Catholics: Vote Pro-Life
By Bishop Thomas Tobin: As the primary election draws near in Rhode Island, I encourage faithful Catholics to vote pro-life – and never to vote for any candidate, of any party, who supports abortion.
And don’t be fooled by those who say they “aren’t pro-abortion, but are just pro-choice.” It’s a smoke screen for what they really believe, but are afraid to admit. After all, what kind of choice are they promoting? They’re not talking about choosing a favorite ice cream flavor, are they? And it’s not about so-called “reproductive freedom or women’s health care” either. Clearly, politicians who support abortion are encouraging a choice that ends the life of an innocent human being and ultimately harms the mother, personally and spiritually!
As Pope Francis has reminded us: “It is not progressive to try to resolve problems by eliminating human life.” (EG #214)
St. John Vianney: “It outrages God more than all other mortal sins”
From St. John Marie Vianney’s “Sermon on Unworthy Communion,” Book IV, ‘Sermons inédits.’
Unworthy Communions are frequent. How many have the temerity to approach the holy table with sins hidden and disguised in confession! How many have not that sorrow which the good God wants from them, and preserve a secret willingness to fall back into sin, and do not put forth all their exertions to amend! How many do not avoid the occasions of sin when they can, or preserve enmity in their hearts even at the holy table! If you have ever been in these dispositions in approaching Holy Communion, you have committed a sacrilege — that horrible crime, on the malice of which we are going to meditate.
1. It outrages God more than all other mortal sins. It attacks the Person of Jesus Christ Himself, instead of scorning only His commandments, like other mortal sins.
2. Whoever communicates unworthily crucifies Jesus Christ in his heart. He submits Him to a death more ignominious and humiliating than that of the Cross. On the Cross, indeed, Jesus Christ died voluntarily and for our redemption; but here it is no longer so: He dies in spite of Himself, and His death, far from being to our advantage, as it was the first time, turns to our woe by bringing upon us all kinds of chastisements both in this world and the next. The death of Jesus Christ on Calvary was violent and painful, but at least all nature seemed to bear witness to His pain. The least sensible of creatures appeared to be affected by it, and thus wishful to share the Saviour’s sufferings. Here there is nothing of this: Jesus is insulted, outraged by a vile nothingness, and all keeps silence; everything appears insensible to His humiliations. May not this God of goodness justly complain, as on the tree of the Cross, that He is forsaken? My God, how can a Christian have the heart to go to the holy table with sin in his soul, there to put Jesus Christ to death?
3. Unworthy Communion is a more criminal profanation than that of the holy places. A pagan emperor, in hatred of Jesus Christ, placed infamous idols on Calvary and the holy sepulchre, and he believed that in doing this he could not carry further his fury against Jesus Christ. Ah! Great God! Was that anything to be compared with the unworthy communicant? No, no! It is no longer among dumb and senseless idols that he sets his God, but in the midst, alas, of infamous living passions, which are so many executioners who crucify his Saviour. Alas! What shall I say? That poor wretch unites the Holy of Holies to a prostitute soul, and sells him to iniquity. Yes, that poor wretch plunges his God into a raging Hell. Is it possible to conceive anything more dreadful?
4. Unworthy Communion is in certain respects a greater crime than the deicide of the Jews. Saint Paul tells us that if the Jews had known Jesus Christ as the Saviour they would never have put Him to suffering or death; but can you, my friend, be ignorant of Him Whom you are going to receive? If you do not bear it in mind, listen to the priest who cries aloud to you: Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him that taketh away the sins of the world.” He is holy and pure. If you are guilty, unhappy man, do not draw near; or else tremble, lest the thunders of Heaven be hurled upon your criminal head to punish you and cast your soul into Hell.
