Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Question in the Gosnell Case: Can We Handle The Truth

Most of the media has ignored it, but there has been a trial in Philadelphia regarding Dr. Kermit Gosnell and the house of horrors he ran which is otherwise known as an abortion clinic. He specialized in late term abortions, past the first trimester, which are very difficult to do because the baby is so large and well developed. It got to a point where he basically had the mothers deliver the babies alive and whole and he would then cut the spinal cord to kill the baby. That, of course, is illegal. American law allows a baby to be killed as long as he or she is still in the womb. That is not murder under the law. But if that same baby takes a breath outside the womb, it is then no longer called abortion. The law considers that to be murder. I would submit that it makes no difference to the baby, but American law doesn't care about that.

The current charges which the jury is considering against Gosnell are the murders of four children and one woman who died as a result of a botched abortion, and over 200 additional charges. Most pro lifers are praying for a guilty plea in this matter. But what would this mean to the pro life movement?

Credit:  www.tldm.org
If Gosnell is found guilty, that will actually make abortion more legitimate in the eyes of the public and the law. A guilty verdict will say that what Gosnell did in his killing field is somehow different than what the "average" abortion clinic does. A guilty verdict in the Gosnell case will enforce the idea that abortion - the killing of a baby inside the womb - is not murder. Granted, most abortion clinics are run in a more "hygienic" manner in that they dispose of the dead babies in a "proper" manner, treating these little human beings as medical waste and not putting their dead bodies in the freezer as Gosnell did or keeping their body parts in jars. Most clinics don't have blood, feces and urine on their walls. Women don't generally deliver their babies into a toilet where the baby is then killed. The abortion tools in most clinics are usually cleaned after each use and venereal diseases are not normally spread between women as happened in Gosnell's office. But the end result is exactly the same: dead babies.

Why are pro abortion proponents trying as hard as they can to run away from Gosnell, telling us that this is not what "reproductive healthcare clinics" are about? Those who support abortion want a guilty verdict. Nancy Pelosi, a strong supporter of abortion, said this in regard to Gosnell:
“I think that whatever went on there — I only know what you all report on it — is really disgusting,” Pelosi replied. “It is really disgusting, and when we talk about reproductive health for women, that’s not what we’re talking about.”
In debating a resolution in the Senate calling for hearings on the Gosnell matter, Senator Barbara Boxer, according to a lifenews.com article, said:  "the problems at the Gosnell abortion clinic were really no different than problems at any other medical clinic."  She actually may be telling the truth, at least in regard to abortion clinics.

Planned Parenthood, which makes its money by killing unborn babies, strongly condemned Gosnell. This is from christianpost.com:
"Planned Parenthood strongly condemns the alleged actions of Kermit Gosnell, and we would condemn any physician or health-care provider who did not follow the law or recklessly endangered the health of others," stated Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, in an article posted on philly.com.
Planned Parenthood somehow doesn't see the irony of that statement. Every abortion "recklessly endangers the health of others" in that every abortion is about killing a baby. This may be a news flash to Planned Parenthood, but killing is basically the definition of "recklessly endangers health."

The public consensus is that Kermit Gosnell is guilty of every single charge against him and is a mass murderer. I most certainly agree with that. However, we need to remember that every abortionist is a mass murderer. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an abortionist who repented and became actively pro life and converted to Catholicism, estimates he presided over 60,000 deaths. And he was just one abortionist. (You can read about Dr. Nathanson here.) There have been 55+ million abortions in the United States. That would easily average out to tens of thousands of abortions for each abortionist. Dr. Nathanson died in 2011 (his funeral Mass was in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City), but if he were still alive, he would be the first to tell you that there is virtually no difference between what he did and the actions of Kermit Gosnell. As I mentioned earlier, the result was exactly the same: dead babies.

The State of Pennsylvania purposely did not inspect Gosnell's clinic for 17 years. Why? Businessinsider.com gives us the answer:
Pennsylvania's health department stopped routine inspections of abortion facilities in the state after Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, became governor in 1995.

