Saturday, September 15, 2012

Feast of The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

Today, September 15, is the Feast Day of our Lady of Sorrows.  This day is to commemorate the sorrows that our Blessed Mother experienced during her life.  It is traditionally taught that there are seven sorrows of Mary, pictured by the seven swords piercing her heart:

1. The Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of King Herod.

2. Simeon's prophecy at the presentation of Jesus at the temple, that a sword would pierce Mary's heart as well. 

3. The Child Jesus is lost for three days until he is found in the temple.

4. Mary and Jesus meet on the way to Calvary when He is carrying his cross.

5. The Crucifixion of our Lord when Mary stood at the foot of the cross.

6. Jesus is taken down from the Cross and placed in his blessed mother's arms. 

7. Jesus is placed in the tomb.

 
With the exception of her Divine Son, no one has ever suffered more than our Lady did.  As St. Alphonsus de Liguori wrote:
In this valley of tears every man is born to weep, and all must suffer, by enduring the evils which are of daily occurrence. But how much greater would the misery of life be, did we also know the future evils which await us! ‘Unfortunate, indeed, would his lot be,’ says Seneca, ‘who, knowing the future, would have to suffer all by anticipation
Our Lord shows us this mercy. He conceals the trials which await us, that, whatever they may be, we may endure them but once. He did not show Mary this compassion; for she, whom God willed to be the Queen of Sorrows, and in all things like His Son, had to see always before her eyes and continually to suffer all the torments that awaited her; and these were the sufferings of the Passion and death of her beloved Jesus; for in the temple Saint Simeon, having received the Divine Child in his arms, foretold to her that that Son would be a mark for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. “Behold, this Child is set… for a sign which shall be contradicted.” And therefore, that a sword of sorrow should pierce her soul: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.”

The Blessed Virgin herself told Saint Matilda, that, on this announcement of Saint Simeon, ‘all her joy was changed into sorrow.’ 
The Presentation and Circumcision of our Lord
 * * * 
We have just passed the 11th commemoration of 9/11, when so many innocent people, who had done nothing more sinister than go to work, were brutally murdered right here in New York City.  They all woke up that morning thinking it was like any other day, having no idea that they would be dead in just a few hours.  When they left for work that day, their families had no idea they would never see them again. What if all these people had had to live their entire lives knowing this would be their fate?  This is, in effect, what our Lord and his Mother had to live with.  These were the two most innocent and perfect people who had ever lived.  Yet there was never a moment of their lives when they did not have the great sorrow of the Cross hanging like an ominous cloud over their heads.  And it was all done out of love for us, the very ones responsible for our Lord's death, so that we could be rescued from sin and spend eternity in blissful happiness with them.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen gave a beautiful sermon on the suffering of Mary, why it was necessary and what it accomplished.  Here are a few excerpts:
Not only did our Blessed Mother beget a Son, but the Son also begot her. This is the connection between Bethlehem and Calvary. She gave Him Sonship, but He also gave her Motherhood. At the crib ... His Mother; at the Cross she was called the "Woman." No Son in the world but Christ could ever make His Mother the mother of all men, because the flesh is possessive and exclusive. Making her the Woman or the Universal Mother was like a new creative word. He made her twice: once for Himself, and once for us in His Mystical Body. She made Him as the new Adam; He now installs her as the new Eve, the Mother of mankind.
John and Mary at the foot of the Cross
when Mary was given to us as our Blessed Mother
This transfer of His Mother to men was, appropriately, at the moment He redeemed them. That word "Woman" from the Cross was the second Annunciation, and John was the second Nativity. What joy went with her mothering Him! What anguish went with His Mothering her! Mary's mind was filled with the thought of Divinity in the stable; but at Golgotha it is sinners that are uppermost in her mind, and she now begins their mothering. The curse of Eve hangs heavily on Mary: "Thou shalt bring forth children in sorrow." When we contrast the great difference between her Divine Son and us, her sorrow, from our point of view, must have been not only "How can I live without Him?" but also "How can I live with them?" This was the miracle of substitution, for how can one be satisfied with straggling rays when one has been with the sun? The humility of which she sang at the Magnificat was not only a confession of unworthiness to be the Mother of God, but also the admission now of her readiness to be the Mother of man. It was a grief not to die with Him; it was a greater grief to live on with us.
 
Tradition indicates that Mary was pierced seven times with swords of sorrow and that these constitute her Seven Dolors. The position we will take is not that there were seven swords, but seven thrusts of the one sword, and the sword that pierced her soul was Christ Himself. This Sword has a double edge: one edge ran into His Own Sacred Heart, the other into her Immaculate Heart. . . .There were not seven swords but only one, and it plunged into two hearts. The Seven Dolors are as seven thrusts of the Sword Christ, one edge for Him as Redeemer, the other edge for her as the Mother of the Redeemer. Christ is the Sword of His Own Passion; He is the Sword of her compassion. Pius XII says that she, as the true Queen of Martyrs, more than any of the faithful, filled up for His Body the Church the sufferings that were wanting to the Passion of Christ! This was the first reason why God permitted her Dolors, that she might be the first after the Redeemer Himself to continue His Passion and death in His Mystical Body.
An unsuffering Christ Who ignored sin would be reduced to the level of an ethical reformer, like Buddha or Confucius. An unsuffering Madonna to the suffering Christ would be a loveless Madonna. Who is there who loves, who does not want to share the sorrows of the beloved? Since Christ loved mankind so much as to want to die to expiate their guilt, then He should also will that His Mother, who lived only to do His will, should also be wrapped in the swaddling bands of His griefs.
 
But she also had to suffer for our sakes as well as for His. As Our Lord learned obedience by which He suffered, so Mary had to learn motherhood, not by appointment but by experience with the burdens of the human heart. The rich cannot console the poor unless they become less rich for the sake of the poor; Mary cannot wipe away human tears unless she herself has been their fountain. The title "Mother of the Afflicted" had to be earned in the school of affliction. She does not expiate for sins; she does not redeem; she is not a savior — but by His will and by her own, she is so much bound up with Him that His Passion would have been entirely different had there not been her compassion.

