“How long O Lord?”

More than twenty years ago I attended a presentation in the church I was attending at the time and the pastor was teaching a midweek series on the tribulation. I will never forget him saying, “We can get all caught up in the various teachings and presentations about a future tribulation, but the truth of the matter is that many of our Christian brothers and sisters are currently enduring the tribulation and are saying ‘How long, O Lord?'”

If that was true in 1995, it is certainly true today. And with that my heart goes out to the Christians in Communist China who are experiencing ramped up persecution while the world, especially the religious world, seems to look on complicit in the attacks. During this season of Lent I have tried to stay “quieter”; I’m not always successful; but this morning I came across an article written by one of my favorite writers, David Warren, on his blog “Essays in Idleness” and I want to share it with you. He captures the essence of the sad state of affairs for our fellow Christians in China and the silence from those who should be speaking truth.

Strange but true

There is a man named Sam Brownback (I kid you not) who is the United States Ambassador to Religious Freedom (which I am unable to find on a map). Leaving this aside, I am happy to inform gentle reader that, as far as I know, he is a good and honest man, which is an unusual thing in diplomatic circles. Anyone formerly the Secretary for Agriculture in Kansas I assume will have the down-home virtues. But I’ve heard other good things about him. As Governor of that fair state (elected then re-elected) he made himself viscerally hated not only by Democrats, but by all liberal and progressive Republicans, radically cutting not only state taxes but spending on their various statist schemes. And then he refused to retreat when they spread politically-correct lies about him, his policies and his record, with the active cooperation of the media. How to endure an adversary who can’t be manipulated or intimidated?

This is the most we can hope in a rightwing politician — guts — and they are still on display. Brownback is now in the news for a speech he gave at the Hong Kong press club, detailing what is happening to Catholics under the still professedly Communist Peking regime. They are being persecuted, their churches demolished, their children orphaned and brainwashed, their own hierarchy systematically infiltrated by Communist agents, all with the permission and cooperation of men in Rome who, as Cardinal Zen — still among the most impressive and courageous living bishops of our Church — says must have come “from another planet.”

The recent Sino-Vatican Accord was a surrender. Among many other things it instructs members of the underground church in China to out themselves to the authorities, tells their priests to register with the mortal enemy, gives to the “official” church (a front for the Chinese state) the standing within the Roman to advance their anti-Christian subversion all over the globe. And, none of this is subtle.

Liars and press officers in the Vatican bureaucracy say that as a result of the Accord, the Communists are now going easier on the Catholics. But as Brownback and many others have reported, their campaign against these Christian faithful has actually stepped up since the Vatican sold them out.

Sam Brownback is a Trump appointee, however, as the progressive types eagerly point out. He is not Red, but Red State. They, who excuse moral monsters from Xi Jinping to Nicolas Maduro, faced with an opinionated Brownback, fall into apoplectic rages.

To me, standing harmlessly on the sidelines, it says something, that Trump and his administration are more reliably Catholic than Bergoglio and his. The latter has Cardinal Filoni, “ambassador for evangelization,” as it were, touring the planet to sell the Sino-Vatican deal. I do not think it possible that a man of Filoni’s background and eminence can be so ill-informed. He is “only following orders,” as they said at Nuremberg.

Filoni says this deal will be a good thing in the future, implying the admission it is a bad thing now. He should also know that the future is unknowable, by men. Perhaps he will prove right: that the Vatican-approved torment of China’s longsuffering Catholics will lead paradoxically to some unforeseeable good. But meanwhile, I am inclined to condemn, with horrified outrage, a grave and present evil, of just the sort we must expect when our own shepherds cut deals with the wolves.–David Warren

“How long O Lord?”

Does Genesis give us hope?

Not a day goes by that there is not some mention of global warming or climate change. Some refer to it in derision or jest while others accept it as “gospel” truth. Honestly, I don’t know one way or the other. I’m certain there are fluctuations in temperatures over a period of time, but I’m not on the “let’s build an ark” as the seas are rising team. For my Millennial and younger readers, if you’re still with me, I grew up in a period of “global cooling!” Yes, especially after two dangerously destructive winters in 1977 and 1978, the science said we were headed for a new glacial age. If you doubt me here is the first paragraph from Wikipedia on the subject of “global cooling.”

Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth‘s surface and atmosphere culminating in a period of extensive glaciationPress reports at the time did not accurately reflect the full scope of the debate in the scientific literature.[1] The current scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth underwent global warming throughout the 20th century and continues to warm.[2]

My steady response to anything posted in the news or even from the scientific community is a definitive “Well, we’ll see!” Yesterday they forecast snow for today. I said “Well, we’ll see!” Today it’s snowing! A true forecast now gives them slightly above 50 percent accuracy over the long haul.

Other conjectures are still waiting confirmation. But this morning I served as lector at the 6:45 Mass and the first reading was from Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22. This is the account of Noah in the ark waiting for the water from the flood to recede and allow him and his family to escape from their floating zoo. You may be familiar with the story: Noah releases a raven, then a dove, that returns because there is no place to land, then again and the dove returns with a plucked-off olive leaf, and finally a third time and the dove does not return. Noah and his family and all the animals leave the ark. Noah rejoices that he can escape the stench of the ark and put his feet on solid ground. He offers a sacrifice that pleases the Lord and the Lord makes a promise, a promise that I read this morning in a new way.

When the LORD smelled the sweet odor, he said to himself:
“Never again will I doom the earth because of man
since the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start;
nor will I ever again strike down all living beings, as I have done.
As long as the earth lasts,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
Summer and winter,
and day and night
shall not cease.”

Whether “global warming” is a thing or not; whether it’s caused by man or not; God says that he will never again doom the earth because of man. That’s a message of hope right out of Genesis.

Does that mean we can be irresponsible? No, not at all! But what is responsible is to major on the majors and minor on the minors. The major issue facing mankind is our need to reconcile with our Maker, the Lord of heaven and earth. Once reconciled through our Lord Jesus Christ his only Son, how we treat each other and the earth he has given us to steward will have more impact than all the uncertain science we pretend to affirm. And please read much more into that statement on scientific facts than I am saying here for now! I want to hear more about the good news of reconciliation with God and man in homilies and if such is the case I expect God to keep his word!

 

Does Genesis give us hope?

I don’t believe in coincidences!

As the Summit on Abuse opens this week in Rome there is a general sense of urgency that something significant takes place, as well as general sense of concern that the status quo will be the outcome. The laicization of Theodore McCarrick, announced on Friday, February 15, comes six months after the news came out that there were credible accusations against the once powerful cardinal. In these six months we have been sickened and angered and thrust to our knees as we seek God’s mercy for the Church that Christ founded and gave his life to make her without stain or wrinkle.

The hopes for reform are neutralized by the seeming intransigence of powerful prelates who speak carefully crafted words, but show no signs of humility or contrition in the face of perhaps the worst crisis the Church has faced in the last 1000 years. An example in point came from the news conference in Rome prior to the summit as questions about the focus of the summit were being addressed to Cardinal Blase Cupich and Archbishop Charles Scicluna.

Diane Montagna of LifeSite News asked: 

Recently, Cardinal Muller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — which gives him a unique perspective on these problems — said, as others have … that more than 80% of the victims of these sexual offenders are teenagers of the male sex. Will the problem of homosexuality among the clergy be addressed as part of this problem?  It’s obvious from the data that many of these acts committed against minors are homosexual acts. In fact, the majority [are]. So will this be part of the Church’s ‘transparency’ over the course of the coming days?

Cardinal Cupich answered:

Yes, I believe that it’s important to admit the fact and recognize the fact of what you said in terms of the percentage of abuse involving male on male sex abuse. That is important. I think that has to be recognized. At the same time, as professional organizations studied the causes and contexts — such as the John Jay School of Criminal Justice and also the Royal Commission’s report in Australia — indicated that homosexuality itself is not a cause. It is a matter however of opportunity and also a matter of poor training on the part of people.

Lord, have mercy!

Pope Francis has called for a Summit on Sexual Abuse convening  all the presidents of the national bishops’ conferences to come to Rome, February 21-24, beginning Thursday. It hit me last week that there is something very significant about when this conference falls on the calendar. And because I believe in the supernatural, and I am certain that Jesus Christ established the Church (Matthew 16:18), unlike Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, and I believe that he will not let the gates of hell prevail against her, I believe that it is no coincidence that the starting date of the Summit on Sexual Abuse falls on the feast day of St. Peter Damian, a doctor of the Church.