Health department lawyers "changed their legal opinions and advice to suit the policy preferences of different governors," health department official Janet Staloski said in grand jury testimony. In this case, she said the state didn't want to be "putting a barrier up to women" who wanted abortions.
In 1999, high-level Pennsylvania officials met to consider starting up regular inspections again but decided not to, state lawyer Kenneth Brody testified, according to the grand jury report. He told the grand jury that officials were concerned that abortion clinics wouldn't meet inspection standards and then there "would be less abortion facilities."
The state's politics-driven policy continued until the gruesome allegations regarding Gosnell came to light.
Abortion clinics were purposely not inspected because officials did not want to take a chance that some would not meet "standards" and as a result, have to be closed down, The only reason the authorities became aware of the nightmare occurring in Gosnell's clinic is because the Feds suspected he was involved in illegal drug trafficking. They raided his clinic and only then discovered the terrible conditions. According to the businessinsider.com article, "They found moaning women covered in blood-stained blankets and jars with severed fetus feet, according to the 281-page grand jury report." This is despite the fact that many women had gone to Planned Parenthood clinics and complained to them about Gosnell. Planned Parenthood, despite their public condemnation of Gosnell, did nothing to follow up on the complaints.

We really shouldn't be shocked at the callousness shown by both the government and Planned Parenthood. They are in the business of killing babies. Do we really think that people who can casually and on a routine basis kill innocent and defenseless unborn babies would have compassion on anyone?

Kathryn Lopez of National Review wrote about a report done by Fox News last week regarding Gosnell. She described the closing arguments which were discussed in the Fox News report as follows:
Bret Baier hosted a special Friday night on Fox News Channel about the Kermit Gosnell trial. (I tweeted some about it, @kathrynlopez.) During it FNC’s Peter Boyer, formerly of The New Yorker, described Gosnell’s defense: He was doing his job. Boyer was in the courtroom and described the defense attorney as having a “Jack Nicholson” “you can’t handle the truth moment.” Essentially: Abortion is ugly, he provided abortions, deal with it. 

Thehill.com gives a further report on the closing argument from Gosnell's attorney.
It will be downright unfair if Dr. Kermit Gosnell is found guilty of murder this week at his abortion-infanticide trial in Philadelphia. His defense attorney made a convincing case in closing arguments that abortion doctors end pregnancies every day, so why single out Gosnell? Perhaps he operated under particularly unsanitary conditions, was singularly incompetent, and committed medical malpractice, but, really, murder?
. . .
Baby killed inside the mother – legal abortion. Very same baby killed seconds later on the other side of the birth canal – murder. In abortion, as in real estate, it’s location, location, location.
Dr. Gosnell tried the legal methods, but he failed at pinpointing the baby’s heart – it requires skill he doesn’t have to delicately guide the needle through a pregnant woman’s belly into the stubbornly beating heart of the unborn baby.
. . .
Oh, the injustice of it all. Doctor in Pennsylvania is charged with a crime for aborting a 25-week baby; doctor in New Jersey gets a good fee for aborting a 25-week fetus. Location, location, location.
. . .
Turns out Gosnell is not alone in the live-birth abortion-infanticides either. A sting operation from LiveAction has shown several other women’s health clinics are willing to let babies die if they accidentally come out alive. Former employees at other clinics have come forward to say they witnessed Gosnell-like practices where they worked, and no one is investigating or prosecuting them.

Credit:  www.parents.com
Gosnell's defense attorney is absolutely right. Gosnell was providing a service that is completely lawful in the United States: killing unborn babies. Yes, he often actually delivered the babies before killing them, but does it really make a difference to the baby whether he is inside or outside his mother's womb when he is killed? Pro abortionists want us to believe there is a vast difference, and a guilty verdict will play right into their hands.

Those who are involved in or supportive of abortion desperately want a guilty verdict in the Gosnell case. A guilty verdict will enable them to point at Gosnell and distance themselves from him, claiming that what they do is not the same. They terminate pregnancies. Gosnell kills babies. A guilty verdict will, in effect, legitimize abortion in the eyes of the public because it will say that abortion and murder are not the same. A guilty verdict will do major damage to the pro life movement.

