Saturday, November 3, 2012

All Souls Day: The Stark Difference Between Protestants and Catholics

Mass for the Souls in Purgatory
I know this is a day late and a dollar short, but I have something on my mind that I really want to share, so I hope you'll bear with me.

Yesterday, November 2, was All Souls Day, the day that Catholics around the world specifically remembered those who have died and are undergoing purification in Purgatory.  This day is also a stellar example of just how out of step the Catholic Church is with the world, or maybe it is better said that this day shows how out of step the world is with the Catholic Church.

There are few religions that pray for the dead as the Catholic Church does.  The Jewish religion has prayers for the dead, but only the Catholic Church prays for those who are undergoing purification as they are being made ready to enter into the Presence of the Great God.  The closest any other religion comes to believing in Purgatory are the Hindus who believe in reincarnation:  the belief that we keep coming back to this earth in different forms, human and animal and who knows what else until we "get it right.".  The end of reincarnation is to become "one with the universe" and basically dissolve into nothingness.  That is Satan's answer to the true reward of the saved, which is eternal happiness with and in the presence of the Trinity, and involves no dissolution of who we are.  But to enter into this eternal reward, we must be perfect and completely without sin.  Ephesians 5:27 tells us:  "That he [Jesus] might present it [the Church] to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish."

But how do we, as sinful human beings, ever get to the point that we are without blemish, completely free of all sin - with not even the tiniest bit of selfishness or vanity?  We must be purged of it, just as silver is purged of dross or rust.  As Proverbs 25:4 tells us:

Take away the rust from silver, and there shall come forth a most pure vessel.

Silversmith refining silver
This involves suffering, pure and simple, either now or after we die in Purgatory.  There is no other way.  No one gets into heaven without going through Calvary.  Christ told us in Luke 9:23-24:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it.

Herein is seen just how wide the gap is between Protestantism and Catholicism.  Protestants  believe that if we just say, "I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior", then poof! we are saved and ready to enter into heaven.   It doesn't matter that we are filled with sin.  Protestants believe that Christ's sacrifice "covers" our sin, sort of like snow covering a pile of garbage.  The problem is that although the snow may look pretty, the garbage is still there.  Do we really believe that our Lord would allow a sinner into heaven just as long as he is "covered" by our Lord's Sacrifice?  Protestants don't take Christ seriously when he said, "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven in perfect."  (Matthew 5:48).  Protestants believe, in effect, that covering stinking putrid garbage with snow somehow makes the garbage into magnificent and precious jewels.  Even a child will see just how ridiculous that thinking is.

The Protestant belief is clearly shown in the lyrics to the famous Protestant hymn, "Just As I Am":

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Protestant Cross with no
suffering Jesus
In the Protestant world, we can go to Jesus "Just as I Am", and Christ does all the rest, no work necessary on our part, and certainly no suffering.  No need for any kind of Purgatory, either here or in the afterlife.  In fact, many Protestants believe that if you are suffering, that actually means you have done something wrong and God is punishing you.  Protestants deny suffering in the plan of redemption, and that is also why they deny the Crucifix, and instead have a cross without the corpus.  They have no desire to think about or look at suffering, and they especially eschew the salvific suffering of our Lord.  Because of this, they have no clue how important suffering is in the life of a Christian.

Unlike the rest of the world, the Catholic Church does not see suffering as something evil or a punishment of any kind.  Here are just a couple of quotes from great saints on suffering:
Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Saviour; in suffering love becomes crystallised; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.
--St. Faustina
All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.
--Saint Francis de Sales
"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."
--St. Gemma Galgani
If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.
--St. Vincent de Paul
The great G.K. Chesterton perfectly sums up the Catholic view of suffering
Jesus promised the disciples three things - that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.
As Catholics, we believe that it is our duty to pray for the suffering souls in Purgatory that they can quickly go through their purification and be released to their heavenly reward. That is the purpose of All Souls Day, and there is no idea that could be more alien to the Protestant way of thinking.