One thousand years ago, Peter Damian led a reform in the Church to clean up sexual abuses within the clergy among cardinals, bishops and priests. These sexual abuses were focused principally on sodomy being practiced among the clergy. The terms “homosexual” or “gay” or “same-sex attraction” were not in the parlance of the day—just sodomy!

Will you join me in praying this novena starting now and for the next nine days to St. Peter Damian for true reform and reparation in our beloved Church?

NOVENA TO ST. PETER DAMIAN FOR REFORM AND REPARATION IN THE CHURCH

V. O Blessed Saint Peter, Cardinal and Doctor of the Church,
.
R. Thy soul was inflamed by holy zeal for God’s House.
.
God gave thee to His Church in those sad times when the wickedness of the
world had robbed her of her beauty.
.
Thou wast a chief instrument used by God to bring back to His one Church its ancient beauty.
.
Thee, who bore the glorious name of Peter Damian! The Mystical Body of Christ, which God intended to be free, was but a slave, in the power of the rulers of this world; and the vices, which are inherent to human weakness defiled His Sacred Temple.
.
V. Yet God had pity on the Perfect Spouse of Christ,
.
R. And for her deliverance He chose thee, Saint Peter, as His principal cooperator in restoring order.
.
Thy example and thy labors prepared the way and the work of regeneration was
completed.
Thou hast fought the good fight; thou art now in thy rest; but thy love of the
Church, and thy power to help, are greater than ever.
Watch, then, over her interests.
Obtain for her pastors that apostolic energy and courage, which alone can cope with enemies so determined as hers are.
Obtain for her priests the holiness which God demands from
them that are to be salt of the earth.
(cf. Mt 5:13)
.
V. Obtain for the Faithful the respect and obedience they owe to those who direct them in the path of salvation.
.
R. Thou wast not only a Prince and Successor to the Apostles, thou wast moreover the model of penance in the midst of a corrupt age.
Pray for us, that we may be eager to atone for our sins by works of mortification. Excite within our souls the remembrance of the sufferings of our Redeemer, that so His Passion may urge us to repentance and hope. Increase our confidence in our Blessed Mother, the Ever Virgin Mary, the Refuge of Sinners, and make us, like thyself, full of filial affection towards her, and fill us with zeal that she may be honored and loved by those who are around us. Amen.
.
(mention special intention)
.
V. Assist us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, through the merits of St. Peter Damian.
.
R. That what our endeavors cannot obtain may be given us by his intercession.
.
V. Our Father… R. Give us this day…
.
V. Hail Mary… R. Holy Mary…
.
V. Glory Be… R. As it was in the beginning…
.
V. Let us pray.
.
Grant unto us, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, so to follow the counsels and example of blessed Peter, Thy Confessor and Bishop, that we may, by despising earthly things, obtain everlasting joys. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I don’t believe in coincidences!

Excommunication or not

web3-vatican-mafia-excommunication-pope-fabrycs-via-shutterstock

Earlier this month an Irish priest, Fr. John Hogan, parish priest of Multyfarnham in County Westmeath, refused to give communion to Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy, a member of the lower house of the Irish parliament. Mr. Troy was attending a requiem Mass celebrated by Fr. Hogan at St Nicholas’s parish church. The reason for the refusal of communion was due to the fact that TD Troy had supported the introduction of legalized abortion services in Ireland. Mr. Troy had previously identified himself as pro-life, but revealed that he had voted in favor of the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment that protected unborn babies. TD Robert Troy is a Catholic.

Across the pond just last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, signed a bill that he had lobbied for that would make it state law to permit abortion up until the minute before a baby would be born, that would allow other health practitioners beside doctors to perform abortions, and would remove all criminality for taking the life of an unborn child in any case. Governor Cuomo ordered that the lights of the tower on the World Trade Center be lit in pink to celebrate the victory. Andrew Cuomo is a Catholic.

What is the difference in these two scenarios? Two politicians, two actions in favor of abortion. One is refused communion; the other has not. That isn’t to say that Governor Cuomo may still be refused communion, but Cardinal Timothy Dolan has stated that “excommunication” is not “an appropriate response.” But is that the best response? What is the purpose of refusing communion or imposing canonical excommunication?

