see this as a continuation of what has transpired before, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger intervened in 1986 and took the jurisdiction of Medjugorje away from the local bishop of Mostar, Bishop Zanic, placing it into the hands of the Yugoslav Bishops Conference. This was done so Medjugorje could be judged objectively. That’s why Medjugorje has recently been placed under an international commission headed by the Holy See, so the apparitions could be judged objectively. I see this is as a continuation of the Church’s previous actions now.

What is most important is Our Lady’s wishes. Perhaps local Church authorities not certain of the authenticity of the apparitions at Medjugorje have themselves at times not been in conformity with the Church’s process of objective evaluation which therefore calls for ongoing cooperation. Much of the debate surrounding Medjugorje generally results from misunderstandings of official Church position pertaining to Medjugorje. Which in light of the 1991 Zadar statement from the ex Yugoslav conference of bishops, and the May 26, 1998 letter of Arcbishop Tarcisio Bertone then secretary of the CDF, does allow for private pilgrims to go to Medjugorje in good faith and in full obedience to the Magisterium.

Ministryvalues.com: Can you comment about this Marian movement, regarding the fifth Marian dogma, that you’re a part of?

Dr. Miravalle: I am the president of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, a movement within Catholicism that hopes to promote and gain, through papal infallibility, an official recognition of a fifth Marian dogma, a papal definition identifying Our Lady as the Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace, and Advocate of all peoples. This dogma simply proclaims Our Lady to be the greatest helper to her Son in the Redemption of humanity, more than any other human being. As part of the movement, millions of people have sent their petitions to the Vatican for the official recognition of this dogma, including hundreds of priests, cardinals, and bishops; including the President of the Phillipines, Gloria Arroyo, who, on behalf of the Filipino people, petitioned the Pope Benedict directly for the proclamation of the Fifth Marian dogma.

Ministryvalues.com: You have written many books on Medjugorje. Many of your works emphasize how to live the messages of Medjugorje – from daily Mass to prayer and, perhaps most difficult for modern people, fasting. Can you talk about how you and your family incorporate the messages in your lives and what advice would you give to Christians who are sincerely trying, but struggling, to live these messages?

Dr. Miravalle: All Christians should struggle to live the messages. It is a message which really needs Christian perfection. Our Lady has been very pastoral with the call to fasting , for example. In the early periods of the apparitions, she recommended fasting on bread and water on Fridays; and only later, once people got used to it, she gradually added Wednesday to the fast; helping us to gradually adopt to these needs. But, while Our Lady says that bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays is the best fast, it’s not the only way to fast. There’s other things we can give up, other things that hinder us. We all can give up watching television. We can all give up eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. There’s also the fast of the tongue. We should try to be less judgmental, giving up negative words and thoughts. So, while bread and water constitute the best fast, according to Our Lady, it’s not the only way to fast.

Ministryvalues.com: When Cardinal Christoph Schonborn spoke at the Catholic University of America last February, he was asked about Medjugorje. One of the things that he emphasized was how many young people have discovered faith through Medjugorje, and how he could not ignore this blessing. He also emphasized how many vocations have been discovered through Medjugorje, explaining that if it wasn’t for Medjugorje he wouldn’t have any seminarians in Austria since most of his seminarians have found their vocation to the priesthood someone through Medjugorje. Being a professor at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, what has been the response that your students, that young people which you know and encounter on a daily basis, have given to Medjugorje and your lectures on the subject?

Dr. Miravalle: My students have been very receptive toward Medjugorje. Many of my students at Franciscan love Medjugorje, many have traveled to Medjugorje. For young people, Medjugorje is a place where we see a fire of conversion. .. Love flows to the hearts of young people and Medjugorje is a place that generates extraordinary graces. How powerful the spiritual fruits have been of Medjugorje, especially with young people. How many have overcome drug addictions, or sex addictions, how many have had their lives transformed completely because of Medjugorje. These are supernatural fruits which are being evidenced throughout the world, therefore this must be an authentic tree. Those who oppose Medjugorje have to ignore the foundational elements of Christian discernment, the fruits of the tree, according to the exceptional guidelines for discernment that Jesus Himself gives us. Many who oppose Medjugorje even try to separate the two, claiming that the fruits are good but the tree isn’t. This doesn’t make any sense in the tradition of Christian discernment, for, as Christ taught us in the Gospel, you will know the tree by the fruits. If the spiritual fruits are authentic, so then must be the tree.

Ministryvalues.com: As a devout Catholic and a father of eight, what advice can you give parents about raising their children with a love of faith, especially fostering a love for Our Lady? How have you attempted to foster this love in your own children’s lives?

Dr. Miravalle: It is very important to foster regular family prayer, especially devotions like the Rosary. When families set time each day to pray together in the home, children will learn from this. They will notice that if this routine is broken, something is not right, for they will grow to appreciate the routine of prayer as part of their family’s tradition.

Ministryvalues.com: What can people do if they want to support efforts for the Fifth Marian Dogma?

Dr. Miravalle: Our Lady has specifically asked, through the Marian message to the modern world, that we pray and petition for the Papal Definition of Mary as Our Spiritual Mother under its three essential aspects of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate. An international Rosary Crusade is presently taking place from August 15, 2010 to August 15, 2011 for this dogmatic crown for Our Lady. Pray the Rosary Daily for the Dogma, and also include the powerful prayer from the Lady of All Nations …

People can join the millions who have already sent their petitions in by going to fifthmariandogma.com and sending their own petition to the Holy Father. But especially pray. The Dogma will bring torrents of grace to the Church. The Fifth Marian Dogma will also bring the peace promised at Fatima, leading to the Triumph of her most Immaculate Heart.

Ministryvalues.com: Thanks Dr. Miravalle ….sorry thanks Mark, thank you so much for your time on this special day – the feast day of the Nativity, the Blessed Mother’s birthday

Daniel Klimek attended Harvard, graduated with a Masters degree from Yale, and is now pursuing his PHD at Catholic University in Washington D.C.

Stephen Ryan is Publisher of ministryvalues.com, is a graduate of George Washington University, and lives in Alexandria Va.

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Twilight of the West

Published on May 20, 2011 by in Christian Culture

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The astonishing success of the Twilight series of vampire novels written by Stephenie Meyer ranks second only to the Harry Potter series in publishing history, and the two films released to date also repeat this pattern. [1] Meyer’s series builds upon the foundation of older novels and cult films, themselves based on the European legends of vampires. The legends predate even these, for there is a long tradition in ancient religions of supernatural beings who are predators on humans, consuming the blood or flesh of the living, tales that can be found in Babylonian, Greek, Persian, Hindu, and Hebrew lore, as well as throughout Africa and the pre-colonial Americas.

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August 15, 2010 – August 15, 2011

Today is the day when many wonderfully generous Catholics throughout the world are beginning a year long Rosary Crusade for the Fifth Marian Dogma. Please join us, as the effect of this Rosary crusade prayed by so many throughout the world could be the final element necessary to bring forth the solemn definition of the Fifth Marian Dogma  and thereupon the definite initiation of the Triumph of Our Mother’s Most Immaculate  Heart as prophesized at Fatima (July 13, 1917). – Ed. 

At times of grave crisis for the Church and for the world, Rosary crusades have changed the course of human history.

From the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 which saved Catholic faith and culture in Europe, to the Philippine Revolution in 1986, which prevented the potential slaughter of great numbers of Catholic faithful, the power of the Rosary prayed in unity can truly bring forth historic fruit for the Church and for humanity. From Leo XIII to Benedict XVI, the popes of the last two centuries have exhorted the faithful to daily pray the Rosary for the serious needs of humanity.


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The following is the sixth in a series from Mary, Mediatrix of Grace, Mary’s Universal Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier, “one of the greatest Church figures of the 20th century” by Father Manfred Hauke. – Asst. Ed.

8.16 Overview of the Initiatives either undertaken or promoted by Mercier in behalf of a Dogmatic Definition of the Universal Mediation of Mary

The foregoing exposition has shown the unfolding of a plethora of initiatives, whose immediate or at least ultimate objective was the dogmatic definition of the universal mediation of Mary. To facilitate an overview we now present an itemized listing of these initiatives:

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The following  is the fourth in a series from Mary, Mediatrix of Grace, Mary’s Universal Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier, “one of the greatest Church figures of the 20th century” by  Father Manfred Hauke. – Asst. Ed.

8.11 The Mariological Congress in Brussels (September 1921)

In Mercier’s diocese from 8-11 September, 1921, there was held in Brussels a great Marian National Congress{footnote} The Congress assembled daily at the same time in two different language

groups (Flemish and French): HANDELINGEN I-II (Note258); MEMOIRES ET RAPPORTS I-II (note 49). A summation of the event is found, among others, in K. PRUMM, “Die Frage der Mittlerschaft Marias auf dem Marianischen Kongress im Brussel”: Zeitschrift fur Katholische Theologie 47 (1923) 129-137; CAMPANA, Maria net culto II (note 41) 642-648.{/footnote}. Its occasion was the crowning of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Peace to be carried out by the Cardinal as delegate of Pope Benedict XV. The Church of St. Nicholas, where the statue is found, became during the war a symbol of the survival of Belgium as a nation: suppliants found themselves standing before the statue about which was draped a Belgian flag – much to the displeasure of the German occupation forces. The idea of the crowning and the preceding Congress originated with the pastor of the local parish, but Mercier supported the grand project with all his heart.

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On May 12, 2010, Zenit, the international Catholic news agency ran the following article by Dr. Mark Miravalle regarding the Pope’s visit to Fatima, the Vatican Forum “Day of Dialogue on the Fifth Marian Dogma” and the remedy that the proclamation of the Dogma could be for the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI – Asst. Ed. 

On the ninety-third anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary to three Portuguese children (May 13, 2010), Pope Benedict will address the world from this favored Marian shrine.  Amidst an unprecedented attack on the papacy in contemporary times and in light of the July 13, 1917 Fatima prophecy that “the Holy Father will have much to suffer,” many wonder if this prophecy referred not only to the assassination attempt of John Paul II on the same anniversary in 1981, but also to the grossly unjust attacks being presently leveled against our own saintly Vicar of Christ. 

“She alone can help you.”  These words from Our Lady of Fatima speak also to the present crisis in the Church and the specific attack on the papacy.  Many faithful believe that turning to Our Lady in this time of ecclesiastical crisis is the ultimate answer.  Cardinal Ratzinger seemed to confirm this at least in principle in his renowned 1984 Ratzinger Report, where he identifies the remedy to the ubiquitous crisis of faith and culture today by precisely “turning to Mary.” 

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Fifth Marian Dogma Conference

Published on May 7, 2010 by in Christian Culture

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Click here to link to a special feature by H20 News on the Inside the Vatican “Day of  Dialogue” on the Fifth Marian Dogma, which was held in Rome, March 25, 2010. – Asst. Ed.

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The following presentation was made by Bishop Baseotto of Argentina at the Inside the Vatican Marian “Day of Dialogue” which was held in Rome on March 25, 2010. – Asst. Ed.

Almost two thirds of those who in the world acclaim Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate express it in Spanish. In some way I address myself on their behalf. In Latin America, close to three hundred bishops have asked for the proclamation of the Fifth Dogma, as well as about five million faithful who have signed the request, together with forty cardinals of our Holy Church who have expressed themselves in this sense. To these it should also be added those forty-two Mexican Bishops who in 1954 asked for it and many others who added their plea during the years.
For this reason I have the sensation of being like a small cork cradled by the waves of a sea without frontiers. The cork is impregnated with the sea salt, the taste of the seaweed…and is carried by the waves. Not like the plastic cap that I have in hand which does not absorb what is in its surroundings. That sea is the Church, God’s people, extended over the centuries and across the world.

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The following  presentation was given at the Inside the Vatican Day of Dialog on the Feast of the Annunciation. -Asst. Ed.

Archbishop A. M. Chinnappa DD, SDB
Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, India
25. 03. 2010
Feast of Annunciation, Rome

1. Why this is precisely the appropriate time to solemnly declare the fifth Marian Dogma?

Introduction

The development of the doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity has its origins in Scripture and in the ancient Church. At Calvary with the words of the crucified Saviour to Mary and to John, “Woman, behold your Son… Behold your Mother” (Jn 19: 26-27), Jesus gives all humanity his mother to be, as the Second Vatican Council clearly teaches, “a mother to us in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, 61). The early Church saw the Mother of the Lord as the “New Eve”, the woman who uniquely cooperated with Jesus in the work of Salvation. By the second century, St. Ireneaus declared of Our Lady that through her obedience, she became “the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race” (Ad. Haer. III).
The co-redemptrix doctrine continues to develop with major contributions from the Byzantine monk, John the Geometer (10th Century) and St. Bernard of Clairvaux and his disciple Arnold of Chartres (12th Century) with the understanding of Mary “co-dying” and being “co-crucified” with Jesus, and the inseparability of Son and Mother in the work of Redemption. By the 14th century, the term “co-redemptrix” is being used to express the unique though entire secondary and subordinate participation of Mary with Jesus in his historic work of redemption. Even the great Tridentine theologian, Alphonsus Salmeron defended the Marian titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate back in 16th Century. The general role of “Spiritual Mother” and the specific titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate constitute authentically Catholic titles that are undeniable part of our rich Catholic Tradition.

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In order to set the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy, Fr. Thomas Brundage, JCL, then-presiding judge for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, gives this  first-person account of the church trial and defends Pope Benedict XVI as having done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse and provide for those who have been injured.  For CatholicAnchor.org (Anchorage, Alaska)


To provide context to this article, I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995-2003. During those years, I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy. Two of the four men died during the process. God alone will judge these men.

To put some parameters on the following remarks, I am writing this article with the express knowledge and consent of Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, where I currently serve. Archbishop Schwietz is also the publisher of the Catholic Anchor newspaper.

I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, since my name and comments in the matter of the Father Murphy case have been liberally and often inaccurately quoted in the New York Times and in more than 100 other newspapers and on-line periodicals, I feel a freedom to tell part of the story of Father Murphy’s trial from ground zero.

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The  two articles which follow, by Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri and Dr. Judith Gentle, were recently presented, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, in Rome at the Inside the Vatican Forum’s Marian Day of Dialog on the Fifth Marian Dogma. – Ed. 

THE SENSUS FIDELIUM” of Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate of the People of God – a Nigerian Perspective of the Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici Movement 

Since the launching of the “Voice of the People for Mary Mediatrix” in May 1993, as a popular movement of the People of God from the five continents of the world praying and petitioning the Vicar of Christ to papally define the fifth Marian Dogma of Our Lady as “the spiritual Mother of all Peoples”, in her three motherly roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate, a lot of good things have been happening in the Church and in the world as a result of this endeavour. I became a part of this movement not long after assumption of Episcopal responsibility for the See of Kafanchan in 1995 and had participated in two international conferences devoted to in-depth  theological reflection on the proposed dogma in Rome 1997, and at Fatima in 2005. I am particularly edified by the contribution of this movement to the enrichment of the content of Mariology and consequently, vibrant Faith-life in the church. I am also very happy with the prospects that this holds for the Church both now and in the future. My contribution therefore at this “Day of Dialogue” is not going to be theological in nature (because a lot has been achieved already as seen in the two volumes on Thelogical Fundations for the definition of the Dogma). Rather, I wish to share the joy and appreciation of many on this dogma, which I personally experienced each time I was invited to make a presentation on this topic during Marian conferences (at diocesan and regional level) or at the celebrations of some of the Liturgical feasts in honour of Our Lady.



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The following letter from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Phillipines to Pope Benedict XVI was read by Phillipine Ambassador Mercedes Tuason at the Inside the Vatican Day of Dialog on the Fifth Marian Dogma, March 25th, in Rome. – Assistant Ed.

Dear Holiness,
On behalf of the Philippines and the Pilipino people, I as president of the Philippines and head of state formally and humbly entreat you on their behalf to the petitions of the hundreds of cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and laity worldwide for your prayerful discernment regarding the Papal definition of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the spiritual and mystical mother of humanity: Co-redemptrix,  Mediatrix of All Grace and Advocate.

I am pleased to acknowledge the role of my country, the Philippines, as the leading light of Marian devotion in the whole of Asia. Our country and its people have proclaimed Mary in her title as Immaculate Conception to be the official patroness of the island and its people.  It is also our desire that the whole world foster a greater love of Mama Mary through the solemn acknowledgement of her titles and motherly role for the human family  to intercede on behalf of her children at a very important time in human history.

It is with this fervent wish that we present to you our petitions that Mary as our Mother comes to guide and provide us with the strength we need in these very trying times. We place our country and its people under her maternal care. We place our very lives in her hands trusting in her mercy and her love. 

On behalf of the Pilipino people I remain,


Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President of the Phillipines

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Pope Benedict calls Mary  “Mediatrix of Grace” before Day of Dialogue on the

Fifth Marian Dogma

During his Angelus message last Sunday (March 21, 2010), Pope Benedict referred to Mary as the “Mediatrix of grace for every penitent sinner.”  This comes just days before the March 25 “Day of Dialogue on the Fifth Marian Dogma” to be held in the Vatican Forum not far from St. Peter’s Basilica.

The words of the Holy Father certainly come as an encouragement to those participating in this Thursday’s Roman dialogue on the issue of the Fifth Marian Dogma.

The Day of Dialogue, consisting of bishops and theologians discussing the present appropriateness of the solemn definition of Our Lady’s role as Spiritual Mother of all humanity, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, will be live streamed from 5:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. eastern standard time (10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Roman time).

To experience the event live via livestream, please click on the link at the top of the page.

The schedule of events for the Day of Dialogue is as follows:

SCHEDULE  

Beginning time: 5:00A.M. 5:00-5:10 – opening comments

1. 5:10-5:30 – Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Archbishop of Lipa, Philippines 

2. 5:30 – 5:50 – Archbishop Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madras, India

3. 5:50- 6:10 – Bishop Bagobiri, Nigeria

4. 6:30- 6:50 – Bishop Baseotto, Argentina

5. 6:50-7:10 – Fr. Llamas, President, Mariological Society of Spain

6. 7:10-7:30 – Dr. Judith Gentle, Our Lady of Walsingham Mariological Society, U.K. 

Afternoon Session:

9:45-10:15 Each panelist will be granted approximately five minutes comment on information of morning session

9:45 Archbishop Ramon Arguelles

9:50 Archbishop Chinnappa

9:55 Bishop Bagobiri

10:00 Bishop Baseotto

10:05 Fr. Llamas

10:10 Dr. Judith Gentle

10:15-11:25 – Comment by Ambassador Mercedes Tuason, Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican. Open discussion: comments or questions from the audience by directed to panelists in general.

11:25-11:30 Closing comments

Speakers for the Day of Dialogue include:

SPEAKERS

Archbishop  Ramon C. Arguelles, D.D., Metropolitan Archbishop of Lipa, Philippines, President of the Mariological-Marian Society of the Philippines, Coordinator with the Pontifical Marian Academy of the Asia-Oceania Mariological Congress

Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri, Bishop of Kafanchan

Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto, C.SS.R. Bishop Emeritus of Argentina, Military

Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa, S.D.B. Archbishop of Madras and Mylapore (Meliapor)

Dr. Judith Gentle, Anglican Theologian, Member of the Our Lady of Walsingham Mariological Society, United Kingdom, Editor, De Maria Numquam Satis: The Significance Of The Catholic Doctrines On The Blessed Virgin Mary For All People

Father Enrique Llamas, O.C.D., Doctor and Professor of Theology, Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain, President of the Mariological Society of Spain, Author of numerous books and articles on the subject of Marian Co-redemption and Mediation

Please join the thousands of Marian faithful worldwide who are praying and fasting for the historic success of this Day of Dialogue for the Fifth Marian Dogma!

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Pan’s Labyrinth

Published on March 20, 2010 by in Christian Culture

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Most contemporary films are infected with some degree of symbol-erosion. A case in point is the Spanish language Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno, 2006), by the Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro, whose previous work includes Hellboy and Backbone of the Devil, films that draw on strange fiction, fantasy, and war themes. Pan’s Labyrinth is particularly interesting for its integration of fairy-tale, classical myth, horror, and political propaganda. Profoundly beautiful in parts, it is graphically brutal and subtly anti-Christian in its use of symbols. It won several international awards and three Academy awards and was listed in the top ten favorite films of many film critics.

The story is set in Spain, in 1944. The Spanish Civil War is over, but hidden in the mountains armed partisans (the Communists) hold onto shrinking islands of resistance. They are relentlessly being hunted down by the military forces of Franco’s regime. Throughout the film, the Communist partisans are all portrayed as kind, brave, self-sacrificing, warm-hearted men of honor and justicewithout exception they are truly humane. The people loyal to the regime are banal, greedy, cruel, hypocritical cowards, torturers, or murderersin short, gross caricatures of the political, religious, and social establishment.

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Since the moment on Good Friday when Jesus, speaking from the cross as he was about to die, said to the Apostle John, “Behold your mother,” the maternal role of Mary has been a central element of Christian faith and devotion.
The depictions of Mary’s sorrow in works of art such as the Pieta by Michelangelo have suggested a profound emotional truth: When any believer is confronted with great sorrow or suffering, we can turn to Mary, our spiritual mother, for consolation, because she experienced such great suffering.
The great Marian apparitions, especially at Lourdes in 1858 and at Fatima in 1917, suggest to thoughtful observers of the mystical life that Mary continues to “draw near” to the “little ones,” to children, to encourage them and to share with them a message of maternal comfort and exhortation.
Over the centuries, the theological reflection of the Church has come to grant special and particular titles to Mary, to make clearer who she is, and why she is worthy of our filial devotion.
Presently, the Church has proclaimed four dogmas regarding the Mother of Jesus: (1) her maternal role in the birth of Christ, the Son of God, making her truly Mother of God (“Theotokos,” Council of Ephesus, 431); (2) her Perpetual Virginity (First Lateran Council, 649); (3) her Immaculate Conception (Pius IX, “ex cathedra” proclamation, 1854); and (4) her Assumption into heaven (Pius XII, “ex cathedra” proclamation, 1950).
For almost a century now, there has been a small but growing movement in the Church in favor of the proclamation of a fifth Marian dogma regarding the role of the Blessed Virgin as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity.
On March 25, the Vatican Forum of Inside the Vatican magazine and St. Thomas More College, in a meeting room close to St. Peter’s Square, will invite an international group of bishops and theologians to discuss whether now is the appropriate time for a fifth solemn definition or “dogma” to be pronounced regarding the Virgin Mary.