A not guilty verdict will force Americans to face up to the ugly reality of abortion. If we say that Gosnell's actions - the killing of viable babies - are lawful, then we are admitting that abortion is legally sanctioned murder.

Unless we convict all abortionists - and I do pray for that day - Kermit Gosnell is not guilty under American law. That is the truth we all must handle.
Credit:  www.gospelgifs.com

The Message of Ascension Thursday


Today is Ascension Thursday, which is exactly 40 days after Easter, the resurrection of our Lord.  It is on this day that our Lord left His followers and rose to heaven in his Glorified Body to sit at the right hand of God the Father.  For those of us in the Northeast United States (Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, to be exact) and in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Ascension Thursday is a Holy Day of Obligation.  The rest of the country celebrates it on Sunday.  Why?  This is really sad.  From Scott P. Richert of About.com:
The 40th day after Easter Sunday is always a Thursday, and the feast has traditionally been celebrated on that Thursday. However, because attendance at Ascension Thursday Masses had been falling for years, the bishops of the United States, in accordance with canon law, petitioned the Vatican to allow the celebration to be transferred to the following Sunday.  The Vatican agreed.
This seems a matter of the hierarchy giving in to the laity's laziness.  And I think the ones who pay the price for this are the laity, because they definitely lose something by not celebrating this day at the appropriate time.

Ascension Thursday is a time of great joy.  Our Lord has spent 40 days on earth in His Glorified Body appearing to and teaching His Disciples, leaving no doubt in their minds that He has truly risen from the dead.  The two main Biblical accounts we have of the ascension were both written by St. Luke in his gospel account and in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.  The Apostles, who had not yet received the Holy Spirit at the time of the Ascension, still had not totally given up hope that Jesus was going to make political changes and free them from their Roman captors.  Acts 1:6 - "Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?

The Apostles still did not grasp the meaning of Jesus' words when He said, My Kingdom is not of this world.  Many of us keep asking our Lord the same thing, wondering when He will "restore the Kingdom."  We don't realize that our Lord is not a restorer, but a Builder and Creator.  In Revelation 21:5 He says, "Behold, I make all thing new."  He told us that we can't just be patching up the old, but that we need new wine bottles.  The old man must die and we must become a new creation.  And just as the old man must die, so must this world die and be reborn as a new world.  Jesus said in John 12:24:
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
First and foremost, this is talking of Jesus Himself, from whose death and resurrection we receive life. Just as our Lord had to put the "old man" to death, so must we, which means letting go of everything pertaining to this world. Everything around us has been tainted with sin, and must be destroyed. If we try to hang on, we will be destroyed with this world. In I Peter 2:11, the first Vicar of Christ tells us we are "strangers and aliens" in this world. St. Paul says in Philippians 3:20 that our citizenship is in heaven. Those who belong to Christ are not part of this world, and those who belong to the world have no part in the Lord. St. Thomas à Kempis wrote in "The Imitation of Christ":
That is the highest wisdom, to cast the world behind us, and to reach forward to the heavenly kingdom. . . It is vanity to love that which quickly passeth away, and not to hasten where eternal joy abideth.
And yet, despite detaching ourselves from this world, we must cultivate and maintain a love for those in the world.  Just before His Ascension into heaven, Christ gave the Church the Great Commission:
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
In response to the disciples' question about restoring the Kingdom to Israel, Our Lord replied (Acts 1:7)
It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
So how do we detach ourselves from the world, and yet still love and be a witness to those who remain so much a part of this world? We cannot do this of and by ourselves. At the last Supper, our Lord explained that He had to leave the disciples so that the Holy Spirit could come (John 16:7-11):
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
In order for the Church to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by Jesus Christ, it was necessary that Our Lord leave us so that the Holy Spirit could come and empower us, guiding and leading the Church into all truth. The Holy Spirit lives within the Church and He lives within each one of us. But this could not happen without Christ ascending to heaven to the Father. At that point, sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, as He said, He sent the Holy Spirit upon the Church, which we we will see in 10 days at the Feast of Pentecost.