For the purpose of reference it should be noted that senior Illinois senator Dick Durbin has been excommunicated for his pro-abortion stance and voting record. In a recent letter Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield stated: “Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his Pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the Senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.”

Canon Law 915 reads as follows: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.

On September 22 of last year I wrote a blog entitled “In Silence No More” that dealt with St. Ambrose, then bishop of Milan, and his action of excommunication against emperor Theodosius after a massacre he had ordered upon the citizens of Thessalonica. The emperor complied with the order and fulfilled his penance before being restored to communion.

Denying communion is not an expulsion from a political party or a social club. It is actually a mercy given to the baptized to help him or her recognize grave sin and the accompanying discipline that has the purpose of bringing him or her to spiritual restoration and communion with God and man. The biblical basis for this is found in Matthew 18:15–20.

“If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (NABRE).

St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, writes that excommunication serves “to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5 NABRE). It is noteworthy that Paul did not leave the man dangling, forever separated from the life and sacraments of the Church as in 2 Corinthians 2:5–11 he instructs on how to bring about the reconciliation of this same sinner.

So excommunication is a mercy to show us the grave error of our unconfessed sin and to hopefully drive us back into the loving arms of the Father. Hebrews 12:11 tells us: “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for gain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”

The bottom line is that if our priests and bishops truly care for the souls of their sheep, they will not seek to embarrass them in a public or recriminatory way, or even worse, cower in the face of public opinion and do nothing. The issue is the spiritual health and destiny of each sheep. Is it worth currying political favor or protecting one’s own hind parts, and thus put in peril the eternal soul of the parishioner, no matter how exalted or esteemed he or she is? St. Ambrose didn’t think so. Emperor Theodosius was glad in the long run that he didn’t.

 

 

 

Excommunication or not

They dressed in white

61 Million

It seems appropriate to share this post from January 22 in light of Tuesday’s important speech from the chamber of the House of Representatives.

Today marks the 46th anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that made abortion on demand legal in all 50 states. The decision has been hailed as a victory for women and women’s rights. Many feminists regard it as indispensable for a woman to achieve full equality as a citizen of the United States.

A few days ago I came across some quotes from the earliest of “feminists” who advocated for women’s rights, especially the right to vote. These women who called in those days “suffragettes.” Many of them were present at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19–20, 1848. It was “a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman,” and it was held at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were two of the more renown women’s rights activists who attended this convention. Seventy-two years later the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the right to vote to all women in the nation.

Many of today’s feminists harken back to these brave and ground-breaking women for inspiration. As I stated earlier, the right to “choose an abortion” has become just as important as the “right to vote.” How did these 19th and early 20th century feminists compare to their modern-day compatriots? Let’s return to those quotes!

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

We are living today under a dynasty of force; the masculine element is everywhere overpowering the feminine, and crushing woman and children alike beneath its feet. Let woman assert herself in all her native purity, dignity, and strength, and end this wholesale suffering and murder of helpless children. With centuries of degradation, we have so little of true womanhood, that the world has but the faintest glimmering of what a woman is or should be. (Revolution, January 29, 1868)

Susan B. Anthony

The unifying theme of Susan Brownell Anthony’s life was to speak up for those without a voice. Anthony fought for temperance, the abolition of slavery and especially the enfranchisement of women. She also spoke up for the voiceless child in utero, opposing Restellism,  the term that Anthony’s newspaper and others at that time used for abortion. It’s easy to chalk up Anthony’s (and other early feminists’) opposition to abortion as a relic of their day and age. But these women were progressive and independent; they did not oppose abortion because they were conditioned to, but because they believed every human life has inherent and equal value, no matter their age, skin color or sex.

Anthony’s newspaper, the Revolution, had a policy  of not advertising abortion like other mainstream papers furtively did. Revolution editors like Elizabeth Cady Stanton were explicit in denouncing “child murder,” “infanticide” and “foeticide,” descriptions they used interchangeably for abortion. Indeed, a recent Smithsonian Magazine article discussed news coverage of “infanticide” in the 1860s, a common subject for early investigative reporters of the suffrage era, many of whom were women writing about their concerns under pseudonyms.