He also plunged the sword into her own soul in the sense that He called her to be a cooperator with Him, as the new Eve, in the regeneration of humanity. When the mother of James and John asked political preferment for her sons, they were asked if they could drink of His chalice. That was the condition of being in His Kingdom. What draining of the chalice, then, shall be the condition of being the Mother of the Crucified! St. Paul tells us that we cannot be partakers of His glory unless we partake also of His crucifixion. If, then, the sons of Mary are not exempt from the law of sacrifice, certainly Mary herself, who is the Mother of God, shall be less exempt.
If you wish to read the entire magnificent sermon by Venerable Fulton Sheen, go here

Venerable Fulton Sheen concludes his sermon with this:
As she became the Refuge of Sinners by knowing what it is to lose God and then find Him, so He became the Redeemer of sinners by knowing the deliberateness, the willfulness, the resoluteness of those who wound the ones they love! She felt the creature losing the Creator; He felt the Creator losing the creature. Mary lost Jesus only in mystical darkness of the soul, not in the moral blackness of an evil heart. Her loss was a veiling of His face, not a flight. But she does teach us that, when we lose God, we must not wait for Him to come back. We must go out in search of Him; and, to the joy of every sinner, she knows where He can be found!
* * * 
There is no pain, no heartache that is foreign to our Blessed Mother.  Her understanding and compassion of the sorrows we experience on this earth is beyond our ability to comprehend.   She suffered intimately with our Lord.  Their hearts were pierced together for our salvation.  She is, as the Venerable Fulton Sheen said, the Refuge of Sinners. 



Republicans Vote To Fund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare

One person after another has told me that I MUST vote for Mitt Romney and the Republicans because they are the lesser of two evils and anything is better than Obama.  Really?  I will readily agree that it doesn't get much worse than Barack Obama, our abortion-loving, anti-Catholic president whose goal is to completely socialize and secularize America. 

The Republicans put on a much better face than what we see with Obama and the Democrats, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the Republicans are no better.  The House Republicans just voted for a bill that funds Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.  This bill also funds Obamacare, including the HHS Mandate forcing Catholic institutions to provide free contraception to their employees,

 Back in February of this year, thehill.com told us this:
Senate Republicans are pushing legislation to overturn the Obama administration’s decision that the health plans of faith-based organizations must cover contraception if they serve people of multiple religious backgrounds.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) are leading the effort.

“This is about whether the government of the United States should have the power to go in and tell a faith-based organization that they have to pay for something that they teach their members shouldn’t be doing,” said Rubio.

“I hope that the Senate and the House will act on it as well because the American people are asking us to,” he said.
Well, the House Republicans seem to have forgotten about this as on Thursday, September 13, they passed legislation that not only funds Planned Parenthood, but also funds Obamacare including the HHS mandate. 

Here is the story from cnsnews.com:
House Republicans Pass Funding for Planned Parenthood, Obamacare and Regulation Forcing Catholics to Act Against Faith
By Matt Cover
September 13, 2012



House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) – The Republican-majority House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $1.047 trillion bill funding the federal government through March 2013 that will permit funding for Planned Parenthood and ObamaCare--including the regulation that took effect on Aug. 1 that will require virtually all health plans in the United States to cover, without fees or co-pay, sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortions.

The vote was 329-91, and the bill now goes to the Senate for expected approval next week.

The bill funds the government for six months into the new fiscal year and for almost five months after the November elections. Congress turned to the stop-gap measure after failing to pass any of the 12 appropriation bills necessary to fund day-to-day government operations.

The Catholic bishops of the United States have unanimously declared the Obamacare sterilization-contraception-abortifacient regulation an "unjust and illegal mandate" that violates the right to free exercise of religion not only of Catholic institutions but also of Catholic business owners and workers.

The bill, a continuing resolution (CR), does not prohibit funding for either ObamaCare programs or Planned Parenthood. Nor does it stop the government from enforcing regulations, such as the mandate from the Health and Human Services Department that nearly all health insurance plans provide contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs free of charge.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who supports the CR along with the GOP House leadership, earlier this year described the health insurance mandate as an “unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country” and a violation of the First Amendment protecting the free exercise of religion.

The CR does prohibit the government from initiating any new programs or using the $1.047 trillion in the bill to carry out any programs or functions it was not engaged in during fiscal year 2012.

The resolution also extends for six months the federal pay freeze enacted in FY 2012 and the welfare reform legislation enacted in 1996.

Further, the bill prohibits grant programs that spend their allocations all at once--block and other types of grant programs--from doing so with the money allocated in this bill.

In terms of policy, the bill allows the government to continue executing the functions under ObamaCare that it was carrying out last year and that Congress had funded. In other words, the government cannot move forward on implementing ObamaCare outside of what it was doing last fiscal year.

The bill does not prohibit funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.

According to its 2009-2010 annual report, Planned Parenthood received $487.4 million in government money; and according to its fact sheet, Planned Parenthood performed 329,445 abortions in 2010.

The bill represents a slight increase in spending over fiscal year 2012--about $4 billion--keeping to the spending cap outlined in the Budget Control Act of 2011. [I thought Republicans were going to cut spending.  Hmmmm.  That promise seems to have disappeared somewhere along the way.]

The CR is a product of a deal announced in July between House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to extend federal spending past both the November election and the following lame-duck session of Congress.
* * *
Even Chris Smith of New Jersey, supposedly pro life, voted for this bill which funds Planned Parenthood and Obamacare.   Paul Ryan, the Republican VP candidate, voted yes on this bill.  I'll give Michelle Bachman credit, she voted against the bill.  Interestingly, Speaker John Boehner did not cast a vote.  Todd Akin also was not present for the voting and did not cast a vote.

As redstate.com tells us, only 70 Republicans voted against this bill, along with 21 Democrats. 
As we noted earlier this week, the Continuing Resolution voted on in the House will increase spending, fund Obamacare, and extend the main welfare program without forcing Obama to reinstate work requirements. This bill is really an embarrassment to everything House Republicans professed to stand for. It will delay the major battles until March 27, 2013. And let me tell you, they will really really really take the Democrats’ lunch money then. Just wait and see. 
We have one party in this nation, and that party is out only for its own interests, not ours.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Old TV Shows Are Good For Your Mental Well Being

The Bob Newhat Show
TV doesn't get any better than this
I don't watch any current TV shows either on network or cable TV.  I cannot relate to them nor do I want to try.  I find the characters, for the most part, to be shallow and annoying, and I get really, really tired of the constant sexuality of the shows and the secular, anti-traditional moral values that they promote. 