5. Unworthy Communion imitates and renews the crime of Judas. The traitor, by a kiss of peace, delivered Jesus Christ to his enemies, but the unworthy communicant carries his cruel duplicity yet further. Having lied to the Holy Ghost in the tribunal of penance by hiding or disguising some sin, he dares, this wretch, to go with a hypocritical reverence on his face, and place himself among the faithful destined to eat this Bread. Ah! No, nothing stops this monster of ingratitude; he comes forward and is about to consummate his reprobation. In vain that tender Saviour, seeing that he is coming to Him, cries from His tabernacle, as to the perfidious Judas: “Friend, whereto art thou come? What, thou art about to betray thy God and Saviour by a sign of peace? Stop, stop, my son; I pray thee spare me!” Neither the remorse of his conscience nor the tender reproaches made him by his God can stop his criminal steps. He steps forward. He is going to stab his God and Saviour. O Heavens! What a horror! Can you indeed behold this wretched murderer of your Creator without trembling?
Original Posted on Church Militant:
Here at Courageous Priest we are sharing Cardinal Burke’s press release on the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation. Why? Because, it is well balanced and shouldn’t take you to the edge concerning Amoris Laetitia. Don’t get me wrong, many good Catholics have formally declared Cardinal Burke’s article as evidence that he jumped the fence. Please don’t go there.
Catholics take courage! Regain your peace.
How? Read this. A Crisis of Saints! It was written for times like these.
Here’s a vital tip. If an article you are reading is attacking and lacks charity, don’t read it. It will bring you down. Guaranteed. Remember, you don’t have to agree with the Pope. True! But don’t attack and don’t lose the authentic Christian love for our Pope.
Now, here is a good take on Cardinal Burke’s piece by LifeSiteNews. Enjoy and remember, God wins!
‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church
REGISTER EXCLUSIVE: Cardinal Burke says a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, ‘by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.’
BY CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE
The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.
Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful and potentially a source of scandal, not only for the faithful but for others of goodwill who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society.
It is also a disservice to the nature of the document as the fruit of the Synod of Bishops, a meeting of bishops representing the universal Church “to assist the Roman pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world” (Canon 342). In other words, it would be a contradiction of the work of the Synod of Bishops to set in motion confusion regarding what the Church teaches, safeguards and fosters by her discipline.
The only key to the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the constant teaching of the Church and her discipline that safeguards and fosters this teaching. Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is not an act of the magisterium (3). The very form of the document confirms the same. It is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops. For instance, in Chapter Eight, which some wish to interpret as the proposal of a new discipline with obvious implications for the Church’s doctrine, Pope Francis, citing his post-synodal apostolic exhortationEvangelii Gaudium, declares:
I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, “always does what good she can, even if in the process her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street” (308).
In other words, the Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes is the will of Christ for his Church, but he does not intend to impose his point of view, nor to condemn those who insist on what he calls “a more rigorous pastoral care.” The personal, that is, non-magisterial, nature of the document is also evident in the fact that the references cited are principally the final report of the 2015 session of the Synod of Bishops and the addresses and homilies of Pope Francis himself. There is no consistent effort to relate the text, in general, or these citations to the magisterium, the Fathers of the Church and other proven authors.
What is more, as noted above, a document which is the fruit of the Synod of Bishops must always be read in the light of the purpose of the synod itself, namely, to safeguard and foster what the Church has always taught and practiced in accord with her teaching.
In other words, a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.
How, then, is the document to be received? First of all, it should be received with the profound respect owed to the Roman pontiff as the Vicar of Christ, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of both the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (Lumen Gentium, 23). Certain commentators confuse such respect with a supposed obligation to “believe with divine and Catholic faith” (Canon 750, § 1) everything contained in the document. But the Catholic Church, while insisting on the respect owed to the Petrine office as instituted by Our Lord himself, has never held that every utterance of the Successor of St. Peter should be received as part of her infallible magisterium.
The Church has historically been sensitive to the erroneous tendency to interpret every word of the pope as binding in conscience, which, of course, is absurd. According to a traditional understanding, the pope has two bodies, the body which is his as an individual member of the faithful and is subject to mortality and the body which is his as Vicar of Christ on earth, which, according to Our Lord’s promise, endures until his return in glory. The first body is his mortal body; the second body is the divine institution of the office of St. Peter and his successors.
The liturgical rites and the vesture surrounding the papacy underline the distinction, so that a personal reflection of the pope, while received with the respect owed to his person, is not confused with the binding faith owed to the exercise of the magisterium. In the exercise of the magisterium, the Roman pontiff as Vicar of Christ acts in an unbroken communion with his predecessors, beginning with St. Peter.
