Did Christ Really Die For Liberty?
By: Father Michael Rodriquez
On the verge of being condemned to death, Jesus Christ responds to Pontius Pilate, “For this I was born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth.” (Jn 18:37) Jesus Christ was not born for “freedom of conscience” or “religious liberty”; He was born to bring the truth, and hence salvation, to a fallen world. Erat lux vera . . . He was the true light. Only adherence to the truth nurtures our God-given freedom and allows it to thrive and prosper properly. Listen carefully to our Savior’s own words, “the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8:32) Pope Leo XIII, Vicar of Christ, teaches, “the best parent and guardian of liberty amongst men is truth” (Immortale Dei 40, November 1, 1885).
On January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that nearly all employers, including the Roman Catholic Church, will soon be forced to cover the cost of contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs in their health insurance plans. Fortunately, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken out against this brazen and blasphemous assault on the holy law of God, the sanctity of life, and the good of souls. Unfortunately, their response has thus far been spiritually feeble and morally anemic, i.e. it has revolved largely around the protection of religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and First Amendment rights, while remaining devoid of explicit reference to the absolute moral truths revealed by God and entrusted to the Holy Catholic Church.
Almost all 21st century Americans, and most modern-day Catholics, mistakenly assume that freedom is an absolute good. In his 1993 Encyclical Letter, Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II writes extensively about human freedom. In paragraph #34, he teaches, “there can be no morality without freedom [because] it is only in freedom that man can turn to what is good.” The raison d’être of freedom is for one to decide in favor of what is true, beautiful, and good. Our benevolent God has blessed man with free will precisely so that man may freely choose to submit to God’s commandments.
Already at the end of the nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII was warning us about many who were “perverting the very idea of freedom” with “false and absurd notions.” In paragraph #1 of his 1888 Encyclical Letter on the nature of true liberty, Libertas Præstantissimum, he wrote, “Man, indeed, is free to obey his reason, to seek moral good and to strive unswervingly after his last end.” Pope Leo XIII is reminding us that we are to exercise our freedom in order to: (1) obey reason and accept the truth, (2) do what is morally good, (3) save our souls, which is man’s final end. “The supreme end to which human liberty must aspire is God.” (Libertas Præstantissimum 11) Our Holy Father also alerts us to the obvious danger: by abusing his freedom and choosing evil, man will “disturb rightful order and fall headlong into the destruction which he has voluntarily chosen.” (Libertas Præstantissimum 1)
In Veritatis Splendor, #32, Pope John Paul II laments that “certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute.” In terms of metaphysics, placing freedom “above” truth is a calamitous error. Morally speaking, freedom and “individual rights” may never be divorced from the truth. No one can claim a “right” to espouse moral error or a false religion.
I hope and pray that our bishops will respond to the grace offered only to them as Successors of the Apostles. Behold, dear Bishops, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation! (2 Cor 6:2) The Health and Human Services “contraception mandate” is simply the latest manifestation of the pernicious moral relativism that continues to ravage both society and the Church. In order to truly combat this hideous “smoke of satan,” our bishops must tread in the hallowed footsteps of the Apostles, cast aside false notions of “religious liberty,” and proclaim the truth with valor, “Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic Faith. For unless a person keeps this Faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever.” (Symbol of St. Athanasius)
With respect to the HHS “contraception mandate,” I urge our nation’s bishops to implement the following ten-point plan.
(1) Pray to St. John Fisher, plead with him to intercede for you, and beg for the grace to imitate his indomitable example. John Fisher (1469-1535) was a model bishop of the Diocese of Rochester for twenty-three years in an age when the lives of many bishops were less than edifying. Under pressure from King Henry VIII, about 95% of the English bishops and clergy betrayed Our Lord and Holy Mother Church, but not Fisher. On June 22, 1535, St. John Fisher, seventy-one years old and hardly able to walk, was taken from the Tower of London to nearby Tower Hill. Upon the scaffold, right before he was beheaded, St. John Fisher spoke, “I am come here to die for Christ’s Catholic Church. And I thank God . . . ”
(2) Munus docendi: teach the truth. According to Apostolorum Successores (Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, Feb. 22, 2004) 57, “As an authoritative teacher of the faith, the Bishop sets revealed truth at the heart of his pastoral action.” Central to the bishop’s munus docendi (teaching office) is “to proclaim always and everywhere the moral principles of the social order.” (#120) U.S. Bishops, please teach with clarity and charity that the following are intrinsic evils: abortion, homosexual acts, contraception, and direct sterilization (against fertility) (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2271, 2357, 2370, 2399). Use your full episcopal authority to instruct all Catholics that each of these mortal sins is never acceptable, no Catholic may support anyone else in committing these terrible crimes against God, and every single Catholic must oppose these sins both in the private and public spheres.