 

Years in the making

The movement within the Church for a fifth Marian dogma concerning the Virgin Mary’s role in our salvation is well over 90 years old. The Belgian Catholic ecumenical leader, Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier, initiated it in the 1920s, with the support of the then Father Maximilian Kolbe.
Since that time to the present, more than 800 cardinals and bishops have petitioned various Popes for an infallible definition of Mary’s special maternal role in the salvation of humanity. In addition, more than seven million petitions from faithful throughout the world have been gathered by the promoters of this devotion.
The Popes who promulgated the two modern Marian dogmas, Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) and Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), both acknowledged in a positive way the role petitions from members of the hierarchy and laity had played in their respective Marian definitional “bulls.”
During 2009, cardinals and bishops from every continent have petitioned Benedict XVI to consider promulgating the dogma of Mary’s spiritual Maternity under its three essential aspects as co-redemptrix, mediatrix of all graces, and advocate. This came after five cardinals wrote to the world’s bishops in request of petitions to the Holy Father for the fifth Marian Dogma.
Those signing the request included Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India; Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez, retired archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India; Cardinal Riccardo Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, Philippines; and Cardinal Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada, retired archbishop of Mexico City.
Some bishops, particularly in the West, see a Marian definition as potentially counterproductive to ecumenism. Two of the five cardinals who in 2009 wrote to the world’s bishops for this potential Marian dogma, Indian Cardinal Telespore Toppo and Cardinal Vithayathil, archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, have responded publicly to this ecumenical objection by stating that proclaiming the whole truth about the Mother of Jesus will only bring about authentic Christian unity based on a unity of Christian truth and faith, coupled with the renewed intercession of Mary, Mother of unity, as a result of a papal proclamation of her role as universal spiritual mother.
John Paul II used the co-redemptrix title on at least six occasions during his papacy.
Benedict XVI, without using the title, has repeatedly emphasized the doctrine of Mary’s co-redemption or “co-suffering” with Jesus, particularly in his World Day of the Sick addresses and his 2008 prayer for the suffering peoples in China addressed to Our Lady of Sheshan.

Beginnings

In reflecting on the beginnings of this movement for a Marian dogma, it is worth noting that Cardinal Mercier (1851-1926), the archbishop of Malines, Belgium, from 1906 until his death, was a key Church leader in his time. In addition to the heroic leadership he demonstrated during World War I, Cardinal Mercier hosted the famous Catholic-Anglican dialogue known as the Malines Conversations, and obtained the establishment of the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces with its proper Mass and Office. His spiritual mentor was Blessed Dom Columba Marmion.
Here, in his own words, is the daily spiritual exercise Cardinal Mercier recommended. It still is valid today.
He wrote: “I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to the things of sense and your ears to all the noises of the world, in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctity of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit), speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him: ‘O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do. Give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.’
“If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you strength to carry it, and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.”
And it was this submission to the Holy Spirit, of course, which was the distinguishing mark of Mary’s life, especially at the moment of the Annunciation (March 25), when she said, “Let it be done to me according to Thy will.”

Dialogue

Panelists for the March 25 Day of Dialogue will include Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Philippines, president of the Marian-Mariological Society of the Philippines, Carmelite Father Enrique Llamas, president of the Mariological Society of Spain. Also presenting will be Dr. Judith Gentle, Anglican theologian, author, and member of Our Lady of Walsingham Mariological Society from the United Kingdom.
The morning session will constitute brief presentations by panelists discussing the issue of appropriateness of a fifth Marian dogma at this time, while the afternoon session will consist of a dialogue by panelists, press, and audience concerning the topic.
The Pontifical Marian Academy was invited to participate in the dialogue, but later notified Inside the Vatican magazine that members of the Academy would not be participating.
The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Via Borgo Pio, #141.

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Robert Moynihan is founder and editor of the monthly magazine Inside the Vatican. He is the author of the book “Let God’s Light Shine Forth: the Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI” (2005, Doubleday). Moynihan’s blog can be found at www.insidethevatican.com. He can be reached at: editor@insidethevatican.com.

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The conversion of traditional archetypes of evil into morally good ones makes a quantum leap in a film based on a novel by British author Philip Pullman. It is titled The Golden Compass, which is also the North American title of the first volume of Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. {footnote} Volume one of the trilogy is published in Britain under the title Northern Lights (1995), followed by The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000).{/footnote} According to interviews with Pullman, the author’s stated intention is to reverse the traditional Biblical account of the war between heaven and hell. In his introduction, Pullman says that he “is of the Devil’s party and does know it” (a line adapted from a poem by William Blake).

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War in the Heavens

Published on February 20, 2010 by in Christian Culture

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Where is the road of modern culture taking us? The real question is not whether there are intriguing, entertaining, and even edifying details along the route, but what is the final destination. Are we Christians asking this question as we consume contemporary cultural material? Or are we gradually losing our bearings, the moral compass spinning aimlessly?

What is the dominant terrain, the pitch of the slope? I believe it is heading downward, and the occasional bumps in the road that offer a sense of upward mobility (such as the “values” in the Harry Potter books or the Twilight series) contribute to an illusion. In order to see clearly the extent to which we have been absorbed by the illusion, we first must recognize how strong is the need in human nature for confidence in the world, and the instinctive aversion to the threat of “negativity” or “intolerance.”

For the time being, most Christians still maintain certain limits, vague lines across which hedonist culture cannot invade our personal lives. Though the limits are constantly probed and pressured, faint alarm bells still ring within us from time to time whenever there is too much violation. We overcome our fear of being “negative” or “intolerant” and rise to the defense. However, our response is often wavering, and rarely is it consistent.

It can be difficult for us to see this at first, and discernment is further complicated by the presence in contemporary neo-pagan fantasy of positive secondary values, some of which appear to reinforce good as understood by the Christian Faith. However, whatever survives of authentic morality in them is often no more than a residue of what it once was. Full of internal contradictions, the few positive values are dominated by subjectivity and impulse. Those Christians who emphasize these values, while ignoring the repeated violation of absolute principles, run the risk of straining out gnats and swallowing camels. As Mona Mikaël pithily expressed it in her monumental study of symbolism in the Harry Potter series, they “hold fiercely to the drop of honey and ignore the septic tank in which it dilutes beyond recognition.” (1)

One might extend the metaphor to ask whether it would be acceptable if the proportions were 50/50. Or 90/10? Perhaps 99/1? At what point does the presence of infection become “harmless”?

Imagine two mothers, or two fathers, having a discussion about what kind of cultural material is best to give their children: One parent is cautious about the way most contemporary fantasy mixes good and evil (and sometimes inverts them). The other parent has grown accustomed to the septic environment and is more trusting of the surrounding culture. When he tastes the mixture his tongue reassures him that it is honey.

“It is sweet,” he declares. “It is good. The virus, the bacteria, the toxin you speak of is a figment of your imagination, the product of your irrational fears about contamination!”

“Do not be deceived by the taste,” says the cautious parent. “It is better for people not to consume such mixtures.”

The trusting parent says with a certain tension: “So you want to quarantine your children, lock them away in an antiseptic environment!”

“Not at all,” replies the other. “Regardless of the exact ratio of healthy and unhealthy materials, is it not obvious that consuming any virus, toxin, or virulent bacteria is detrimental to health? I simply do not want to feed this particular honey to my children.”

“But by not giving them this honey you are harming your children.”

“Explain to me, precisely, how I am harming my children by abstaining from giving them infected food.”

“It is not infected! Besides, you’re going to isolate your children, make them strangers in their own culture. Do you want them to be weird?”

“But I just saw you dip your finger into a septic tank and lick it. That seems a little weird to me.”

“It is not a septic tank. It is a very large reservoir containing, admittedly, some unpleasant things, but also many good things. We need to focus on the good. You really have a problem with negativity, you know. It’s making you intolerant.”

“Yes, I am intolerant.”

A shocked pause. “Pardon me?”

“I’m intolerant of anything that will make my children sick.”

“Are you accusing me of making my children sick?!”

“I respect your right to make your own decision. I have no respect for the contents of the septic tank.”

“What?”

“I was making a distinction.”

And so it goes-the seemingly irresolvable, supposedly rational dialogues of the Western world as it loses its bearings, its sense of the actual moral order in the universe. The loss of that sense is due in no small part to the loss of our understanding of the power of stories as conveyers of truth or falsehood, the power of symbols over consciousness (and hence conscience), and beneath it our loss of the meaning of language itself.

To what degree have our judgments been influenced by the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times? Are we evangelizing, or are we being anti-evangelized? Are we succumbing to the age-old problem of assimilation? To what degree have we mistaken the assimilation by paganism for legitimate inculturation, that is, the adaptation of Christian culture to the “language” of the surrounding non-Christian culture? What, precisely, is a legitimate adaptation of non-Christian culture? Can we really “baptize” the symbols and activities of the realm of darkness without negative effects? These are particularly urgent questions, because we are no longer the early Christians cleansing a classical pagan temple and consecrating it as a church. We are “Late Western Man,” to use C. S. Lewis’s term, and we are in the midst of a social revolution that is assaulting the truly sacred and degrading it at every turn.

And what will another three generations bring into play if our moral sense continues to weaken? Dr. Russell Kirk, in a lecture on the moral imagination, warned that a people who reject the right order of the soul and the true good of society will in the end inherit “fire and slaughter.” When culture is deprived of authentic moral vision, he says, the rise of the “diabolic imagination” is the inevitable result. What begins as rootless idealism soon passes into the totalitarian sphere of “narcotic illusions” that end in “diabolic regimes.” (2)

Narcotic illusions

For more than 35 years of family life, my wife and I have not had television in our home, preferring instead to focus on reading and music and other forms of cultural life. Our children grew up to be imaginative, independent thinkers, capable of creating their own rich cultural life in their families. Even now, in late middle-age, my wife and I rarely see films in theaters (once every few years), and watch very few videos at home. From time to time, whenever I am exposed to the new media culture, I am always startled by the changes that have occurred since my last experience.

Recently we went to a movie theater complex with some friends, in order to see a film about which we had read good reviews. As we sat waiting for it in the darkened theater, we were subjected to four previews of forthcoming films, the sound system blasting us and the visual images pummeling us in rapid-paced, aggressive style. All four of the previews displayed supernatural themes in various warped manifestations, each combining horror, terror, and paranormal experiences. Sex, combined with violence and supernatural powers, were the antidotes to the threats in each story.

The final preview was the worst. In it, a group of people were under siege in a roadside diner (named Paradise Falls) by God’s angels, because, according to the plot line, God had run out of patience with mankind and had decided to destroy us all. The most sinister of the angels was introduced as “the archangel Gabriel.” He was opposed by the archangel “Michael” who had come down to earth to protect a young waitress from Gabriel (and from God). She was pregnant with a child destined to be a new Christ who would save mankind. Gabriel and his assistant angels, the “legion” of the title, were so monstrous and hate-filled their behavior resembled that of demons. The corruption of symbols was blatant. The messages: God is not omnipotent and is a mixture of good and evil; even the greatest of angels (Michael being the highest) can still rebel; the Kingdom of heaven is divided; those who obey God are evil; those who resist God are good. (3)

After this noxious diet of previews, the main feature began and it too was full of shocking surprises, horror combined with human violence. After a few minutes we got up and left. Hoping not to lose our ticket money, we wandered around the complex of 24 theaters, searching for an alternative. We slipped into several and read the posters for all and were surprised to learn that not a single film was without some objectionable content. Of course, we knew that the state of the popular culture is poor, at times sinking to low points, but always rising again, we had presumed. If I recall correctly, the 1980’s were a cinematic cesspool, though somewhat better in the 1990’s. Perhaps we stumbled into the “temple” of cinema at a bad time of year. Nevertheless, it was a revelation to learn the extent of the corruption, and we wondered what were the odds that this was purely chance. It sparked a good discussion on the long ride home (we live some hours drive away from the closest movie theater), and among several questions that arose was whether culture merely reflects the preoccupations of the society from which it emerges, or whether culture shapes and directs that society. We concluded that it was both.

(Page 2)

I remembered a film I had seen in 1996, titled Dragonheart. (1) This is the tale of a tenth-century kingdom ruled by a tyrant. When the king is killed in a peasant uprising, his son inherits the crown but is wounded when his heart is pierced by a spear; he is beyond all hope of recovery. His mother the queen takes him into an underground cave that is the lair of a dragon. She kneels before the dragon and calls him “Lord,” and begs him to save the prince’s life. The dragon removes half of his own heart and inserts it into the gasping wound in the prince’s chest, then heals the wound with a touch of his claw.

The queen says to her son, “He [the dragon] will save you.” And to the dragon she says, “He [the prince] will grow in your grace.” The prince recovers and grows to manhood, the dragon’s heart beating within him. The prince becomes totally evil, a tyrant like his father, and the viewer is led to believe that, in this detail at least, traditional symbolism is at work-the heart of a dragon will make a man into a dragon. But this is not so, for later we learn that the prince’s own evil nature has overshadowed the dragon’s good heart. When the dragon reappears in the story and becomes the central character, we are shown, step by step, that he is not the terrifying monster we think dragons are. He dabbles in the role the superstitious peasants have assigned to him (the traditional concept of dragon), but he never really does any harm, except to dragon-slayers, and then only when they attack him without provocation. Through his growing friendship with a reformed dragon-slayer, we gradually come to see the dragon’s true character. He is wise, noble, ethical, and witty. He merely plays upon the irrational fears of the humans regarding dragons because he knows that they are not yet ready to understand the higher wisdom, a vision known only to dragons and their enlightened human initiates.

The plot unfolds with the dragon more and more playing the role of protector and advocate of the people’s rights, rising up against the evil tyrant (the prince with half a dragon’s heart in him). Along the way, traditional Christian symbols and allegiances are overturned, scripture passages are mocked, and characters once-Christian find a more successful path to defend the good of “The People.” For example, a priest throws away his cross and takes up a bow and arrow and goes to war.

Then comes a crucial scene in which the priest shoots an arrow into the prince’s heart. But the prince does not fall; he pulls the arrow from his heart and smiles. Neither Christian myth nor Christian might can stop this kind of evil. Here we begin to understand the intention of the film-maker: The prince cannot die because a dragon’s heart beats within him, even though he, not the dragon, has corrupted the heart. The evil prince will die only when the dragon dies (compare this with the co-dependency of Voldemort and Harry, especially in volume seven of the Potter series). Knowing this, the dragon willingly sacrifices his own life in order to end the reign of evil. At this point we see the real purpose of the film-the presentation of the dragon as a Christ-figure.

Shortly before this decisive climax, the dragon describes in mystical tones his vision of the history of the universe: “Long ago, when man was young and the dragon already old, the wisest of our race took pity on man. He gathered together all the dragons, who vowed to watch over man always. And at the moment of his death, the night became alive with those stars [the dragon points to the constellation Draco], and thus was born the dragons’ heaven.” He explains that he had shared his heart with the dying young prince in order to “reunite man and dragon and to ensure my place among my ancient brothers of the sky.”

In the final moments of the film, after the dragon’s death, he is assumed into the heavens amidst heart-throbbing music and star bursts, and becomes part of the constellation Draco. The crowd of humans watch this cosmic spectacle, their faces filled with religious fervor. A voice-over narrator says that in the years following “Draco’s sacrifice” a time of justice and brotherhood came upon the world, “golden years warmed by an unworldly light. And when things were most difficult, Draco’s star shone more brightly for all of us who knew where to look.”

Yes, the gnosis that liberates, the higher knowledge of the initiates, those who know where to look. Few members of an audience would know that, according to the lore of witchcraft and Satanism, the constellation Draco is the original home of Satan and is reverenced in their rituals. Here is a warning about where conscious or subconscious gnosticism can lead. What begins as one’s insistence on the right to decide the meaning of good and evil leads inevitably to spiritual blindness. Step by step, we are led from the wholly good. Then, as the will is progressively weakened and the mind darkened, we suffer more serious damage to the foundation itself and arrive, finally, if we should lose all reason, at some manifestation of the diabolical.

When this process is promulgated with all the genius of modern cinematic technology, packaged in the trappings of art and mysticism, our peril increases exponentially. How long does it take for us to arrive at the mental and spiritual condition where we become indifferent to the words of Jesus: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10: 17-20); and the vision of St. John in Revelation: “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Rev 12: 7-9); and St. Peter’s admonition: “Stay sober and alert, for your adversary the devil is prowling about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5: 8-9); and Christ’s most sobering warning to the apostles at the Last Supper: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has begged permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). How long until we find ourselves saying without any uneasiness or flicker of doubt, “Well, that’s our Christian myth. The world is full of myths, and each has its truth, and who can know which is the better?”

St. Paul prophetically warned the Christians of his times that in the future the Church would face many trials, and that chief among these would be not only persecutions originating outside the body of believers, but corruption of the faith from within:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but, having itching ears and following their own desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to suit their own likings. They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. (2 Timothy 4: 3-4)

Indeed, the world has again become infested with myths, as it was during the most corrupt era of the Roman empire. The word myth derives from the Greek mythos, a traditional story that embodies a people’s view of the world and the cosmos. It can have the secondary meaning of a popular belief that has grown up around a person or thing. A third meaning is any unfounded or false notion. In modern parlance these distinct meanings can blend into one sense. In its primary meaning, however, the distinction made by J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton is that while Christianity is a myth because it fulfills many traditional elements of embodying the cosmic drama, it is at the same time a “true myth” because the events of salvation history recorded in Scripture actually happened. Yet in our era, due to our over-saturation in revived and new myths received from a steady diet of film and television drama, with their onslaught of imagery and symbols, our vision can blur and then we can succumb to the sense that all myths are more or less of equal value. Their contradictions are resolved in our minds by the belief that they each contain some truth pointing to an unseen higher truth.

As the consciousness of late Western man, the child of Christendom, slides back into paganism, it is inevitable that his world will make sense to him only in this way. What his ancestors once believed as fact is now comprehensible to him only as one of many symbol-systems-the best system, perhaps, says the gnosticized Christian, but one that should not exclude other systems. In this way, with the key of the “higher” gnosis, fueled by his emotional “experiences” and his intuitions about the matter, he considers the “Christian myth” as imaginative material that may be revised as long as the revisions serve his “higher truth.”

Star Wars or War in the Heavens?

What stands in the path of this rewriting of symbols about the real struggle in the universe? Only the Church, only its adamant, timeless insistence on the absolute authority of God, and on objective moral absolutes given to mankind by God. Which brings to mind another film, Revenge of the Sith, the 2005 episode III of the Star Wars series.

One of this film’s positive elements is its chilling portrayal of the psychological seduction of Anakin Skywalker (the young Darth Vader) into the world of evil, “the dark side of the Force.” The Star Wars universe is involved in an epic struggle between the latter and the “light side of the Force,” a cosmology that has strongly affected the modern imagination. Notice, for example, how the expression “The Force be with you!” has entered common parlance in Western culture. It is used as a half-humorous greeting, of course, yet it would not continue to be used so frequently if it were not in some way manifesting internal questions and unacknowledged doubts and fears in the heart of modern man. Whether or not he can articulate it, he ponders what good and evil really are, and what is their relationship with each other. More often than not, he intuitively “sees” good and evil as co-equal and balanced in a great tension-equilibrium in creation, little knowing that this is a doctrine often found in various New Age movements and the occult. It surfaces in various other forms, such as the now familiar symbol of yin-yang, behind which is the ancient Chinese belief in the interconnectedness and interdependence of opposing forces in nature and in man. It surfaces in philosophy in mutated, disguised forms such as Hegelian dialectic, and its offspring “dialectic materialism” (Marxism). It surfaces in culture in a thousand manifestations, for example, the Earthsea trilogy by Ursula LeGuin, which, like Potter-world, is about “good” and “evil” sorcerers who struggle to maintain the “Great Equilibrium.”

In a talk he gave in 1985, George Lukas said that he had consciously based his screenplay of the first film in the Star Wars series on the ideas of the mythologist Joseph Campbell. Influenced by Vedanta Hinduism and the Gnostic theories of Carl Jung, Campbell once wrote: “All religions are merely misunderstood mythologies.” For example, in his book, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion, Campbell states that the concepts of God as Creator and Person, the resurrection of the body, Heaven, the Virgin Birth, and other Christian doctrines are “evident nonsense.” They are, he asserts, no more than projections of the human mind; they are metaphors and dreamlike “mythological forms” not based in objective historical reality. Campbell’s favorite theme is also to be found in his other books, such as The Masks of God and The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

If religion is only about imaginary “mythological forms,” then it naturally follows that novelists and film-makers are free to make of religious truths whatever they like. They can redefine the real war in the heavens according to the terms established by fictional war among the stars. A case in point is a scene in Star Wars’ Episode Three, a dialogue between Anakin and his former teacher Obi-Wan Kenobe that takes place at the climax of the film. Obi-wan is a Jedi Master, defender of the good, embodiment of the “light side of the Force.” Anakin-Darth has secretly become a Sith, an embodiment of “the dark side of the Force.” In their final debate Obi-Wan-the-good shouts, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes!”

At a time when the Church is seeking at every turn to stem the rising tide of evil by defending moral absolutes, one of the great cultural icons of Goodness, Truth, and Justice says, in effect, that only the most evil people speak of absolutes. We could dismiss this as a “minor” flaw in a film that has some points to make about courage and sacrifice. We could say, “It’s only culture.” We could say, “It’s just a movie.” We could say that George Lucas has given us no more than a bit of rollicking fun with a scrambled cosmology full of internal contradictions, but, oh well, that’s the way it goes with most things we watch, so let’s focus on the good in these films. The fact is, millions of young people leave the theaters pumped with adrenaline and impregnated with the thought (buried somewhere in their minds) that people who speak of absolutes should be regarded with suspicion and are probably up to no good. How can they think otherwise? Correction: How can they feel otherwise? Most people in this generation are unformed in their concepts of the moral order of the universe and have little or no objective measurement with which to assess such declarations. How many in the audience are capable of replying to our hero Obi-Wan, “No, it is the Sith who deny the existence of absolutes!” (2)

 

Footnotes (Page 1)

(1) Mikaël, Mona, Harry Potter et L’Ordre des Ténèbres, Editions Saint-Remi, France, 2007; abridged edition 2008; Editio Sanctus Martinus, Combermere, Canada, 2009. The abridged edition republished 2009, and original unabridged republished by Editio Sanctus Martinus, autumn 2009. These editions are currently available in French language only, with translation into English in progress.

(2) Russell Kirk, “The Perversity of Recent Fiction: Reflections on the Moral Imagination,” in Reclaiming a Patrimony, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1982.

(3) At this writing Legion is scheduled to be released in January, 2010.

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(1) This film is examined in greater detail in my book, A Landscape With Dragons: the Battle for Your Child’s Mind, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1998.

(2) Revenge of the Sith earned over $848 million worldwide. It was the highest grossing film of 2005 in the U. S. A. and the second-highest grossing film of 2005, worldwide, behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

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Christian parents everywhere are facing the dilemma of raising their families in the midst of a tsunami of cultural corruption-and extremely invasive corruption it is! We sense the dangers but so often do not know what to do about it. We know that our children are especially vulnerable to the spirit of the times, and that the older they get the more they must live with one foot in the family and one foot in the world around them. As they move outward from the foundation of the family into the wider community, which is a necessary stage in the process of maturing, they will need wisdom and grace in a way different than any other generation before them.

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“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

On July 13th, 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to three children in Fatima, Portugal and made this mysterious and heartening statement.  The Blessed Mother had just shown the children a terrifying vision of hell, and warned them of dreadful punishments that would descend upon the earth in response to the sins of humanity unless certain requests were heeded.  These requests included “devotion to my Immaculate Heart”, and “the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays.”  During the years that followed, many horrific evils seemed about to engulf the world and a culture of death was prevalent, but those who heeded the message of Fatima always had the reassuring words, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph”, to hold onto.

Read more: The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart Over the Culture of Death

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Non-Muslims generally harbor a pejorative view of Islam.  This presentation offers a different perspective, a Marian outlook espoused by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in his book, The World’s First Love, and shared by other devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Islam’s creed

Islam is the only great post-Christian religion of the world.  Since it originated in the seventh century under the leadership of Muhammad, it was possible to include some elements of Christianity and Judaism along with some customs of Arabia. 