I remember the discussion that surrounded the publication of the conversations between Blessed Pope Paul VI and Jean Guitton in 1967. The concern was the danger that the faithful would confuse the pope’s personal reflections with official Church teaching. While the Roman pontiff has personal reflections that are interesting and can be inspiring, the Church must be ever attentive to point out that their publication is a personal act and not an exercise of the papal magisterium. Otherwise, those who do not understand the distinction, or do not want to understand it, will present such reflections and even anecdotal remarks of the pope as declarations of a change in the Church’s teaching, to the great confusion of the faithful. Such confusion is harmful to the faithful and weakens the witness of the Church as the body of Christ in the world.
With the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the task of pastors and other teachers of the faith is to present it within the context of the Church’s teaching and discipline, so that it serves to build up the body of Christ in its first cell of life, which is marriage and the family. In other words, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation can only be correctly interpreted, as a non-magisterial document, using the key of the magisterium, as it is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (85-87).
The Church’s official doctrine, in fact, provides the irreplaceable interpretative key to the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, so that it may truly serve the good of all the faithful, uniting them ever more closely to Christ, who alone is our salvation. There can be no opposition or contradiction between the Church’s doctrine and her pastoral practice, since, as the Catechism reminds us, doctrine is inherently pastoral:
The mission of the magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus the pastoral duty of the magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the people of God abides in the truth that liberates (890).
The pastoral nature of doctrine is seen, in an eloquent manner, in the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. Christ himself shows the deeply pastoral nature of the truth of the faith in his teaching on holy matrimony in the Gospel (Matthew 19: 3-12), in which he teaches anew the truth of God’s plan for marriage “from the beginning.”
During the past two years, in which the Church has engaged in an intense discussion of marriage and the family, I have frequently recalled an experience from my childhood. I was raised on a family dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, the youngest of six children of good Catholic parents. Ten o’clock Sunday Mass at our parish church in the nearby town was clearly at the heart of our life of faith. At a certain point, I became aware of a couple, friends of my parents from a neighboring farm, who were always at holy Mass but never received holy Communion. When I asked my father why they never received holy Communion, he explained to me that the husband was married to another woman and, therefore, could not receive the sacraments.
I recall vividly that my father explained to me the Church’s practice, in fidelity to her teaching, in a serene manner. The discipline obviously made sense to him, and it made sense to me. In fact, his explanation was a primary occasion for me to reflect on the nature of marriage as an indissoluble bond between husband and wife. At the same time, I must say that the parish priest always treated the couple involved with the greatest respect, even as they took part in parish life in a manner appropriate to the irregular state of their union. For my part, I always had the impression that, even though it must have been very difficult to be unable to receive the sacraments, they were at peace in living according to the truth about their marital state.
Over more than 40 years of priestly life and ministry, during 21 of which I have served as a bishop, I have known numerous other couples in an irregular union for whom I or my brother priests have had pastoral care. Even though their suffering would be clear to any compassionate soul, I have seen ever more clearly over the years that the first sign of respect and love for them is to speak the truth to them with love. In that way, the Church’s teaching is not something which further wounds them but, in truth, frees them for the love of God and their neighbor.
It may be helpful to illustrate one example of the need to interpret the text of Amoris Laetitiawith the key of the magisterium. There is frequent reference in the document to the “ideal” of marriage. Such a description of marriage can be misleading. It could lead the reader to think of marriage as an eternal idea to which, in the changing historical circumstances, man and woman more or less conform. But Christian marriage is not an idea; it is a sacrament that confers grace upon a man and woman to live in faithful, permanent and procreative love of each other. Every Christian couple who validly marry receive, from the moment of their consent, the grace to live the love that they pledge to each other.
Because we all suffer the effects of original sin and because the world in which we live advocates a completely different understanding of marriage, the married suffer temptations to betray the objective reality of their love. But Christ always gives the grace for them to remain faithful to that love until death. The only thing that can limit them in their faithful response is their failure to respond to the grace given to them in the sacrament of holy matrimony. In other words, their struggle is not with some idea imposed upon them by the Church. Their struggle is with the forces that would lead them to betray the reality of Christ’s life within them.