(3) Devotion to Christ the King. In order to govern with the mind and heart of Christ the Lord, a bishop must “lie prostrate” at the feet of Christus Rex. U.S. Bishops, please read and study our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical, Quas Primas (December 11, 1925), which established the Feast of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI writes, “And we remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and His holy law out of their lives, that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics” (#1); “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony” (#19); and “Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ!” (#20)
(4) Munus regendi: “Catholic” politicians. U.S. Bishops, please exercise your munus regendi (office of governing) by applying the truths of the Catholic religion, outside of which there is no salvation, to “Catholic” politicians. It is not at all sufficient to urge the laity to “write to their senators and congressmen.” You are the Successors of the Apostles! You are the ones who have been strengthened by the Holy Spirit! You are the ones who have been blessed with apostolic grace! For the sake of the purity of our Catholic Faith, you must work diligently and prudently to win over the minds and hearts of so many “Catholic” politicians who have lost, or are on the brink of losing, the Faith. No Catholic politician may in any way support these sins (i.e. abortion, homosexual unions, contraception, direct sterilization) against God, the truth, human life, and mankind itself. If a “Catholic” public figure remains obstinate in such sin and persists in giving public scandal, you Bishops must, for the good of souls, issue the necessary excommunication, always with the goal and hope of the sinner’s eventual repentance and conversion.
(5) Munus regendi: the lay faithful. U.S. Bishops, please exercise your munus regendi by applying the truths of the Catholic religion, outside of which there is no salvation, to the lay faithful. With paternal solicitude, and always bearing in mind the salvation of souls, take the necessary measures to correct and discipline the lay faithful who are obstinate in supporting politicians and public officials who condone or promote abortion, homosexual unions, contraception, or direct sterilization.
(6) Munus regendi: the presbyterate. U.S. Bishops, please exercise your munus regendi by applying the truths of the Catholic religion, outside of which there is no salvation, to your presbyterates. Out of fidelity to Jesus Christ and His Church, and for the good of souls, insist that every single priest make it a pastoral priority to teach on the intrinsic evil of abortion, homosexual acts, contraception, and direct sterilization. Be vigilant, as is proper to your office, and provide, as needed, the appropriate encouragement, formation, correction, or disciplinary action with respect to your priests. Every single Catholic bishop and priest should teach what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. No excuses, no exceptions, abundant joy, overflowing charity!
(7) Foster true participation of the laity in the life of the Church. Apostolorum Successores, 110 (b), touches on the importance of participation in politics by the lay faithful, particularly in “addressing fundamental moral principles which do not admit of exception, derogation or compromise” and included in this list are “abortion, euthanasia, and the promotion and protection of the family based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.” Thus, well-aware of our country’s dire need for authentic Catholic politicians, every U.S. Bishop should make it a concern to foster these “vocations.” It is morally irresponsible to neglect the formation, encouragement, and support of true Catholic statesmen, while demanding that the faithful go out and vote when the only alternative available to them is settling for “the lesser of two evils.”
(8) Restore Catholic Marriage and the Family. Apostolorum Successores, 202, states, “As the one primarily responsible for the pastoral care of the family, which is the foundation and original cell of society and of the Church, the Bishop should establish this apostolate as a clear priority within the diocesan pastoral program.” In order to carry out this apostolate in a manner that is truly faithful to the perennial teachings of Holy Mother Church, I urge the U.S. Bishops to read and study our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical on Christian Marriage, Casti Connubii (December 31, 1930). God willing, the core of each diocese’s pastoral program to restore Catholic Marriage and the Family will consist of promoting the following truths: chastity before and within marriage, the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children, St. Joseph as the role model for all Catholic fathers, the Blessed Virgin Mary as the role model for all Catholic mothers, the Divine Child as the role model for all Catholic children, modest dress, especially for Catholic women.
(9) Prayer. St. Paul writes, “Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.” (Eph 6:11-13). Dear U.S. Bishops, we are in the midst of an epic spiritual battle, and truth be told, we are currently getting whipped. Please, lead the priests and faithful of your dioceses as often as possible in Holy Hours before the Blessed Sacrament and in the recitation of the Holy Rosary. Sancta Dei Genetrix, ora pro nobis.
(10) Munus sanctificandi: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I chose to save the most important one for last. In order to crush the diabolic HHS mandate, and every other evil that is afflicting the Church and society, Bishops must exercise their munus sanctificandi (office of sanctifying) and work tirelessly to restore the Mass of All Ages. Fr. Philip Wolfe, FSSP, preached very wisely in 2003, “What we do in the Liturgy determines what goes on out in the world. The most divine thing we can participate in this side of heaven is the Sacred Liturgy. During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the floodgates of heaven open up and all the graces come pouring down off the altar, through the congregation, out across to all creation. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most important thing in the universe. When things are properly done, the Liturgy raises earth up towards the level of heaven and it reorders and fixes the damage done by Adam and his descendants.”
Lex orandi, lex credendi: the Church believes as she prays. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1124) If the majority of Catholics no longer believe as the Church believes, e.g. that abortion, contraception, and homosexual activity are intrinsically evil and thus forbidden, this is necessarily a consequence of Catholics no longer worshipping God as the Church has always worshipped God. U.S. Bishops, please be obedient to the liturgical directives of Pope Benedict XVI. He refers to the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 as “a precious treasure to be preserved” (Universæ Ecclesiæ 8, April 30, 2011), and declares that it “must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage” (Summorum Pontificum, art. 1, July 7, 2007). Even more importantly, please be obedient to the venerable Roman liturgical tradition of two millennia, and the “timeless” liturgical truth transmitted by all the Popes in succession. As the glorious Roman Rite spreads its divine beauty and aroma throughout U.S. dioceses, the true lex orandi is sure to restore the true lex credendi.