Islam seems to use the doctrine of the unity of God, his majesty and his creative power, to reject Christ as the Son of God.  Not understanding the notion of the Trinity, Muhammad recognizes Christ as a prophet announcing himself, that is, Muhammad.

Christian Europe, the West, barely escaped eradication at the hands of the early Muslim jihadists.  At various times the Muslims were repulsed near Tours, Vienna, Lepanto and other areas.  The Church across North Africa was destroyed by Muslim invasions.  Presently Islam is again on the rise and flexing its power.

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A Gift Disguised

Published on December 19, 2009 by in Christian Culture

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Our friend Susan has for the past twenty years been active in a full-time ministry to “street people” in Ottawa. A single woman in her early fifties, she has dedicated her life to serving those who are the most broken and rejected in our society—drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, homeless youth, street prostitutes—anyone who has fallen through the cracks of the consumer society. Much of her work involves practical nursing. Her patients are those unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the help offered by hospitals or charitable institutions. She works in a make-shift first-aid station (a janitor’s room provided by the owners of a downtown office building). She thaws out frozen feet, bandages wounds, washes the sick, listens, befriends, advises, and prays with her people. Everyone downtown knows her and trusts her.

Susan recently told us about a Christmas gift the Lord gave to her:

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We just discovered another article by Zenit, the International Catholic News Agency out of Rome, concerning Cardinal Aponte’s letter to all Latin American bishops on behalf of the Fifth Marian Dogma.  The Zenit article further underscores the positive circumstances surrounding Cardinal Aponte’s letter, and includes quotes from previous and recent petitions to Pope Benedict XVI, including the petition letter of President Arroyo, national president of the Philippines, and other cardinals and popes from various continents.  Once again, please join in daily prayers for the dogmatic crowning of Our Lady, which would bring historic new grace, redemption, and peace to the Church and to the world.  -Ed.

 

Cardinal Offers Update on Marian Petition

Seeks to Define Mary as Spiritual Mother of Humanity

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, DEC. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Defining the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of Humanity could be a “historic” moment of grace for the world, and a “remedy” to the current global crises, says Cardinal Luis Aponte-Martinez.

The retired archbishop of San Juan said this today, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, in a letter sent to the cardinals and bishops of Latin America on the petition to define the “Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, under its threefold aspects of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate.”

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The Zenit International Catholic News Agency has just published an update regarding the international Catholic movement for the Fifth Marian Dogma. His Eminence, Luis Cardinal Aponte Martinez, Archbishop Emeritus of San Juan, has written a letter to all Latin American Bishops, informing them of the recent positive developments and advancements for the Fifth Marian Dogma in the form of bishops’ petitions coming from all five continents, and also encouraging all Latin American bishops to send in their own personal petitions for the solemn definition of Our Lady’s Spiritual Maternity.

Please forward this important news regarding the Fifth Marian Dogma to your priests, pastors, and prayer groups.  Most importantly please keep this historic Marian intention  for the Fifth Marian Dogma in your daily prayers, that the heart of the Holy Father may be moved,  according to God’s perfect plan, towards the next positive step for the solemn definition of Our Lady as the Spiritual Mother of All Peoples: Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. – Ed.

 

 

“Could Constitute a Historic Benefit of Grace and Blessing for All” 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, DEC. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the letter sent today, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, by Cardinal Luis Aponte-Martinez, the retired archbishop of San Juan, to the cardinals and bishops of Latin America on the petition to define the “Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, under its threefold aspects of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate.”

* * *
                           
8 December 2009
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

My Dear Brother Cardinals and Bishops,    

On January 1, 2008, five cardinals wrote to all bishops of the world to notify them of the petition made by an international group of cardinals and bishops assembled at Fatima to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, in humble request for the solemn definition of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, under its threefold aspects of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate. Already in the past, hundreds of bishops and millions of faithful have made this appeal. Again many bishops have recently responded. As one of those five cardinals who sent this global petition, I now wish to provide you with an update concerning this universal Church request.

Recently the Philippines submitted to His Holiness a petition for this solemn definition from Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Lagdameo, President of the Philippine Conference of Catholic Bishops, and several other archbishops and bishops. The petition was accompanied by a personal letter from Philippines President, Madame Gloria Arroyo, in which she strongly supported the request of the bishops.

Also representative groups of cardinals and bishops from India and nearby countries, including Cardinal Vithayathil, President of the National Conference of the Bishops of India, have submitted their own petition for this fifth Marian dogma to Pope Benedict XVI. A similar petition has been sent from Africa by Archbishop Felix Job, President of the Catholic Conference of the Bishops of Nigeria, and various other African bishops. Bishops from Eastern Europe, including Archbishop Kramberger of Slovenia, have likewise sent in their own petition for this Marian papal proclamation. Along with bishops from numerous countries from Latin America, I have sent in our own petition to Pope Benedict for the papal definition of Our Lady’s Spiritual Motherhood.

All over the world, lay faithful have joined their bishops. Numerous prayer days, conferences, individual prayers and petitions to the Holy Father from the laity constitute a positive manifestation for this potential Marian dogma from the sensus fidelium.

We all perceive a worldwide urgency for the greatest possible intercession of our heavenly Mother for the unprecedented crises of faith, family, society, and peace, which marks the present human condition. We see the papal definition of Holy Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood of all peoples as an extraordinary remedy to these global crises which today threaten a great part of humanity. The more we freely acknowledge Mary’s intercessory power, the more she is able to exercise this power for the peoples of the world entrusted to her care at Calvary.

I therefore invite you, dear brother, to join your brother cardinals and bishops from throughout the world in this renewed petition to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, by sending in your own letter for his prayerful discernment of what might constitute a next positive step for the solemn proclam ation of the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary. Thank you for your own prayerful discernment of this most important work in honour of Our Lady, which we believe could constitute a historic benefit of grace and blessing for all humanity.

+Luis Cardinal Aponte Martinez
Archbishop-Emeritus,
San Juan, Puerto Rico,

 

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Last summer, I had the privilege of presenting a paper to the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the United Kingdom on the most recent Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission’s document on Our Lady, entitled Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ. I was very critical of the negative tone that document takes toward Our Lady’s mediation, both historically and presently. Tragically, this document even goes so far as to blame the English Reformation on an excess of Marian devotion.

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Islam
Islam is an Arabic word that can be defined as “to make peace.” Islam is the religion founded by Mohammed, which considers the Koran as its holy book. In addition, Islam accepts the New Testament of the Christians and the Old Testament of the Jews as Divinely inspired works. Followers of Islam are known as Muslims (also: Moors, Turks, and Moslems) and, just as Jews and Christians, believe in only one God. Yet, over the centuries, Muslims have engaged in tremendous wars with Christians and Jews. It would seem that there is little hope for peace. However, Heaven’s Peace Plan, involving Our Lady, is evidenced at Fatima, Portugal as well as other places around the world.

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Mary, Queen of Poland

Published on September 12, 2009 by in Christian Culture

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The Christendom of Europe was at a precarious point in 1683. On September 11th of that year, the Polish king, Jan Sobieski III, bolstered in his courage by God’s Spirit, led a charge of 40,000 Poles, accompanied by a small troop of German and Austrian allies, to Vienna to end the Ottoman siege. The Turks had been in control of the city’s perimeter and were preparing to breach the wall surrounding it. The Muslim invaders had weakened the city’s defensive wall through a system of tunneling beneath it and setting off explosive charges. From the east, the determination of the Polish king to defend Christendom was made available just in time by a successful lobby from Pope Innocent II to the Polish democracy of nobles. Sobieski was given his marching orders and went forth with approval from the Polish government and the prayers and hopes of the Church in Rome. This Roman Catholic-Polish alliance had the effect of dispersing the attempted Muslim invasion of Europe before it could proceed through Austria and northward. This temporal victory  was also a spiritual victory, since it allowed Christianity to remain as Europe’s prevailing religion. 

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In recent years, many people have been greatly amused by films such as National Treasure and its sequel. In those movies, Freemasons of history helped to build society by passing secrets of hidden national wealth, keeping it out of enemy hands, and in doing so safeguarding the fate of the upstart nation. And who would not enjoy such cleverly conceived tales about these enlightened social builders?
And the list of Freemasons is a veritable who’s who of history (some more favorable than others) – Paul Revere, Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin, Mozart, Churchill, Voltaire, more than a dozen U.S. presidents, and nearly three-dozen U.S. Supreme Court justices. The list goes on and on.
But what about masonic membership? Did not the Church in recent decades change her position? After all, isn’t it just a conspiracy theory that the Freemasons worship Satan? No one can seriously hold that anymore, can they? Plus, it cannot be that bad because so many people are in it. That many people would not be part of a bad thing. Right?
So clearly, according to such reasoning, there can be nothing contradictory between freemasonry and Catholicism?
Quite the contrary: The Church’s position on masonry is and has always remained the same.
[...]

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Dear subscribers and all visitors, welcome to the newly redesigned Motherofallpeoples.com! We would like to bring you up to speed with the navigation of our new site. In addition to an improved look, the site has several new features we wish to share with you.

You may have noticed a new menu bar at the top of the homepage. This is designed to help you better navigate through our many articles. Also, please notice that we have organized our many MaryCast videos to help you sort by topic to find answers to questions about Our Lady.

You may have heard Dr. Mark Miravalle on the radio in your hometown through one of his two new Wednesday radio shows of 2009 – Mother of All Peoples (10:00 a.m. EST) and The Triumph (noon EST). But if neither show is available in your neck of the woods-or if you simply missed the broadcast-please click on the images on the left side of our homepage to listen to the latest broadcast.

We now have a store through which the best contemporary titles by Dr. Miravalle are available to purchase for yourself, your priest, or a loved one. Please visit our store to browse great Marian books. International shipping rates apply (though we will soon begin selling some of our texts in downloadable PDF format to help you save on international fees. Please contact us to inquire about this). We eventually hope to have CDs or DVDs available to help spread the truth about Our Lady.

Thus far, our transition has been smooth, and we do not anticipate any further interruptions in our site. Please let us know if you experience any difficulties or disruptions with the site. Thank you for your patience and, as always, for subscribing. Be sure to tell your friends to come to Motherofallpeoples.com and subscribe today!

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Is this not the time for all to work together for a new constitutional organization of the human family, truly capable of ensuring peace and harmony between peoples, as well as their integral development? But let there be no misunderstanding. This does not mean writing the constitution of a global super-State.

— Pope John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace, 2003

Fighting poverty requires attentive consideration of the complex phenomenon of globalization. … The reference to globalization should also alert us to the spiritual and moral implications of the question, urging us, in our dealings with the poor, to set out from the clear recognition that we all share in a single divine plan: we are called to form one family in which all – individuals, peoples and nations – model their behaviour according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.

— Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Peace, 2009

During the past few centuries the theme of a “new secular order” has grown in public consciousness in the Western World, coasting on the magic carpet of the American dollar bill (novus ordo seclorum) and the more esoteric doctrines of secret societies. Interpretations of what it means, what forms this new order might take in the world, and how sinister (or not) it could be, range from the dire to the enthusiastic, and everything in between. It is often erroneously equated with, and conflated with, developments in globalization. The latter is a broad complex phenomenon that has more to do with the increasing interconnectedness of regional economies, and with the technological revolution in communications that has shrunk the barriers imposed by distances and time. It grows primarily through the increasing integration of markets, international trade, the flow of capital, ideas, people, culture, technology, and the development of transnational regulations.

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This is a decisive moment in the history of the United States. The passing of the Freedom of Choice Act (U.S. Congress vote on Jan. 21-22, coupled with the President-elect’s campaign promise of signing it as his "first act" as president as early as Jan. 23) would effectively result in unprecedented amounts of innocent blood upon the hands of our administration and of our country. Mercy will soon be replaced by Justice if God has to witness our national "choice" to legislate the unrestricted destruction of his own divine image embodied in millions of our unborn brothers and sisters.

Read with great seriousness the message below from Professor Lord Alton of the U.K. which articulates the urgent imperative to pray and fast for nine days, beginning on Sunday, January 11, to defeat this Goliath abortion bill in the waiting.

Catholics, pray for the Rosary to defeat FOCA. Bring Our Mother into this battle. She is well-acquainted with fighting and conquering her ancient foe (cf. Gen: 3:15, Rev.12). And make no mistake – the battle against FOCA is a battle against Satan.

Fast two days during these nine days. Jesus makes clear that Satanic sourced activities (like FOCA) are exorcized only through prayer and fasting (cf. Mt. 17:21).

Consider the present moment as if it were nine days before Jan. 22, 1973. The Roe v. Wade decision has claimed its millions upon millions of unborn victims. We, nine days before the FOCA vote, are obliged to do everything possible spiritually and humanly to prevent the historical disaster of FOCA from becoming a reality and claiming its untold future numbers of unborn children.

Pray and fast to defeat FOCA. Pray the Rosary, invoking the Immaculate Mother of the Unborn for their protection. Go to Mass and offer Holy Communion for the defeat of this anti-Christ legislation of human sacrilege.

Only Heaven can help us now. Nothing is impossible with God.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Editor, Mother of All Peoples

Letter from Lord David Alton on USA Freedom of Choice Act

Dear Friends,

If you are apposed to abortion then there is bad news on the horizon. For those of you who do not know, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is set to be signed if the U.S. Congress passes it on January 21-22 of 2009. The FOCA is the next sick chapter in the book of abortion.

If made a law then all limitations on abortion will be lifted which will result in the following:

1) All hospitals, including Catholic hospitals will be required to perform abortions upon request. If this happens Bishops vow to close down all Catholic hospitals, more then 30 percent of all hospitals in the United States.

2) Partial birth abortions would be legal and have no limitations.

3) All U.S. taxpayers would be funding abortions.

4) Parental notification will no longer be required.

5) The number of abortions will increase by a minimum of 100,000 annually.

Perhaps most importantly the government will now have control in the issue of abortion. This could result in a future amendment that would force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, Down syndrome babies, etc) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have. Needless to say this information is disturbing, but sadly true.

As Catholics, as Christians, as anyone who is against the needless killing of innocent children, we must stand as one. We must stop this horrific act before it becomes a law.

The Plan: To pray a novena (9 days of prayer) along with fasting starting on January 11th. For Catholics, the prayer of choice will be the Rosary with intentions to stop the FOCA. For non Catholics I encourage you to pray your strongest prayers with the same intentions, also for nine consecutive days. The hope is that this will branch and blossom as to become a global effort with maximum impact.

We have very little time so we all must act fast. Just do three things:

1) Pass this letter to 5 or more people

2) Do it in three days or less

3) Start the novena on January 11th and pray for nine consecutive days (please also fast for at least two days during the novena).

Remember that with God all things are possible and the power of prayer is undeniable. If you are against the senseless killing of defenseless children then the time is now to do something about it! May God bless you all!!

David Alton (Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool)
House of Lords,
London SW1A OPW Roscoe
Foundation for Citizenship,
Liverpool John Moores University

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The following article was first published in three parts on Zenit News Service from November 9 – November 11, 2008.
Asst. Ed.

The Joys of China (Part I) – The Smiles of a Suffering Church Revealed

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, NOV. 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- To speak of joy within a Church consistently persecuted by the most powerful Communist government in the world seems like flippancy, or worse, a contradiction.

It is a mystery innately connected to the heart of Christianity—a religion which holds up as its climactic victory the tortuous death of its savior God-man on a cross, two beams of wood nailed together by the sins of each living human being, my sins and your sins. And yet, the full truth must be told, and that includes the full truth about the Catholic Church in China: a people typically denied their fundamental human rights and religious freedoms, but a Christian people triumphant in heart and in joy.

As soon as I entered a major Chinese airport recently, as a follow-up visit after the publication of my book The Seven Sorrows of China, and handed off a suitcase full of smuggled medical supplies to some guardian angels from the West who take care of God’s precious—and China’s most neglected—children, I was hurried away to a vehicle by an excited Catholic priest who was a native Chinese teaching in a seminary in a neighboring country.

As we drove away from the airport, the Chinese priest was quick to inform me that he had read my previous book, "The Seven Sorrows of China," and, while complimentary and confirming of the value and accuracy of the text from an inside perspective, he was also adamant in stating that the book was in one way incomplete. "It is a beautiful book and has many good things," he noted, "but now I challenge you to write something on the ‘Joyful Mysteries of China.’ If you give only the sorrowful side, it will not encourage the people. Jesus had the sorrows of his passion, but also his joys and glories. You must also write about the victories that are happening in the Church in China right now."

[...]

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It is now approximately two weeks following the election of the U.S. president. I believe that we, as Christians of the United States, must ask ourselves the following question: What is the dominant preoccupation of our minds and hearts regarding our nation, our faith, and our future at the present moment?

If our dominant preoccupation consists of pondering the potential dangers of the upcoming administration and its grave anti-life, anti-family, and anti-natural law policies, then we will probably be experiencing fear more than anything else, and may perhaps be struggling with temptations of depression and despair.

If the answer to this question is the peace and promises which come only from the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of His Mother, then we will be experiencing peace, hope, and even joy.

To some, the mere posing of this question would bring protests of naïveté, pietism, or even a "burying your head in the sand" syndrome regarding the real dangers of the new administration.

As I stated in my first post-election commentary given on November 5, the day following the election, the proposed policies of the newly elected administration (based on campaign commitments) are gravely dangerous to the dignity of person and the common good of society on several fronts: from the Freedom of Choice Act, which would not only guarantee a woman’s right to abortion, but would also designate the "discrimination" from the government funding of abortions as illegal; to the undermining of parental authority by dismissing parental notification for minors seeking abortions; to a proper protection of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Sadly, the list of serious offenses to personal and societal integrity contained in the projected policies of the new administration goes on and on.

But we must return to the fundamental question at hand: As Christians, what is the foundational focus of our hearts today, two weeks after the election, regarding the status and future of our country, and where should our ultimate peace and hope lie?

Jesus calls us to keep our eyes focused on Him during any storm lest we sink (cf. Mt. 14:30). Otherwise, if it is God’s beckoning, we can walk on water, regardless of the severity of the storm, be it local, national, global.

On July 13, 1917, the Mother of Jesus promised humanity, "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph … and a period of peace will be granted to the world." The world’s peace plan has been entrusted to the intercession of Mary, mediatrix of miracles at the wedding of Cana (cf. Jn. 2:5), and mediatrix of miracles for this present moment of human history.

If we are placing more focus and attention upon the potential darkness of the new government, rather than upon the grace and promise of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, then we grant darkness an upper hand, an applause of power (human and perhaps preternatural), over the infinite light and power of the God-man and his Immaculate Mother. Such a focus would in itself constitute a victory for the serpent and his seed, and a loss for the woman and her seed (cf. Gen. 3:15).

Permit me two gentle warnings, amidst the understandable feelings of violation and sorrow by many Christians, following the election.

The first caution: As Christians, we cannot judge and we cannot hate. To be more specific, we cannot judge persons in the order of culpability, and we cannot hate persons and consider ourselves followers of Incarnate Love.

Yes, we must judge actions and policies, as items either in conformity or in violation of the truths of Christ and the natural law. But we cannot judge people’s hearts. This is reserved for Christ the Divine Judge alone. The Christian prohibition of the judgment of another’s heart must extend to all members of the upcoming administration, including of course the president-elect, and to those fellow citizens or fellow Christians who may have voted them into office. The traditional Christian maxim, "love the sinner, hate the sin," must likewise be strictly observed if we desire the same standard to be applied by Jesus to us.

The second caution: We must avoid using the new president-elect as the scapegoat for all national woes facing our country. He will be responsible for his actions, as each of us, before God the Father, who always prefers to respond in mercy unless he is obliged by our free will and its misuse to respond in justice.

But we must keep in mind that the United States, fundamentally aware of the victorious candidate’s policies, overwhelmingly chose him to guide our country. This tells us we need a national conversion, not simply the conversion of one man, from a culture of death mind-set to a culture of life heart-set.

Moreover, the problems facing our country and our world are far beyond the reach, responsibility, or remedy of one man. We are facing (particularly in the Western world) moral degeneration of person, marriage, family, and society on an unprecedented scale. We, as a world, have been hit with natural disasters which international relief organizations testify are more numerous and severe than ever before. We are threatened by terrorism, war, and rumors of war, which have effect every country in some form throughout the world.

No human person in any chair of political power could or should be seen as the single source of its evil or as the social messiah or as a remedy for a solution which can only come from above.

What is the only true remedy for the unprecedented degeneration, disaster, and war facing our country and most every country in the world at this moment?

To borrow the succinct expression of the former Cardinal Ratzinger (and present Pope Benedict XVI) from his Ratzinger Report: "Mary is the Remedy." She is the remedy for the crisis in our country and within the entire human family.

This is precisely why the inestimable graces of Jesus Christ alone can solve the ubiquitous problems of our day, and the universal Redeemer chooses to bestow his graces to the world through the intercession of his mother, who He gave to each one of us as a personal gift from the cross: "Behold, your mother" (Jn. 19:26).

At Fatima, Our Lady said of herself, "pray the Rosary every day … in order to obtain peace for the world … because only she can help you" (July 13, 1917). At the Church-approved apparitions at Akita in Japan, Our Mother confirmed, "I alone am able to save you from the calamities that approach" (Oct. 13, 1973). And in the ecclesiastically approved apparitions of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam, she stated, "When the dogma, the last dogma in Marian history, has been proclaimed, the Lady of All Nations will give peace, true peace to the world. The nations, however must say my prayer in union with the Church. They must know that the Lady of All Nations has come as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. So be it" (May 31, 1954).

It becomes clear that God has willed to bring peace, redemption, and grace to the world only through the intercession of Mary. Mary is the remedy. The sooner we acknowledge and respond to this, to heaven’s peace plan in Our Lady, the sooner we will receive the peace and societal stability we all desire. God is not going to exchange his perfect providential choice of the Immaculate Co-redemptrix as our remedy for any human or political substitute that we may recommend or prefer.

Our Lady is the remedy. Now, it’s up to us.

How do we show our acceptance, our consent, our fiat to Mary as the remedy for all that ails contemporary humanity’s body and soul?

1. Pray the Rosary each day, as individuals, as families, as parishes, as communities, and as a Church universal. Ask Our Lady as our Advocate to convert the minds, hearts, and agendas of our president-elect, all governmental officials and world leaders, and all citizens to the sanctity of human life, born and unborn, the good of traditional marriage and family, and to enact civil laws of peace and justice to reflect the natural law written on every human heart.

2. Consecrate ourselves, our families, our parishes, our communities, our countries to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The act of consecration grants the Mother of Christ and the Spiritual Mother of all peoples the "spiritual right" to use her powerful intercession in guiding and inspiring us to the greatest possible living of our baptismal promises to Jesus Christ. Once we make a consecration of ourselves to Mary, then we are called to live consecration to Mary, by seeking to do all we do by Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary, as the perfect means to living in Christ Jesus.

3. Pray daily for the solemn papal definition of Our Lady as the Spiritual Mother of All Peoples, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Grace, and Advocate, in prayerful support and encouragement to Pope Benedict XVI. Only when the Holy Father officially and solemnly proclaims this Marian dogma—that Mary is truly the spiritual Mother of all peoples as the Co-redemptrix (the Mother suffering), the Mediatrix (the Mother nourishing), and Advocate (the Mother pleading)—can Our Lady in turn fully exercise, enact, and put into complete practice and power these three roles given her by God in interceding for a true and lasting spiritual peace of Christ in the heart of each individual, which in turn will blossom into an authentic peace for the entire world.