But that doesn't mean I never watch TV.  In my opinion, one of man's greatest creations is Netflix streaming.  That has become my favorite TV channel by far.  I love being able to sit down and watch the old Dick Van Dyke Show, Murder She Wrote, Twilight Zone, Wonder Years, or Monk.  My all-time favorite comedy is the first Bob Newhart Show.  Bob, Emily, Jerry, Carol and Howard are all like old friends to me.

I always thought I was a little weird in this.  Why would I enjoy watching something from 40 years ago that I've seen literally dozens of times, and still laugh just as hard as when I first saw it?  Well, a new study tells me that I'm not crazy, and that I'm actually doing something that's good for me. 


One thing the study doesn't mention, but for me is a very real factor, is that when I watch old TV shows, and I'm talking from 30 or more years ago, I love the fact that they are not overtly sexual, they still for the most part promote traditional values, and they are characters who honestly care about one another.  On the Bob Newhart Show, Bob and Emily truly love one another, and the characters are all fiercely loyal to one another.  It really is like spending time with old friends.  For a short time I can forget the evil world that surrounds me and immerse myself in another time and place.  The cast on The Mary Tyler Moore Show are old friends to me.  I love Mary's apartment, the fact that she always looks absolutely perfect, the way in which she interacts and really cares about the people in her life.  

And of course, the music from all these shows is wonderful.  "You can turn the world on with your smile."  Does it get any better?

Here is an article from the The Daily Mail about the study.  The article mentions shows more from the last 10 to 20 years.  I'm an old geezer.  For me you have go to back 30 years, to the 80's, to get anything decent. And 40 to 50 years ago - the 60's and 70's - is when you will find the truly great TV shows.

Why watching reruns of your favourite TV shows can give you a mental boost
Researchers found will power and self control boosted
People were even able to perform better on puzzles after an episode 

By Mark Prigg

PUBLISHED:06:57 EST, 7 September 2012| UPDATED:08:43 EST, 7 September 2012

If you've ever settled down with a box set of your favourite TV show, then good news - scientists say it may have given you a mental boost.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo found people had boosted will power and self control after watching a favourite show.

They say people even performed better on puzzles after settling down in front of an episode they had seen several times before.

Researches found that watching old TV show repeats such as Sex and the City The Bill Cosby Show can actual give you a mental boost and increase willpower.
 'When you watch a favorite re-run, you typically don't have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing,' said Jaye Derrick at the University at Buffalo, who led the research.

'You are not exerting the mental energy required for self-control or willpower,'

'At the same time, you are enjoying your 'interaction,' with the TV show's characters, and this activity restores your energy.'

She believes that watching a rerun of a favorite TV show may help restore the drive to get things done in people who have used up their reserves of willpower or self-control.

'People have a limited pool of these valuable mental resources,' she said.

'When they use them on a task, they use up some of this limited resource.

'Therefore, they have less willpower and self-control for the next task.

'With enough time, these mental resources will return.

'However, there may be ways to more quickly restore them.'

However, the team found the key was a rerun - new shows simply had no effect.

Hit shows from the past such as Knight Rider I Love Lucy can give people a boost and even improve their ability to complete puzzles.
 'The restorative effect I found is specific to re-watching favorite television shows." Derrick says.

'Just watching whatever is on television does not provide the same benefit.

And perhaps surprisingly, watching a new episode of a favorite television show for the first time does not provide the same benefit.

'Based on my research, I would argue that watching television is not all bad.

'While there is a great deal of research demonstrating that violent television can increase aggression, and watching television may be contributing to the growing obesity epidemic, watching a favorite television show can provide a variety of benefits, which may enhance overall wellbeing,' she said.

In the first of her two studies published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, Derrick asked half of the participants to complete a structured task which required concentrated effort.

The other half were asked to complete a similar but less structured task that allowed them more freedom and required much less effort.

Then half of the participants were asked to write about their favorite television show while the other half listed items in their room (a "neutral" task).

Following this, the participants were tested to measure any reduction or renewal of willpower.

Those who wrote about their favorite television show (rather than listing items in their room) wrote for longer if they had done the structured task than if they had done the less-structured task.

This, Derrick says, indicates these participants were seeking out their favorite TV shows and they wanted to spend more time thinking about them.

Classic shows such as Columbo were key to the boost, watching modern shows was found to have no effect.
And writing about their favorite television show restored their energy levels and allowed them to perform better on a difficult puzzle.

In the second study, participants did a daily diary study.

They reported on their effortful tasks, media consumption and energy levels each day.

If they had to do difficult tasks, they were more likely to seek out a re-run of their favorite television show, to re-watch a favorite movie or to re-read a favorite book.

Doing so restored their energy levels.

The team found the key was to watch an episode where the viewer identified with the characters, and relaxed completely as they watched

'In other words, there was a measurable restorative effect from a familiar fictional world,' Derrick finds.

Derrick's new research will expand on these findings and examine other social consequences of television.

'I have found, for example, that favorite television shows can actually increase people's pro-social behavior.

'Specifically, after thinking about a favorite television show, people are more willing to forgive others, are more willing to help a stranger and are more willing to sacrifice for their romantic partner,' she says.
Shows such as Dawson's Creek Wonder Years can actually help people feel more forgiving as they empathise with characters and plots.



And just because I love it so much, here's the theme to The Bob Newhart Show:


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bishop: We Have to Err On the Side of Protecting Children

"If there's any, any possibility that the law has been broken, if there's any possibility that an act of abuse has occurred, whether recently or in the decent past, then we need to report it to the civil authorities. We should never hesitate.."
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon


Father Zuhlsdorf is attacking the wrong party
Father John Zuhlsdorf is still on a rant about the "unfair" treatment given to Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, who was convicted for not reporting one of his priests who was eventually found guilty of child pornography.  Father Z is specifically upset with the National Catholic Reporter, which he calls Fishwrap.   The Reporter has been calling for the removal of Bishop Finn following his conviction.  I'm not taking either side of that issue.  It's not for me to decide what if anything happens to Bishop Finn, although I will say that he has severely undermined his authority with this incident.