Over the years, and, in a particular way, during the past two years, I have met many men and women who, for whatever reason, are separated or divorced from their spouse, but who are living in fidelity to the truth of their marriage and continuing to pray daily for the eternal salvation of their spouse, even if he or she abandoned them. In our conversations, they acknowledge the suffering involved but, above all, the profound peace which is theirs in remaining faithful to their marriage.
Some say that such a response to separation or divorce constitutes a heroism to which the average member of the faithful cannot be held, but, in truth, we are all called, whatever our state in life, to live heroically. Pope St. John Paul II, at the conclusion of the Great Jubilee Year 2000, making reference to the words of Our Lord at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount — “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) — taught us the heroic nature of our daily life in Christ with these words:
As the [Second Vatican] Council itself explained, this ideal of perfection must not be misunderstood as if it involved some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few “uncommon heroes” of holiness. The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual. … The time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living: The whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31).
Meeting men and women who, notwithstanding a breakdown in marital life, remain faithful to the grace of the sacrament of matrimony, I have witnessed the heroic life that grace makes possible for us daily, every day.
St. Augustine of Hippo, preaching on the feast day of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, in the year 417, used a beautiful image to encourage us in our cooperation with the divine grace that Our Lord has won for us by his passion and death. He assures us that in the garden of the Lord there are not only the roses of martyrs, but also the lilies of virgins, the ivies of spouses and the violets of widows. He concludes that, therefore, no one should despair regarding his vocation, for “Christ has died for all” (Sermon 304).
May the reception of Amoris Laetitia, in fidelity to the magisterium, confirm spouses in the grace of the sacrament of holy matrimony, so that they may be a sacrament of the faithful and enduring love of God for us “from the beginning,” which reached its fullest manifestation in the redemptive incarnation of God the Son. May the magisterium, as the key to its understanding, see to it “that the people of God abides in the truth that liberates” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 890).
Cardinal Raymond Burke is the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
One Cannot Oppose The Natural Moral Law And Receive Awards From Catholic Institutions!
Interview By: Thomas McKenna, CatholicActionLeague.org
Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, interviewed Cardinal Raymond Burke about this position taken by Bishop Rhoades in an effort to further clarify the issue for the public.
Philadelphia – April 3, 2016
Thomas McKenna: Your Eminence, recently the University of Notre Dame announced that it was going to bestow their Laetare Medal which is presented “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society,” to Vice President Joseph Biden. Vice President Biden is on record consistently supporting abortion rights and same sex marriage. Recently Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the ordinary of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend where Notre Dame is located, released a public statement declaring:
“I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any “pro-choice” public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception. I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation.”
Does Your Eminence agree with the position taken by Bishop Rhoades and could you comment on it?
Cardinal Burke: Bishop Rhoades is simply exercising his responsibility as a teacher of the faith and as a bishop who has the care of a prominent Catholic university in his diocese, and what he says is absolutely true and most commendable. I find it difficult to imagine that a Catholic university would assign its highest honor to any politician who favors abortion and who also advocates for the recognition of the sexual liaison of two people of the same sex as equal to marriage. It is even more difficult to imagine that the university would confer such an honor upon a Roman Catholic who supports these anti-life and anti-family policies and legislation. It is my hope that Notre Dame University will hear the voice of their shepherd, the successor of the Apostles in their midst, and change this gravely wrong and most scandalous decision.
Thomas McKenna: The university of Notre Dame says that it is bestowing this award to honor Vice President Biden for his public service in politics and that they are not recognizing him for his positions regarding support for abortion and same-sex marriage. What would Your Eminence respond to this?
Cardinal Burke: Well, we honor people for the integrity of their lives. Notwithstanding the fact that Vice President Biden may have sound views on other matters, his positions with regard to human life and marriage are contradictory to the natural moral law and obviously, therefore, to the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So, as much as one may want to praise certain positions which he has taken, at the same time one must realize that other positions are in the most grievous violation of the moral law and therefore make him ineligible to receive such an award from a Catholic university.