This is the prayer revealed by Our Lady herself in her apparitions at Amsterdam specifically for the solemn papal definition of the fifth Marian dogma (approved by Bishop Joseph Punt, Bishop of Harlaam-Amsterdam, May 31, 2002):

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
Send now your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations
That they may be preserved from degeneration. disaster, and war.
May the Lady of All Nations, the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our Advocate. Amen
.

Accept Mary as heaven’s remedy for the present national and world crisis.

Pray the Rosary each day for our situation, national and global.

Consecrate yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and live daily your consecration in peace and joy.

Pray daily the prayer of the Lady of all Nations for the fifth Marian dogma.

Focus on the Light and let Him disperse the present darkness through her.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

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The following article first appeared recently on LifeSiteNews.com and is being shared here with the author’s permission.
—Asst. Ed
.

Dear Friends, 

From just north of the border, we Canadians, like other people throughout the world, are observing and praying for the coming federal election in the United States of America. I would prefer to keep private my counsel about political choices, because it is not my country. However, I am receiving letters from American subscribers and visitors to my studio website asking me some rather surprising questions about Barack Obama, related to one of my novels.

During the past year I have read a number of his pronouncements, and saw the smoke and mirrors beneath the rhetoric, but couldn’t understand why everyone south of the border (the other south of the border, the 49th parallel) was getting so excited about him, both pro and con. Then a few weeks ago a German friend called me immediately after Obama’s speech in Berlin, to say that the presidential candidate had mesmerized the crowds, and that a commentator on German television had said: "We have just heard the next President of the United States … and the future President of the World." My friend felt that Obama bore an uncanny resemblance to the fictional character of the President in my novel Father Elijah. I have received several other letters saying the same thing and asking what I thought about it.


[...]

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It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.

This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance in due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.

Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

[...]

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On the day following the election, Dr. Mark Miravalle, Professor of Theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, offered the following statement on the election of Sen. Barack Obama.

It is Wednesday, November 5, 2008, the day after the election of the United States President.

I believe that for Catholics, for Christians, for people of sincerely good will, that whether it be in a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or in the not too distant future, those who cast a vote for the pro-abortion candidate, our President-elect, are going to wake up at some point with the shocking question and the realization, "What have I done?" I say that without judgment of heart, but I say it with objectivity of mind, in light of the President-elect that now will be guiding the United States of America and all its worldwide outreaches, in terms of both public policy and moral policy.

Evidently, based on exit polls, more than half of the Catholics in the United States voted for a candidate who has voiced the following positions:

1. The immediate putting forth and ratifying into law the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This is an act which removes all bans on any form of abortion, including partial-birth abortion. Since that is now public policy, it is important that you know precisely what that is. That means giving partial birth to a human being, and getting the head out of the womb, and then literally sucking the brain out of his or her tiny human head.

2. This president elect, and the policies that he will advance, do not protect a child who survives an abortion. Based on legislation in Illinois previously backed by the President-elect, if a child does survive an abortion, the child has no rights, and therefore the child could be strangled or drowned, as has been the grisly case in some of these particular instances.

3. This country has elected a president elect, who has said that children a young as 13 years old can have an abortion without parental consent. This means a new undermining of the basic authority of father and mother in the family.

4. This president elect has expressed his intention to revoke the Defense of Marriage Act, which translates into the removal of any limitations of marriage in terms of being exclusively between a man and a woman. This was a policy given in an open letter in February 2008 to a gay, lesbian, and transsexual organization. There every reason to believe that this will also be enacted.

Sadly, the list goes on and on and on, as the president-elect will be promulgating a policy of moral degeneration which puts at risk most every foundational Judeo-Christian moral code or basic principle of the natural law.

My friends, if you feel a certain sense of violation in the coming days and weeks, it is understandable. The dignity, the goodness, the history of America in some real sense has been violated through the election of an individual who is so clearly against the dignity of the human person and so against the culture of life.

Many U.S. Catholics fatally decided to vote economy over morals. Now, tragically, we shall be losing both.

Where do we go from here?

There is a new call for Catholics who still put their faith first and foremost in Jesus Christ, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the Holy Father, in the Magisterium, for people who understand what the President-elect’s policy stands for. It is a call to spiritual action. Now is not a time of despair. It is a time to come forward like never before with the deepest conviction of the human heart that our faith does not lie first in our government or in any government. It lies first in the power of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the mercy that comes to us through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in the eternal and inestimable graces that come to us through the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ under the appropriate leadership by the power of the Holy Spirit through the leadership of Pope Benedict (who is not elected by man, but by God).

While it is justified to feel the great loss of what we have done as a country in the United States, there’s no time to lose in terms of responding in a way that disciples of Jesus Christ should respond. What precisely is that? More courage, more hope, more prayer.

I would invite each of you, if you are not already in the practice, to consider adding to the end of each Rosary three Hail Marys for the end of the horrific scourge of abortion (we must never grow accustomed to its horrific face), and also in reparation for culture of death policies which our new administration will soon be implementing.. We are called to a new level of prayer and dedication. The Rosary is an indescribably powerful pro-life prayer. Greater Eucharistic Adoration, where possible, is, along with the Mass, of the greatest possible spiritual benefits and spiritual weapons for these upcoming times. We can also exponentially add to the power of our prayers for life and family but adding some form of fasting to our prayers, typically offered on Wednesdays and Fridays as traditional Christian days of penance.

Spiritually, we must increase are generosity, our efficacy, and our protection in light of the serious new challenges we will be facing in our country.

Secondly, we keep our joy. Why joy? Because joy is a sign that the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. Joy is a sign that Jesus Christ will be the ultimate victor and in the full Catholic understanding through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of America, who wants to return this land to a land of purity, even though now it will be an even greater uphill battle. Ultimately, the Immaculate Heart will triumph and we indeed will be the country we are called to be.

In these difficult times, we must convey the light of Christ and the hope that only can come through Him by being living icons of his joy. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta put it very clearly and succinctly when she said to her sisters that if they could not leave the convent with joy, with smiles on their faces, then they should not go out at all.

Joy during the great trials ahead is more important now than ever. Ten people will be standing in a row in some public forum. Nine of those ten people will show the difficulties and despair of these times in their faces, their attitudes, their demeanors. Then they will see you, and you will have joy. They will see you with a smile on your face and peace of heart, and realize that in spite of all these grave crises inflicting our country, you can still smile. Then they will say, "I want what that person has." And they are going to come to you, and you will let them know, by actions or by words, that it is Jesus Christ who gives you this supernatural Christian joy, regardless what happens in this world and in this country. This joy comes only through the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, we must take as our platform "no moral compromise." No moral compromise on a personal level, in an environment where I’m afraid we will be soon be ubiquitously surrounded by moral compromise on a national level.

Yes, in a true sense, our country has compromised by electing an individual whose policies are so antithetical to the moral teachings of Jesus Christ and Judeo-Christian tradition. At the same time, we are going to be called upon to be witnesses of no moral compromise, a position which will call for sacrifice on an ever-increasing level. We can do it because of Jesus and Mary. We can do it because of the graces of the sacraments. We can do it because we can see our brothers and sisters in places like China and India who are uncompromisingly loyal to Christ and the Church in the midst of the greatest persecutions and sacrifices, including, for some, their lives.

We are called to be people of prayer, especially through the Rosary. We are called to have joy. We are called to be people who will not morally compromise based on faith in Christ and the conviction of hope that one day this country will ultimately return to its Judeo-Christian roots.

Have hope. Have peace. The Immaculate Heart will triumph. Our country will be transformed to its original greatness and much more.

Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

[...]

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Many of Professor Paul Zachary Myers’ atheistic disciples have followed his lead, engaging in desecration of the Most Holy Eucharist. Myers has stated that the Eucharist is freely given out, therefore, it’s not stealing to take the Eucharist. Au contraire. The Eucharist is freely given to all those who confess the Catholic faith. Presenting oneself to receive the Eucharist is the equivalent of professing as truth the entire sacred deposit of the Catholic faith. Perhaps Myers’ disciples should consider that. In fact, anyone who receives the Eucharist while renouncing any part of the Catholic faith is doing something far worse than stealing.

Yet, I have felt from the beginning of this tragic series of events that the Eucharistic sacrilege and desecration that has been coming at the hands of religiously anti-religious atheists goes hand in hand with the sad reality of Eucharistic indifference on the part of so many Catholics—those Catholics who receive Jesus while in a state of mortal sin and those Catholics who receive Jesus while in open dissent to one or more Catholic teachings. Somehow, the atheists’ gross display of anti-Catholicism is a manifestation of what we have been failing to perceive for so long—many professing the Catholic faith receive Our Lord unworthily.

[...]

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The election for the United States president is a few days away. If you or any of your family members or friends find themselves confused about who to vote for morally, or why we should vote based on moral issues as our first priorities, allow me to offer you the following bullet point principles:

• It is a grave moral evil to vote for a pro-abortion candidate when there is a fundamentally pro-life candidate available, unless there is grave proportionate reason.

What would grave proportionate reason be? Say one man is pushed up against a wall and another man is pointing a gun at his head threatening to pull the trigger and kill him. Moreover, it is well known that this man with the gun has killed many men in like manner and plans to continue to do so.

Next to them is another man. He is also being threatened by a man. What is he being threatened with? Taking his money? Having him participate in a questionable war? Taking away his standard of living? Lowering his retirement benefits? Hurting his relationship with people of different countries? None of this is morally proportionate to the first case—the direct killing of an innocent human being, and, when done so knowingly, the act of murder.

One candidate wants to sign into legislation immediately as his very first presidential act a law that allows murder of millions of unborn people (Freedom of Choice Act), which includes the removing of any or all national restrictions, whether at federal or state level, particularly giving partial birth to a baby and then having the baby’s brain literally sucked out of his or her head. That’s the frightening and macabre process of partial-birth abortion. That’s gravely and grossly evil. No Christian or person of good will can in good conscience support that evil or the horrific evil of abortion in any form, and there is absolutely no proportionate reason to do so. Morally, it’s pretty simple.

• Numerous U.S. bishops have also made it clear, that in the particular case, of this presidential election, there is no proportionate reason that can justify voting for the pro-abortion presidential candidate (cf. Bishops Farrell and Vann of Dallas-Fort Worth; Archbishop Naumann, Kansas City; Bishop Martino, Scranton; Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Patterson, etc.)

• One candidate is a fundamentally pro-life candidate. This is confirmed by National Right to Life. The other candidate is a passionately pro-abortion candidate. This is confirmed by Planned Parenthood. We cannot morally vote for the pro-abortion candidate when there is an option of a fundamentally pro-life candidate.

• All human rights depend on the right to life. If you’re not alive, you’re not too concerned about the Dow Jones, foreign policy or health care. That’s why voting pro-life is not "single issue" voting, but rather morally appropriate priority issue voting, based on a properly formed Christian or moral conscience. All Christians and all people of good will are morally obliged to exercise priority issue voting.

• Not being in favor of the war does not justify voting for a pro-abortion candidate. The direct killing of innocent human beings in the womb is an intrinsic evil that outweighs in its direct formal and moral proximity the evil of a potentially unjust war. In the particular case of the Iraq war, this is true, both qualitatively concerning the immediate material and formal evil of the abortion act, and quantitatively, by the numbers of lives lost. 50 million unborn children have been killed through abortion in the U.S., and that doesn’t include the millions upon millions of unborn children killed through contraceptive abortificacients.

• Frustration that one political party didn’t do more when they were in office, however justified, is not an appropriate moral reason for failing to support the fundamentally pro-life candidate and for not opposing a political candidate and consequent party who is vehemently pro-abortion. Supporting a pro-life and pro-family candidate at the very least prevents the fearful advancement of an anti-life national agenda, while also providing the possibility of further pro-life and pro-family legislation, which includes the appointment of pro-life Supreme Court justices.

• When there is a candidate who is fundamentally pro-life with a chance of victory and effecting authentic pro-life legislation (and/or preventing an onslaught on pro-abortion legislation through defeating the pro-abortion candidate), and another candidate who is entirely pro-life but with no chance of victory, you are not morally obliged to vote for the entirely pro-life candidate, since the Church allows for the voting for a fundamentally pro-life candidate with the goal and practical outcome of saving lives and moral values through the candidate with the possibility of victory.

• Claiming that one party is alone and entirely responsible for the present economic crisis (as dubious as this position might be) does not morally justify supporting a pro-abortion candidate from the other party. This would be to place money over morals, and economic concerns over human life and its protection.

• Saying that a pro-abortion presidential candidate has nothing really to do with abortion (since he’s not actually committing the abortion) is philosophically parallel to saying that Adolf Hitler had nothing really to do with killing the Jews because he never himself pulled a trigger or released the poisoned gas. A presidential candidate who voluntarily wills to sign into law the FOCA abortion legislation has immediate moral and formal participation in the advancement of abortion and is directly morally responsible.

• To claim that one candidate is not "pro-abortion" but only "pro-choice" is to equivocate the truth that supporting the legitimacy of the direct killing of an innocent human being as a legitimate option is in itself an intrinsic evil and in act a pro-abortion policy.

• Support of limited embryonic stem cell research, as immoral as it is, cannot be morally or proportionally paralleled to abolishing 35 years of pro-life legislation as your first presidential act (FOCA legislation) and making abortion "rights" the litmus test for appointing pro-abortion supreme court justices.

How do we think Blessed Mother Teresa would vote if she were alive now and a U.S. citizen? What about Servant of God, John Paul II? Whom do we really think our present Holy Father wants us to vote for, based on the authentic moral principles of the Catholic Church?

Ultimately, I believe, it comes down to a question not of politics, nor of party, but of faith. Any disciple of Jesus could never in good conscience prioritize issues of economy or party allegiance over allegiance to God and His moral issues of life and family, which He has ordained to constitute the foundation of the all societies.

Let us pray and fast in these few final days before the election. Let us pray and fast that we all vote in a manner pleasing to Almighty God first. Let us pray and fast that Catholics and Christians of the United States, who make up well over a quarter of our national population, will vote morals first, pro-life first, pro-family first—pro-Christ first.

Yes, ultimately it comes down to a question which has not only grave national and international contemporary ramifications, but also authentic eternal ramifications: Who and for what policies would Jesus want us to vote for? We will be personally and eternally responsible, for whom and for what principles we vote for in these final critical days.

When in doubt, err towards life. Jesus will be eternally grateful. You will be eternally grateful.

Personally, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, I will be voting for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

Immaculate Mother, Mother of the Unborn, Co-redemptrix with Jesus, Mediatrix of Mercy, Our Lady of America,

Pray for the United States of America,
your children who need you in the midst of great crisis and confusion.

We entrust our country to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

We place our trust not in ourselves, but in the infinite mercy of your Divine Son.

We beg to be spared from what we perhaps deserve as a nation, but plead instead for the mercy of the Father, which comes to us through the pierced Heart of His Son.

May the Holy Spirit, through your most Immaculate Heart, illumine the hearts of our citizens, especially those who are disciples of your Son, to vote for life, for family, for policies consistent with our Christian faith above all other considerations.

Our Lady of America, O Immaculate Conception, pray for us,
your children of the United States of America.


Dr. Mark Miravalle
Professor of Theology and Mariology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

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This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. It is hard to believe that so many years have passed, more than a generation. How swiftly it has gone, and how changed is the face of our world. Let us not blame war or economic trouble or abortion for the current state of the world, for this would be to blame symptoms and ignore the source of the disease. It is, in fact, contraception that is destroying Western civilization.

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Protecting the Eucharist

Published on October 18, 2008 by in Christian Culture

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"Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, nor like Judas will I give Thee a kiss."
From the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostym

The last several months have seen blasphemy in its severest form, Eucharistic sacrilege, catapulted into the public sphere. It began with a college student in Orlando, Webster Cook, who took a communion host home in protest against what he perceived as inappropriate behavior by a parishioner. Then P.Z. Myers, a professor from the University of Minnesota Morris who, to demonstrate his contempt for religion in general and the doctrine of the Eucharist in particular, thrust a nail through a communion host and threw it into the trash. More recently, a Youtube user listed as "fsmdude" has posted over forty videos in which he desecrates communion hosts in a variety of ways, including feeding the host to ducks and flushing the host down the toilet. Youtube thus far has ignored protests by Catholics to remove the videos on the grounds that the content involves religious hatred and inflammatory images.

It is important to comprehend the theological implications of these acts. One might be tempted to see the behavior of Myers and fsmdude as the juvenile antics of not particularly sophisticated unbelievers doing their best to gain some attention, and this may well be the case from a subjective point of view. Unbelievers of their kind engage in crude sensationalism and, like children throwing temper tantrums, are usually best ignored. The problem is that objectively they have gotten a hold of something we value very much. A pouting kid can often be ignored, but not when he’s flushing the car keys down the toilet. Flushing the Eucharist down the toilet demands a response as well.

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I live in Canada, which for half of the year is a cold country. For most of our thirty years of marriage my wife and I have had a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a central place in our home, and her face has been a constant source of warmth and consolation to us. It is a mystery to me how her face seems to change from day to day. Some days there is a gentle grief in her eyes, and on other days she is smiling, on still others we feel a wave of quiet, steady love coming from her. Nothing dramatic, but always there. We see her as the Mother of our family. We know she is also the Mother of the Americas. She is also the Mother of all peoples, the Mother of all mankind, and at Guadalupe she is revealed as the Woman of Revelation, the one who will crush the serpent with her heel.

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On August 5, in conjunction with the efforts for a new petition drive to the Holy Father, Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici officially launched its new Web site, www.fifthmariandogma.com. Formerly www.voxpopuli.org, the new site is designed to better meet the needs of an increasingly technological age.

Online visitors will have greater access to apologetic materials and video resources, as well as greater ease in petitioning the Holy Father for the solemn proclamation of the dogma of Mary’s spiritual motherhood under its three essential aspects—Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, Advocate.

The new site additionally features:

§ Petitions for the dogma in several languages
§ The capacity to digitally petition the Holy Father
§ An improved look, site structure, and navigability
§ A scrolling flash player
§ Video apologetics
§ More articles and resources

For more information, contact the Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici headquarters at (740) 937-2277 or via e-mail at voxpopuli@voxpopuli.org.

Click here to visit the new Web site.

Note

The old version of the Web site as well as the new are both accessible through www.voxpopuli.org.

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The following excerpt comes from the May edition of Michael O’Brien’s monthly newsletter.

This month, I would like to share a few thoughts on gratitude. In a time of struggle—which is the situation for all those who seek to follow Jesus wholeheartedly—it is easy to get endlessly distracted and anxious about “survival.” For Christians this can translate into survival for the sake of doing good in the world. The motive is good, but the anxiety is not. Indeed it is a symptom of a flaw in the root of one’s relationship with God as Father. In any event, that is the case with me. The past month, I have been hearing in prayer a gentle but persistent word: “All good things are given from above.” And: “Patience.”

Yes, we must work on, often with little promise of success in worldly terms. If we do so, many interior qualities are strengthened, such as patience, perseverance, longsuffering—and even wisdom.

One can know this in the mind. But it is not so easy to integrate this knowledge with the deeper movements of the heart and soul. But how does the integration come? I am convinced that it comes only through persistent prayer combined with carrying the crosses that life presents to us—the normal daily ones and the extraordinary ones that are laid on our shoulders from time to time. [...]

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Ben Stein—he’s shown himself to be a pretty solid philosopher in “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” And he’s catching a lot of heat for it. Just have a look at the tone of the majority of movie reviewers: resentful, dismissive, sarcastic.

Much criticism is being levied upon Ben Stein for his use of Holocaust footage to hammer home his point about the debate over Darwinism and Intelligent Design. However, some ideas have dire consequences. Stein is justified in his choice to use these images.  It would be wrong to use the images if Darwinism and concentration camps were two unrelated realities.  However, the connection is all too real.

Darwinian philosophy, regardless of whether a direct link may be established between itself and Nazi policy, is identical with the practice and propaganda of the Nazis. If one could put Darwinism into action, what would it look like?  It would look a lot like Nazism: forced sterilization, ethnic cleansing, survival of the … policymakers. Darwinism indeed was the philosophy that Nazi scientists held. Darwin’s theory of natural selection was the foundation of policies and propaganda that helped build the menace of the Nazi regime. And Darwinism is today building the menace of academic totalitarianism and the abortion machine.

And yes, this is the problem: Atheistic scientists have squelched philosophy as a pseudoscience, and in doing so have themselves become the philosophers. Moreover, so many Christians have feared to enter into the sphere of human reason, believing that reason itself is totally untrustworthy.  This, too, has effectively separated philosophy and theology. Now, where is human reason, the middle man? There is no mediator to be found, no line of communication between science and theology.  But Darwinism and Intelligent Design are both philosophies at their core.  What is needed for an acceptable dialogue is a return to philosophy. [...]

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What insect has such a colorful and fascinating history as the ladybird, also known more popularly as the ladybug? In an age of faith when people saw earth mirroring heaven, this tiny creature was thought to enjoy the special protection of the Virgin Mary. Reversing its role in the past two centuries, this small symbol of Our Lady burst into prominence as a protector of people and their food supply. As the enemy of aphids, the ladybird has rendered service calculated in the billions of dollars in the past century alone. We have good reason to be grateful for this little beetle and to the Lady for whom it is named.

A Problem of Infestation

Agricultural specialists first became interested in the ladybug when California orange groves were mercilessly attacked by a voracious insect pest in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Already in 1880, agricultural experts discovered that a parasitic insect was infesting some orange trees in California’s Santa Clara Valley. The infestation was known locally as “San Jose scale.” Eventually it was traced to the flowering peach trees imported from China. These trees were infected with tiny sap-sucking insects until then unknown in the western world.

The deadly visitor insect from Asia found the orange trees a delicious victim and spread quickly. They multiplied so rapidly that they became a mortal threat to the citrus industry in all of California. By 1893, horticulturalists were occasionally finding specimens along the Atlantic seaboard. Five years later the havoc wreaked by these aphids was so grave that the German emperor forbade the importation of American fruits and living plants. [...]

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Reports of the first successful human cloning were broadcast on several major news media services on Thursday, January 18, 2008, in the United States. Whether the report from California researcher Dr. Samuel Wood of the first successful human clone is true or not, we know, tragically, that it is not a matter of “if” but “when.”

It is said that the scientists who successfully cloned the sheep “Dolly” warned fellow scientists not to try cloning techniques for producing a human being. In the process of arriving at Dolly, there were so many bizarre and freakish aberrations of a sheep that it indicated that the effects of using similar trial-and-error techniques to clone humans would have grotesque results. But many scientists are not listening.

Human cloning represents the final rejection of God the Father. We can kill human beings without him through abortion and euthanasia, and now we can create human beings without him—or can we?

God has seen fit, in his mysterious ways, to infuse a soul into a body conceived through the perverse acts of rape and incest, and even through unnatural methods such as in vitro fertilization where human sperm and egg are united in a laboratory dish.

But what about infusing a human soul into a human cell scientifically manipulated to generate into a type of “human xerox?” In this case, there is no union of human sperm and egg at all, but rather simply the regenerating of human cells and human DNA to produce a body that looks human.