Father Z defends Bishop Finn against the Reporter with statements like this:
I don’t remember seeing National catholic Reporter‘s editorials demanding the resignation of Archbp. Rembert Weakland or Card. Mahony. They were into some truly deep problems, but there was no high dudgeon from NCR about them. 
Father Z really should know better.  You don't defend the bad actions of one person by pointing to even worse actions by another.  That's just a cheap shot.  Plus, who cares what the National Catholic Reporter has to say.  The fact is, Bishop Finn screwed up, and now he has to pay the price.


Should the rant be against
"Fishwrap" or Bishop Finn?
Ah, but Father Z will not admit just how serious this matter is.  He tries to shake it off as no big deal.
Bp. Finn got what we can only describe as a hand-slapping by a court. He received suspended probation the record of which is then to be expunged from his record. If what Finn did was truly a massive crime, would the court have done this?
Father Zuhlsdorf does not tell us that the bishop is required as part of his sentence to start a training program for diocesan employees in detecting early signs of child abuse, and in what constitutes child pornography and obscenity. He must also create a fund of $10,000 to pay for victims’ counseling. Bishop Finn and the diocese still face 27 civil suits, 4 of them involving Father Ratigan.

But Father Z, does it really matter what the court says?  The fact is, Bishop Finn tried to hide the wrongdoings of one of his priests.  When he reprimanded the priest and put restrictions on him, Bishop Finn did not include any kind of supervision.    Father Ratigan promptly violated Bishop Finn's regulations by being around children, and Bishop Finn never checked on him.  Father Ratigan was invited to a parishioner's house for dinner, and he took pictures under the table and up the skirt of the daughter of the parishioner. This is not a non-incident as you make it out, Father Zuhlsdorf.   Father Ratigan is now awaiting his sentencing.

Father Z ends his rant with this:
The editors hate Bp. Finn, bishop of the diocese where their offices are. They hate him with a personal hatred, unhinged animus. I think they are actually happy that the diocese had to spend piles of money on this, because, in the end, it hurt Bp. Finn. They are inflating what the court recognized as something so vaporous as to require that even the record of it be expunged, and they are dancing around it with pikes and torches.
Again, I can only say, who cares what the National Catholic Reporter has to say?  That doesn't change the facts of this case.  Bishop Finn received a just sentence.  And you are absolutely wrong, Father Z, the court did not see this as "something so vaporous as to require that even the record of it be expunged."  The court obviously believes that Bishop Finn has learned his lesson and is being very lenient towards him, and I commend the judge in this case for that.  Yes, the probation is suspended if Bishop Finn fulfills the terms imposed on him.  He did not get off scott free as Father Z implies.  The conviction may be legally expunged in the eyes of the law, but it will not be expunged in the court of public opinion.  This will always be used to persecute the church.

One person who seems to be in stark disagreement with Father John Zuhlsdorf is Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.  This article is from Fishwrap, as Father Z affectionately calls the National Catholic Reporter, so Father Z probably won't pay any attention to it.  Nonetheless, Bishop Conlon did make these statements, and it is well for all to heed them.  As Bishop Conlon said,
I think what this case brings up is that we always have to err on the side of caution -- we have to err on the side of protecting children. If there's any, any possibility that the law has been broken, if there's any possibility that an act of abuse has occurred, whether recently or in the decent past, then we need to report it to the civil authorities. We should never hesitate.
Here is the interview from Fishwrap, as Father Z calls them (NCR questions in blue):

US bishops' point man on sex abuse addresses Kansas City case
Sep. 11, 2012
By Joshua J. McElwee [1]

Joliet, Ill., Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, is pictured in Rome in 2011. (CNS/Paul Haring)

In the wake of the first conviction of a Catholic bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis, bishops throughout the country have to recognize they are accountable to their own people for their actions to protect children, the bishop who heads the U.S. bishops' committee tasked with advising their national conference on sexual abuse said Tuesday.

Bishops also have to be "firm" in applying the procedures that the body of bishops adopted 10 years ago to prevent child abuse, said Joliet, Ill., Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, the chair of the U.S. bishops' committee for the protection of children and young people.

Conlon spoke to NCR by phone from the sidelines of a meeting of the U.S. bishops' administrative committee. He addressed last week's conviction [2] of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report suspected child abuse.

In a non-jury trial Sept. 6, Finn was found guilty of one count of failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor in the state of Missouri, making him the first sitting U.S. bishop to be convicted of a crime stemming in the decades long sex abuse scandal.

During Tuesday's interview with NCR, Conlon discussed the impact of that conviction on the continuing progress of the national church to address sex abuse, 10 years after the U.S. bishops' adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

"We've got a long, long way to go," Conlon said. "But I think that diligent application of the Charter is essential. That doesn't mean that there's going to be 100 percent perfection because we're still human beings.

"And we have 190 dioceses in the United States. I can't help the fact that if there is a flaw in one place, that it's counted against one of us. I can't help that."

Following is NCR's interview with Conlon, edited slightly for context and length.

NCR: How do you see the U.S. bishops' conference addressing concerns about how the church handles reports of abuse in the light of Finn's guilty verdict?

Conlon: I think what this case brings up is that we always have to err on the side of caution -- we have to err on the side of protecting children. If there's any, any possibility that the law has been broken, if there's any possibility that an act of abuse has occurred, whether recently or in the decent past, then we need to report it to the civil authorities. We should never hesitate.

In the Kansas City case, we know that Bishop Finn never consulted his diocesan review board about a priest in possession of child pornography. How is that being dealt with by the national conference? What happens when a bishop doesn't report it to a review board? 
I think we have to make a distinction between what is printed in the charter -- and that, of course, is what we have bound ourselves to -- and what is good practice. The charter states that diocesan review boards are "to advise the diocesan/eparchial bishop of its assessment of allegations of sexual abuse by minors and its determination of a cleric's suitability for ministry."

That's what it says. Not -- it seems to me by interpretation, and this is just a matter of interpretation -- that if the review board is going to fulfill its responsibility as laid out in the charter to advise the bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse, then it has to be notified that there's been an allegation.