It is not hard to imagine that these early feminists and suffragists, Anthony among them, were opposed to the most fundamental human abuse: degrading another human being by claiming to own and destroy it.

In her famous 1875 talk on social purity,  Anthony condemned abortion as a consequence of liquor consumption.

Elizabeth Blackwell

In her autobiography, Elizabeth Blackwell, a suffragist and the first U.S. female doctor, went into medicine to denounce abortionists: “Women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror,” she wrote. “It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women.”

Charlotte Denman Lozier

Another suffragist physician, Charlotte Denman Lozier, said, “We are sure most women physicians will lend their influence and their aid to shield their sex from the foulest wrong committed against it,” that is, abortion.

Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president in 1872 said, ““The rights of children, then, as individuals, begin while they yet remain the foetus.” Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, declared, “Pregnancy is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature.”

These early feminists would be appalled if they could see where we are 170 years after that first women’s rights convention. Legally in the last 46 years, 61 million babies have paid the ultimate price. Their voices still speak to us today about the “foulest wrong committed” against all women, especially those who are yet unborn!

 

They dressed in white

What Child Is This?

I’m sitting next to my week-old grandson on Christmas Eve while he peacefully sleeps. His three older brothers are occupied in pretend battles and other pursuits common to little boys. But back to baby Peregrine…

On the eve of the celebration of our Savior’s birth, little Peregrine gives me insight into the fragility with which our God entered our world. He was totally dependent on his mother for everything that he needed. He subjected himself to our weakest and most vulnerable state to become one of us and offer us his greatest gift–our salvation!

This morning I read a quote from St. Hilary of Poitiers that captures the essence of this Christmas miracle:

“What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension? The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God, entered the Virgin’s womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity. He who upholds the universe, within whom and through whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth. He at whose voice archangels and angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in childish wailing. The Invisible and Incomprehensible, whom sight and feeling and touch cannot measure, was wrapped in a cradle.”

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Thank you Jesus! Merry Christmas!

What Child Is This?

Bring Them In!

This morning I remember a song we used to sing at the little white frame church by the railroad tracks in the little town I grew up in. The song was sung when all the Sunday school classes came together before being dismissed to their individual teachers.

Hark! ’tis the Shepherd’s voice I hear,
out in the desert dark and drear,
calling the sheep who’ve gone astray
far from the Shepherd’s fold away.

Refrain:
Bring them in, bring them in,
bring them in from the fields of sin;
Bring them in, bring them in,
Bring the wand’ring ones to Jesus.

On a regular basis we get reports from Barna, Gallup, Pew Research, or our own visual assessments that people aren’t going to church like they used to. We remember the good ole days when people knew that the Sunday place to be was in church. I am not minimizing that reality. Church attendance is way down. Yet sometimes we need perspective and maybe even a holy “kick in the pants.” I’ll let St. John Chrysostom (d. 407 A.D.) do the honors today in his homily To Those Who Had Not Attended the Assembly:

It seems I did no good with the long harangue I addressed to you a while ago, hoping to rouse up your enthusiasm for the meetings here. Once again our church is destitute of her children. So once again I have to annoy and burden you by reproving those who are present and faulting those who are left behind—faulting them because they have not overcome their laziness, and you because you have not lent the salvation of your brothers and sisters a helping hand.

My remarks are not so much directed at them as at you, because you haven’t brought them in—you don’t rouse them from their inertia and bring them to this table of salvation. How many fathers are here whose sons aren’t standing next to them? Was it so hard for you to bring some of your children with you?

So it’s clear that the absence of all the others who stayed away is not just because of their own laziness, but also because of your neglect.

But now, even if you’ve never done it before, stir yourselves up. Let each one of you enter the church with one of your family. Prod and urge one another to the congregation here—the father should urge his son, the son his father, the husbands their wives, the wives their husbands, the master his servant, the brother his brother, the friend his friend. In fact, let us not call only our friends but also our enemies to this common treasury of good things. If your enemy sees that you care for his welfare, he will doubtless give up hating you.

—St. John Chrysostom, To Those Who Had Not Attended the Assembly, 1, 3
A Year with the Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living, p. 342

Wise words from a wise Church Father! “Bring them in, bring them in, bring them in from the fields of sin. Bring the wand’ring ones to Jesus!”

Bring Them In!