What exactly am I saying? I’m saying that no scientific process of DNA manipulation can produce a human soul. Only God can create and only God can infuse a human soul, with the powers of universal knowledge and authentic free will, as well as a true human conscience. Is God obliged to infuse a human soul into a man-made human body? I believe the answer might well be, “No.” No, God doesn’t have to infuse a unique personal, immortal soul into a human cloned body. No, God doesn’t have to cooperate with human efforts to replace him as Creator, as if humanity, on its own, has the capacity of creating beings with immortal souls. No, I think God will not tolerate this latest and greatest act of human pride, arrogance, and presumption, which we call human cloning.

The possible result of man’s effort to clone human persons may prove to be something quite inhuman. Science can reproduce the human body, but without God infusing a human soul, what might the end result be? We could have creatures that look human, that perhaps can mirror human behavior, and can even distinguish acts for which they can be rewarded from others acts for which they can be punished. But they may not be human beings.

Apes, dolphins, dogs and cats can be trained to perform these functions. Only the human person is truly free. God has given him the capacity to know on the universal, abstract level the good, the true, and the beautiful, and then to either freely choose them or to freely reject them. But no animal can perform these human functions. No animal has a human soul with the powers of abstraction and volition.

What then might a cloned human be? He might be a soulless creature, without human intellect, human will, human conscience. He might appear human on the outside, but contain no immortal human soul on the inside and the unique, transcendent faculties that can only be given by God. Can you imagine the moral, psychological, societal and spiritual dilemmas that would surround the appropriate response and care for a humanlike creature minus the one component that ultimately makes a human person a human person—a human soul?

Hypothetically, it might be difficult to tell if a cloned human-resembling creature had an eternal soul. Take for example, an unborn child or a severely mentally impaired person incapable of communicating, neither of whom appear to exhibit reason or conscience but who are fully human and possessing a rational soul. The essential moral issue remains does man have the right to generate human life in this way, if it is human life? This raises supplemental ethical dilemmas, such as if science can produce this human-type creature, can it be used for the harvesting of body parts or for menial tasks such as those farm animals perform? Perhaps in light of potential misuse and harm of human cloned creatures we should err towards assuming that God would infuse a human soul.  But this does not in itself change the significant possibility that he may not.

There is simply no guarantee that God will infuse a human soul into a human copy and cooperate with man’s idolatry of himself.

The cloning of humans is an unprecedented step in contemporary man’s attempt to usurp the rights and the authority of God. God forgive us. God stop us.

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The Seventh Sorrow: The Western Response to China’s Plight

Upon my return, an extended family member asked me, “So how was your trip to China?” I responded, “Intense.” She then asked, “Will you give me some details?” I began to describe to her the First Sorrow, with Yi Wei, and informed her of the common practice of a woman going to the hospital nine months pregnant, ready to deliver, only to have her abdomen injected with a lethal poison that killed the baby.

My family member immediately responded, “That must be propaganda.” I was aghast as she continued, “Human rights activists and the U.N. would never allow such a gross violation of human rights.”

My heart felt pierced as I came into direct contact with one of the reasons why the gross violations of the Chinese people and of the Chinese Church continues. Much of the West has rationalized this away as simply “propaganda,” and in this way have allowed what are truly gross violations of human rights to continue. [...]

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In light of the seemingly overwhelming obstacles to Church reconciliation and reunification, let alone the Goliath obstacle of the Communist government’s one-child policy among a myriad of other human rights violations, we could despair for the future of Chinese Catholicism.

But there is hope, incarnate hope in the form of one David-like province of China. Today I travel by plane over majestic mountain ranges to arrive at what can be referred to as a true Catholic region of China—an area which, believe it or not, has not only to large degrees achieved reconciliation between the Patriotic Church and the underground Church, but has also in some miraculous fashion beaten the one-child policy in several of its villages, through a combination of courage, perseverance, and the blood of martyrs.

Province D is already known for its general lack of cooperation with the Chinese Government. The remarkable experience of the unity of the underground and Patriotic churches into simply one “Catholic Church” is alive and well in a number of locations throughout the province.

The blood of martyrs is the ultimate wellspring for vibrant faith, and the land of Province D is stained red with it. A former parish priest from one village spoke with great pride of the heroic defense of the people for their esteemed bishops and priests. During the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1901), great numbers of Catholics were put to death in this area. The people defended their clergy with extraordinary heroism, oftentimes at the price of their lives and the lives of their family members. [...]

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The following is a review of Pullman’s trilogy by two Catholic educators, Susan Tenbusch and Mary Teresa Tenbusch, posted here with their permission. The authors encourage readers, if they so wish, to copy and spread their review.

The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman is an award-winning fantasy series (theo-fiction, a genre mixing theology and fiction) for grade-school children, has been made into a movie, which was released on December 7. (A question apparently remains as to whether or not God will be mentioned in the movie version, even though he is central to the theme of the books.)

In the His Dark Materials trilogy, the girl, Lyra (raised as an orphan), leaves the Oxford of her universe on a journey to reach her father and to locate kidnapped children. In another universe, inhabited by consciousness-eating beings (SK, p. 215) (Editor’s Note 1), she meets Will (raised by his mother who suffers from mental illness), a boy from our universe, who is intent on finding his missing father. At this point, Lyra is interested in “Dust,” which is identified, among other things, with dark matter (SK, p. 91) or elementary particles (GC, p. 371-372) (Editor’s Note 2), but which is also described as matter that is “conscious” (AS, pp. 31-32, 222) (Editor’s Note 3) and able to communicate with human beings (AS, pp. 370, 440), and even portrayed as associated with original sin (AS, p. 223).

In contrast to the Catholic belief that children are afflicted with original sin at the moment they come into existence (Rom 5:12) and that they are able to commit personal sins as soon they reach the age of reason, in this trilogy, original sin appears to be linked to puberty and sexuality. At puberty, “dæmons” (the concretizations of souls, generally as the opposite sex (GC, p. 77)) bring impure thoughts (GC, p. 284), a state of experience replaces one of innocence (GC, p. 373), and “Dust,” proof of original sin that can be perceived by the senses (GC, p. 371), settles on people in a significant amount (GC, p. 375). By dividing souls from bodies, “Dust” (in this context, seemingly synonymous with original sin) can no longer dominate human life (GC, p. 375).

After various adventures, separations and reunions, the two children set out for a realm reminiscent of the underworld of Greek mythology, from which they free all the ghosts of those who have died by leading them out to where they will blend with the rest of the universe (AS, p. 364). In the trilogy, Lyra, in fact, is touted as another Eve, in that she will be tempted (AS, p. 68) and be responsible for a choice with definitive and universal ramifications (AS, p. 66). Apparently the temptation Lyra must overcome is that of remaining with Will to the detriment of the various universes, whose passages to other worlds must be closed for their proper restoration (AS, pp. 484, 491-492).

Meanwhile, a great war is being waged. Lyra’s mother, Mrs. Coulter, for motives of power, is connected with a Church (caricatured) organization engaged in cutting souls (dæmons) away from bodies (GC, pp. 282-284, 374-375), ostensibly to prevent sin. (Although, in the trilogy, souls can be killed (AS, p. 467), this procedure only results in creatures that can only be described as the living dead (GC, p. 375).) Lyra’s father, Lord Asriel, is interested in this procedure on account of the tremendous amount of energy released in the process, which he uses to transport himself into another universe (GC, pp. 375-376, 393). He is busy preparing a revolt against God (AS, pp. 210-211), the first being to coalesce from “Dust” (AS, pp. 31-32), and against his “regent” (AS, pp. 31-32, 399), who, in turn is seeking to acquire Will’s ability to create openings between universes. To add to the suspense, in this story, the Church sends out a priest to murder Lyra before she is tempted (AS, p. 71).

At the end of the trilogy, Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter throw themselves into a pit taking the “regent” with them (AS, p. 409), the priest determined to kill Lyra falls fatally into a small canyon trying to kill an angel (AS, p. 469), and Lyra and Will return to their own worlds, leaving angels to close all the passages to other worlds except the one to that of the dead (AS, p. 494).

A fictitious version of the Church plays a central and negative role in this trilogy. In Lyra’s world (a universe parallel to our own), the Church has a different history: in the past, a character called Pope John Calvin moved to Geneva to establish a totalitarian regime. The papacy died with him, only to be replaced by a magisterium composed of “councils,” “courts,” and “colleges” (GC, p. 30). It is even possible that the Church may disappear altogether in its fight against what it perceives as evil (AS, 71).

Present and accounted for, in the His Dark Materials trilogy, and presented with the prevalent inattention to the full range of historical facts available to the serious student of history, are the “usual suspects” that occupy such a prominent place in much anti-Catholic literature. The Inquisition is mentioned (GC, p. 127), and the Church in Lyra’s world practices torture (SK, pp. 38-39; AS, pp. 70-74), sentences people to death (SK, p. 46), considers unproved scientific claims (in the context of this trilogy) to be heresy (GC, pp. 30-31), and rewards scientific discovery with excommunication (GC, p. 376). It would appear that the Galileo case, in which theologians, philosophers and a scientist all overstepped the bounds of their respective fields, and which was definitively put to rest by Pope John Paul II in 1992 (1), has been disinterred yet again. Likewise, it would seem that the Black Legend which exaggerated the facts and figures of the Spanish Inquisition, and was so often embellished in the past for motives either political (denouncing Spanish rule) or religious (promoting novel ideas by positing an imaginary underground church apart from the Catholic Church in earlier centuries), has been exploited again. It is worth recalling that on March 12, 2000, John Paul II asked, among others, Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (what was formerly called the Holy Office and in charge of the Roman phase of the Inquisition), to apologize during a Lenten penitential ceremony for past sins committed in the name of faith and morals, which he, in fact, did (2).

The Church in the trilogy not only appears in an evil light, it acts in a manner directly opposed to authentic Catholic teaching (GC, p. 373; SK, p. 38; AS, pp. 68-69), practices divination (AS, p. 69), and teaches erroneous doctrines (GC, p. 373; AS, pp. 71-72, 464, 469, 491). Among the latter are found, for example, the novel concepts of “preemptive penance” and “preemptive absolution,” involving doing a certain amount of mortification (e.g. flagellation) and receiving pardon in advance for the purpose of committing a sin later in good conscience (AS, pp. 71-72).

The Church is further portrayed as obsessed with sin, to the point of sanctioning an operation to separate people’s souls (dæmons) from their bodies to prevent original sin (GC, p. 375), and as antagonistic to human sexuality, to the extent of promoting the mutilation of children (SK, p. 50). In the parallel world, the clergy are willing to sacrifice the existence of the Church to rid the world of sin (AS, p. 71). An ex-nun of the Catholic Church is, in fact, presented in a positive light for turning her back on her faith and rejecting her vow of chastity (SK, pp. 91, 249; AS, pp. 441-447).

The trilogy not only presents the Church in an unfavorable light, it is based on a doctrine which is not Christian. Many of the concepts in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman are shared with the “New Age” movement. According to the Vatican document, Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, explicitly addressing the New Age Movement, some features of this movement are the rejection of a personal God (3) and the acceptance, at least implicitly, of pantheism (4); a focus on mediating spirits apart from God (5); the discarding of institutional religion (6) in favor of Gnosticism (7) and Eastern religions (8); and a “spirituality” encompassing elements from all religions (9). The document warns that many of the movements behind the New Age Movement are frankly anti-Christian (10), and that the idea of the philosopher, Nietzsche, namely, that Christianity stunts human development, has gained credence (11). The Vatican adds that the New Age Movement seeks to overcome what it calls “dualism,” ignoring the real distinction between the Creator and creation, between man and nature, between spirit and matter (12), and also speaking of an androgyny both in the entirety of creation (13) and within every person (14). The universe is composed of interrelated entities (15) and is replete with cosmic energies (16).

In the His Dark Materials trilogy, “Dust,” of which all things are said to be composed, describes itself both as spirit and as matter, because there is no real distinction between the two (SK, p. 249). Everything is living (AS, p. 449). This identification of matter and spirit, the inert and the living, is a feature of pantheism, the philosophical system mentioned above as characteristic of the New Age movement. In the pantheistic system of thought, the universe and God (an uncreated but, obviously, an impersonal being) are one, existing and acting by necessity (being unable to do otherwise), and constantly evolving (from unconsciousness toward consciousness). In the pantheistic system, in fact, all is one: truth is the same as falsity, good is the same as evil. The dictates of conscience, beliefs that certain things are true, perceptions of freedom, and impressions of individuality or personality are declared illusory (a statement, however, that cannot legitimately be made within this system of thought, since it invokes the distinction between truth and falsity).

As can be expected in an essentially pantheistic worldview (or even a completely materialistic one), the universes of the trilogy are subject to fate (GC, p. 310). If things are the way there are of necessity, or if all can be reduced to matter and material (physical, chemical, etc.) processes, there is no place for free will, no reward of goodness and no punishment of evil. Furthermore, there is no room for an afterlife, because nothing spiritual survives the body.

As a result, in the trilogy, although, incomprehensible as it may be, the dead have congregated in a sort of netherworld, or “prison camp” created by God (AS, p. 33), this situation is only temporary. Heaven is an illusion (AS, p. 33), and Lyra and Will meet a number of disillusioned ghosts in the netherworld including a martyr who considers it unfair that both the good, who have foregone the pleasures of this world or even given up their lives, and the evil end up in the same place (AS, p. 320). This martyr believes blending with the material universe is her true destiny and looks forward to it (AS, p. 320). The ghosts that Lyra and Will lead out of the netherworld also literally become one with nature in a cosmic form of recycling (AS, p. 364). There is no room in these books for the immaterial, and, therefore, incorruptible, soul wished by a loving God to be reunited with its resurrected body in eternal life with him, in whom it finds its own fulfillment (17) (Gen 2:7, Jas 2:26, Gal 5:17, Job 19:26, 1 Cor 15:12-58, Jn 6:40, 14:2-3, 1 Cor 13:10). Likewise, there is no room for a just God (Rev 15:3), who, because of his own goodness and mercy (Ps 79:9, 107:1), respects human freedom (Sir 17:1-15, Dt 30:15-20, Ezek 18:21-32), without which there is no sense in reward or punishment, and binds himself both to treat those in this life with forbearance (2 Pet 3:9) and to reward goodness and punish evil in the next (Heb 11:6).

St. Thomas Aquinas holds that to have knowledge of a material thing is to possess the thing in an immaterial way, for to possess it in a material way would be in some way to become it (18). Since the activity of the intellect, a faculty of the soul, is immaterial, Aquinas holds that the soul itself must be immaterial, therefore incorruptible, and therefore immortal (19). The fact that the intellect can comprehend things that are not material (e.g. imaginary numbers in mathematics, abstract and universal concepts, necessarily true judgments, etc.) further indicates that its nature is itself immaterial. Likewise, the intellect’s capacity to be present to itself (unimpeded by extension and quantity) in reflection, awareness of itself as knowing, also gives evidence of its immateriality. Although the senses supply a physical brain with their sensations and sensual representations, out of which the intellect forms ideas, the senses and brain are conditions, not the causes of thought (20). (Indeed, brain cells do not function if deprived of a life principle.) After denying the existence of an immaterial intellect, and identifying thought with only the mechanical processes of sensation and the physical changes within the brain, a person cannot logically pass beyond the realm of the sensual, either to posit an external world or to form concepts, make judgments, and perform reasoning, all of which require abstraction (the passage from the particular data of the senses to a universal idea, e.g. the eye’s perception of an object’s being red to the mind’s idea of redness).

Aquinas, furthermore, writes that man acts freely (not through instinct or fate). Human reason is able to follow opposite courses in contingent (able to be or not to be or to be otherwise) matters, and the human will may, thus, be inclined to various things. Man can be said to judge freely, through a mental act of comparison, what should be sought or avoided in particular instances, and in following this judgment can be described as acting freely (21). Free will is, thus, a capacity of the immaterial soul, and of the spiritual order, and is, therefore, not governed by physical laws. It is valuable to realize that by simultaneously acknowledging that individuals have an awareness of personal free will and declaring that this awareness is an illusion, pantheism makes a distinction between the world of thought and the world of actual existence, a distinction that cannot be made by a philosophy holding that all is one and the same.

The Christian knows that all creation is under the direction of Divine Providence, but also knows that God wishes to direct the rest of creation through man (Gen 1:27-28) (22), and man through his own reason and his own free choice in accordance with his knowledge of the eternal law (Divine Providence) inscribed in his own being (23). Rather than eliminating human freedom, Divine Providence guarantees it, for by not acting in accordance with God’s plan, man acts against his own nature as a person, thereby damaging himself and enslaving himself to his “lower” instincts, emotions, and desires, instead of governing himself by his “higher” reason.

Inexplicably, in the trilogy, Lyra is described as possessing free will, and in fact, having it to a remarkable degree (GC, p. 310).

It is worth reemphasizing that a world without a Creator and governed by fate leaves no room for good and evil. If there is no freedom, there can be no good or evil, since good is defined in the dictionary as “as it should be” (24), and evil is a lack of goodness. In a fatalistic universe, there is no “should be,” since nothing can be other than it is.

Incoherently, in this trilogy, a notion of good and evil still exists, albeit a reductionist notion. A character portrayed as enlightened acknowledges neither absolute goodness (God) nor forces of evil (devils). Likewise, she holds that human beings are neither good nor evil personally, but only their actions can be so classified, insofar as they “help” or “hurt” others (AS, p. 447). It is useful to note that the very notion of “should be” essential to the concept of a “good” action indicates an objective standard to be met. C.S. Lewis calls it the “Rule of Decent Behaviour” (25); it is also known as Natural Law, the law which man does not create, finding it already inscribed within him by his Creator, but feels compelled to obey (Rom 1:18-32, 2:14-5) (26). Refuting the notion that actions do not affect the actor, John Paul II stresses that man not only participates in God’s eternal law, his Providence, by directing each of his actions in accordance with the natural law (and in accordance with God’s revealed law, e.g. his commandments), he also chooses his end in life, directing himself toward the true good, namely God, and increasing true goodness within himself (27), thereby perfecting himself as a human person, almost as an artist molds raw material (28). In choosing to perform an objectively evil action, he turns away from the true good, away from God as his final end, and injures himself as a person. Each and every human (deliberate) action is not only the manifestation of the goodness or evil of its performer it is also a cause of that goodness or evil (Mt 15:18-20, Rev 14:13) (29). An attempt to divide the performer’s goodness or lack of goodness as a person from the goodness or evil of his actions is to endeavor to disconnect completely his action from his being and nature, and to detach the deeds of his body from the direction of his soul, thus striking at his integrity as a person and moral agent (Jas 2:8-11) (30).

What, in fact, seems to remain as an ethical theory in the His Dark Materials trilogy is the “teleologism” against which John Paul II explicitly warns (31): a moral perspective in which the end justifies the means, in which the actor and his good intentions are separated from his concrete actions. Such teleologism is based on the idea that the moral “rightness” or “wrongness of an action is determined by weighing against each other the apparent goods and evils which will result from it and the corresponding values to be respected.” Against such an untenable view of morality, John Paul II places the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas and reaffirms that certain actions are always evil by virtue of their object, regardless of the intention of their performer or any circumstances in which he is placed, and are, therefore, never morally permissible (32). Intention and circumstances can sometimes make an action evil but can never make an objectively evil act good (1 Jn 5:16-17, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Rom 3:2, Dt 31:21, 2 Mac 6:18-31). It is worthwhile to observe that the very fact that one can judge one’s own intention to be good or evil implies there is something other than a purely subjective criterion to be met.

In Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life, it is explicitly noted that in the New Age Movement, a nebulous sense of cosmic duty dislodges a sense of accountability to God. With no accountability, there is no sin, and no need for salvation (33). Human beings become the ultimate source of good and evil. Furthermore, in the New Age Movement, ethical questions ultimately tend to be resolved by what “feels” right (34). This is the relativism against which Benedict XVI warns (35). Indeed, in the trilogy, although there is a figure replacing God, there is none to replace Christ.

As can be foreseen, therefore, the concept of goodness presented in the trilogy is unrecognizable to the Christian reader. Indeed, because of the inconsistent conceptions of morality upon which this trilogy is founded, evil is not infrequently presented as good. Lyra, the heroine of the work, lies habitually (GC, pp. 38, 83, 93, 100; SK, p. 83; AS, p. 169), apparently disobeys those in authority (GC, p. 69), steals (GC, p. 36), wishes to kill her father (GC, p. 397), engages in impure activities (AS, pp. 466, 499), is seriously involved in divination (GC, pp. 150, 174; SK, p. 91), and is also known for the emptiness of her contrition (GC, p. 51). She is, however, described as innocent (GC, p. 176), and another character in the work sets Lyra up as a standard of goodness (SK, p. 216).

The occult has a positive role in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Various forms of divination, the seeking of knowledge not from nature, reasoning or God (in prayer) but, therefore, logically speaking, from the devil, are practiced. The ex-nun consults the “I Ching” (AS, p. 429). An Englishman is known as a shaman (SK, p. 212) and seeks esoteric knowledge (SK, p. 214). Other knowledge is to be derived from dreams (AS, p. 429) and trancelike states (GC, pp. 150-51, 174; SK, pp. 91, 215). Interestingly, the document, Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, explicitly mentions witchcraft (36), the I Ching (37), Shamanism (38), esotericism (39), and states of altered consciousness (40) as elements of the New Age Movement.

A reductionist view of human sexuality is also put forward as the only view of sexuality in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Love in the trilogy has nothing to do with the virtue of charity, wishing the good of the beloved, but is reduced to unbridled physical attraction and mutual pleasure (AS, p. 444). Since, in practice, spirit is generally reduced to matter in these books, love is essentially reduced to the bodily and material order, to lust (AS, pp. 439, 466, 497). The child, Will describes his love for the child, Lyra, as an interest in her physical composition. Indeed, he compares his love for her to his love for things (AS, p. 497), a betrayal of his perception of her as an object of pleasure instead of as a person to be treated with respect, a point of view against which John Paul II explicitly warns as greatly detrimental to both persons affected by it (41). In this trilogy, adultery is acceptable (GC, pp. 122, 396), and fornication, in fact, seems to be on an equal footing with marriage (GC, p. 314), in which unfaithfulness of heart is not considered reprehensible (AS, p. 508). The sexuality of children (about 12 years old) is a topic treated in depth (AS, pp. 444, 447, 466, 481, 499), and some of the passages are explicit enough to be an occasion of sin for young readers. There is even a hint of sadomasochism (GC, p. 396). John Paul II has repeatedly decried the impoverishment of human sexuality by the reduction of its meaning to the assuaging of concupiscence and the use of another person as the means to personal pleasure (Mt 5:27) (42). He, in contrast, presents human sexuality as a place in which the expression of love in the total gift of self is possible within the marriage covenant (Eph 5:21-33, Gen 2:23-24, Mt 19:3-9, Heb 13:4) (43). Outside of marriage, he repeatedly warns, the marital act offends, not only against goodness, but against truth and authentic love (44), containing within itself a lie: the partners’ self-donation is incomplete and it is no longer an expression of self-giving for life. John Paul II notes that true love between spouses requires the union of all aspects of the person, body and soul (45). It is not surprising that, not only true love, but also true friendship is a scarce commodity in this trilogy, since chastity is the basis of all friendship (46).

Significant violence is also present in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Lyra’s father kills her friend, the child, Roger (GC, p. 397); the girl, Lyra, wishes to kill her father (GC, p. 397); children come after other children with the intention of killing them (SK, pp. 229-230); children are engaged in lethal self-defense against adults one is to presume are willing to kill them (SK, pp. 6-7; AS, p. 161), etc.