The Son of God did not come down from heaven to “be free” and guarantee “First Amendment rights.” No, He took flesh from the Immaculate Virgin Mary, in order to die on the cross, vanquish sin, and witness to the truth. Only the truth safeguarded in the “womb” of the Catholic Church can set us free.
by Fr. Michael Rodríguez; January 31, 2012
Address to El Paso City Council
In the middle of our dark, secular, godless society, there is a light. This light is the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Jesus Christ and His Church teach the truth about homosexuality, and we can summarize this truth in three points:
(1) Homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity; they are mortal sins which cry to heaven for vengeance. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
(2) Homosexuality is an objective disorder.
(3) Homosexual persons are to be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.
In the debate over homosexuality, the dark side seeks to frame the issue as one of discrimination and civil rights. This makes no logical sense. No one has a civil right to do something morally wrong. I don’t have a right to steal. I don’t have a right to lie. I don’t have a right to commit adultery, and I don’t have a right to engage in homosexual acts. As for discrimination, discrimination exists when one is against a person not when one is against actions on the part of a person. The Roman Catholic Church condemns actions of a homosexual nature. She does not discriminate against homosexual persons.
Thus, before anyone speaks about discrimination and/or civil rights, the following questions must be answered:
(1) Do you believe in right and wrong?
(2) How do you determine what is right and what is wrong?
(3) Does society have an obligation to establish law and order in accordance with its best effort to determine right and wrong?
Thus, before anyone speaks about discrimination and/or civil rights, the following question must be answered:
(1) Are homosexual acts right or wrong?
If a Catholic does not believe and hold fast to the truth that homosexual acts are wrong, one is no longer Catholic. Such a “Catholic” must refrain from receiving our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion, because one is no longer in communion with the moral truths taught by Jesus Christ and His Church.
In conclusion, no one on the face of this earth has a greater love for homosexuals that the glorious Roman Catholic Church. But it is never loving to lie. If you lie to homosexuals and tell them that “homosexual acts are o.k,” then you are the one who is showing disdain for homosexuals, because you don’t care about their true good, happiness, and salvation.
Sancta Dei Genetrix, ora pro nobis.
Oh, Most Holy Mother of God We Entrust This To You
Here is Bishop Ochoa’s Press Release
Here is the El Paso Times Article.
JANUARY 12, 2012 PRESS RELEASE by Father Michael Rodríguez
It is unfortunate that Bishop Armando Ochoa, Administrator of the Diocese of El Paso and no longer our bishop, has decided to pursue legal action against me. Such legal action is unjust. Over the course of 9 1/2 years as the parish priest of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, I poured my heart and soul into caring for this parish, both in terms of temporal goods, and especially spiritual goods. I’m confident that hundreds of my former parishioners will eagerly testify to this. In his January 11, 2012, press release, Bishop Ochoa stated, “Fr. Rodríguez’s handling and use of donated funds has compromised the financial integrity of San Juan Bautista.” This is not true. Bishop Ochoa’s statement also refers to “Fr. Rodríguez’s mishandling of funds.” Again, this is not true. I have always honored, respected, and made good use of the financial patrimony of San Juan Bautista. I stake my entire reputation on this claim. On September 20, 2011, I opened my heart to my bishop, like a son to a father, and was completely honest and forthcoming with him as to the financial affairs of San Juan Bautista. I told him everything. He chose not to believe me. For the past four months, my canon lawyer has made repeated efforts to resolve this matter with Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, and he has refused. I have a great love for my former parish of San Juan Bautista, and my former parishioners. I am ready to fight for and defend them, whatever the cost. I am also ready to protect my own good name and reputation. I have never misappropriated or misused parish funds. Finally, I am convinced that the real reason for my former bishop’s actions against me is due to my defense of the Catholic Church’s teaching with regard to homosexuality as well as my adherence to the Roman Liturgy of 1962. If necessary, I will present prodigious evidence to support this contention. I will continue to do my best to be a good and holy priest, no matter the cost. I will continue to proclaim and teach the truths of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the area of sexual morality, no matter the cost. I will continue to adhere to the Ancient Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, no matter the cost. Please keep me in your prayers during this difficult trial. Please entrust me and my priesthood to the loving protection of Sancta Dei Genetrix, the Most Holy Mother of God. Thank you and may the good Lord bless you as this joyous Christmas season continues.
Fr. Michael Rodríguez,
Parochial Vicar, Santa Teresa de Jesús Parish
Please only forward to prayer warriors who will pray for these two servants of God. Please do not FaceBook this.
No comments are allowed, please just prayers.