Unfortunately, the Protestant mindset has found its way into the Catholic Church. Yesterday  I went to Mass in which the priest wore white vestments and never even mentioned the word "Purgatory."  I know that this particular priest believes that everyone goes to heaven, that no one goes to hell, much less Purgatory.  Somehow he managed to preach about praying for those who have died, but I honestly don't know what we are to pray for since they are all in heaven.

Risen Christ has replaced the
suffering Christ on the Cross
This is very dangerous thinking.  If we start to believe that we are all going to heaven no matter what, we will  live very undisciplined lives, completely forgetting about sin and thus forgetting about the great Sacrifice of our Lord on the Cross to deliver us from sin and death  This  directly leads to misunderstanding the meaning and importance of suffering in our lives.  It is the reason why so many Catholic churches no longer have a suffering Jesus on the Cross, but a risen Jesus, free of all pain and suffering of this earth.  When we reject the suffering Christ and the suffering that comes into our lives, we no longer see it as a way of purification and a great gift from God to cleanse our souls and bring us into a close, intimate relationship with Him.  Suffering is now a punishment and something to be avoided at all costs.

It is this kind of thinking that has resulted in the tremendous drop off in the Sacrament of Confession.  Why should we bother with confessing our sins when we know we're already forgiven and going to heaven?   This has led to the attitude that it's not necessary to attend Mass or follow the teachings of the Church in general.  God loves me, and as long as I am  "good" person, living a "good" life and not hurting anyone, I don't have anything to worry about.

Mary, John and the women at the foot
of the Cross
It is no coincidence that Protestants reject the idea of suffering and also reject veneration of Mary, our Blessed Mother.  These two issues may not seem related, but they are actually intimately tied together.  To venerate Mary means to stand with her at the foot of the Cross, as the apostle John and Mary Magdalene and the few other women did who stayed with Mary and embraced the suffering Christ.  Sadly, far too many of us in the Catholic Church are no longer joining ourselves with our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross.  We are rejecting the suffering and running away from Calvary with all of the other apostles and disciples and saying as Peter did, "I do not know him."  When we reject the idea of suffering, we have become Protestant in our thinking.

We must remember that there are three parts of the Church:  the Church Militant here on earth; the Church Suffering in Purgatory; and the Church Triumphant, who are the saved in heaven.  Protestants, who preach "once saved always saved" believe only in the Church Triumphant.  And now many Catholics are also teaching and believing that there is only the Church Triumphant, and that it includes those of us here on earth.  But we are NOT the Church Triumphant yet.  We are the Church Militant involved in a spiritual war.  It is crucial that we return to the foot of the Cross with our Blessed Mother and realize that we have not finished the course, we have not yet received our reward as the Church Triumphant has.  We have to be cleansed and made perfect.  Revelation 22:14 says:
"Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city."

Bloodshed means suffering, and we will only find the Blood of the Lamb at the place where He suffered and was sacrificed:  Calvary.  It is no coincidence that the only disciples who did not abandon our Lord on that first Good Friday are those who stayed with Mary.  And where was Mary to be found?  On the road to Calvary, the road of suffering, and at the foot of the Cross. We are still in that race, and we will not finish unless we stay with Mary at Calvary.  That means recognizing the suffering Jesus Christ and accepting and even embracing that suffering in our lives.  That is the only way that our Lord can fulfill the meaning of Ephesians 5:27:  "That he [Jesus] might present it [the Church] to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish."