In these books, euthanasia is presented as acceptable, whether it be the murder of a suffering person (SK, pp. 39-40), or suicide to avoid personal suffering (SK, pp. 188-189). This is a great distance from the Catholic teaching so beautifully expressed by John Paul II that, due to the Cross of Christ, even suffering has meaning and value, and that, in a mysterious way, God in his overflowing love and power, enables human persons to make their small contribution to redemption (their own and others’) by uniting their sufferings to Christ’s own sufferings within his Mystical Body (1 Cor 12:27, Col 1:24), thus allowing good to be drawn out of evil (Rom 8:28) (47). John Paul II, in fact, sees suffering as having the practice of charity, both in the sufferer and in those surrounding him, as its particular goal (48), a great distance from the worldview of His Dark Materials.

Lastly, in a materialistic or a pantheistic philosophy, there is no reason to show particular respect for the human body, which, in Christian belief, forms a composite with the soul as the human person created in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:27), redeemed by the Word made flesh (Jn 1:14), constituted a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), and called to future resurrection (1 Cor 15:12-58). In a materialist perspective, the body is only a complex of organs and physical mechanisms, ultimately doomed to decay. In a pantheistic philosophy it is absorbed in the whole. In the trilogy, therefore, children desecrate graves (GC, pp. 49-50), and, as would seem inevitable, a talking bear decides to feast upon the dead body of his human friend (AS, pp. 42-43).

Although borrowing Judeo-Christian terminology, the theology on which this series is based has nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian tradition. The undiscerning reader may, nonetheless, believe it is Catholic.

In the His Dark Materials trilogy, in contrast to the true God, the uncreated Being and uncaused Cause of all created being (Ex 3:14; Gen 1:1; 2 Mac 7:28; Jn 1:3; Acts 17:28; Col 1:16-17), goodness itself and the source of all goodness (Mk 10:18; Gen 1:31), whose existence can be known by human reason (Ps 14:1; Rom 1:18-23), the being called God in this trilogy is not the Creator but the first angel to be made of “Dust” and the ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven (AS, pp. 31-32). Although there may have been a Creator, the characters of this trilogy are in ignorance on the point (AS, p. 210). According to a reading of Genesis 3 in this work, the God of this trilogy may even be evil (GC, p. 373). Witches in the trilogy have different gods (and goddesses) altogether (SK, pp. 39, 45). Furthermore, although the being called God in this trilogy is the ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven, Metatron, a being identified with the man, Enoch, of Genesis 5 (AS, p. 399), an entity of great intelligence, cruelty and even lasciviousness (AS, p. 30, 399), is the “regent” of the Kingdom of Heaven.

In turn, to the Catholic eye, the angels of the His Dark Materials trilogy are unrecognizable as such. In opposition to the holy spirits revered by Jews and Catholics for centuries, the angels of this trilogy are spiritual yet material (SK, p. 47; AS, pp. 11-12, 28-29, 34, 467-468), can experience fear and be ashamed (AS, pp. 29, 161, 466), can suffer and die (AS, pp. 62-63, 466-469) or be killed by a human being (AS, pp. 28-30), are weaker than human beings (AS, p. 11) and less knowledgeable about the material world (AS, p. 31). Even more remarkably, angels in the work are male or female (SK, p. 139) and appear to have homosexual tendencies (AS, pp. 26, 62-63, 469). Some angels in the trilogy, though not all, were once human beings (AS, pp. 16-17, 33), and these in particular are still enslaved by sensual desire (AS, p. 399).

Not only have God and his angels passed beyond recognition in these books, the Kingdom of Heaven has become something against which man should wage war. The Vatican document, Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, cautions that in the New Age movement, humanity exalts itself at the expense of God (49). What is called the “Kingdom of Heaven” in this trilogy shares nothing in common with the Kingdom of Heaven known to Christians to be already among us (Lk 11:20) and even within us (Lk 17:21), but only reaching its complete fulfillment at the end of the world (Mt 25:31-46; 1 Cor 15:22-28). The trilogy portrays the Kingdom of Heaven as a tyrannical regime and attacks the Church, in truth given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven by Christ (Mt 16:19, 18:18), as an oppressive force. God himself, who alone makes Heaven Heaven and who alone can satisfy the human person, is presented as the enemy of mankind.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the father of the child, Lyra, Lord Asriel, and his companions are attacking the Kingdom of Heaven, to create a world order in which the Church and earthly monarchies have no place, in short, to create a “republic,” instead of a kingdom, of heaven (AS, p. 211). To attempt to form such a republic is to put humanity on an equal footing with God, or even to reject God in order to aggrandize humanity. This is, in short, to make the mistake of Adam and Eve, who believed the lie of Satan that they would be “like God” (Who is good) by choosing evil (Gen 3:5), and who, although creatures utterly dependent upon God for their very existence and nature, set themselves up against their Creator as the sole arbiters of good and evil (50). It is imperative to recall that it is impossible to choose evil, to exceed the limit insuperable for a creature, to disregard the truth inscribed in one’s own being, and still to remain free (51). In fact, in the choice of evil, the rejection of God’s wisdom as the origin of the moral order (52), a person injures his very self, the self protected by that very moral order he is rejecting, and becomes a slave of sin (Jn 8:34-36; 2 Pet 2:19). In fact, it is precisely on account of original sin and its aftermath that no utopia can ever exist on earth.

Another important fact overlooked in the trilogy is the Catholic belief that God himself wills that we be divinized (1 Cor 6:17, 2 Pet 1:4), that we be like him (1 Jn 3:2). As St. John of the Cross explains, divinized souls come to possess by participation what God does by nature (53), since they have given themselves entirely to him, through cooperation with grace in the moral life, and he to them, in love.

In short, the requirements for theo-fiction are apparently less stringent than those for science fiction or historical fiction: in science fiction and historical fiction, readers expect accurate science and history at the basis of the fiction.

A last subject requiring treatment in the His Dark Materials trilogy are the scientific theories at its roots. In this trilogy, human decision is raised to the level of creation/annihilation: through the making of one particular decision, all other possible decisions cease to exist within that universe (AS, p. 13). Parallel universes, however, do exist for each of these other possible decisions: what did not occur in one universe, but might have, in fact did happen in another (GC, pp. 376-377).

Scientifically speaking, therefore, it would seem that the His Dark Materials trilogy grounds itself in multiworld theories. The use of these theories here is founded upon a misapplication of the Heisenberg Uncertainty (Indeterminacy) Principle of quantum physics, a principle stating, in one form, that it is impossible simultaneously to determine the exact momentum and position of a particle, and, in its other form, that it is impossible simultaneously to determine its exact energy and time interval, due to the fact that an act of observation affects the system being observed. Some scientists, however, attribute their own problem of measurement to the thing measured, claiming, employing equivocation, that uncertainty (indeterminateness) no longer describes their mental state but is, in fact, an essential characteristic of the thing measured (54). To continue, the results of an initial act of observation are then translated into a probability function, predicting the likelihood of finding the thing observed at a given point at a later time, and describing the whole ensemble of possible outcomes. Scientists supporting the equivocal interpretation of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle claim that only with a second measurement does the “possible” become “actual,” declaring that the thing being observed does not have being, but only a possibility for being, until it is observed. Erwin Schrödinger, the physicist who developed the Y-function expressing probabilities relative to the motion of sub-atomic particles, himself notes the absurdity of such a position. He gives the example of a cat in a box to be killed by the release of a poison triggered by the radioactive decay of an atom, the measurement of which is subject to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. At a given moment, the cat is either alive or dead, regardless of its description as simultaneously alive and dead by the Y-function, and apart from its observation by scientists (55).

In multiworld theories, when the misinterpretation of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle just described is applied, not only to microscopic entities, but to the entire universe, the process of observation, in keeping with the above interpretation, is said to make the universe split into a sufficient number of copies of itself to take into account all of the possible outcomes of the observation. In short, there are as many worlds as observers, and each observer makes his own reality. In truth, though, philosophically speaking, if there were a world for every observer, the result is would be what is called, “solipsism,” the inability to get outside one’s own head. Scientifically speaking, if the physical world could not be known to have real existence, experimentation and observation, essential to science itself, would be meaningless pursuits (56). One set of theories linked with multiworld theory is the group of inflationary theories of cosmology, theories holding that the universe arose as a quantum fluctuation. In these inflationary theories, for a brief initial period, the universe (or part of it) passed through a phase of rapid expansion, after which it evolved as explained by the big bang.

At least in part, inflationary theories were proposed as an attempt to dispose of the need for initial conditions (criteria that must be met for the universe to evolve in the way it has). Some cosmologists believe that by getting rid of initial conditions, they get rid of a Creator as well. In reality, however, such an attempt is futile. Firstly, it is not within the competence of science to decide for or against the existence of God, because science is limited to the realm of that which is perceptible by the senses, to that which is measurable. Secondly, specificity, that which these cosmologists wish to escape, still remains in the universe, in, for example, Planck’s quantum (a feature of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle) (57), and specificity, which is perceived by science, is a point of departure for philosophy, which sees in it one reflection of the contingency (ability to be or not to be or to be other than it is) of the universe, which, in turn points to a necessary being upon which its existence depends, namely, God. This proof of the existence of God, it must be stressed, is not a theory having as its basis that which the present state of the development of physical science cannot yet explain, but is, on the contrary, a philosophical demonstration standing apart from physical science.

It is important to observe that chance can be invoked as the cause of the universe neither by scientists nor by philosophers. It cannot be invoked by scientists, because absolute chaos cannot be studied by a branch of knowledge whose very existence depends on the presence of a certain regularity and specificity (58), and it cannot be invoked by philosophers, because something can only be attributed to chance (and calculations of probability can only be made concerning it) if a factor apart from chance is acknowledged to have prior existence and a certain uniformity of action (59).

String theory also is linked with multiworld theory. In string theory, the various subatomic particles are held to be vibrations of microscopic strings. The mathematics on which string theory is based uses a multi-dimensional manifold. It, like the inflationary theories, is remarkable for its specificity (60).

In conclusion, it is worth recalling that the His Dark Materials trilogy is found in the juvenile section of the local library, and its audience is children in grade school. Pope Benedict XVI, wisely noting that the media have a powerful effect on children in their formative years, has explicitly requested that children be exposed to excellence in literature that advances the values of the human person and the human family and promotes the achievement of the authentic ends of human life (61).

Notes

(Editor’s notes 1, 2, 3) For ease of reading, the following abbreviations will be used:

GC=Pullman, Philip. His Dark Materials, Book 1: The Golden Compass. A Yearling Book. New York: Random House Children’s Books, 1995;

SK=Pullman, Philip. His Dark Materials, Book 2: The Subtle Knife. A Yearling Book. New York: Random House Children’s Books, 1997;

AS=Pullman, Philip. His Dark Materials, Book 3: The Amber Spyglass. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

(1) John Paul II, Discourse to the Participants of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (October 31, 1992).

(2) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Universal Prayer: Confession of Sins and Asking for Forgiveness (March 12, 2000).

(3) Pontifical Council for Culture and Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the “New Age” (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2003), p. 13.

(4) Ibid., p. 35.

(5) Ibid., pp. 28, 40.

(6) Ibid., p. 20.

(7) Ibid., p. 13.

(8) Ibid., p. 24.

(9) Ibid., p. 34.

(10) Ibid., p. 84.

(11) Ibid., p. 41.

(12) Ibid., p. 32. Dualism, strictly speaking, has its roots in the non-Christian system of thought, Manichæism, and proposes two equal but opposing principles in the universe, one good and one evil, often considering only what is spiritual to be good and connecting what is material with evil.

(13) Ibid., p. 47.

(14) Ibid., p. 96.

(15) Ibid., p. 47.

(16) Ibid., pp. 57-58.

(17) John Paul II, Letter to Families, n. 9.

(18) St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, q. 2, a. 2.

(19) Ralph McInerny, St. Thomas Aquinas (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982), pp. 46-49.

(20) William Wallace, The Elements of Philosophy (Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1977), pp. 69, 73-74.

(21) St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I, q. 83, a. 1.

(22) John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 43.

(23) St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I-II, q. 90, a. 4, ad 1, quoted in John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 43.

(24) Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (New York: The World Publishing Company, 1953), p. 623.

(25) C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1960), p. 21.

(26) Gaudium et Spes, n. 16, quoted in John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 43.

(27) John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 65.

(28) John Paul II, Letter to Artists, n. 1.

(29) St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I-II, q. 1, a. 3, quoted in John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 71.

(30) John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 67.

(31) Ibid., n. 75.

(32) St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I-II, q. 18, a. 6, quoted in John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 78, nn. 80-81.

(33) John Paul II, Address to the United States Bishops of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska on Their “Ad Limina” Visit (May 28, 1993), quoted in Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, p. 87.

(34) Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, p. 74.

(35) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Homily at the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff (April 18, 2005).

(36) Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, pp. 108-109.

(37) Ibid., p. 38, Footnote 34.

(38) Ibid., p. 107.

(39) Ibid., p. 41.

(40) Ibid., p. 28.

(41) John Paul II, Letter to Youth, n. 10.

(42) John Paul II, Letter to Families, n. 13.

(43) John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 37.

(44) John Paul II, Letter to Families, n. 5.

(45) John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 19.

(46) Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2347.

(47) John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, nn. 19, 24.

(48) Ibid., n. 30.

(49) Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, p. 41.

(50) John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 36.

(51) John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, nn. 40, 96.

(52) John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 36.

(53) St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle, 39, 6.

(54) Stanley Jaki, The Only Chaos and Other Essays (Lanham MD: University Press of America, 1990), pp. 104-105.

(55) Erwin Schrödinger, “Die gegenwärtige Situation in der Quantenmechanik,” Naturwissenschaften 23 (November 29, 1935): 812.

(56) Stanley Jaki, The Road of Science and the Ways to God (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978), pp. 126-127, 247-248.

(57) Stanley Jaki, God and the Cosmologists (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1989), p. 135.

(58) Stanley Jaki, Cosmos and Creator (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1980), pp. 42-43.

(59) Ruth Nanda Anshen, ed., World Perspectives (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1955), vol. 1, Approaches to God, by Jacques Maritain, p. 54.

(60) Stanley Jaki, God and the Cosmologists, p. 49.

(61) Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Social Communications (January 24, 2007).

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A film based on a novel by British author Philip Pullman opened this month in theaters throughout the world. It is titled The Golden Compass, which is also the North American title of the first volume of Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials.

According to interviews with Pullman, the author’s stated intention is to reverse the traditional Biblical account of the war between heaven and hell. In his introduction, Pullman says that he “is of the Devil’s party and does know it” (a line adapted from a poem by William Blake).

Institutional religion is portrayed in the series as the oppressor of mankind. For example, Ruta Skadi, a witch and friend of Lyra’s (one of the two main characters) calls for war against the Magisterium in Lyra’s world, and says that “For all of (the Church’s) history … it has tried to suppress and control every natural impulse. And when it can’t control them, it cuts them out.”

Skadi later extends her criticism to all organized religion: “That’s what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling.” By this part of the book, the witches have made reference to how they are treated criminally by the church in their worlds. Mary Malone, one of Pullman’s main characters, states that “the Christian religion … is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” She was formerly a Catholic nun, but gave up her vows when the experience of being in love caused her to doubt her faith. [...]

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Explanatory note to help promote the practice of continuous Eucharistic adoration (1) in dioceses (parishes, rectories, chapels, monasteries, convents, seminaries) for the benefit of priests and priestly vocations

In his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI concretised the perennial teaching of the Church on the centrality of Eucharistic adoration in ecclesial life by a direct appeal addressed to all pastors, bishops, priests, as well as the People of God, for perpetual Eucharistic adoration:

With the Synod Assembly, therefore, I heartily recommend to the Church’s pastors and to the People of God the practice of Eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community. Great benefit would ensue from a suitable catechesis explaining the importance of this act of worship, which enables the faithful to experience the liturgical celebration more fully and more fruitfully. Wherever possible, it would be appropriate, especially in densely populated areas, to set aside specific churches or oratories for perpetual adoration. I also recommend that, in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist (Sacramentum Caritatis, 67).

[...]

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In these encouraging correspondences from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, Claudio Cardinal Hummes introduces a new initiative to bring about perpetual Eucharistic adoration in every corner of the world. The placing Eucharistic adoration at the center of this prayer movement has the purpose of raising to God “a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition, and reparation” throughout the earth, awakening vocations within the Church, and placing priests and those with vocations in union with the spiritual maternity of the Blessed Mother, Mother of the eternal High Priest. The Congregation’s global plan follows the recommendations set forth by Pope Benedict XVI in his February 2007 Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis (cf. No. 67).

The first letter is addressed to the bishops of the world, requesting they implement perpetual Eucharistic adoration within their own dioceses. The explanatory note contains a list of proposals for practical implementation of the Congregation’s plans. We would be remiss not to note that in the letter to bishops are contained the themes of Marian co-redemption (Helper in his work of Redemption), mediation (she is our mother in the order of grace), and advocacy (pleading for an authentic renewal of priestly life).
—Asst. Ed.

In today’s world a great many things are necessary for the good of the Clergy and the fruitfulness of pastoral ministry. With a firm determination to face such challenges without disregarding their difficulties and struggles, and with an awareness that action follows being and that the soul of every apostolate is Divine intimacy, it is our intention for the departure point to be a spiritual endeavor. In order to continually maintain a greater awareness of the ontological link between the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and in order to recognize the special maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for each Priest, it is our intention to bring about a connection between perpetual Eucharistic adoration for the reparation of faults and sanctification of priests and the initiation of a commitment on the part of consecrated feminine souls—following the typology of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, and Helper in his work of Redemption—who might wish to spiritually adopt priests in order to help them with their self-offering, prayer, and penance.

According to the constant content of Sacred Tradition, the mystery and reality of the Church cannot be reduced to the hierarchical structure, the liturgy, the sacraments, and juridical ordinances. In fact, the intimate nature of the Church and the origin of its sanctifying efficacy must be found first in a mystical union with Christ. [...]

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This morning, I am traveling on a fast train through provinces in this huge Chinese country, en route to a privileged meeting with an underground bishop. After a preliminary call a few days ago to a contact person for the bishop, the bishop agreed to meet with me at great personal risk to himself. Typically, bishops who refuse to have any cooperation with the Government-run Patriotic church are forbidden to speak to foreigners, receive outside financial aid, and have experienced a long history of abductions, imprisonments with extended terms of solitary confinements, and hard labor. They are also under near-constant surveillance by the Religious Affairs Bureau and the police. Exactly how this meeting is to take place, I am unsure.

Although I have an extended train ride to the general area where the bishop lives, I cannot use public transportation for the last hour of travel, as officials will notice me. The bishop and those assisting him have arranged that a driver will pick me up from the train station and drive me for the final hour of the journey.

As I begin Morning Prayer on the train, I am happily shocked to discover that today, July 9, is the optional memorial of the Chinese martyrs canonized by John Paul II in the 2000 Jubilee Year! From the seventeenth century to the present day, Chinese Catholics have suffered numerous occasions of violent persecution. In 2000, John Paul II canonized 120 Chinese Catholics and foreign missionaries martyred from 1648 to 1930. St. Augustine Zhao Rong (+1815) was one of the 29 priests, including six bishops, martyred in this group. [...]

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The Fourth Sorrow: A Broken Body: The Church in China

What is the real story of the Catholic Church in China? Are persecutions of bishops, priests, and faithful loyal to Rome easing up, as would be expected by a government that purports to be granting more religious freedom as part of its new “democratic approach”?

On June 30, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI released a rare papal document—a letter not for the entire Catholic world, nor to a continent, but to an individual country: To the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons, and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China.

Even a quick read of the document reveals that Pope Benedict has released a very carefully worded document that on the one hand calls for the true fidelity and obedience appropriate for a local church in communion with the Catholic Church universal, and at the same time deals with an unusually complex and sensitive set of circumstances.

Some of the serious issues which led the Pope to issue a specific letter to China include: the lack of normal diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican’s Holy See; the involvement of the Government in the internal affairs of the Church; the tensions and divisions within the Church, due in large part to the existence of a “Patriotic Church” established and sustained by the Government, which does not recognize the ultimate authority of the Pope, particularly in regards to the appointment of bishops; the status of the Chinese Bishops Conference; and the ongoing violations of freedom for Chinese Catholics who have remained in complete fidelity to Rome at the price of great personal suffering, persecutions, fines, imprisonment, and in some cases, torture and death. [...]

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The Third Sorrow: Abortion Without Conscience: The Indoctrination of a Nation

The individual accounts of the brutality of the one-child policy and its effects on the noble Chinese people are never-ending. One new Chinese convert recounts her terrifying fear while hiding under the bed as the Population Police were at the front door. Another young convert from a distant province testifies how her mother—while she was pregnant with her—jumped the wall of her backyard and fled from the Population Police.

A Catholic missionary describes more of the process of the one-child policy: A certificate of permission is required to have a baby in a Chinese hospital. The government tells you how many children you can have and when. In the city, married couples are limited to one child. In the farming regions a family, if the first child is a girl, can sometimes be permitted to try for a boy as a second child because of the need for boys on the farm. Even in this case, the government will control when they can try for the boy, with the requirement that it be at least five years after the first child. The Government also uses psychological pressure to keep the policy. If a couple in the country have only one child, then this child will probably be able to have two children. The policy varies from region to region. [...]

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The Second Sorrow: A Mother’s Sorrow

In another region of China, I was led to an apartment on an upper floor. The door opened to a mother, visibly pregnant, who was watching television with her five-year-old son on her lap. When she saw company enter, including an American stranger, the mother immediately began gathering the numerous toys spread about the couch in an effort to clean up for the unannounced visitors.

I had entered an illegal home for pregnant mothers. These women want to keep their unborn babies despite Government and, sadly, family encouragement to abort their children.

The clandestine director of this safe haven for pregnant mothers went into a side room, and immediately came out with a beautiful newborn baby, head full of thick black hair, and dark, penetrating eyes filled with wonder. Next to come out of the side room was the newborn’s mother. “Elizabeth” had a beautiful smile and a proud but gracious look on her face as we all offered our doting homage to the darling newborn before us. [...]

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This is the second in a series of articles exposing the evils of Freemasonry (in which membership is forbidden for Catholics) and its war against the Catholic Church and Christianity in general.
—Asst. Ed.

In a constant effort to increase its acceptability to every segment of society, Freemasonry uses symbols, objects and beliefs which are both familiar to and held sacred by those it seeks to lure into its movement.

Fundamentally opposed both to the Jewish religion and to Christianity, Freemasonry seeks to lure Jews and Christians through pretended tolerance and by using whatever it can of these religions in its ceremonies and teachings. For example, the Torah, the Temple in Jerusalem and various symbols of Judaism are used to lure Jews. For Christians, the Holy Bible, the feast days of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist are used.

Before going into the way elements of Christianity are used by Freemasonry, the fundamental difference between Freemasonry on the one hand, and both Judaism and Christianity on the other must be delineated.

That fundamental difference can be expressed in one word—monotheism. [...]

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China. A land of mysteries. Typically associated with force and fear in the minds of the West for the last 50 years, China now seems to be putting forth a new face. But who is the real China of the twenty-first century?