Thomas McKenna: Bishop Rhoades explains that he is opposed to Vice President Biden receiving the award by stating:
“My principal concern about this whole matter is scandal. In honoring a “pro-choice” Catholic who also has supported the redefinition of marriage, which the Church considers harmful to the common good of society, it can give the impression to people, including Catholics in political office, that one can be “a good Catholic” while also supporting or advocating for positions that contradict our fundamental moral and social principles and teachings.”
Could you please comment on this scandal and the implications it may have?
Cardinal Burke: As St. John Paul II observed in his apostolic exhortation on the laity, one of the greatest evils of our times is the tendency of Catholics to separate their faith from their daily living. And this is exactly what we have here. So we have the impression, given to other Catholics and to the population in general, that one can believe one thing and act in a completely contrary way. The fact of the matter is that most people will simply conclude that the Catholic teaching with regard to the inviolable dignity of innocent and defenseless human life and the integrity of marriage as the faithful, indissoluble and procreative union of one man and one woman, is not very firm and that it can easily be violated. Therefore it is a great scandal within the Church, but it is also a great scandal within society in general which depends upon the Church to give a witness to the truth about human life and the family.
The Book of Revelation Is a Sure
Guide to What Is Really Going On
by Msgr. Charles Pope, Community in Mission:
In the Office of Readings this Easter season, we are reading from the Book of Revelation. This choice might seem surprising, but there are good reasons for it.
While many suppose that the Book of Revelation is merely about the end of the world, it is about far more; it is also about what is happening right now. It was not written only for the end of the ages but for all ages. It is a book of glory that discloses the victory that Jesus has already won. Don’t get lost in lots of exotic theories; Revelation is a book of glory that prophetically declares what is really going on.
Its title in Greek is Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Apokalupsis Jesou Christou), which literally means “The Unveiling of Jesus Christ.” It is as if Jesus is pulling back the veil to show us what is really going on. He shows us the great drama of history and tells us that He has already won the victory. He declares that we should not to lose heart while the dust settles, while the wheat is separated from the chaff and the harvest is brought in.
We are too easily mesmerized or terrified by our limited view of history. We think that life depends on which political party wins, or whether a cure is found for some disease, or whether world leaders can reach rapprochement. But the battle is far higher and deeper than our little sliver of the early 21st century. It is far deadlier and is about more dramatic issues than what will happen to the GNP of the U.S. or which of the latest political theories will prevail.
This is a great drama between good and evil. It concerns the far more fundamental issue of where you will spend eternity. Yes, there is a great and cosmic battle in which we are all caught up; it is happening all around us. St. Paul says,
For we do not contend against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the high places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm(Eph 6:11-13).
Jesus is the Victor. Our King!
The Book of Revelation is speaking to the same reality. It unveils the true and cosmic battle. In so doing, it declares without ambiguity who the victor is: Jesus Christ our King, who has already won. There are only two kingdoms, two armies, two sides. You must decide whom you will serve: the prince of this world or the King and Lord of all creation.
Revelation opens with a vision of the glory of Jesus the Great Lord and Son of Man:
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead (Rev 1: 10-17).
Yes, here is our Lord Jesus in His resurrected and conquering glory! At the name of Jesus every knee shall bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:10-11).
Yes, Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen (Rev 1:5-7).
We Must Resist
The second part of the Book of Revelation calls the Church and us as individuals to repentance and perseverance. The cosmic battle reaches the Church and individual disciples. The battle is in the Church and in the heart of every person. Thus, the letters to the seven churches. We are not to lose the love we had at first. We must be willing to endure hardship and persecution. We are to reject the fornicators and all those who propose any sort of sexual immorality. We are to resist syncretism and every form of false religion. We must resist all of the deep secrets of Satan; we must not be in any agreement with his ways. We must resist sloth and not fall back. We must resist lukewarmness and every sort of pride and self-satisfaction. The Church, clergy, and laity must fight the good fight, must persevere. We must endure hardship and always keep in mind the reward that awaits the courageous and the eternal disgrace that is coming to cowards and to all embrace the world, the flesh, and the devil.