I hope that you took time on November 2 to pray for the suffering souls in Purgatory and join your suffering with them.  We should in fact pray for the poor souls in Purgatory every day.  As they are released to Heaven, they will join the Church Triumphant and in turn pray for you.  Those in Purgatory embrace their suffering because they know it is leading them to their great reward in heaven, to be in the Presence of the Holy Trinity.  We also must stop running away from our suffering.  We need to walk the road of Calvary with our Blessed Mother and stand at the foot of the Cross.  The Stabat Mater, which we sing when doing the Stations of the Cross, reminds us of where we need to be:

"At the Cross her Station Keeping,
Stood the Mournful  Mother Weeping
Close to Jesus to the Last."  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cardinal Dolan - What Were You Thinking?

November 1 is the beautiful holy day known as All Saints Day, a day to honor all the saints in heaven, both those known and unknown.  The Church is comprised of three different communities:  the Church Militant, which is the Church here on earth; the Church Suffering, which is the poor souls in Purgatory who are being cleansed of their sins; and the Church Triumphant, which is the saints in heaven, whose Feast Day we celebrate today.  This is a day to honor all of those who can say as the Apostle Paul wrote in II Tim 4:7 - " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."  It is a wonderful day of celebration for those who toiled faithfully while on earth through many and severe trials and a day to give hope and encouragement to all of us who are still in exile on this earth.

We in the New York area certainly felt the effects of that exile in the last couple of days with Hurricane Sandy.  Many hundreds of thousands lost their homes and other property, and at least 74 people (and still counting) lost their lives in this terrible storm.  However, the storm actually incapacitated a relatively small portion of the New York Archdiocese, whose bishop is Timothy Cardinal Dolan.  The main areas affected by the storm were southern Manhattan and Staten Island, which is south of Manhattan.  Below is a map showing the entire New York Archdiocese, which consists of the counties of New York (Manhattan), The Bronx, and Staten Island (Richmond County), as well as Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester. Next to map of the Archdiocese is a map showing the area that was most severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, which is Staten Island and the southern half of Manhattan:

      The Archdiocese of New York                  The  Affected Area in Red
There were also a few areas in the Bronx, which is north of Manhattan, that were also severely impacted, such as City Island.  But despite the fact that only a small area of the Archdiocese was incapacitated, Cardinal Dolan has excused ALL of this area from the obligation to observe All Saints Day.  

NEW YORK -- The head of the New York Archdiocese says it is OK to skip mass on All Saints Day in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan says he's dispensing people from their obligation to go to church on the holiday [this should say holy day].
 He says they should only go if their safety is not at risk.
Sandy left many neighborhoods in the dark and littered with trees and electrical wires.
Dolan said it was a time to pray and mourn for those who died, were injured or left homeless as a result of the storm.
He said he also was praying "in thanksgiving for all the heroic service of so many entrusted with our protection."
Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Much more of New Jersey was impacted by Hurricane Sandy than the Archdiocese of New York, and I don't see any of those bishops telling the faithful to forget about All Saints Day.  No one expects those who are cut off from the world without electricity, food or water or any means to get around to attend Mass on this day.  No one who has suffered tremendous loss of property or even worse would be expected to find their way to Church today.  

But c'mon! To give a blanket "amnesty" as it were to all Catholics who choose not to go to Mass is going too far, and I think it is actually spiritually harmful.  The Church has designated these days as holy days for good reason - to keep us mindful of the spiritual and to keep our thoughts on things above and not on things of this earth.  His Eminence has a right to lift this obligation, but I would think that would be more in cases of war or when a large majority of the area simply can't make it to Mass.  Manhattan itself has Catholic churches every few blocks, and many of them have Masses all day long, especially on a holy day.  Unless they are physically incapacitated, no one in Manhattan has a reason to miss Mass.  

I live in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and therefore Cardinal Dolan is not my bishop. Anything he says and does has no impact on me personally.  There were actually rather large portions of the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese that were affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Breezy Point, where about 100 homes were burned down, is a prime example.  But my bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, did not lift the obligation for this day.  [UPDATE:  Bishop DiMarzio, as pointed out in the comments below, actually did lift the obligation in his diocese.  Although parts of the diocese did suffer tremendous damage, other sections, such as where I live, didn't even lose power.  The hurricane is no reason for anyone where I live to miss Mass.]