2011 The Year Fr. Michael Rodriguez Shines
1. I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect. At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls. Any Catholic Who Supports Homosexual Acts
2. Furthermore, a Catholic would be guilty of a most grievous sin of omission if he/she neglected to actively oppose the homosexual agenda, which thrives on deception and conceals its wicked horns under the guises of “equal rights,” “tolerance,” “who am I to judge?,” etc. Any Catholic Who Supports Homosexual Acts
3. Remember: Every single Catholic, out of fidelity to charity and truth, has the absolute duty to oppose (1) the murder of unborn babies, and (2) any and all government attempts to legalize homosexual unions. Any Catholic Who Supports Homosexual Acts
4. “I was ordained to the Catholic priesthood to offer sacrifice and teach the only truth which brings salvation and happiness. . . The priesthood is my greatest joy. In the present circumstances, I intend to try even harder to be a good, holy priest. Obedience to my bishop is essential to the priesthood.” Bishop Publicly Disciplines Fr. Rodriguez
5. “Today, throughout 21st century America, elementary school children are being indoctrinated by homosexual activists that there are “different kinds of families.” Jesus Christ preached against the man who looks upon a woman and lusts after her. (Mt 5:28). Today, 21st century man, a slave to the fires of his passion and lust, cries “equal rights” in order to justify the abomination of male-male or female-female “unions.” The stench of moral decadence surrounds us, and yet we insist on spreading the lie that we of the 21st century are “enlightened and progressive” because we’ve “moved beyond the prejudices of the past.” The Truth About Homosexuality, Part IV
6. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin. We wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. The Truth About Homosexuality, Part IV
7. Above all, we are to show love and compassion towards homosexuals by leading them to the truth, and helping them to reject sinful homosexual activity. Remember, it’s about saving souls! We must be firm, yet humble, patient, and caring. Love and compassion means assisting the homosexual person to live chastely, form wholesome friendships, and grow in the virtues: peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, and modesty. (Gal 5:22) Happiness and self-fulfillment can never be gained through sinful relationships and disordered sexual activity. The Truth About Homosexuality
8. Under no circumstances can sinful homosexual acts ever be approved. Woe to the Christian who denies the reality of sin! It is never loving and respectful to lie to homosexuals by telling them that homosexual behavior is o.k. or “normal.” Don’t be fooled by the well-orchestrated campaigns of misinformation and deceit by pro-homosexual groups which have infested the media. Instead, trust in God and His commandments! Trust in the teachings of His Church! Homosexual acts were, are, and always will be an abomination before God and man. This is an infallible moral teaching of the Catholic Church to which every Catholic must give assent. The Truth About Homosexuality, Part II
By: Father Michael Rodriguez
Bishop Armando Ochoa Has Been Transferred To The Diocese of Fresno, California by Pope Benedict.
In light of the recent momentous events in the Diocese of El Paso, TX, I would like to present a special plea to faithful Roman Catholics from around the nation. On December 1, 2011, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, appointed Bishop Armando X. Ochoa as the new bishop of Fresno, California. Sursum corda! Now is the time to lift up our hearts to almighty God and beg Him to have mercy on us, poor sinners that we are. In order to protect and promote the precious Catholic religion, outside of which there is no salvation, it is imperative that all of us storm heaven with fervent prayers, especially the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary, begging God to send El Paso a holy, zealous, and fearless new shepherd.
Unfortunately, the Diocese of El Paso continues to be plagued by very serious problems and grave sins against God and the Faith. We desperately need a spiritual leader who will address these issues with honesty, determination, perseverance, and absolute fidelity to Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church.
It is of utmost importance to draw attention to three areas in the life of the diocese that are particularly infested with the vermin of modernism: (1) the Liturgy, or worship of God, (2) Catholic doctrine, or the teaching of the truths of the Faith, and (3) the priesthood.
The Diocese of El Paso needs a new bishop who will begin to take the necessary steps to correct the moral and spiritual disorder of liturgical abuses in the celebration of the Holy Sacraments of salvation, especially Mass and Confession. For example, it is commonplace in our parishes to find priests celebrating Mass and hearing Confessions carelessly and with no apparent faith, love, and devotion. The reckless and scandalous manner in which many priests and laity handle the precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is, objectively, not only sacrilegious, but diabolical.
In addition, I urge the faithful to implore the powerful aid of Sancta Dei Genetrix, the holy Mother of God, so that El Paso’s new bishop, obedient to the liturgical directives of Pope Benedict XVI, will be supportive of the 1962 Roman Liturgy, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass. Hundreds of Catholics in El Paso are, at present, petitioning for the establishment of a traditional Catholic parish dedicated exclusively to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite.
Pope Benedict refers to the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 as “a precious treasure to be preserved” (Universae Ecclesiae 8, April 30, 2011), and declares that it “must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage” (Summorum Pontificum, art.1, July 7, 2007). The Roman Pontiff instructs us further in regard to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too” (Pope Benedict’s July 7, 2007 letter to the world’s bishops). As the glorious Ancient Rite spreads its divine aroma and becomes more available throughout our diocese, it will prove to be a heavenly “leaven,” more than capable of restoring beauty, dignity, reverence, sacredness, and truth to the celebration of all the sacraments.