John is then caught up into Heaven to see the glory of God and the heavenly liturgy. He has revealed to him what must take place soon. Historically, the Book of Revelation pointed to the destruction of Jerusalem and to the end of an era. Down through the ages, empires and nations have crumbled; eras and epochs have come and gone; only God’s Kingdom, as proclaimed and made sacramentally present by the Church, has or will survive.
Today we are arguably at the end of another era and epoch.
The West is crumblingand decadence abounds. Confusion about basic reality is so widespread that our current cultural situation can credibly be described as a lunatic asylum. Even within the Church, voices that should speak out prophetically are silenced by fear and infected by worldliness. There is among Church leaders, clergy, and laity a widespread softness and a feeling that the risk of speaking out is too great.
Here is the Answer.
The message of the Book of Revelation is a strong antidote to times like these as well as to times that have gone before and may well come after. The message is clear: be strong, be prepared, and be willing to suffer, realizing that no matter how powerful and glamorous evil may seem, Jesus is the victor. We must persevere and realize that we are swept up into a cosmic battle that is much larger than our current situation, but which reaches us nonetheless. We must choose sides. Don’t think that you can sit on the fence. Satan owns the fence and he is coming for you and will say, “You belong to me.”
The seals, the bowls, and the trumpets of Revelation are but a further description of the cosmic battle and the wretched defeats that ultimately come upon the defiant and disobedient. God will not leave unpunished those who despise His Kingdom and His holy ones. These seven ordeals times three are a call to repentance to those who survive. They are also a manifestation of God’s justice and ultimate authority over history.
A crucial battle comes in Revelation 12, when the red dragon with seven heads and ten horns besets Mother Mary, who is also an image of the Church. But note this: the devil cannot prevail in the war that breaks out in Heaven. He is hurled to the earth, where he unsuccessfully pursues the woman (who is Mary and the Church). He is a big loser, and in a rage he continues to pursue us.
For the time being, the cosmic battle continues. But Satan rages, for he knows his time is short. He is a big loser.
But even losers still have an odd ability to dupe and impress foolish, gullible people. And so Satan still flashes the cash, makes empty promises, and dangles passing pleasures before us. Sadly, many of the worldly and unspiritual foolishly fall prey to his pomp and lies. Mysteriously, God permits this until the full number of the elect are gathered in.
And then comes the end:
And fire came down from heaven and devoured Satan and his armies and followers. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Rev 20:9-21:5).
Yes, it is good that we read the Book of Revelation. It is a pulling back of the veil, wherein the Lord tells us what is really going on and what the outcome shall be. He is telling us not to lose heart. “In this world you shall have tribulation, but have courage, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Be not dismayed, fellow Christians.
Do not be fearful of what is coming upon this world. Even if it is the end of the era or epoch, the Church has endured such sea changes before. Christ has already won the victory and has promised that the Church will remain indefectible. When the current foolishness has runs its course, we will still be here preaching the Gospel, even if we have become a small remnant and are preaching from jail!
Do not be fearful.
Do not be a coward. Preach boldly and with love. Continue to shine the light of the Gospel in the darkness. The Gospel will win; it always wins.
Don’t get lost in all the details about the Book of Revelation and miss its message. The message is one of victory in the midst of persecution and trial. It is a call to persevere. It is a pulling back of the veil to show us what the end shall be! Be strong, be courageous, be certain. Jesus has already won the great victory in the cosmic battle. The dust is still settling. But know for certain that Jesus has won and if you choose Him, so will you!
He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Rev 21:7-8).
Regardless of what you think is going on, this is what is really going on. Choose sides. I urge you to choose Christ with courage. Don’t look back. Come what may, Viva Christo Rey!
A Tribute to Mother Angelica
Father Levis and I meeting Mother Angelica the first time when we taped our first season of WEB OF FAITH in 1998.
By Fr. John Trigilio Jr., Confraternity of Catholic Priests:
Reverend Mother was very dear to me, like a beloved grandmother. Fr. Ken Brighenti and I anointed her last December for our most recent taping of WEB OF FAITH 2.0 Mother was a visionary, a pioneer, a maverick, an RN (real nun), a very dear friend and a very holy and devout Catholic Christian.