Yet, despite the fact that Christ was ascending to heaven, He told the Disciples:
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
How is Christ with us? He is in the Eucharist, in every tabernacle of every Catholic Church in the world. Yes, He is at the Right Hand of the Father, interceding for us, but He is also with us in the Eucharist. He will never leave His Church.

Acts 1:9-11:
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The first message the apostles hear when Christ ascends is that He will return, just as they saw Him leave.  The first time our Lord came to this earth, He was born in a lowly manger, unknown and unloved by the world.  But when He returns, He will come as a conquering King, full of Glory and Splendor, and as St. Paul tells us, every knee will bow.

Eternal Monarch, King most high,
Whose blood hath brought redemption nigh,
By whom the death of Death was wrought,
And conquering grace to man was brought:



Ascending to the throne of might,
And seated at the Father's right,
All power, O Jesu, is thine own
That here thy Manhood had not known.



To thee the whole creation now
Doth in its three-fold order bow,
Of things on earth, and things on high,
And things that underneath do lie.

With awe the Angels contemplate
The wondrous change of man's estate;
Though flesh hath sinned, Flesh purged the stain,
And in that Flesh our God doth reign.



Be thou our joy, O mighty Lord,
As thou wilt be our great reward;
Earth's joys to thee are nothing worth,
Thou joy and crown of heaven and earth.

We therefore beg, dear Lord, of thee
To pardon our iniquity;
Yea, of thine own supernal grace
Uplift our hearts to seek thy face:



That when in clouds, O Judge of doom,
Thy glory shall this earth illume,
Thou mayst remit our debt of pain,
And grant our long-lost crowns again.



All praise from every heart and tongue
To thee, ascended Lord, be sung;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mark Shea Sets Us Straight

Undercover Video made by Live Action
Mark Shea has written a column, which you can read here, entitled "Why I Believe Live Action’s Tactics Are Wrong", denouncing the tactics of Lila Rose and Live Action.  Live Action has sent pregnant women into abortion clinics in undercover operations to expose just how ruthless and evil the abortion industry is. I have to admit that I have always applauded Lila Rose and her group in the past, grateful that they are exposing this evil for all the world to see.

But now Mark Shea has come along and told us that even though "abortion is a filthy monstrous evil that should turn the stomach of any sane human being", that does not make it right to go in and tempt them or anyone else to commit mortal sin by pretending to ask for an abortion.  My first reaction in seeing this column is no, you're wrong about this one, Mark.  Abortionists are evil people and it doesn't matter how we get them, just so we get them. We have to use whatever it takes to stop abortion.

But when I really read his article and then gave it some long reflection,  I realized Mark Shea is right on the money.  Our Lord would never use such tactics against evil.  He would tell them to their face that what they are doing is wrong, and he would call them to repentance.

Mark first points out that lying is immoral. The eighth commandment does not say Thou shall not bear false witness EXCEPT when the other guy is a really evil person. There are no exceptions to any of the commandments, and that includes the one pertaining to lying. God never resorts to lying and neither should we.

But lying is not the worst of it by any means. As Mark points out, when Live Action sends someone into an abortion clinic to ask for an abortion, they are tempting that person to mortal sin. It doesn't matter whether the other person would do it or not. Mark explains it best:
The essence of the transaction Live Action’s agent proposes is simple: “I want to murder someone. Will you help me?”
Some will undoubtedly say “These people would murder in any case so let’s nail the bastards any way we can.”
The answer to this is twofold: a) we don’t know they would murder in any case and b) even if true, it does not in the slightest remove the stain of mortal sin from our act when we tempt another to commit murder. Indeed, to tempt to mortal sin one who is likely to succumb to mortal sin is, if anything, more blameworthy.
James 1:13 says:  "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone." As Mark writes,
The reality is that the *least* serious moral issue is that LA’s tactics involve the sin of lying. The really serious problem (and one that the Faithful Conservative Catholic anti-charism of discernment refuses to give any serious consideration) is that it is lying in order to tempt somebody to commit a mortal sin. God does not tempt to mortal sin. Those who do tempt people to commit mortal sin are themselves engaged in grave matter and are in peril of their souls.