El Paso needs a new bishop and Successor to the Apostles, who will begin to take the necessary steps to correct the moral and spiritual disorder of watered-down, partial, false, and even heretical presentations of Catholic doctrine at our Catholic schools, Tepeyac Institute, and parish catechetical programs. Grave sins against the Faith include belittling, ridiculing, or obstinately questioning the salvific teachings of Holy Mother Church, as well as intentionally ignoring or maintaining silence on certain doctrinal or moral truths. We are in urgent need of a wise bishop who will make it clear that any form of dissent from Church teaching is unacceptable and inexcusable. It is not “pastoral” or charitable to sidestep or veer away from proclaiming the truth. If “love and compassion” are not grounded in the one truth taught by Jesus Christ and His Church, then “love” is a lie and “compassion” an illusion.
Given the raging forces unleashed by our three spiritual enemies—the devil, the world, and the flesh—it should come as no surprise that the holy sacrament of Matrimony is under vicious attack. First, the sin of divorce, and the denial of the indissolubility of marriage. Next comes the sin of contraception, with its refusal to accept the procreation and education of children as the primary ends of marriage. Finally, we’re now facing hell’s ultimate assault on marriage: the detestable sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, where the natural, anthropological foundation of marriage is rejected and destroyed.
As in many other parts of the country, there is an ongoing effort in El Paso, on the part of city officials, to legitimize homosexual unions under the pretext of extending “health-care benefits” to “unmarried partners” of city employees. This is disgraceful, totally irresponsible (society has a fundamental duty to protect and foster marriage and the family), and gravely immoral. Rome has made it very clear that every single Catholic has the obligation to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions. The mayor of El Paso, John Cook, is purportedly “Catholic,” yet he is the driving force behind the city’s attempt to sanction sodomy. We must pray for a heroic bishop who, strengthened by apostolic grace, will stand tall and defend God’s holy Law. He will first have to work prudently and patiently to win over the minds and hearts of the city’s many “Catholic” politicians who are on the brink of moral and spiritual ruin. However, if the mayor and other government officials remain obstinate in their sin and persist in giving public scandal, our new bishop must exercise his apostolic authority for the good of souls and issue the necessary excommunications, always with the hope of the sinner’s eventual repentance and conversion.
The Diocese of El Paso needs a new bishop and spiritual father who will begin to take the necessary steps to correct the moral and spiritual disorder of rampant homosexuality within our presbyterate. The abomination of actively homosexual priests is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance and is crippling our diocese. El Paso needs a new shepherd who will demand of us priests what Christ demands: obedience, celibacy, a profound life of prayer, simplicity of life, a spirit of continual conversion, pastoral charity marked by kenosis (death to self), sacrifice, service, and true holiness in our public and private conduct. God willing, our new bishop will insist that we priests give priority to the spiritual dimension of our priestly life and ministry: offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily, administering the sacrament of Confession, guiding the parish’s life of prayer, and instructing the faithful according to the full and authentic doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Good, pious, holy, and masculine priests are a priceless gift to Mother Church and the surest guarantee of success in fostering future vocations to the priesthood.
In spite of the difficulties, obstacles, and sin which we currently face in El Paso, it is a great joy to be a priest of God. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the priesthood, and I love Holy Mother Church. There’s nothing sweeter. Let us never lose Christian joy and hope. We cannot allow ourselves to become bitter. With confidence and trust in God, we must continue laboring and praying, come what may, conscious that it is all done for the honor and glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Sursum corda! Let us lift up our hearts to the brilliant mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and entrust our filial petition for a pure and saintly bishop to the sinless Mother of God. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
“If I’m . . . slightly worthy to suffer for the Faith . . .
I will consider myself profoundly blessed.”
(www.RemnantNewspaper.com) Michael J. Matt (MJM): First off, Father, I’d like to thank you for the stand you’ve taken in recent months in defense of the Church’s moral teaching, especially with respect to so-called ‘gay marriage’. Catholics all across the country have been following your case, and we’re delighted to have a chance today to ask you a few questions. Before we get into the “controversy”, however, I wonder if you’d mind telling us a little something about your personal background?
Fr. Michael Rodriguez: Picture from the El Paso Times
Father Rodriguez (FR): Not at all. I was born in El Paso, Texas, on August 23, 1970, the middle child of five. Many years later my parents adopted a sixth child, my youngest sister. As I grew up in the early ’70s, I was completely unaware of the disastrous post-Vatican II revolution that was sweeping throughout our beloved Catholic Church. Thanks be to God, I was raised by parents who were staunch Catholics with their childhood roots in the pre-Vatican II Catholicism of México. An example of the depth of these roots is that my maternal grandmother (born in 1906, in Aguascalientes, México) never accepted the Novus Ordo. She left this passing world in August 2002, always true to the Ancient Rite. Requiescat in pace. Even though my parents had accepted and adapted to Novus Ordo Catholicism during their post-collegiate years, they nevertheless raised us similar to how they had been raised: fidelity to Mass (albeit the Novus Ordo) and Confession, praying the Holy Rosary at home in the evenings, praying novenas and the Stations of the Cross, etc. As I reflect back on my childhood, it was a time of great grace and blessings. Even though my parents failed to hold fast to all the venerable traditions of our Faith and the Ancient Rite, they still did an excellent job of instilling the Faith in us. Interestingly enough, we four older children (born between ’67 and ’74) are now ardent supporters of the Traditional Latin Mass, even more so than our parents.