For whatever it's worth, which admittedly isn't much, I'm using this opportunity to register my strong disapproval with Cardinal Dolan's decision to basically suspend All Saints Day for the faithful in the New York Archdiocese.  I hope that all Catholics under Cardinal Dolan will still find it important to go to Church and attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and be surrounded by many of the saints whom we are honoring on this day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Mother of God Is Our Refuge In A Storm

"Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary."
--St. Bonaventure

There are stories of horrendous tragedy and loss coming out of the nightmare called Hurricane Sandy.  One of the most terrible stories was the loss of 80 to 100 homes in Breezy Point, Queens, New York which all burned to the ground the night Sandy struck.  Many first responders to 9/11 lived in this neighborhood, making it a double tragedy.  Fortunately, it seems there was only the loss of property and no loss of lives.  The pictures of Breezy Point remind me of Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped.  We certainly pray that all of those involved will be comforted by our Lord and be able to get their lives back together.

There is one fascinating story that has come out of Breezy Point that echoes a couple of other stories in recent months.  

Just this past June there was a story from Juarez, Texas in which a Catholic Church was completely destroyed by fire.  I posted about this here. But miraculously, one thing was spared from the fire:  an image of our Lady of Guadalupe.  As reported in the El Paso Times:
"The fire tore down the whole church," said Cap. Martin Morales, of the Fire Department in Juárez, in a telephone interview.

But the fire spared a Virgin of Guadalupe image inside the church. The beloved icon, 60 centimeters tall and one meter wide, was framed in wood.
"We had no explanation of that," Efrén Matamoros said. "The image had no protection at all." The fire also destroyed 40 pews, frames and several icons. No one was hurt.
Another story came out of the Philippines in September, which I posted here.
Authorities said the continuous downpour of rain caused soil erosion in some parts of Barangay Pagsabungan, triggering the collapse of the chapel.
The chapel was completely destroyed save for the images of Virgin Mary and San Roque [St Rocco].
The incident also damaged a casket inside a chapel.
There was one man injured in this incident, sustaining wounds on his face and arms, but no casualties.

"If you ever feel distressed during your day — call upon our Lady — just say this simple prayer: 'Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.' I must admit — this prayer has never failed me."
--Blessed Mother Teresa
And now we have another miraculous story coming out of Breezy Point, Queens, where anywhere from 80 to 100 homes were completely burned to the ground.  But here is a picture of a statue of the Blessed Mother which survived the blazing inferno completely untouched.

Is it just coincidence that in all of these incidents in which an image of our Lady miraculously survived, there were also no deaths or serious injuries involved?  The loss of property is never a good thing, but "things" can always be replaced.  We cannot replace those we love, our family and friends.  

These three stories give us a powerful message about the love and care that our Blessed Mother showers down upon us.  She will never leave us, never desert us.  Her love for us is greater than any human mother's love for her child.  

Mary's love for us is with one goal:  to lead us to her Son  There is no surer path to our Lord than through his Mother.  Where you will find One, you will find the Other.

We live in very frightening times, in the midst of many storms, both physical and spiritual.  The spiritual storms are, in fact, much more frightening and deadly than any physical storm could ever be.  Storms like Sandy can take our physical lives.  Spiritual storms can take our eternal lives.   There can be no doubt in any one's mind who is the least cognizant of the times in which we live that we are in the midst of a great spiritual war.  

If we want to survive, we can never go wrong in turning to our Lady.  She is the great conqueror and destroyer of all heresies.  Just as her images survive fires, floods and even bombings as the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe did, she will enable us to survive the worst of any spiritual war.  

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal."

--Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church
Many in the Northeast United States are going through a tremendous trial right now.  The statue of our Blessed Mother standing among the wreckage in Breezy Point should remind us all that she will always be there for us, which is an especially good lesson to remember on this last day of October, the month of the Rosary, one of our most powerful spiritual weapons.
"When you see the storm coming, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down."
--St. Josemaria Escriva

Obama and Christie or Laurel and Hardy?