Again, as I said in terms of reporting to civil authorities, likewise in reporting to the diocesan review board. The bishop has to, it seems to me, report any allegation of abuse to the review board so that it can fulfill its obligation of advising them. And I don't think the bishop should put a doubt before that obligation to bring the matter to the review board.
In cases like Kansas City, how do you see the issue of accountability for bishops who don't follow the guidelines in the charter? What should happen to them?
The responsibility that we have to deal properly with allegations of abuse, to try to create a safe environment for young people is part of our overall responsibility for pastoral care of God's people.

In looking at that general responsibility, the first person to whom we are accountable is Christ, who is the good shepherd, and we're called to act in his place. That's a very serious responsibility to the Lord himself.
Secondly, a bishop is accountable to the representative of Christ who calls a bishop to that office of bishop and that's the pope. So each bishop is directly on earth accountable to the pope.
And then a bishop, I think, is also accountable to the people of the diocese. And has to be attentive to what people say, what he hears people say -- the priests, the deacons, the laypeople in the diocese. He has to listen to what people say in terms of how they feel he is fulfilling his office.   [I think it's safe to say that Bishop Finn fell down on the job on all three points.]
In terms of accountability on the issue of child abuse and child protection, all of us, every day, have to ask ourselves if we are being accountable to all three points.

In instances like this, is there any accountability for bishops from the members of the U.S. bishops' conference or does everything have to come from Rome?
There definitely is no accountability to the conference of bishops. There is an accountability to the college of bishops, the whole college of bishops. But the conference of bishops has no authority over individual bishops and the individual bishop has no accountability to the conference other than a sense of fraternal responsibility.

I mean, I pray for the bishops of the United States, and I am concerned about my brother bishops across the country, that sort of thing, but we have no line responsibility for other bishops. It's more the spiritual, fraternal kind of responsibility.

How do you address the questions of trust here? Even with the changes since adoption of the charter, laypeople in parishes and schools around the country have to trust that their bishop will report these things to the review board or to civil authorities, should they come up. How do you address that issue after the verdict in Kansas City?
I think sometimes in our human relationships, we have to presume trust. I think that, for example, when two people marry, they have to presume trust in one another. I think that when a bishop is appointed to a diocese, the people have to presume that they can trust him to carry out his responsibilities.
And if they begin to see that he fails in that trust, then they're going to lose trust. And just as spouses may lose trust in one another as they see each other fail. But they don't start out with the presumption of not trusting.
And I think that it's important to treat each human being on his or her individual terms. I think it's wrong, for example, for a husband or wife to say, "I'm not going to trust you because I know there are a lot of husbands and wives who are not trustworthy."

So I don't think we should treat all bishops as untrustworthy because one or two or three or 10 or 20 have failed to fulfill their responsibilities in one form or another. But this issue of child abuse is extremely important. A lot of human lives have been devastated by sexual abuse within the church.

So I believe that bishops have an extraordinary level of responsibility to deal with these allegations. At the same time, there is a lot of prudential judgment that has to be exercised. And I have discovered over the years that no two cases ever seem exactly the same.

But the basic responsibility of reporting an allegation to the civil authorities and cooperating with the civil authorities in any investigation that they undertake is very straightforward. It's a very simple obligation. And I think that people should be able to assume that the bishop or anyone who is operating directly under the authority of the bishop is going to make those reports.

You were reported in recent days as saying that the church's credibility on this issue was "shredded." [3] In the light of hoping that there's trust there, how can the bishops address that trust when their credibility seems to be so devastated over the past few years?

I was speaking at a national conference of safe environment coordinators and victims' assistance coordinators, so I wasn't addressing bishops.

That particular phrase, "our credibility is shredded," was specifically in a part of the talk where I was suggesting that the victims' assistance coordinators and safe environment coordinators might be of some help to the bishops in putting the work that they're doing out to the media. I was trying to say that the bishops' credibility with the media is shredded.

It is different. I was not saying that our credibility in general is shredded. I'd like to say that we still have some credibility with Catholic people and maybe in some other quarters as well. But we do have a credibility issue, there's no question about that.
On the other hand, I think we have made considerable progress. There's a recent Pew study that suggests we've made some progress in not only creating a safe environment for young people and dealing effectively with incidents of abuse, but in terms of our credibility.

But we've got a long, long way to go.  [And Bishop Finn has made it that much harder.]  And I think that in addition to the usual spiritual assistance that we have to count on -- and that's very important, we do have to count on prayer and the Holy Spirit to help us -- but I think that diligent application of the charter is essential. That doesn't mean that there's going to be 100 percent perfection because we're still human beings.

And we have 190 dioceses in the United States. I can't help the fact that if there is a flaw in one place, that it's counted against one of us. I can't help that.

But we have to try to prevent that by doing the best we can. But I don't think we're ever going to get to a point where there are not going to be failures. No institution in the world, including the Catholic church, even with the divine assistance that we have, is going to be perfect.

That doesn't mean that we should excuse our mistakes or that we should not be held accountable for our mistakes. I think continuing to be firm about applying the norms of the charter is a very important step.
Is there anything that we didn't get to that you'd want to say about this issue?
Just to be clear, I don't think that there's much room for making excuses for failures.  [Maybe Bill Donohue and Father Z should heed this and stop trying to excuse and downplay the actions of Bishop Finn.] To acknowledge that there are going to be failures is simply dealing with the reality of life. But, at the same time, I want to be clear that I'm not trying to make excuses. And I do think that bishops, in this area of child abuse, have to expect a very high level of accountability.
Accountability from civil and church authorities?
Yes. But all things in proportion.

[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR staff writer. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org.]
 
I believe Father Z is completely wrong in this matter, and  Bishop Conlon would also seem to be of that opinion.  Bishop Finn did not mean any harm, but he did not take the matter seriously enough.  He did not take into account the risk that Father Ratigan was to children and the scandal that this could cause to the church.  Proverbs 28:13 says:  "If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy."  Bishop Finn tried to hide the sins of his priest, and now the entire church is paying the price in every way imaginable.  It never pays to hide our sin, it will always find us out.

Ann Romney: Birth Control Mandate and Same Sex Marriage Distract From Real Issues

“This election is going to be about the economy and jobs.”Ann Romney

The Democrats made it very clear at their convention that they consider the most important issues in this 2012 presidential campaign to be the social issues, specifically abortion and same sex marriage.  Almost every speaker at that convention included these topics in their speeches.  Those who support Barack Obama will not be supporting him for his stand on the economy.  It is obvious that he has no idea what he is doing as far as the economy is concerned.  Supporters of Barack Obama stand behind him because he is bringing about the radical social changes that they want.