MJM: And are there one or two persons in your life that mentored you and helped you to remain open to God’s call?
FR: My parents, Ruben and Beatrice, were the ones who were most instrumental in my eventual discernment of a vocation to God’s holy priesthood. Through my father, God blessed me with discipline, fortitude, perseverance, and a love for study. Through my mother, God graced me with the convictions of faith, awe for the Catholic priesthood, a tender devotion to our Blessed Mother, and a love of religion.
MJM: At what point in your life did you know you had a vocation?
FR: I was raised in El Paso, TX, but spent four years (1981-1984) living with my family in Augsburg, Germany. We returned to El Paso, and I began high school. Following my junior year, I spent the summer (1987) at M.I.T. University in Cambridge, MA. I was participating in a special program for gifted minority students from around the nation. The program was geared to recruiting us to study engineering and science at M.I.T. as undergraduates. Well, our good God had different plans for me! I left El Paso that summer thinking I’d study electrical engineering (like my father) upon graduating from high school, only to return from Boston six weeks later, announcing that I wanted to enter the seminary! My mother was overjoyed.
MJM: Clearly, someone was looking out for you. Do you have a favorite saint, by the way?
FR: My favorite saints are: St. Michael the Archangel, St. John the Baptist (largely due to my 9 1/2 years at this El Paso parish), St. Paul the Apostle, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and, to no surprise, the holy Curé of Ars. I have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under three of her specific titles: Immaculate Conception (I was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 8, 1996), Mater Dolorosa, and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
MJM: And, liturgically—where would you place yourself? I know you offer the traditional Latin Mass, but is it accurate to describe you as an outright “traditionalist”?
FR: Liturgically, I’m 100% behind the Traditional Latin Mass, which is without question the true Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. Theology, liturgy, Catholic spirituality and asceticism, and history itself all point to the obvious superiority of the Classical Roman Rite. Unfortunately, all of my seminary formation was in the Novus Ordo, and I only “discovered” the Latin Mass about six years ago, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of “real Catholicism,” i.e. “traditional Catholicism.”
MJM: What was it initially that led you to begin offering the old Mass?
FR: About six years ago, several members of the faithful began asking me if I would be interested in offering the Traditional Latin Mass. At the time, there was serious concern on the part “El Paso’s remnant” of traditional Catholics that the Jesuit priest who was offering the Latin Mass twice a month (under the 1988 Ecclesia Dei “Indult”) was going to be transferred. Thus, they were looking for another priest who would be willing to offer the Latin Mass. At first, I declined, not so much because I wasn’t interested, but due to the immense workload which I was already carrying.
As the weeks passed, I began to study the prayers and theology of the Traditional Latin Mass. The more I studied, the more my awe and amazement grew. I was “discovering” not only the true Catholic theology of the Mass, but also the true Catholic theology of the priesthood, and so much more! Throughout my first nine years of priesthood, I had struggled to make sense of the very serious problems which exist in the Church. At this point, it was obvious that an extreme crisis pervaded the Church and her hierarchy, but why? I just couldn’t quite understand how all of this “diabolical disorientation” had come to pass . . . until the brilliant light of the true Catholic Mass (“Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam . . .”) began to penetrate my priestly soul. This “discovery” of the Traditional Latin Mass has been, by far, the greatest gift of God to my poor priesthood.
MJM: So this gives us an idea of how Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum can and does impact priests who might otherwise never have had the opportunity to discover this great treasure. Given how it impacted you, how do you believe Summorum Pontificum will impact the Church long term?
FR: Unfortunately, both Summorum Pontificum and Universæ Ecclesiæ have plenty of weaknesses. Nevertheless, these documents do represent an initial step in what will probably still be a long and arduous “Calvary,” i.e. the quest of traditional Catholics to restore the Cross, the Mass, the kingship of Jesus Christ, and true Catholic doctrine, outside of which there is no salvation. In Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI writes that “due honor must be given to the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V for its venerable and ancient usage.” This directive of our Holy Father is currently being disobeyed almost universally. In the accompanying letter to the world’s bishops (July 7, 2007), Pope Benedict XVI writes, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” These remarkable words of our Holy Father are also being disrespected and disobeyed almost universally, especially by many bishops. Finally, Universæ Ecclesiæ, No. 8, states very clearly that the Ancient Rite is a “precious treasure to be preserved” and is to be “offered to all the faithful.” Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed? The same number from Universæ Ecclesiæ emphasizes that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy “is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees.” This is an astounding statement. This statement from Rome means that the use of the 1962 Missal doesn’t depend on a particular bishop’s liturgical views, preferences, or theology. It’s not about the bishops! On the contrary, it’s about the faithful! Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed?
MJM: Are you now able to offer the old Mass exclusively?