I fully appreciate the horrendous disaster that Gov. Chris Christie is facing in the state of New Jersey, and I certainly don't mean to make light of it.  But when I saw this picture, 

I couldn't help but be reminded of these guys:

And we all know Oliver Hardy's famous line to Stan Laurel:

"Why Don't You Do Something To Help Me?"

And for a little extra fun, here are Laurel and Hardy (Obama and Christie?) showing Michael Jackson the original dance moves to "Billie Jean."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Faith Is A Gift Of God

Faith is the Gift of God and
and not a mere act of our own
which we are free to exert
when we will

Blessed John Henry Newman
The Catholic Church is now observing the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI, which began on October 11, 2012.  Last week I posted his first weekly talk on the Year of Faith, in which he defined faith as God reaching out to us:
This, then, is the wonder of faith: God, in his love, creates in us – through the working of the Holy Spirit – the proper conditions for us to recognize his Word.
The Holy Father gave us his second talk on October 24 in which he expanded on this topic and described how faith works in our lives and what our part is. Pope Benedict once again points out that faith is not something we naturally have and not something we can "work" up by ourselves:
. . .we are able to believe in God because he draws near to us and touches us, because the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen One, enables us to receive and welcome the living God. Faith, then, is first and foremost a supernatural gift, a gift of God.
And to receive this gift, we must be a part of the Mystical Body of Christ:
. . .we don’t believe on our own, without the preceding grace of the Spirit; and we don’t believe alone but together with our brothers and sisters. 
But faith is never something imposed on us against our own free will:
Faith, then, is an assent whereby our minds and hearts pronounce their “yes” to God by confessing that Jesus is the Lord. And this “yes” transforms life and opens the way towards the fullness of meaning, making it so new, so rich in joy and reliable hope.
Once again, I am awed by the profound truths contained in this short talk by the Holy Father.  It is something that should be read and meditated on more than once.  I have highlighted the parts of the speech which I found particularly insightful.  You can find the original translation at


Faith means believing in God’s unfailing love, which endures even in the face of man’s iniquity, of evil and of death, and which is able to transform every form of slavery by granting the possibility of salvation.
Pope Benedict XVI