Recent feedback from the press and certain decisions made by the world seem to indicate that China has taken a new direction towards greater openness, greater freedom, greater respect for the human person. After all, Beijing has been selected as the place for the 2008 Olympics. Would the International Olympic Federation grant China the honor of hosting the world’s Olympics if they were still blatantly oppressing women by forced abortions and sterilizations, and if the police were still hunting down and persecuting Christian clergy and lay people?

What about the international business community? Beijing and other huge Chinese cities have become the focus of international trade. Western businesses don’t hesitate to visit China’s Communist capital, and in fact have enough trust in the Government to establish long-term business partners and manufacturing plants there. Economic success cannot be the only reason for the West’s new rush to do business with China. There must be some significant democratic progress there, right? [...]

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This is the first of a series of articles exposing the evils of Freemasonry—in which membership is forbidden for Catholics—and its war against the Catholic Church and Christianity in general.
—Asst. Ed.

From time to time the National Center of the Militia Immaculata receives letters from members and others asking various questions about Freemasonry. People especially want to know why St. Maximilian Kolbe singled out for opposition this ostensibly fraternal organization above other anti-Christian movements such as Socialism and its various branches: Fascism, Nazism and Communism.

We intend to answer many of these questions in this work, using the sources listed in the footnotes.

A. Why Freemasonry is the “Hidden Enemy”

In the United States, Freemasonry has a benign reputation among most people, including many Catholics. Hence we refer to it as the “Hidden Enemy”—hidden because Freemasonry is a secret society; enemy because both by word and deed it has proved itself again and again implacably hostile to all Christianity, and in particular to the Catholic Church. It has shown itself a corrupting influence on all mankind. [...]

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When The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae) was released in 1995, John Paul’s repeated references to the emergence of a “Culture of Death” received a great deal of attention. The Media, in particular, given its propensity for regarding “bad news” as “good news,” assigned the “Culture of Death” a prominence that all but overshadowed the Holy Father’s deeper and more important references to developing a “Culture of Life.” It is not enough, said the Pope, to refrain from abortion, euthanasia, and other “crimes against life.” We must work together in various spheres—including the political sphere (1)—as witnesses to the sanctity of life. “To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good.” (2)

The Media, as is well known, is fond of presenting the Church as always being against something, and therefore casting her in a negative light. Yet, the main theme of The Gospel of Life, as is sufficiently evident in its title, is not “The Culture of Death,” but “The Gospel of Life.” Accordingly, John Paul reminds us, on the encyclical’s very first page, of the redemptive implications contained in Jesus’ words: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). [...]

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As soon as the children (in our village) reached the age of seven, they began to take their share in the running of the house by being taught how to look after the flocks. Like the Patriarchs and Kings of old, nearly every family had its little flock of gentle sheep which the children led out to graze in the green fields belonging to their parents. The flock helped considerably towards the maintenance of the family: milk and cheese, lambs to replace sheep that have grown old, or for sale on the market; wool which the women of the house used to spin, dye and then weave, in order to use it, later, to make warm colored shawls for the winter, or to make mats for the humble bedrooms, or round blue serge skirts with wide red stripes to adorn the Sunday clothes worn by the girls. Gold earrings reaching down to their shoulders, glistening medals hung round their necks, a scarf over their shoulders and a cool hat covering their heads decorated with gold beads and colored feathers completed their adornment.

Would that the clothes people wear in our own day had even a touch of the modesty, the respect for human dignity, displayed by those worn by the village women of those days! It will be good for us to recall here what Sacred Scripture has to say on this subject: “The Lord God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on” (Gen. 3:21).

Why did God clothe the first two human beings if, before that, they were naked? Scripture itself tells us the answer: [...]

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“Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out. Rather it perfects it and ennobles it.”
(John Paul II, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women)

I’ve been pondering recently, as I have so many times over the years, what Our Lady meant precisely in the messages of Fatima when she spoke about the offences through the clothing fashions that would develop in the years following the apparitions. Appearing to Blessed Jacinta Marto between December, 1919 and February, 1920, she said, “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.” And “Woe to women lacking in modesty.”

Clearly, Our Lady is neither a repressive puritan nor a prude. It goes without saying that neither is she a libertarian. She is beautiful in heart, mind, body and soul. She is without sin and thus she is subject to neither unholy shamelessness nor to personal shame. She is prudent, modest, and wise about human nature. She loves with the fullness of indwelling divine love, which means that she loves with an eternal motherly heart, concerned above all with the ultimate good of each of her children. [...]

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Although this article was written to commemorate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, its relevance becomes obvious as our country approaches the infamous anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and the national legalization of abortion. – Ed.

There are moments when our confidence in the ultimate goodness of life is strong. There are other times when confidence is shaken. Who among us does not prefer the former state? When we are confident we feel assured that we are safe from harm; we proceed about our daily affairs without giving thought to the dangers of human existence. Anxiety, fear, and doubt are kept at a distance by the power of our wits, finances, and entertainments. Happiness is within our grasp; the future is more or less assured and we are at peace. Besides, family life is just too busy an affair to brood overmuch on the “what ifs.” Right?

It is true, of course, that we are ultimately quite safe, for God does hold us firmly and tenderly in his hands, and nothing but our own unbelief or sin can tear us out of them. But God did not promise to shield us perfectly from suffering. Indeed, if He had done so He would have deprived us of the opportunity to grow and to become more and more like his Son on the Cross––and, it must be added, like his Son at the Resurrection. And so there is no hermetically sealed, sanitized, quarantined existence for us. It’s not all Cross and it’s not all Resurrection. He seems to want to give us as much of both as we can take. Why is that? [...]

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Advent has begun and Christmas is approaching as I write this. The malls are packed with shoppers. They are, like me, trying to beat the Christmas rush or tap into the pre-Christmas sales, or maybe just get into the spirit of things early. You may have noticed that life in these times is somewhat tense, and who can be blamed for rushing the season of peace just a little. There’s a holiday feeling in the air: the potted pines and the shop windows are all decked out; the robot Santas and the synthetic jingle on the loudspeakers are jolly in about equal portions. As is usual at this time of year, people are more patient with one another, will allow complete strangers to enter elevators before them, will overlook the irritating behavior of the occasional aggressive bargain-hunter, and will smile more easily at mothers with small noisy children. It is the season of tolerance.

Perhaps, then, it would not hurt to be reminded that the Incarnation was, in fact, an act of colossal intolerance on the part of God, by which I mean to say that it was an act of immeasurable love. He loved us so much that he would not let us die in our sins. He was intolerant of our slavery and was born among us for the express purpose of doing something rather definite about it. [...]

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The Proper Study of Mankind?

Published on November 24, 2006 by in Christian Culture

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Would it surprise anyone to learn that the answer is woman? Henry Adams, author of Mount-Saint-Michel and Chartres, certainly thought so. Although not much read nowadays, it is a richly informed piece of work, filled with wonders about a vanished world that had already been dead 700 years by the time he discovered it more than a century ago in 1904.

The most striking feature in the entire medieval landscape, declared Adams, who made a very close study of it, was the figure of Mary, through whom that whole world came beautifully to light. She exemplified for him the two loftiest vocations of woman, that of virgin and mother. “The study of Our Lady,” he wrote, “as shown by the art of Chartres, leads back directly to Eve, and lays bare the whole subject of sex.”

In the purity of her response to grace, she becomes the New Eve, her obedience having put to flight the grief following upon the disobedience of the First Woman. Meanwhile, for all the cumulative pain and sorrow unleashed upon the world by that first fall, it is only after she and Adam are forced to leave the Garden that God, reaching deep down into her tragic predicament, bestows upon her the title “Mother of all the living.” The mystery of woman thus remains intact, undisturbed by the very upheaval of which she had been the cause. Despite her sin, God does not regret the awful proximity to which she stands in relation to the mystery; her very being remains inscribed with the power to receive and nurture new life. [...]

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Trumpets of Warning!

Published on September 1, 2006 by in Christian Culture

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“I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.” (Jer 4:19)

I can no longer hold in the “word” which has been welling within me for a week. The weight of it has moved me to tears several times.

Too Far

Mankind has entered into regions which make even the angels shudder. Our pride has struck at the very core of life and human dignity, pushing Divine patience to the limits. I am speaking of the horrific experiments taking place this very moment in laboratories around the world: [...]

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On August 2nd a tornado hit Combermere, Ontario, the town where I live. Actually it is now estimated that three touched down, and two of them met in our village and worked mayhem. Such a natural disaster is an almost unthinkable event for us. We hear about Asian tsunamis, the hurricane in New Orleans, earthquakes here and there throughout the world, and we feel sympathy and send relief. But they remain somewhat abstract for us, because the worst that we suffer is a few power blackouts a year when spring and autumn storms blow a tree across a power line, or when a winter blizzard makes the roads difficult to drive for a day or so. We grumble and complain and then stop ourselves and thank God for a fairly clement climate in which to live. But actual disasters! Never! It could never happen to us! Tornados occur in the Midwest USA, we thought—not here! And certainly not three of them converging at once in a small community in the northern bushlands of Canada.

That evening my wife and I had driven to another town for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It had been a long, incredibly busy day for us in a sweltering record-breaking heat wave. Our children were scattered all over the map, some working at evening jobs and some swimming in a nearby river. My 82 year old mother, who lives with us, was quietly reading at home. Though she is not in good health nor entirely steady on her legs, she firmly pushed us out the door telling us that in our busy lives we needed a little “couple time” and that she would be just fine “home alone” for a few hours. We also had to pick up two of our children at the end of their work shifts in the neighboring town where we were to have our date. [...]

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The following article is Part II of Are We Living in Apocalyptic Times? by Michael O’Brien, which consists of the transcription of a provocative question and answer period that followed Mr. O’Brien’s presentation at St Patrick’s basilica, Ottawa, Canada, September 20, 2005. – Ed.

Question: I was reading a quote from John Paul II recently in which he says that our consciences are like fine musical instruments that need to be continually tuned. I’m particularly struck by our need to have child-like docility, the openness to the Holy Spirit that will allow him to fine-tune our conscience. Can you respond to that in light of what you’ve said tonight?

O’Brien: I wholeheartedly agree with what the Holy Father said, which he expressed better than anything I could say. The image of our conscience being tuned like a violin is apt, because the creation of human life is, like the creation of music, a co-creative process. In both fields we respond to a grace that is given from above. Our conscience always needs tightening up, like the tuning pegs of a string instrument, because the strings are always tending to get lax. It is the beloved instrument’s submission to the master composer and the master musician which is going to pour forth this beauty of music—the music of our lives—into the world. [...]

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The question is a volatile one and leaves plenty of room for a vast amount of commentary and interpretation. Indeed, our times seem to be rife with wildly differing interpretations of the meaning of the book of Revelation. In addressing our topic in this article, I hope to make a contribution to what should always be a sober discussion, yet is so often otherwise. Even so, I suppose that everything I am about to say on the matter could be summed up in a single word: Yes.

Yes, we are living in apocalyptic times. But this needs qualification. The Church, the sacred scriptures, the saints, the approved mystical apparitions, all speak about the end times within the context I would like to lay before you. Turning to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in a section dealing with the return of the Lord in glory, we read: [...]

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We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had created us to live it” (Ephesians 2:10).

Like many well-intentioned parents of our generation, my wife and I believed that child-rearing was largely a matter of finding the right method. Oh, we believed in prayer and grace well enough, and we knew there were variations in temperament that made some children a little more difficult to raise than others. But we were convinced that no child could resist the high-octane mixture of our faith, our affection, and our parenting skills.

Then the Lord gave us Ben. I will not belabor you with a long list of his crimes and misdemeanors. Only let me say that from the moment of his birth he was an utterly delightful, exhausting, exasperating, and fascinating phenomenon whom Heaven had decided to drop into our laps for the good of our souls. He was strong-willed, imaginative, utterly charming, very energetic and . . . and . . . [...]

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In the storm of confusion and misinformation which has greeted the question of a papal definition of the dogma of Mary Coredemptix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s well known question regarding the Mother of God, “Who are you, O Immaculata?” takes on new poignancy and urgency.

Who is she? Who is she really, and what is God doing through this unique woman?

Mary is both Mary of Nazareth and “the Woman” of Revelation. But how can this be? Is she two persons? Alternatively, is she perhaps one person in two religious “costumes”? Is she only a model of fidelity, an exemplary disciple, a saint (albeit the greatest of saints)? Is she no more than a sign? [...]

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Few books in the past several years have had either the success or the impact of Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code. Due to the enormous popularity of the book, it is not uncommon for Catholics to be approached by Brown’s readers and harassed with a storm of new and often bizarre accusations against the Church. Both the scope of these assaults and their seeming arbitrariness can be overwhelming for the defending Catholic. Fortunately, there have been a number of helpful responses to the Da Vinci Code phenomena, including Decoding Da Vinci, (1) Fact and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, (2) and The Da Vinci Hoax. (3) Nor is it difficult, with relatively little research, to ably expose all the historical and theological flaws in Brown’s work on one’s own.

I will therefore not so much seek to counter false statements within the book as to explore The Da Vinci Code’s most striking omission: the failure to deal with the Catholic understanding of Mary, the Mother of God.

First, however, for those not familiar with the content of the book, its general thesis is that the Church is an essentially sexist organization, and is historically responsible for the exclusion of femininity from the sphere of religion. Not only this, but the Catholic persecution of the “goddess” concept apparently affected other major world religions: “Women, once celebrated as an essential half of spiritual enlightenment, had been banished from the temples of the world. There were no female Orthodox rabbis, Catholic priests, nor Islamic clerics.” (4) In another section of the book Brown writes of “the sacred feminine and the goddess, which of course has now been lost, virtually eliminated by the Church. The power of the female and her ability to produce life was once very sacred, but it posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male Church, and so the sacred feminine was demonized and called unclean.” (5) [...]

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Recently a father of a family came to me for counseling. He said, “We are having a serious family problem. I have several daughters. I have a twelve-year-old son. The problem is, we can’t handle the boy. He uses his strength to hurt his sisters, one sister is older than him. He’s out of control. He does not obey or show respect.”

After asking the man a few brief questions, I responded, “The problem is not your twelve-year-old son. The problem is that you are not acting as the head of your home. Your wife is ruling both the children and you.”

With that introductory case, and details to which we shall return later, I continue this article. It tells what happens when the primacy of love and the primacy of authority become confused in their roles. [...]

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The following beautiful words on Our Lady are excerpted from Henry Wordsworth Longfellow’s work Christus: A Mystery. – Ed.

This is indeed the blessed Mary’s land,
Virgin and mother of our dear redeemer!
All hearts are touched and softened at her name,
Alike the bandit, with the bloody hand,
The priest, the prince, the scholar, and the peasant,
The man of deeds, the visionary dreamer,
Pay homage to her as one ever present!
And even as children, who have much offended
A too indulgent father, in great shame,
Penitent, and yet not daring unattended
To go into his presence, at the gate
Speak with their sister, and confiding wait
Till she goes in before and intercedes;
So men, repenting of their evil deeds,
And yet not venturing rashly to draw near
With their requests an angry father’s ear,
Offer to her their prayers and their confession,
And she for them in heaven makes intercession.
And if our faith had given us nothing more
Than this example of all womanhood,
So mild, so merciful, so strong, so good,
So patient, peaceful, loyal, loving, pure,
This were enough to prove it higher and truer
Than all the creeds the world had known before.

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Tiny Tim and King Herod

Published on November 26, 2005 by in Christian Culture

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Advent has arrived, the time of waiting when we turn toward the coming dawn with renewed expectancy. Each year in the liturgical cycle we are invited to pray with the entire Church for the rebirth of Christ within the stable of our hearts, and for the graces we will need as we await his final coming. The scripture readings are about hope arising in the midst of darkness, of beginnings and endings and the eternal joy when there will be no more endings. Until that ultimate homecoming, we live in a world that is still in the process of being restored in Christ. The Christ Child is among us, and so is Herod. [...]

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The Two Hearts

Published on September 10, 2005 by in Christian Culture

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The Heart of the Mother suffers with Jesus from the moment of his conception, throughout his hidden life, his public ministry, and his final sacrifice on the Cross. Her unfailing love and her sorrows are poured out with him and for him—and for each of us.

The Heart of Jesus is poured out totally for each and every human soul. His heart is completely human and completely divine. He suffered on the Cross as God and Man and continues to suffer until the end of the world, offering himself unreservedly for our salvation. He is love—the source and fulfillment of all human longings for love.

“Behold the heart that has loved mankind so much.”

Michael O’Brien, father of six, is a painter and writer. He is the author of several books, notably the best-selling novel Father Elijah and his examination of the paganization of contemporary children’s culture, A Landscape With Dragons: the Battle for Your Child’s Mind. You may visit him at his website www.studiobrien.com.

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All of us are to some degree afflicted with a tragically stunted image of who we are. This tendency in human nature has never been so pronounced as in our times, when we are continually bombarded with false messages about the meaning of human life, the value of the human person and his ultimate destiny. Indeed, at every turn we are saturated in anti-words, false words. In Jesus we have been given the true Word made flesh, who shows us what we really are and points the way to what we are to become. He does this not only through his teachings, but also by the witness of his life. In Christ, God lays bare his heart in the total vulnerability of being fully human, to the point of permitting himself to be crucified.

He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as the prophet Isaiah says. He knew joy, but he accepted the suffering of our state in life. He accepted it because he knew that in the passage through the eye of the needle, a great secret is to be found. The priceless “secret” is that on the other side of the needle’s eye is a vast and beautiful kingdom—an infinite kingdom in which the beauty of God the Father is ever creating more and more beauty, more and more love. And even in this world we, created in the image and likeness of God, can reflect this. Like him, we must go through the eye of the needle and, following his example, through the Cross. For most of us this is a lifelong journey, with many trials and errors, and even some false trails. Yet, because Christ is who he says he is, because he is Love, he is always leading us back on the path that will bring us to the Father. [...]

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Many of you will recall the controversy that arose in the world’s media a few years ago over the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels for young readers. Numerous articles appeared in the press praising the books as a breakthrough to a more literate form of culture for young people. They exalted its dramatic qualities, imaginative story-telling, humor, and promotion of “values.” Little serious reflection was given to the fact that the foundational element of the series is witchcraft and sorcery, which is glamorized and offered to the reader as normal, even a saving path. The central character, Harry, is a sorcerer in training. This is not the place to restate the arguments, pro and con; I have done this in previous articles, (1) which can be read in the archives of the Our Lady and Christian Culture menu of this website. However, I would like to re-emphasize here that few if any cultural works in the history of mankind have spread so far and so quickly as the Potter series. Indeed there are now hundreds of millions of readers. [...]

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In part one of this series of articles on children’s fantasy literature, I wrote that we should always keep in mind a fundamental principle of culture: We must never forget that symbols in our minds exercise a certain power over us, though their influence is usually subconscious, and especially so in the minds of the young. Symbols are keystones in the architecture of thought, indeed in our perceptions of reality itself. If we lose symbolism, we lose our way of knowing things. If symbols are corrupted, concepts are corrupted, and then we lose our ability to understand things as they are, rendering us more vulnerable to deformation of our perceptions and our actions.

The Holy Scriptures are rich in the true symbols that are absolutely essential to a proper understanding of who we are and where we are situated in the Great War between good and evil—the war that will last until the end of time. Our Lady, for example, is the woman foretold in Genesis 3:15 who will crush the serpent’s head. In her role as Co-redemptrix with Christ on Calvary she is the promise fulfilled, and is further revealed as the Woman of Revelation, “the great sign, the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1). Satan is “the huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil . . . the seducer of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9) who “makes war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the Commandments and give witness to Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). In the first and last books of the Scriptures, salvation history is revealed in these symbolic forms—symbols, however, that are no “mere” fantasies, for they represent real persons and forces that affect the eternal destiny of each of us. [...]

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“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Because she was with child, she cried aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky: it was a huge dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns; on his head were seven crowns. His tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, ready to devour her child as soon as it was born” (Rev. 12:1-6).

The early Church Fathers taught that this passage has a manifold meaning. On one level it refers to Mary of Nazareth and the birth of Christ; on another it refers to the Church as she labors to bear salvation into the world. This child is, in a sense, every child and is the offspring of the Church. She is to carry this child as the image of God, transfigured in Christ, and to bring him forth into eternal life. She groans in agony, and the primeval serpent hates her, for he knows that her offspring, protected and grown in her womb, will crush his head. On still another level, the Woman of Revelation is Our Lady, the Mother of the Church, mother of all peoples and all individual souls. As such, she exercises a particularly urgent mission to preserve the young from the deceptions of the ancient enemy of mankind.

In our times a phenomenon is occurring that is unprecedented in human history. A complex and very powerful social revolution is reshaping human consciousness with great speed and force. It tells us at every turn who we are, what we are worth, what is good and evil, and does so with all the genius and power of modern media. Though it retains vestiges of a once-Christian civilization, it weaves truths and untruths into a strong delusion to which large numbers of people, including many believing Christians, have succumbed. By and large this redefinition of man has taken place through the vehicle of culture.

[...]

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Habemus Papam, Alleluia!

May the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of the Vicar of Christ, wrap in her mantle of love and protection our newly elected Holy Father, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. May she guide and protect our new Holy Father in the peaceful recesses of her Most Immaculate Heart, and bring to his papal heart every grace and blessing necessary for guiding the People of God and the entire human family during this historical moment for the Church and for the world.

Thank you, O Holy Mother of God and Mother of the Church, for hearing our prayers and granting us the extraordinary gift of Benedict XVI!

We thank you as well, dear Mother of the Church, that in his first public statement as Vicar of your Son, our blessed Holy Father invoked your holy name. May you indeed stand alongside him with the full graces of your Most Immaculate Heart to guide each decision of his papacy:

Dear brothers and sisters,

After the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard.

I am comforted by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments. And above all, I entrust myself to your prayers.

With the joy of the risen Lord and confidence in his constant help, we will go forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary his most holy Mother will be alongside us.

Thank you.

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Of the myriad phenomenal gifts which God gave (and will continue to give) to the Church and the world through John Paul II, one in particular stands out for me as especially significant for our times. He was a living icon of holy fatherhood. In this great apostle, priest, teacher, and chief shepherd of the flock of the Lord, we experienced an image of Christ’s love, and of God the Father as revealed in Christ Jesus. John Paul II embodied all that was best in human nature, irradiated with grace. An ardent priest, a philosopher, an artist, a sportsman, a man of sacrifice, a man of tender heart and nerves of steel, of wit and laughter and tears, he expressed the essential nature of what it is to be a fully-alive Christian—to be a person in whom Truth and Love are integrated. His qualities seem inexhaustible, his sanctity unquestionable, the legacy of his pontificate so rich that it will be centuries before we absorb it completely, if we ever do. The effects of this extraordinary generosity on the part of Heaven have already begun, yet there is more to come, perhaps centuries more, during which the light he brought to us “from above” will increase and not fade in memory. [...]

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Who Will Be the Rock?

Published on April 16, 2005 by in Christian Culture

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Eternal Immenseness
Void without lacking
Though open
to all
that may want to be done
by Him Who can do
Anything!

We wait with
hopeful expectation
To see who will be chosen –
by the same Spirit
Who moved upon the waters –
to pilot this Ship.
Who will be the Rock
carved by the Master Artist
into the image
of the Vicar of Christ? [...]