FR: Since I began my new assignment (Sept. 24, 2011) out in the rural, isolated missions of the El Paso Diocese, I’ve offered the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. I consider this to be a marvelous and unexpected blessing from Providence in the midst of a very difficult trial. I hope to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. If it were strictly up to me, I would never celebrate the Novus Ordo Missæ again. However, the sad reality of having to “obey” in the Novus Ordo Church that has largely lost the Faith, and the need to reach out patiently to Novus Ordo faithful who have been so misled, means that I will probably be “forced” to celebrate the Novus Ordo occasionally. In these instances, however, it will be the Novus Ordo ad orientem, with the Roman Canon, the use of Latin, and Holy Communion distributed according to traditional norms.
MJM: Up until last year, I believe, things were pretty quiet in your priestly life. What happened to change all that?
FR: The local, and even national, “controversy” that has engulfed me is due to the fact that I have been vocal in promoting what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in regard to the whole issue of homosexuality. It’s a disgrace, but the City Council of El Paso has been adamant in trying to legitimize same-sex unions. This goes completely contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I’ve made it clear to the Catholics of El Paso (and beyond) that every single Catholic has a moral obligation before God Himself to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions. A Catholic who fails to oppose this homosexual agenda, is committing a grave sin by omission. Furthermore, if a Catholic doesn’t assent to the infallible moral teaching of the Church that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, then such a Catholic is placing himself / herself outside of communion with the Church. These are the Catholics who are actually excommunicating themselves, not the Society of St. Pius X!
MJM: I can understand why the civil authorities and media might find this “controversial”; but why would your ecclesial superiors find it so?
FR: The dismal response of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality demonstrates how extreme the current crisis of faith actually is. It really can’t get much worse. There’s hardly any faith left to lose! Even a pagan, bereft of the light of faith, can arrive at the conclusion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. Reason, natural law, and consideration of the male and female anatomy more than suffice to confirm this moral truth.
MJM: And yet you must go where the bishop tells you to go. Is this difficult for you?
FR: In my particular circumstances, obedience to my bishop has been incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, obedience is essential to the priesthood, and I intend to be obedient. One consoling aspect of “sacrificial,” “death-to-self” obedience, is that the Holy Ghost will always come to one’s assistance. I’m reminded that my poor sufferings are nothing compared to those of Mater Dolorosa and our Divine Redeemer. If I’m counted as one even slightly worthy to suffer for the Faith and the Traditional Latin Mass, I will consider myself profoundly blessed. God is so good.
MJM: As you are already living through a form of persecution, I assume you foresee more to come not only for you personally but for all Catholics who stand in defense of Church teaching. But what about the future? Any hope?
FR: Yes, I do foresee plenty of persecution still to come for all those who remain steadfast in the Faith and in their adherence to the Ancient Rite. However, the promise of our Savior cannot but fill our souls with hope, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” (Mt 5:10-12)
MJM: How can lay Catholics best survive this crisis of faith?
FR: In order to overcome this crisis of faith, we must (1) do everything in our power to recover the Catholic Faith: the Ancient Rite, traditional Catholic teaching in doctrine and morals, the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, traditional Catholic piety and devotions, and a traditional Catholic “code of living” or “rhythm of life.” (2) On a daily basis we must strive to pray, study, fast, do penance, and practice charity with the aforementioned goal in mind. Finally, I strongly urge all faithful Catholics to (3) pray the Holy Rosary daily and heed our Blessed Mother’s Message at Fatima.
One of the hallmarks of the Traditional Latin Mass is its exquisite and concentrated focus on eternity. If we are to survive and overcome this terrible crisis of faith in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church, we have to keep our intellect and will focused on eternity. We cannot lose hope when, from a worldly perspective, all seems lost. Jesus Christ promises “the kingdom of heaven” to those who endure persecution, and “a great reward in heaven” to those who suffer for His sake. (Mt 5:10-12) The final goal is heaven! Like St. Paul, we must press ahead towards the ultimate “prize” (Phil 3:14) and never cease to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1)
MJM: Like so many others, Father, I find myself deeply moved by your powerful witness not only to the Faith itself but also to the Catholic priesthood, which, as you know so well, is under diabolical attack. Thank you for this example of what it means to be a Catholic in an era of persecution. May all of us have the courage to follow your lead through the rough seas still ahead.
Internal Revenue Code Now Supersedes Gospel of Jesus Christ?
May God bless Bishop Ochoa! He is doing his best to make Fr. Rodriguez a Saint. First, he publicly admonishes him, then the Vicar General publicly criticizes him and now he publicly and formally disciplines him.
Bishop Armando Ochoa: The Saint Maker
EL PASO, Texas — The Rev. Michael Rodriguez was transferred to a new parish because his stance on morality and the upcoming recall election “raised serious issues regarding whether his participation could be attributed to the Diocese of El Paso” and his parish, El Paso Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said.
Since 2010, Rodriguez had publicly condemned homosexuality during city council meetings and wrote several guest columns in the El Paso Times as a response to the city’s decision to extend health insurance benefits to all its employees, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation, which he called, “gravely harmful to the common good of our city.”