But now we have the wife of the Republican candidate, Ann Romney, telling us these social issues, such as same sex marriage and the birth control mandate, are "hot button issues" that detract from the "real issues" of the campaign, namely, the economy.  Oh, really?  Maybe someone should tell the Democrats this, because they clearly haven't gotten that message.  They have told us plainly and clearly that if they win the presidency, these "hot button" issues will be front and center as they complete the radical transformation of our society. 


Can we who are pro life really trust Mitt Romney to take on these most important issues? Will he stand up to the Democrats who want to destroy all traditional values and implement a secular humanist society in which belief and obedience to God is thrown into the trash bin? 

As Ann Romney said:  "This election is going to be about the economy and jobs."  Any thinking, alert Catholic knows our Church is under siege by the Democrats.   Yet Mitt Romney and his wife tell us that the only issue we should be looking at is the state of the economy.  Ann Romney would not even touch the question about the contraception mandate. 

Here is the article from LifeSiteNews:

Ann Romney: marriage, birth control mandate ‘distract’ from real voting issues
by Kathleen Gilbert

Tue Sep 11, 2012 09:25 EST

DAVENPORT, Iowa, September 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s wife last week refused to answer questions on the Obama administration’s birth control mandate and the redefinition of marriage, saying such social issues “are not about what this election is going to be about.”



KWQC TV6 of Davenport asked Ann Romney on Friday about the marriage debate, noting that gay ‘marriage’ is currently legal in the Hawkeye State.

Mrs. Romney responded that she would let her husband speak to “the specific issues.” “Those are hot-button issues that distract from what the real voting issue is going to be at this election. That, it’s going to be about the economy and jobs,” she said.

Not to be deterred, KWQC anchor David Nelson asked, “Do you believe that employer-provided health insurance should be required to cover birth control?”

“Again, you’re asking me questions that are not about what this election is going to be about,” replied Romney. “This election is going to be about the economy and jobs.”
Nelson countered that a Pew poll had found that many women called such issues “important” or “very important,” but Mrs. Romney continued to stonewall, saying that wasn’t what she heard on the campaign trail. “If you want to try to pull me off of the other messages it’s not going to work because I know because I’ve been out there,” she said.

* * *
As I have repeatedly said here, nothing will change under Mitt  Romney as president.  Those who think that the moral decline of our society will be halted with a Romney presidency are deluding themselves.  Romney just this past week said on Meet the Press that he "prefers" Roe v. Wade  be overturned.   He also said that there are parts of Obamacare he does support and will not overturn.  Does that sound like someone who is committed to pro life causes?  We know that he supports same sex civil unions as long as they are not called marriage, and that he supports abortion in cases of "rape, incest and the health and life of the mother."  He supports homosexual Boy Scout leaders. 

I've written it so often here that it sounds like a mantra, but nothing will change under a Romney presidency.  We need to stop hearing what we want to hear and face up to reality.  We don't have a choice in this campaign. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Catholic League: With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

Are Bill Donohue and the Catholic League trying to destroy the Catholic Church?  I recently posted on Bill Donohue's defense of  Father Groeshel's comments defending pedophiles.  Donohue's defense of these, at best, inane comments by Father Groeschel actually hurts the church more than it helps.  Both the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the Archdiocese of New York did mea culpa's on behalf of these despicable comments, as well they should.  But in Donohue's eyes, it seems, a Catholic priest can do no wrong. 

Now the Catholic League has run to the defense of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City who was convicted for failing to report child pornography found on the computer of one of his diocesan priests.  The priest, Father Shawn Ratigan, had taken hundreds of pictures of the crotches of children, including one of a baby with his diaper pulled back to expose his genitals.  The pictures were found on his computer when he took it in for repair.  As the New York Times reported:
The bishop had advance warning about Father Ratigan, well before pornography was discovered on the priest’s laptop. Julie Hess, the principal of the parochial school, next door to St. Patrick Parish where Father Ratigan served, had sent a memorandum in May of 2010 to the diocese, which said:  
“Parents, staff members, and parishioners are discussing his actions and whether or not he may be a child molester. They have researched pedophilia on the Internet and took in sample articles with examples of how Father Shawn’s actions fit the profile of a child predator.”  
Children in the diocese’s schools are taught about appropriate boundaries between adults and children in an abuse-prevention education program called Circle of Grace. Ms. Hess said that while she was inclined to believe that Father Ratigan’s behavior amounted to nothing more than “boundary violations,” other adults were alarmed about specific events: Father Ratigan had put a girl on his lap on a bus trip, attempted to “friend” an eighth grader on Facebook, and had an inappropriate “peer to peer” relationship with a fifth-grade girl. On a children’s group excursion to Father Ratigan’s house, parents spotted hand towels shaped to look like dolls’ clothes, and a pair of girls’ panties in a planter in his yard.

The bishop told Father Ratigan in June 2010 that “we have to take this seriously.” But the testimony showed that the bishop, too, perceived the concerns simply as “boundary issues.”
Father Shawn Ratigan
It was shortly before Christmas in 2010 that Father Ratigan brought his computer in to be repaired by a computer technician.  The tech found the pornography, and he took the laptop to a deacon, who in turn took it to Msgr. Robert Murphy, the second in command to Bishop Finn.  Msgr. Murphy gave the laptop to Julie Creech, a technology staff member at the diocese.  According to the New York Times:
Ms. Creech found “hundreds of photographs,” according to the testimony, many taken on playgrounds, under tables or in one case, while a girl was sleeping. Many pictures did not show faces — only close-ups of crotches. Ms. Creech wrote a report for her superiors noting that only four or five of the hundreds of pictures appeared to have been downloaded from the Internet: “the rest appeared to have been taken with a personal camera.” 
As the Times tells us:
Both Bishop Finn and Monsignor Murphy, as ministers, were required by law to report suspected child abuse to the civil authorities. But they were also required to report under policies that the American bishops put in place 10 years ago at the height of the scandal — policies that now hold the force of canon law.
Further, according to the Times:
Nevertheless, even before getting the laptop, Monsignor Murphy had already consulted with a Kansas City Police Department captain who served on the diocese’s Independent Review Board. The Graves report said that the captain, Rick Smith, recalled being told by Monsignor Murphy that the diocese had found only one nude photograph, that it was of a member of Father Ratigan’s family, and that it was not a sexual pose. Monsignor Murphy said he did not remember telling the captain those things. Their recollections also differed on what the captain had said about whether the photograph constituted pornography.
Father Ratigan then attempted suicide by driving his motorcycle into a closed garage. 