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We invite all readers to continue the Novena prayers offered for the election of the next Holy Father up to and through the days during which the cardinals will be in conclave. Let us continue to invoke the Heavenly Father to send down the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart of Mary to inspire the cardinals to elect the person most pleasing to God to become the Vicar of His Son and spiritual father of all humanity. – Ed.

The Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, calls the People of God to be in fervent prayer, in imitation of the disciples in the Upper Room and in union with Mary, for the upcoming conclave of cardinals who will gather to elect the next pontiff. In the nine days which follow the funeral of our beloved Pope John Paul II (Friday, April 8) and which precede the beginning of the conclave (Monday, April 18), let us follow these directives in unified prayer for the election of the next Vicar of Christ.

Heavenly Father,

We, the People of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who will be (remove “who will be” once conclave begins) in conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the hearts of our cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to you, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history at the beginning of the Third Millennium.

We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our cardinals to select the next Holy Father in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse. Holy Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son:

1 Our Father
1 Hail Mary
1 Glory Be

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!

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The Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, calls the People of God to be in fervent prayer, in imitation of the disciples in the Upper Room and in union with Mary, for the upcoming conclave of cardinals who will gather to elect the next pontiff. In the nine days which follow the funeral of our beloved Pope John Paul II (Friday, April 8) and which precede the beginning of the conclave (Monday, April 18), let us follow these directives in unified prayer for the election of the next Vicar of Christ.

Heavenly Father,

We, the People of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who will be in conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the hearts of our cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to you, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history at the beginning of the Third Millennium.

We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our cardinals to select the next Holy Father in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse. Holy Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son:

1 Our Father
1 Hail Mary
1 Glory Be

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!

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We have lost the Totus Tuus. Pope John Paul II has died and been led, by the hand of his Mother and ours, to his eternal reward.

Prelates, scholars, theologians, historians, philosophers, journalists, world religion leaders, heads of states, and common people alike will all be in a competition of charity to speak most superlatively of what this one man has given to the Church and to contemporary world history and culture. John Paul II has left his indelible mark upon so many diverse sectors of thought and life, which include theology, society, culture, morals, philosophy, politics, ecumenism, bio-ethics, evangelization, poetry, youth, sports, anthropology, family, and most of all, sanctity.

It can be argued without pious exaggeration that Pope John Paul II has also been the greatest Marian pope in history. He has taught by life, not only by word, what it means to be “entirely yours” Mary. His personal witness of Marian consecration has led to his ubiquitous acts of Marian teachings and entrustments, which have instructed the world what it means to live holy slavery to the Mother of God as the most perfect means of conformity to Jesus Christ in full fidelity to our baptismal promises.

John Paul II will go down in history as the instrumental cause for the fall of Communism in the West. On March 25, 1984, the Totus Tuus consecrated the world, inclusive of Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in obedience to the heavenly request of his Mother, as conveyed through Sr. Lucia of Fatima. He makes Marian history once again by augmenting the Rosary, the Church’s favored Marian prayer, with his own inspired Luminous mysteries, bringing still more of the Light of Christ through the Mother into our present darkness.

No one has more convincingly taught and lived the doctrine of the “Maternal Mediation” of Our Lady, as the Holy Father loved to refer to it (e.g., Redemptoris Mater, III). His exhortation and his example is what returned the doctrine of the Mother’s mediation at the service of Christ the one Mediator and of humanity as the central contemporary Marian doctrinal issue after its temporary exodus from mariological focus in the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council.

John Paul’s irrepressible witness of preaching the Mother’s mission as spiritual Mother of all peoples and nations, coupled with his papal example on consecrating and entrusting most every country, shrine, world situation, and even the third millennium itself to her Heart and her care, has also provided a rock-solid foundation for the eventual solemn definition of this heavenly role of our motherly Mediatrix. A great many Marian devotees throughout the world had also prayed and petitioned for a dogmatic crowning of Our Lady through the papal proclamation of her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate, and thus bringing to definitive and worldwide initiation the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as prophetically promised at Fatima (July 13, 1917). Though the solemn definition was not enacted by our beloved Marian pontiff, his writings and his life have irrevocably paved the way for this fifth Marian Dogma, with a papal and ecclesiological foundation which leaves the mindful and humble observer only with the question of “when,” not “if.”

As to the further question of what can we do now to see John Paul II’s theological and pastoral preparation for this dogmatic crown for Our Lady Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate reach its rightful fruition for the honor of our Mother and the good of our world, I believe his own directives to us all would simply be, “Be not afraid,” and “Continue to pray.”

Holy Father, with tears in our eyes and love in our hearts, we say to you, “good-bye and thank you.” Thank you for giving your all without reserve to your Church, to your world, and to your Mother. As you were on earth, so will you be forever in heaven, the Totus Tuus: “entirely Hers.”

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Terry Schiavo is dying. It has now been over four days since Terri has been denied food and water. Federal Judge Whittemore has just rejected the petition made possible by the special approval of Congress and President Bush to reinsert her feeding tube.

We are urgently calling Christians and all people of good will to fast in whatever way they can to restore Terri’s feeding tube and for the full protection of her precious life.

Please join us in a solidarity of fasting with our sister, Terri, as long as she remains without food and water, in urgent petition to God for the protection of her life. Let us feel a small portion of Terri’s hunger and thirst, and offer our fasting for an intervention of God for Terri and for our country, that we will not allow the direct killing of an innocent human being by starvation and dehydration.

These next few days hold the final opportunity to save Terri’s life. The transcendent value of human life demands every possible effort for its protection. Please join us, in whatever way you can, in a fast with Terri.

“And Jesus rebuked him, and the devil came out of him, and the child was cured…Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’…Jesus said to them, “because of your unbelief…but this kind is not cast out except by prayer and fasting” (Mt. 17:18-21).”

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The following is a letter by Michael O’Brien in response to a mother who wrote to him regarding fantasy literature and its influence on her children. Though she is a person of strong faith, she is finding it increasingly difficult to resist the continuous influx of disordered fantasy and other corrupt cultural influences in her children’s lives. She notes two significant factors in her situation, ones which are probably shared by most families.

The first: despite all efforts to keep questionable material out of her home, her children are constantly exposed to it through their friends, extended family, neighbors, in libraries and at school.

The second: they are too young to fully understand why their parents object to this material, especially since it is in the forefront of young people’s interests at this time, including all the families with whom they are acquainted.

This woman’s family is strong in the practice of their faith, and she strives to provide good cultural material, especially reading, in the home. However, the children constantly pressure her to allow them access to objectionable books, films, and videos.

Mrs. Smith’s reply follows at the end of this article. [...]

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You know the kind of splinter I mean. You are hammering together a homemade bunk-bed or carrying firewood, and it somehow drives itself deep beneath the surface of the skin. It’s a tiny black dot. By contrast, big splinters look like splinters, mean and ugly, but tweezers usually make short work of them. Not so with these little invaders. They are too small to extract, and too subtle to stop a project in mid-stride. “Later,” you think, “I’ll get it out later.”

But they have a curious way of being forgotten until you wake in the middle of the night with a throbbing, swollen finger, infected and useless. Just a tiny thing, but it can ruin a whole night and the following day into the bargain.

Certain sins are like that. “It’s just a little thing,” you say to yourself, “Later, I’ll deal with it later.”

“It’s just a venial sin,” you think, forgetting that even a venial sin darkens the mind and weakens the will. “It’s really harmless,” you think, “I’m not hurting anybody by it!” It took the death of a friend to teach me just how wrong I was.

Paul and Marie were members of our parish and they were the kind of people who are the heart of any faith community. In their late 30’s, they had five bright and beautiful children and worked hard to make a living on their small dairy farm. The family radiated warmth and strong faith. Quiet people, humble, very much in love with each other after ten years of marriage. They had recently suffered the loss of their only son, the eldest child, Dominic, an exceptional boy who had been a champion swimmer, good student, and devout altar boy. He had died after an excruciating battle against Leukemia. But Paul and Marie possessed the kind of faith that survives such fiery tests.

Marie was a fervent Catholic who since early childhood had prayed the rosary every day of her life. The family rosary was a cornerstone of their daily prayers. Paul was a convert who had embraced the Faith wholeheartedly. “We must praise God in good times and praise God in hard times!” he would often say. Their hearts had been broken by Dominic’s death, but now were mending. The Lord had blessed them not long after with the birth of a baby boy, David.

I admired Paul very much. I think most of the other husbands and fathers in the parish felt as I did, for he was a truly fine man. He was usually a silent person but when he spoke his words were the fruit of some deep perception and oftentimes wisdom. There was something in him that we all loved, though it escaped definition. It wasn’t exactly that integrity and quiet dignity of his which he never seemed to betray. Nor was it just the fact that he worked very hard to provide for his large and growing family. Nor was it because he was handsome and carried his looks without vanity. No one could describe it really. Perhaps it was his constancy and a solitude of soul which he radiated even in crowds. There was, you felt, a great physical and moral strength. This strength was respected but not feared. His power, exercised gently, contained a mystery. Above all, there was an atmosphere of virtue about him. Paul was good. Of the many good men I have known in my life, it seemed to me that Paul was most like St. Joseph.

I have no doubt that, being human, he had some faults. But they weren’t very visible. I do not wish to idealize him, but for many of us he was an image of Christian manhood, the ideal that we hold up within ourselves of what we should be. Without such ideals we would soon falter and lose hope.

The last time I saw him his children and mine were playing together in the swimming pool at the local recreation center. Paul and I stood neck deep in water making silly conversation about some day “rubber-tubing” across the ocean together. We joked about the dangers. In my last memory of him I can still see him laughing heartily at death.

The following Wednesday was catechism night. There was no Catholic school in our area, and the church building was small, so we rented classrooms at the local high school one evening a week. I don’t know why I felt so “low” that night, but maybe it was because just too many things had gone wrong during the past few weeks. There was an infestation of rats in our house, the foundation was rotting, the basement was flooded and we were broke. I was taking it all rather badly. Most of all I was upset that I was taking it badly. In addition, I had one of those nasty little splinters in a finger of my right hand (my working hand no less) and it was infected. To put it simply, I was resenting my lot in life mightily.

As I drove my children through the school parking lot to drop them off for catechism we passed Paul’s parked car. A flash of resentment boiled through me.

“It’s easy for you, Paul,” I thought angrily, “It’s easy for you to be noble and virtuous! Nothing ever goes wrong for you!”

The reader will note, perhaps, that in my selfish self-pity I had momentarily forgotten the recent death of his son.

It was just a small thing, a mean moment quickly come and quickly gone. A little resentment. “A bad habit, really. Not actually a sin,” I said to myself. I shook off the mood and went about my business.

Later, in the middle of the night I awoke from a dream about death. A strange dream, for I am not morbid by nature nor am I troubled by fear of death. I wondered if someone could be dying at that moment. So I got up and gazed out the window into a completely black night. I prayed for the soul of someone who might be dying out there. As I watched the dawn turn grey, the phone rang.

“Have you heard?” the voice said, “It’s unbelievable. Paul is dead.”

On catechism nights Marie usually piled all the children into their car for the ride to town. Once in a while, if baby David was sleeping, she would leave him in the crib upstairs, knowing that Paul was only a few dozen yards away in the barn. He was finishing up the milking and would return to the house shortly. That night it looked like they were going to be late for catechism, and everyone was rushing around looking for books, coats, and boots. David was awake and Marie bundled him into his car seat to accompany them on the ride to town. There wasn’t a spare minute to go to the barn to tell Paul she had taken the baby with her. Some time after their departure Paul looked out the barn window to see their old wooden farmhouse going up in flames. Realizing there was a chance David was still asleep in his crib, in a split-second of decision Paul bolted into the house and up the staircase. Overcome with invisible, deadly fumes, he collapsed in the hallway by David’s bedroom door. There he died.

The entire parish reeled in horror and disbelief: No! Impossible! How could this happen? How can Marie bear it? First Dominic, now Paul!?

People were stunned, angry, dismayed.

“How could God allow this?” they said. “There are too few good men as it is!”

“Maybe God wants to make Marie a saint,” someone else suggested.

“Why, why, why?” said others. “Maybe there is no God. Maybe we’re just blind worthless creatures ground down by fate.”

Our pastor, Father John, spoke of the anguish of Job and of the hurt cries of the Psalmist in the face of the unjust blows that life does deliver. That we cry out our human feelings to God, he said, reveals that we are people of faith, not of unbelief. God permitted His own son to die, he told us, and we should think about why He did that.

The grace given to many at the funeral Mass was a deep peace, even a light, beneath the roaring waves of the ocean of our grief. The grief of Marie and her children was of a different order, a very great cross. Yet Marie moved as if in a river of grace, filled with grace and carried by grace. Moreover, she showed us how to spread grace in the midst of disaster. Throughout the events of those dark days she carried a rosary in her hands, and constantly prayed it whenever she could. She spread her peace and grace to the rest of us.

Not long after, my wife and I had supper with Marie and the children. We had brought a gift for them, a small painting of St Joseph and the Christ Child which I had made years before as a gift for my wife. It was one of the most treasured possessions among our few belongings, but we were happy to part with it. Marie received it with joy, and remarked that St. Joseph and the boy Jesus in the picture looked just like Paul and Dominic. Though I had painted it long before we first met their family, it was quite true, the resemblance was uncanny.

“They’re looking after us,” she said, and I knew she meant both St. Joseph and Jesus and her husband and son.

As we talked on, it became clear that the harsh reality of raising a family without a father had set in, and she was struggling. But she kept that rosary wrapped around her hand, and whenever there was a gap in the conversation, her lips would move in silent prayer. Her faith remained unshaken. She told us that only a week before his death Paul had given her and the children miraculous medals of Our Lady, and that they all had been wearing them the night of the fire.

My wife then asked the question that was, perhaps, on everyone’s minds: Why had God permitted it to happen? Why had they not been warned?

Marie looked up at a crucifix on the wall and said quietly, “We were warned. When Paul gave us the medals, I remember putting the chain over my head, and something came over me at that moment. I had a strong sense that Our Lady wanted us to leave the house, to move out of it for a while until we could build a safer house.”

She paused and looked at us, a well of sadness in her eyes. “I shook it off,” she whispered. “I dismissed it as irrational.”

There was another pause. “We were praying,” she said. “We never stopped praying. But I think maybe we weren’t listening.”

I was moved not only by her insight, but by the peace in her eyes and her voice as she said it. She was showing us that the important thing is not so much that we make mistakes in life, but that we learn from our mistakes. It was not God’s primary will that Paul should die, but when he did die the Lord brought a different good from it.

For years afterward I wondered what good God could possibly bring from such a tragedy. It took time to see it. For Marie it was a long and often lonely path of deeper union with Christ crucified. Now, almost twenty years later, she remains a person of profound faith and wisdom who is a blessing to everyone who knows her. Her children are grown and making their way in life very well. David, her baby son, is now a strong young man studying for the priesthood.

And for those of us who knew him, Paul’s death was also a powerful instrument of growth. The hearts of many fathers in our parish and throughout the whole valley were shaken, and turned towards their own children. The hearts of all were reminded of the shortness and uncertainty of life. And for one person there was a hard lesson: Paul died at the very moment I was resenting him.

For the rest of my life I will wonder what might have happened if I had turned the temptation into a prayer for him. This is the only way for a Christian. It helps little to thrust the dark suggestions and impulses of our fallen natures back below the surface. It is even worse, of course, to give in to them. What, then, is to be done with them?

The answer is once again, prayer, prayer, prayer! What would the world be like if we were to turn every temptation into an opportunity to receive grace and to spread grace. If every invitation to sin were converted into a prayer, the darkness would quickly lose its power. The Resurrection would penetrate to every nook and cranny, every dark corner, every splinter in our souls.

O Mary, Queen of the family, teach us to pray, teach us to listen!

Michael O’Brien, father of six, is a painter and writer. He is the author of several books, notably the best-selling novel Father Elijah and his examination of the paganization of contemporary children’s culture, A Landscape With Dragons: the Battle for Your Child’s Mind. You may visit him at his website www.studiobrien.com.

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The Crown

Published on December 25, 2004 by in Christian Culture, December 2004

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In the cold dark barren land,
stars and moon and the great star
that has appeared,
puzzling the wise and the low,
scatter diamonds upon the blood soaked snow.
The grieving earth awakes to its first groaning;
and men, grown weary of toil and fear,
cynical of love and despairing of truth,
bearing lamentations as if these were their only
birthright, look up at last. [...]

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The following article offers a commentary on the concept of the “heart” from an African cultural perspective, which provides new insights into devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. – Ed.

In African cultures, the heart is the seat of sentiments, psychic states and moral qualities. In the body, it participates in the life of the individual by working in unison with the other parts of the body. In this way it predisposes the person to live with other people and with the other elements of the universe. In fact, it is what makes the African “a being with,” a person, someone with whom others can have friendship and union. Thanks to it, the person becomes “heart” to the community and to the universe by playing in society, and in the cosmos, the same role as his heart plays in the body. In African culture, the universe is conceived as something similar to a spider’s web, with all the different elements connected to each other. While God is the source of its vital energies, which he dispatches through the ancestors, man is at the center and those vital energies pass through him to the other elements. He is indeed the heart and the knot of unity in the universe. [...]

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Our Lady and Smallness

Published on November 13, 2004 by in Christian Culture

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Lately I have been pondering that mysterious quality our Lord called “poverty of spirit.” Perhaps it has been coming to mind more and more because I live in a community where the typical Catholic family has many children and survives on a single income. Ours is an economically depressed region of the woodlands of northern Ontario, where work is hard to find and not always steady when it is found. Among our people are genuine heroes who live the Gospels daily at great cost. Because they have chosen to build a culture of life in the midst of a society that is earnestly spreading the culture of death, the beatitudes are not abstractions for them. Day by day they struggle to do good, avoid evil, grow in virtue, overcome their personal faults and sins, and to fulfill the duty of the moment, which is to raise their families in a humble and happy manner. Though family life is generally considered “ordinary,” in fact it has never been more extraordinary than it is now; it is challenging and complex, considering the times we live in and the variety of human personalities that one finds in any given family. Add to this the confusion in the particular churches, government hostility to traditional families, the scattering of the extended family, and we have a recipe for suffering. [...]

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Catholics properly formed and faithful to our Tradition know that we must exercise our moral convictions as they are appropriately applied to the social and political arena. Catholics loyal to the Magisterium also know that we must make social decisions like voting based upon a hierarchy of values, that is, a priority of moral and social goods that eventually deems one candidate who holds to the highest values of the hierarchy to be a better moral choice than another. This instruction remains true, even though there can remain serious concerns on the part of the voter regarding a particular candidate who holds to the highest values in the hierarchy, but at the same time does not promote important secondary values that are part of an authentic Catholic hierarchy of goods.

With the news of the re-election of the fundamentally pro-life presidential candidate, over the staunchly pro-abortion challenger, I believe the Mother of the Unborn breathes a sigh of relief over the saving of the lives of so many babies—so, so many babies.

Yes, I believe that from a Catholic perspective there remain significant concerns about the present U.S. Administration’s position on other extremely important social issues.

The most serious case would be the complex moral issues surrounding the U.S. war on Iraq, particularly in light of the Holy See’s manifest stance against the Iraqi evasion which has been voiced in various addresses to the international community. During the Holy Father’s meeting with President Bush at the Vatican last June, the Pope referred to his opposition to the Iraqi invasion as the “unequivocal position of the Holy See” (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, June 9, 2004, p. 5). The legitimate doubts concerning the moral proximity of Saddam Hussein’s involvement in September 11 terrorist attack and his nuclear threat to the United States further bring into question the moral legitimacy of the war within traditional just war theory application.

Moreover, a global outlook that could contain elements similar to a type a “democratic consequentialism,” where other sovereign nations have democracy forced upon them against their will, even with the best of ultimate intentions for these nations — where the good end of democracy is attained through means that are morally questionable — could become a foreign policy formula for perpetual international military conflict.

Other key social issues, such as the Church’s call for a preferential option for the poor and an appropriate distribution of financial means based on the social principle of the common good, also constitute essential topics calling for a serious moral examination of the present domestic policy of the U.S. Administration from an authentically Catholic social perspective.  This true Catholic perspective  is particuarly emphasized by Popes Leo XIII, Bl. John XXIII, and John Paul II in their respective social encyclicals.

But once again, I believe the spiritual Mother of all peoples (which includes in a special way unborn people), breathes a sigh of relief in the mystical order over the saving of the lives of so many of her most defenseless—her beloved children in the womb. The fundamental right to life constitutes the foundation of all other human rights, supercedes all other social concerns, and thereby must be found at the top of any authentically Catholic hierarchy of values. As a twenty one year old male wrote in response to a letter to an editor which condemned “single issue voting”: “The Jews in Auschwitz were not particularly concerned about the Nazi Government’s social policies of social security, health care, or job problems, because their most fundamental right had been eliminated—they had lost the right to life.”

In addition to the legitimate single issue of the right to life, voters were faced with the responsibility to prevent homosexual civil unions and the further distortion of traditional marriage and family structures, embryonic stem cell research, cloning possibilities, and a full spectrum of spiritual and moral depravities that called for social resistance and the voting rejection of these anti-life, anti-family, anti-natural law positions.

The battle to ensure the right to life for every child in the womb is far from over in the United States and worldwide. I would dare say that the final victory over the historically calamitous scourge of abortion, which so immediately threatens to call down the justice of God upon the United States and other nations who are aborting their own offspring and national futures in direct defiance of the Father of all mankind, will not take place before the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This must include some type of God-given illumination of heart that will leave the world gasping in horror over what it has done to its most sublime and tender gift—its children.

The voting decisions that led Christians and other Americans of good will to choose life and other moral and spiritual issues over issues extremely serious although secondary, is a step in the right direction for the United States of America. May the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States, now guide the newly elected officials of this country to fully exercise their political powers of state to ensure the most fundamental right to life for every human being from conception to natural death, along with the other moral and social goods critically important for the common good of the entire world community and not only the United States– mindful of the fact that we are not the authors of life nor engineers of world peace and social justice, but only its privileged stewards.

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The following classic poem in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary was authored by the famous English Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889). In many ways the poem bespeaks the life of the person consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who senses the constant surrounding  presence of our spiritual Mother  much like  “the air we breath”:

Wild air, world-mothering air,
Nestling me everywhere,
That each eyelash or hair
Girdles; goes home betwixt
The fleeciest, frailest-flixed
Snowflake; that’s fairly mixed
With, riddles, and is rife
In every least thing’s life;
This needful, never spent,
And nursing element;
My more than meat and drink,
My meal at every wink;
This air, which, by life’s law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God’s infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race—
Mary Immaculate.
[...]

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Mary is Blue

Published on October 23, 2004 by in Christian Culture

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“Mary is blue,” the book said.

I’d been trying to find out more about this new faith I’d just accepted, trying to understand all the seemingly small things that make up the Catholic faith and Catholic tradition. The book—don’t ask me the title—mentioned that certain colors and symbols are often used in religious art to point to a characteristic of a person. While this varies from culture to culture, in Western art Mary is often shown dressed in blue to represent her purity (think of the pure blue of the sky), while Joseph is often dressed shown in brown to represent his humanity (think of the brown earth).

Suddenly, I saw blue Marys everywhere. Statues of Mary with blue dresses, holy cards of Mary with blue all around her, and books with Mary shown in blue on the covers. It was as if I’d learned a new language, a language hidden but in plain sight. [...]

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