What you see is what you get. She was authentic. The real deal. No Political Correctness. Mother spoke her mind. She had no guile. She spoke “cor ad cor” (heart to heart) to every viewer and listener. Mother was a true Italian, as we all know. She had an Italian sense of humor and an Italian disposition. Very passionate and very expressive. But also very loving, affectionate and generous.
Foundress of Eternal Word Television (EWTN), Mother Angelica was like Christopher Columbus in that she was an explorer in a New World. While competing Catholic networks fizzled out quickly, EWTN has grown into the international and global media giant using cable and satellite television, broadcast and shortwave radio, internet and newspaper (The National Catholic Register).
She was kind enough to personally call and console my mom when my brother Joe had been killed by an underage drunk driver on 5 July 1997. My mother had already lost two of her five children and now Joe was number three. Mother spoke to her for 45 minutes. It was a great help and consolation. My mom frequently traveled with Fr. Bob Levis from Erie when we taped WEB OF FAITH and every time the Poor Clares and Mother Angelica were exceptionally hospitable and always made my mom feel at home and most welcome.
We watched with amazement as the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament was slowly built. Mother honored me, Fr. Levis and me by inviting us to the dedication and consecration of the shrine. The Mass brought tears to everyone’s eyes. I had not seen a communion rail used since my Confirmation in 1976 and watching the very devout and reverent reception of Holy Communion brought me to tears as well. Her fidelity to the Magisterium was exemplary and she proved the axion LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI.
Reverent worship and orthodox doctrine are interrelated and interconnected. We’ve seen the destruction of faith caused by banal, pedestrian and irreverent liturgies and the heterodox nonsense taught in some seminaries and at the pulpits of some parish churches. EWTN was a light in the darkness, showing faithful Catholics that our 2,000 year old religion was and is an invaluable patrimony which believers deserve to share in its splendor and glory, not as some cheap, shabby and philistine fashion.
Three Holy Giants of the 20th Century
She made a few enemies, so did Christ. She also helped save many, many souls via EWTN. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope St. John Paul the Great and Mother Angelica are the three holy giants of the latter 20th century and early 21st. I mourn her death but rejoice in the legacy she has left behind. Mike Warsaw and Doug Keck and everyone at EWTN have been doing a phenomenal job since Mother was forced to retire for health problems several years ago. I am morally certain she will be one day be canonized as well. Her perseverance in trial and tribulation are as encouraging as was JP2. When Mother appeared on television wearing an eye patch and having half her face paralyzed, she was like Pope John Paul during his later years plagued by Parkinson’s, drooling and slurring his words, yet still giving Angelus talks when he could. Both of these holy people knew well the Crucified Lord and both embraced their respective crosses with dignity and with fidelity.
As a Priest, I hope and pray that I can imitate Mother Angelica’s deep and intense love of Jesus and His Holy Church. Requiescat in pace
He is Risen! Alleluia!
Dear Courageous Priest Subscribers,
You have been enrolled in a 900 Mass Novena being said by the missionary priests associated with the Seraphic Mass Association!
“…Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
May the peace and joy of Christ fill your heart and your home today and always!
Thank you for loving our faithful Priests!
John Quinn & Jeff Gares
Courageous Priest Co-founders
O blood and Water, which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, we trust in you!
By Fr. Richard Heilman, Roman Catholic Man:
“Because Pontius Pilate is the character in the Passion who is most like us.”
Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38a)
What follows was written over at “Whoever Desires.” I find this very compelling …
“Why does Pilate always get so much empathy from us?”
It would be easy, at this point, to start tossing around charges of anti-Semitism, charges which would allow us to feel a certain measure of moral superiority over those less enlightened than ourselves. Then we could pray like the righteous Pharisee, “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, anti-Semites like Mel Gibson over there” (Lk 18:10).
Throwing around such charges is a way of doing precisely the same thing that blaming the Jews for the crucifixion once did: deflecting guilt from ourselves. I would suggest a far more troubling answer to the question, “Why do we empathize with Pilate?”