Wednesday, he announced he had been reassigned away from San Juan Bautista Church, where he served.
“I was ordained to the Catholic priesthood to offer sacrifice and teach the only truth which brings salvation and happiness,” Rodriguez said in a statement that was emailed to ABC-7. “The priesthood is my greatest joy. In the present circumstances, I intend to try even harder to be a good, holy priest. Obedience to my bishop is essential to the priesthood.”
Rodriguez’s most recent columns were featured in several quarter-page ads in the newspaper. According to the El Paso Times, a couple from Plano, Texas, paid for the advertisements.
In a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said Rodriguez was re-assigned to a new parish in West Texas in response to the pastoral needs of the diocese and its faithful. The statement made it clear that Rodriguez was the administrator of San Juan Bautista Parish, not its pastor.
“(Father) Rodriguez has recently challenged certain city officials to participate with him in a partisan debate on issues related to an upcoming election,” said Ochoa. “This type of intervention in the political in the political process by religious organizations such as the Diocese of El Paso and San Juan Bautista Church is not permitted under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code.”
Word of Life Church, headed by one of the leaders in the recall efforts, Pastor Tom Brown, has been reported to the IRS for suspicion of campaigning to recall El Paso Mayor John Cook and City Representatives Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega. Non-profits are prohibited from making donations or contributing to political campaigns. The Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State accused Brown of using his church to advance the recall movement. Brown denies any wrongdoing.
In his statement Wednesday, Bishop Ochoa said the diocese had received “credible information and documents” showing Father Rodriguez had failed to comply with diocesan policies.
In his columns, Rodriguez has said that all Catholics are “obligated to undo the wrong” and fight homosexuality.
One column was titled “Every Catholic Must Oppose Certain Things.” In it, he wrote that, “Any Catholic who supports homosexual acts is, by definition, committing a mortal sin and placing himself/herself outside of communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”
Rodriguez ended the column by calling homosexuality, “An unequivocal intrinsic moral evil,” and “frighteningly, if the majority chooses to deny the objective moral order, then we will all suffer the pestiferous consequences.”
The Stench of Moral Decadence Surrounds Us
by Fr. Michael Rodríguez: “In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said: Be light made. And light was made.” (Gn 1:1-3) “And God created man to His own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female he created them.” (Gn 1:27) “And God blessed them,saying: Increase and multiply.” (Gn 1:28)
In the beginning, our loving God created man in His own image and likeness: male and female. Today, at the outset of the 21st century, man in his insolent pride contends that God got it wrong. In the fullness of time, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14) The shepherds went in haste and found the Holy Family: Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger. (Lk 2:16) Today, throughout 21st century America, elementary school children are being indoctrinated by homosexual activists that there are “different kinds of families.” Jesus Christ preached against the man who looks upon a woman and lusts after her. (Mt 5:28). Today, 21st century man, a slave to the fires of his passion and lust, cries “equal rights” in order to justify the abomination of male-male or female-female “unions.” The stench of moral decadence surrounds us, and yet we insist on spreading the lie that we of the 21st century are “enlightened and progressive” because we’ve “moved beyond the prejudices of the past.”
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, died on the Cross to save mankind. By His suffering, death, and resurrection, the Son of God instituted the Seven acraments of Salvation, one of which is Matrimony. The Sacrament of Matrimony is essential to God’s Plan of Salvation, and ALL CATHOLICS MUST respect, defend, and live by this great Sacrament of Christ’s love. No earthly power—no king, president, parliament, congress, judge, no overnment—has the authority to change or undermine marriage.
Jesus bequeathed all His power, celestialhim and terrestrial, to Peter and the Apostles (Mt 16:18-19, 28:18-20). With this authority, the Roman Catholic Church teaches, “The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity.” (Catechism #2210)
Here in El Paso, civil authority, by promoting the social acceptance and legitimization of homosexual unions, is acting immorally and completely contradicting its responsibility to “support and strengthen marriage and the family.”
The legalization of homosexual unions is a lethal strike against the common good of society: it severely weakens private and public morality, undermines marriage and the family, and is a crime against children.
Instead of acknowledging the true nature of marriage and the family, the civil authority in our city is promoting “domestic partners.” Rather than protect and foster marriage and the family, they are undermining these most sacred gifts of God. Instead of safeguarding public morality, they are opening the floodgates to a final dismantling of whatever private and public morality we have left. Rather than promote domestic prosperity, they are choosing to give sanction to “unions” which are sure to wreck final chaos and dysfunction in the family.
Long ago, near “the beginning,” the serpent tempted Adam and Eve with the pleasures of the world and the flesh. They succumbed. They disobeyed God. As the 21st century enfolds, the serpent’s maleficent lies have intensified, leading man to strike against God’s supreme work of creation: male and female! It’s no longer about forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil; nay, it is now an attempt to uproot the very Tree of Life, the Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Our Lady of Fatima, you promised the triumph of your Immaculate Heart, ora pro nobis.
Fr. Michael Rodríguez is the parish priest at San Juan Bautista Catholic Church.