Jesus commissioned His Church to preach the Gospel to every creature. In doing so, our job is to try to bring as many souls as we can to Christ. How are we going to do that when we are lying and tempting people to mortal sin? We can't use the tactics of the devil to defeat the devil. When we do that, we are acting as his agents, not as followers of Jesus Christ.

We should be praying for the souls of abortionists and all who are involved in this evil practice. As Mark wrote,
Consider such figures as Carol Everett, Bernard Nathanson or Sue Thayer. All were, at one time, pro-aborts with blood on their hands–and deeply troubled consciences. The very last thing they needed when they were on the cusp of changing their minds was for somebody to come to them pleading for an abortion and tempting them to continue in their path with one more conscience-searing act of slaughter. Inveigling them to continue murdering for the sake of the hidden camera is like handing an alcoholic struggling to get sober a bottle of whiskey in the hope they will die of alcohol poisoning on camera so you can expose the distillery industry. “He would have gotten drunk anyway” is not going to fly when you stand at the Pearly Gates and have to answer for tempting that guy to destroy his life for the sake of your expose.
Mark has given us a profound truth and one that should convict us to the core of our souls. I, for one, am very grateful that he had the courage to post this for all the world to see, and I will pray that Lila Rose and all who support her will also see tempting others to sin, even in the name of "good", is not the way to go. We must abide by the Commandments, the Law of Love, in order to defeat evil. There is no other way.



Meditation on the First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ



Yesterday, Saturday, May 4, was the First Saturday of the Month. The First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first mentioned by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917. After showing the three children a vision of hell she said, "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace... I shall come to ask for... the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays..." The First Saturday devotion is as follows:
It consists in going to Confession, receiving Communion, reciting five decades of the Rosary and meditating for a quarter of an hour on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. The Confession may be made during the eight days preceding or following the first Saturday of each month, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. Should one forget to form the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it may be formed at the next Confession, occasion to go to confession being taken at the first opportunity.
We are in the midst of the Easter Season, and therefore I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the First Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. Everything in existence hangs on this one event. I Corinthians 15:17 tells us: "If Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins." This tells us that Jesus' great sacrifice of pouring out His Precious Blood on the cross and all the suffering He experienced for us would have no meaning if He is not raised from the dead. St, Paul goes on to explain in verses 18-19 the consequences of Christ not rising from the dead: "Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." There is no more important event in the history of all creation than the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that is why this event is marked not by just one day in the Church calendar, but the entire week of Easter is considered one long solemnity. Easter is preceded by Lent, which is a 40-day preparation period. The Easter season itself lasts for 50 days, until the Feast of Pentecost, thus comprising 90 days of the Church calendar.

But why was it so necessary for Christ to rise from the dead? St. Paul tells us in verses 21-22 of I Corinthians 15 that, "For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." When our Lord conquered death for Himself, He also conquered death for each one of us, and freed us from the punishment we inherited from the first man, Adam, who was condemned to death when he and his wife, Eve, disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, as St. Paul tells us in Romans 5:14: "sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned." The One against whom Adam, along with all his progeny - which includes you and me - had sinned, the One whom we all had rejected and thus brought upon ourselves the justly deserved penalty of death, is the same One who came to us in the form of a man, poured out his Life on the Cross and then rose from the dead to free each one of us from death. It is an amazing Truth that we so easily take for granted because we have heard it so many times. Romans 5:15-17 explains it:
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Think of it in these terms. We are all aware of the terrible bombing in the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago. Picture the innocent people who were killed, injured and maimed in that barbaric act somehow being able to take upon themselves the penalty of those who did the bombings and thus spare the guilty. That is analogous to what Christ did for us.