Instead of directly dealing with this situation and reporting it to the proper authorities, Bishop Finn reassigned Father Ratigan and told him he must stay away from children and must not use computers.
The bishop assigned Father Ratigan to serve as a chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Eucharist, in Independence, Mo. He placed seven restrictions on the priest, including not using computers and avoiding all contact with children. But the bishop allowed him, on a “trial” basis, to celebrate Mass for youth groups at the prayer center that the sisters ran.

Over the next five months, Father Ratigan, who is now 46 attended a sixth-grader’s birthday party, co-celebrated a child’s confirmation, communicated with children on his Facebook page, hosted an Easter egg hunt and attended a parade, the testimony recounts. Invited to dinner at the home of parishioners, he was caught taking photographs, under the table, up their daughter’s skirt, according to a federal indictment of Father Ratigan.

Neither the bishop nor any church official told church members or Father Ratigan’s large extended family — which includes many children — that the priest had been ordered to stay away from children, Darron Blankenship, a brother-in-law of Father Ratigan and a police officer who has handled child abuse cases, said in an interview on Friday.

“For somebody that was under restrictions, he had free rein,” Officer Blankenship said. “He just went and did what he wanted.”   
What was Bishop Finn's reactions when he found out that Father Ratigan was violating his rules?
Bishop Finn and Monsignor Murphy learned about some of Father Ratigan’s violations of his restrictions. “I will have to tell him,” Bishop Finn wrote in an e-mail to the psychiatrist, “that he must not attend these children’s gatherings, even if there are parents present. I had been very clear about this with him already.”
Finally, Msgr. Murphy took matters into his own hands and reported Father Ratigan to the police on May 11, 2011 when Bishop Finn was out of town.  Ratigan was arrested a week later and convicted in August of possessing child pornography.

This is all quite scandalous, and I think is very clear that Bishop Finn was guilty of trying to cover this up.  Yet it seems that Bishop Finn still didn't get it.  As the Times article tells us:
Bishop Finn and the diocese were indicted by a grand jury in October 2011. Monsignor Murphy was given immunity for cooperating with the prosecution. He testified that he turned Father Ratigan in because he had grown concerned that he was truly a pedophile. The monsignor said that when the bishop learned he had turned in Father Ratigan, “It seemed he was angry.”

After Father Ratigan was arrested, Bishop Finn met with his priests. Asked why Father Ratigan was not removed earlier, the bishop replied, according to the testimony, that he had wanted “to save Father Ratigan’s priesthood” and that he had understood that Father Ratigan’s problem was “only pornography.”
* * *
 
Father John Zuhlsdorf
And now here comes the Catholic League running to defend Bishop Finn and demonize those who told the story.  I am further upset by the fact that I saw this story on Father Zuhlsdorf's blog applauding the actions of the Catholic League in defending Bishop Finn.  The Catholic League wrote:  "we find the chorus of condemnations targeting Bishop Finn to be as unfair as they are contrived" to which Father Z commented:  "Do I hear an "Amen!"?.  No, Father Z, you do not hear an "Amen!" from me.
 
Here is the posting from The Catholic League:

ASSESSING BISHOP FINN’S GUILT
September 7, 2012 by admin
Filed under
Latest News Releases

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on a judge’s decision yesterday finding Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn guilty in a case involving Father Shawn Ratigan:

Let’s get rid of some myths. Bishop Finn was not found guilty of a felony: he was found guilty of one misdemeanor, and innocent of another. The case did not involve child sexual abuse—no child was ever abused, or touched, in any way by Father Shawn Ratigan. Nor did this case involve child pornography [!!!!!!]. Here’s what happened.

On December 16, 2010, a computer technician found crotch-shot pictures of children, fully clothed, on Ratigan’s computer; there was one that showed a girl’s genitals exposed. The next day Ratigan attempted suicide. The Vicar General, Msgr. Robert Murphy, without seeing the photos, contacted a police officer about this matter. The officer, after consulting with another cop, said a single photo of a non-sexual nature would not constitute pornography. After a few more of the same types of photos were found, an attorney rendered the same judgment: they were not pornographic.

Finn then asked a psychiatrist to evaluate Ratigan. The bishop was given the judgment of a professional: the priest was not a risk to children (he was diagnosed as suffering from depression). Finn then placed restrictions on Ratigan, which he broke. When it was found that Ratigan was again using a computer, upon examination more disturbing photos were found. Murphy then called the cops (Finn was out of town) and a week later Ratigan was arrested. Yesterday, Finn was found guilty of one misdemeanor of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse.

The Catholic League supports harsh penalties for child sexual abusers, and for those who cover it up. But it also supports equal justice for all, and given what we know of what is going on in many other communities, religious as well as secular, we find the chorus of condemnations targeting Bishop Finn to be as unfair as they are contrived.

We would be remiss if we did not mention that only two newspapers in the nation put this story on the front page: the Kansas City Star, understandably, and the New York Times.
* * * 
Donohue is obviously telling the facts to fit his defense of Bishop Finn.  How can Donohue possibly say "The case did not involve child sexual abuse—no child was ever abused, or touched, in any way by Father Shawn Ratigan. Nor did this case involve child pornography."  The pictures were definitely sexual in nature.  Of and by themselves, the pictures constitute abuse.  This would be considered a mortal sin in the Catholic Church and unless confessed, the sinner would be in danger of hell fire.  The very fact that Father Ratigan tried to kill himself shows the extent of his problem.  Bishop Finn was wrong in trying to cover up Father Ratigan's actions. 

To attack the media for reporting this story instead of looking at the real guilty parties shows that Bill Donohue and the Catholic League are no more than partisan shills.  When we are sick, we need a doctor who tells us what is wrong, not someone who smiles in our face and says everything is okay when in fact we are riddled with cancer.  As far as I'm concerned, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League have lost all credibility.