Because Pontius Pilate is the character in the Passion who is most like us.
Pilate is educated, Western, professional; he is not a sociopath, not some oriental despot, neither particularly poor nor fantastically rich; above all, he is no religious fanatic. The purity laws of the Jews, their concerns about idolatry, seem as foreign and irrational to him as they do to us. His concern is not for God’s honor but for, to borrow a phrase from the Constitution, domestic tranquility. He wishes the Jews would disagree without being so violently disagreeable.
Pilate is not bloodthirsty. Nor is he indifferent to justice. If given the choice, he would prefer that the innocent not die, but neither truth nor justice are his highest priorities. He is more concerned with keeping the peace and keeping his job. Pilate fears the passions of the crowd and the opinions of his superiors. He is a canny enough politician to know that it is best to stay the middle course. Even if the middle course is immoral—having Jesus beaten before he is released (Lk 23:13)—it is still moderate and centrist.
Pilate’s actions in the Gospels even have a way of bridging differences. He becomes friends with his onetime rival, Herod. In Luke’s Gospel, Herod is spiritual but not religious. He is curious about Jesus, not wishing him any harm at first, even eager to see him. But when he realizes that there is no religious novelty in Jesus, no quick fix, no sign; when the spiritual exoticism has worn off and Herod sees in Jesus only the prospect of unpopular moral commitment, he has no use for him.
Pilate recognizes no absolute standard of truth. “What is truth?” he asks (Jn 18:38), a question repeated in our own day often in such a tone as to imply that to answer would be offensive. Pilate, like so many of us, faced with perplexing truth claims and passionate religious differences, weighed down with a history of violence and error, takes refuge in a relativism that seeks simply to tolerate.
Pilate has a COEXIST bumper sticker on his car.
The problem with coexistence, however, is that it occasionally means sacrificing those who step too far out of the social order, those whose existence threatens our coexistence, whether they be innocent or not. Coexistence cannot tolerate one who says that coexistence is not enough, that there is a right and a wrong way of existing. Tolerance cannot bear one who says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). Jesus came preaching love, not tolerance. The Gospels would have had a very different ending if his command had been, “Tolerate one another as I have tolerated you” (Jn 13:34).
We are like Pilate. We all desire to be thought of as moderates; we do not like our religion too extreme; we get nervous at words like “truth.” We know that such words have a way of stirring conflict, and we want peace.
I once had a conversation with a well-educated Catholic gentleman about what it takes to get into heaven, and he kept coming back to the idea that all it really takes is being a “decent” person. Such a belief is one of the tenets of “moralistic therapeutic deism,” America’s default interdenominational creed. We are mostly decent people, which means we are mostly capable of functioning in society without doing each other more than average harm. I would bet, however, that the crowd that cheered Jesus on Palm Sunday and turned against him on Good Friday were mostly decent people. Holy Week reminds us of just how awful the no-more-than-average-harm decent people do really is. Pontius Pilate was no monster; he was an entirely average man, faced with an impossible dilemma: allow an innocent man to die or risk insurrection. And yet, it is Pontius Pilate who orders Jesus to be killed.
We can sympathize with Pilate because he looks for compromise, because he is the Gospel’s most pragmatic character. We fear absolutes, and on Good Friday Jesus offers only the absolute. On Good Friday the prospects of a harmonious earthly kingdom are stripped away, like Jesus’ garments at the tenth station. All that remains is God, all that remains is the truth, and everything else is gone. If Pilate were to side with Jesus, he would be choosing the truth—and that’s it. Nothing more. In fact, he would be surrendering happiness and harmony, prosperity and peace.
But, surely, God wants us to have all those things, we say. Surely, God would not ask us to give up what we think we need for happiness.
On Good Friday, Pilate meets a God who offers us nothing but God. And he balks.
And we too are so in the habit of balking that we no longer see doing so as evil; in fact, we dress it up with names like tolerance and moderation and decency. Pilate’s actions in the Gospel are no less blameworthy than those of Caiaphas or Judas or the crowd, but we empathize with him because we ourselves would mostly prefer to send Jesus out of sight to be crucified and then post guards around the tomb.