Further, Christ didn't first check with us and say, look, I'm willing to die for you and free you from sin and death, but first you have to promise that you'll make it worth my time and effort by turning from your sins and following me.  As St. Paul tells us in Romans 5:6-8,
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Christ paid the penalty for sinners with no assurance that they would accept this free gift.  Christ came to this earth and sacrificed Himself while mankind was still in full rebellion against Him.  In fact, the ones for whom Christ died are the very ones who put Him to death.  Christ's Love for us is so great that He even allows us to continue to reject His Love and remain in our sinful ways.  The first law of love is freedom, and that is certainly integral to the Love of God.  Christ, the Good Shepherd, always leads us, but never forces us.  The Love our Lord has for mankind is so great that we will never fully comprehend it as mortal human beings.

During His earthly ministry, Christ told His followers many times that He would be put to death but then rise again from the dead.  The only one who truly believed and understood this was Mary, Christ's Blessed Mother.  As one priest explained it, Mary comprised the entirety of the Church from Good Friday through Resurrection Sunday.  When our Lord was arrested, all of his followers fled, with the exception of a handful who stayed with the Blessed Mother.  When they witnessed His agonizing death on the cross, they were convinced, as any rational person would be, that the dream was over.  His words and promises were forgotten.   They buried him and then walked away.  Ironically, as the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen pointed out, Christ's followers were the ones who had to be convinced He was truly resurrected from the dead.  It was Christ's enemies who actually took His words to heart.

The following is from a recorded talk by Archbishop Sheen entitled "Miracles" which you can listen to here.  This is from proecclesia.com, which offers 50 talks Archbishop Sheen had made as a record (this was before CD's), and which are offered free by proecclesia.com.  I highly recommend listening to as many of these as possible.
In the history of the world, only one tomb has ever had a rock rolled before it and a soldier set to guard it to prevent a dead man from rising, and that was the tomb of Christ on the evening of the Friday called Good. What spectacle could be more ridiculous than armed soldiers keeping their eyes on a corpse. But sentinels were set lest the dead walk, the silent speak and a pierced heart quicken to the throb of life.
They said he was dead. They knew he was dead. They said he would never rise again.  And yet they watched. They remembered that he called his body the temple, and that in three days after they destroyed it, he would rebuild it. They recalled too that he had compared himself to Jonas, and said that as Jonas was in the belly of the whale for three days, so would he be in the belly of the earth for three days, and then would rise again. . .
Their request for a guard until the third day [the Pharisees requesting a guard from Pontius Pilate] had more reference to Christ's words about his resurrection than it did to the fear of the apostles stealing a corpse and propping it up like a living thing in simulation of a resurrection. . . .There must be a seal, and the enemies would seal it. There must be a watch, and the enemies must keep it. The certificates of the death and resurrection must be signed by the enemies themselves. . .
The King lay in state with his guard about him. The most astounding fact about this vigilance over the dead was that the enemies of Christ expected the resurrection, but his friends did not. It was the believers who were the skeptics. It was the unbelievers who were credulous. His followers needed and demanded proofs before they would be convinced.
Guards at the tomb of Jesus
As Venerable Fulton Sheen pointed out, Christ's followers did not keep watch over the tomb because they thought he was dead and gone and his message had died with him.  Christ's enemies, ironically, had more faith, although it was in the form of fear, that Christ would rise from the dead than the followers of Christ did.

Our Lord wanted to make sure that there could be no doubt that He had risen from the dead.  He remained on the earth for 40 days in His Glorified Body, appearing to many.  St. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:3-7:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
There is the famous story of Doubting Thomas (John 20:24-28):
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”


By the end of the 40 days after Easter, on the first Ascension Thursday when Christ rose to heaven to sit at the Right Hand of the Father, all of His Followers were fully and completely convinced that Christ had risen from the dead. The dream was not only not dead, it was more alive than they could have ever imagined. They were hoping for a Savior who would rescue them from the tyranny of the Romans. Instead, they had a Savior who rescued them from the eternal tyranny of sin and death, as St. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:54-57:
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Death no longer has power over us.  The bonds of sin have been broken.  As St. Paul concludes:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
There is no power greater than the risen Christ.  No one and nothing can defeat us except our lack of belief in the Risen Lord.  If we are willing to give ourselves to Him without reservation, He will reward us with eternal life in the Presence of the Holy Trinity.  That is the message of the Resurrection.

Christ has risen!  Alleluia!


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