And what's up with Father Zuhlsdorf supporting Donohue?  It's interesting that there are no comments to Father Z's post on this matter.  Did no one care to comment, which is highly unusual for Father Z's readers, or maybe the comments weren't so supportive and he deleted them?

Bill Donohue and, by extension Father Zuholsdorf with his endorsement of Dononhue's comments, have given ammunition to the enemies of the Church.  Bishop Finn was wrong, pure and simple, in his actions.  He needs to be called out for what he did, and the conviction he received was right and just. Bishop Finn not only violated civil law with his cover up, he also violated the ruling of the Bishops. To defend his actions is unconscionable, and both Donohue and Father Z need to be called on it.

Hopefully Bishop Finn's conviction on covering up child abuse will cause all bishops to think twice before they try to cover up the wrong doings of priests. 

Is there anyone out there we can trust?

   

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Most Powerful Weapon in the World

G.K. Chesterton, an English writer who lived from 1874 to 1936, was one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century.  He was a late convert in life to Catholicism, although he wrote about and defended Catholicism long before he converted.  He had an amazing way of stating the truth in seemingly contradictory terms that gave us the most simple and yet profound insights.   An example is this quote from him about humility:
"What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert--himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it's practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table." G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy [Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1957], pp. 31-32
It seems that every thing in our world today has been turned upside down and inside out.  Nothing is as it seems, and it all seems to lead us to despair and destruction.  Every time we try to fix a problem, it only gets worse.  This is especially true when it comes to government.  An example is the war on poverty, which started during the LBJ Administration in 1964.  19% of the population lived below the poverty line at that time.  Almost 50 years and over $13 trillion later, the poverty level is over 15% and increasing.  One must take into consideration as well that there were 191 million people in the US in 1964, and there are now over 311 million people in our country, so even though the percentage might be slightly lower, there are in actual fact many more millions of people living in poverty.  The lowest the poverty level has ever gotten was in 1973 when it was about 11%.

So what's my point?  It is that the answers we all seek are not to be found even in the greatest minds of men.  Human power and ingenuity, apart from God, lead nowhere.  If we are apart from God, that means we are being guided by the one who wishes to destroy us, our adversary the devil.   There is no other choice.  We are either following God or we are following the devil.  Is there any doubt which camp our government is in, this government which has legalized the killing of unborn children, has engaged in wars around the globe, has legalized euthanasia in certain states, has legalized same sex marriage in other states and is slowly moving to legalize it nationally? 

How do we know if we are following our Creator or the one who wishes to destroy us?  One unmistakable feature of a truly spiritual mind is humility, the definition of which we received from GK Chesterton.  Humility is the mind that always doubts itself but never doubts Divine Truth.  One of the very greatest examples of humility and love in our modern world was Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Everything in her life was about giving to others, and always she gave the credit to our Lord, never pointing to herself.  She would literally go into the garbage dumps of India and drag out the people who were living there, wash off  the dirt and vermin, and give them a clean bed and a clean place in which to live, and for many, in which to die. 



Mother Teresa was 4'10" tall and weighed around 100 pounds.  She was not a great intellect, she held no positions of power, she had no money of her own.  Her education consisted of little more than some home schooling.  She certainly was no physical beauty.  Yet, she is one of the most powerful figures of the last century and is revered and admired by hundreds of millions of people.  You will be hard pressed to find anyone who does not know of Mother Teresa.  Her name has become almost the definition of what it means to truly love our fellow man.

It seems to me that if the US Government was sincere about wanting to help the poor and eradicate poverty, they would do well to look to the little, uneducated sister from Calcutta. 



This is all leading up to a reading from last week's Magnificat, which was taken from the writings of Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J., who lived from 1675 to 1751.  According to Wikipedia, he was a Jesuit priest and writer known for his work Abandonment to Divine Providence (also translated as The Sacrament of the Present Moment) and his work with Nuns of the Visitation in Nancy, France.  Father de Caussade tells us in this short meditation that the most effective weapons we have in fighting our opponents are "fidelity, gentleness and humility." 

A simple soul is more fully enlightened by a grain of pure faith than Lucifer by all his intelligence. The knowledge possessed by a soul faithful to its obligations, quietly submissive to the intimate orders of grace, gentle and humble towards all, is worth more than the most profound penetration of mysteries . . .
What is there among creatures that can resist the force of a faithful, gentle and humble soul? If we would infallibly conquer our enemies we must oppose them with no other arms than fidelity, gentleness and humility. Jesus Christ has put these in our hands for our defense; there is nothing to fear when we know how to use them. We should not be cowardly but generous, for this is the only disposition in which we can use these divine instruments. All that God does is sublime and marvelous and never can individual action at war with God resist one who is united to the divine action by gentleness and humility.
What is Lucifer? He is a brilliant intelligence, the most enlightened of all, but an intelligence discontented with God and his order. The mystery of iniquity is nothing but the result of his discontent manifested in as many ways as possible. Lucifer, as far as lies in his power, wishes to leave nothing in the state in which God has ordained and placed it. Wherever he penetrates, you will always find the work of God disfigured. The more lights, knowledge and general capacity a person has the more he is to be feared, if he has not the foundation of piety which consists in contentment with God and his will. It is the regulation of the heart that places us in union with the divine will; without that union, everything is but pure nature, and, usually, pure opposition to the divine order; God has not, properly speaking any instruments but humble souls.



* * *
Of course there is no greater symbol for humility than our Blessed Mother.  Our Lady recited what is now called the "Magnificat" at the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel, in which Mary was told that she was chosen to be the Mother of God.  Her immediate reaction was to give glory to God, referring to herself as a lowly handmaiden of the Lord.  It is recited every day in the Breviary:
My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name;
And his mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of his mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.

Dirty Harry told us the most powerful handgun in the world is a .357 Magnum.  That may be true, but if you wish to defeat the enemies in your life, use the same weapon used by Our Blessed Mother and Mother Teresa and all of the great saints:  humility - recognizing your weakness and total dependence upon God.  Give God the glory, not yourself or any other human being.  Our Blessed Mother is the one who crushed all heresies, and she accomplished this great feat through humility and love of God.   There is no other way.


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