* * *
Dear brothers and sisters,
Last Wednesday, with the inauguration of the Year of Faith, I began a new series of catecheses on faith. And today I would like to reflect with you on the basic question: What is faith? Does faith still make sense in a world where science and technology have opened horizons heretofore unimagined? What does it mean to believe today? Indeed, in our own day a renewed education in the faith is greatly needed. This should naturally include a knowledge of the truths of the faith and the events of salvation, but above all it should come from a true encounter with God in Jesus Christ, from loving Him, from trusting Him, so that it involves the whole of our lives.  [Again the Holy Father points out that being a Christian is not just an intellectual exercise, but an actual encounter with the Holy Trinity.]
An encounter with Christ will transform us as much
as it did the woman at the well
Today, along with so many signs of goodness, a kind of spiritual desert is also widening around us. Sometimes we get the feeling from certain events we hear about each day that the world is not moving towards the building up of a more fraternal and peaceful community. The very ideas of progress and wellbeing also reveal their shadows. Despite the grandeur of scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs, men today do not seem to have become freer and more humane; so many forms of exploitation, manipulation, violence, oppression and injustice still remain.  
In addition, a certain kind of culture has taught men to move only along the horizons of things, of the practical, and to believe only in what can be seen and touched with one’s hands. On the other hand, however, there are an increasing number of people who feel lost and who - in the quest to move beyond a merely horizontal vision of reality - are ready to believe everything as well as its opposite. [As GK Chesterton said, "The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything."] Within this context several fundamental questions emerge, which are far more concrete than they appear at first sight: What is the meaning of life? Is there a future for man, for us and for the new generations? How shall we direct the choices we freely make toward a successful and happy life? What awaits us beyond the threshold of death?
These insuppressible questions show that the world of planning, exact calculation and experimentation - in a word, of scientific knowledge - important as they are for the life of man, of themselves are not enough. We don’t only need bread; we need love, meaning and hope. We need a firm foundation and solid ground that helps us to live with real meaning, even in times of crisis, darkness and difficulty, and amid our daily problems. This is precisely what faith gives us: it is a confident entrusting of oneself to a “Thou” who is God; it provides a kind of certainty different from but no less sure than what comes to us from exact calculation or science.
Faith is not simply a matter of man’s intellectual assent to truths about God; it is an act whereby I freely entrust myself to a God who is a Father and who loves me; it means clinging to a “Thou” who gives me hope and confidence.  [Again, faith is much more than knowledge of theology.] To be sure, this adherence to God is not devoid of content: it enables us to know that God himself revealed himself to us in Christ. He showed us his face and he truly drew near to each one of us. Indeed, God revealed that his love for man, for each one of us, is without measure: on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God made man, shows us in the clearest fashion how far this love goes -- to the point of giving himself, to total sacrifice. By the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, God descends into the depths of our humanity in order to bring it back to himself, to raise it to his heights.
Faith means believing in God’s unfailing love, which endures even in the face of man’s iniquity, of evil and of death, and which is able to transform every form of slavery by granting the possibility of salvation. To have faith, then, is to encounter this “Thou” - God - who sustains me and offers me the promise of an imperishable love that not only aspires to eternity but also gives it. It means entrusting myself to God with the attitude of a child who knows very well that all of his difficulties and problems are safe in the “thou” of the mother.
And this possibility of salvation through faith is a gift that God offers to all people. I think we should meditate more often on this in our daily lives, which are sometimes characterized by tragic problems and situations. We need to reflect on the fact that Christian belief involves this trusting self-surrender to the profound meaning that upholds me and the world: that meaning we are incapable of giving ourselves but can only receive as a gift, and that provides the foundation on which we can live without fear. And we must be able to proclaim this freeing and reassuring certainty with our words and to demonstrate it by our Christian lives.  [The Holy Father is reminding us that evangelization must be an integral part of our lives.]
Each day, however, we see around us that many people remain indifferent or refuse to welcome this announcement. At the end of the Gospel of Mark we today have before us hard words from the Risen One, who tells us: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16), he will be lost. I would like to invite you to reflect on this. Confidence in the action of the Holy Spirit must always move us to go out and preach the Gospel, to courageously witness to the faith. But in addition to the possibility of a positive response to the gift of faith, there is also the risk of the Gospel being rejected, of a vital encounter with Christ not being received. St. Augustine posed this problem in one of his commentaries on the parable of the sower: “ We speak – he said – we cast the seed, we scatter the seed. There are those who despise, those who criticize and those who scoff. If we fear them, we shall have nothing more to sow, and the day of harvest will remain without a crop. Therefore, may the seed come forth from good soil (Discourse on Christian discipline, 13,14: PL 40, 677-678).
Rejection, then, cannot discourage us. As Christians we are witnesses of this fertile soil: despite our limitations, our faith shows that good soil exists, where the seed of God’s Word produces abundant fruits of justice, peace, love, of new humanity and of salvation. And the whole history of the Church, with all its problems, also demonstrates that good soil exists, good seed exists, and it bears fruit.
But we ask ourselves: where does man obtain that openness of heart and mind that enables him to believe in God who became visible in Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and to receive his salvation so that Christ and his Gospel become the guide and light of life? The answer: we are able to believe in God because he draws near to us and touches us, because the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen One, enables us to receive and welcome the living God. Faith, then, is first and foremost a supernatural gift, a gift of God. The Second Vatican Council states: “To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving ‘joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it’ (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 5).

The basis of our journey of faith is Baptism, the sacrament that gives us the Holy Spirit – making us children of God in Christ - and marks our entrance into the community of faith, the Church: we don’t believe on our own, without the preceding grace of the Spirit; and we don’t believe alone but together with our brothers and sisters. From Baptism on, every believer is called to re-live and make this confession of faith his own, together with his brothers and sisters.
 Faith is a gift of God, but it is also a profoundly free and human act. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it clearly. It says: “Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. [It] is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason (n. 154). In fact, it involves them and exalts them in a gamble on life that is like an exodus; i.e., a going out of themselves, a departure from the security they afford and from their mental constructs in order to entrust themselves to the action of God, who shows us the way to attain true freedom, our human identity, true joy of heart and peace with everyone. To believe is to entrust oneself in all freedom and with joy to God’s providential plan for history, like the patriarch Abram, like Mary of Nazareth. Faith, then, is an assent whereby our minds and hearts pronounce their “yes” to God by confessing that Jesus is the Lord. And this “yes” transforms life and opens the way towards the fullness of meaning, making it so new, so rich in joy and reliable hope.

Dear friends, the times in which we live need Christians who have been seized by Christ, who grow in faith through familiarity with the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacraments – persons who are like an open book that tells of the experience of new life in the Spirit and the presence of God who sustains us on the journey and opens the way to endless life. Thank you.

[Translation by Diane Montagna]

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our series of catecheses for the Year of Faith, we now consider the nature of faith. More than simply knowledge about God, faith is a living encounter with him. Through faith we come to know and love God, who reveals himself in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and in so doing reveals the deepest meaning and truth of our human existence. Faith offers us sure hope and direction amid the spiritual confusion of our times. Before all else, faith is a divine gift which enables us to open our hearts and minds to God’s word and, through Baptism, to share in his divine life within the community of the Church. Yet faith is also a profoundly human act, engaging our intelligence and freedom. When we welcome God’s invitation and gift, our lives, and the world around us, are transformed. May this Year of Faith help us to live our faith fully, and to invite others to hear and welcome God’s word, opening their hearts to the eternal life which faith promises.
Our Holy Mother set the example for us with her "Yes" to the Holy Spirit.  Nothing can happen in our lives unless we, too, are willing to say "Yes."

Manhattan In The Dark

This is one time the media did not over-hype a story.  The Northeast US has gotten slammed by Hurricane Sandy.  The most populated area in America, including the most populated city in America, is at a standstill.  The subway in NYC, without which this city cannot operate, has been inundated with seawater.  The bridges in and out of Manhattan are closed.  Hundreds of thousands of homes have been flooded.  The airports are closed.  There were no newspapers in New York City today.  There was a major fire in Queens which has destroyed 50 80 100 homes.  Millions are without power in the Northeast, and for those in living in the many high rise apartments in this city, they are without water as well, and there is no promise as to when these utilities will be restored.  Sandy has killed at least 33 45 74 people in the United States.  Although, thankfully, the loss of life has been less, the devastation to this city and this area is far worse than 9/11.

Fire in Queens, NY that destroyed 50 homes
In my little area of Brooklyn we have been fortunate.  We never lost our power, there is no major flooding or even wind damage.  But just a couple miles away from us, in Coney Island and other areas, there is severe damage.

Flooding in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Red Hook, Brooklyn
New Jersey has been completely devastated.  Hoboken, as an example, is completely under water.

Hoboken, New Jersey
The New York Stock Exchange is closed for a second day, the longest closure due to weather in over a century.  Thousands of businesses, including my own job, are closed for a second day.  Without the subways I have no idea when I'll be able to get back to work, and that is true for millions of other New Yorkers.

I certainly pray for the physical safety of the millions of people who have been affected.  But I also pray that this will somehow be a wake up call for our area.  I hope we realize that we are not all powerful, that all of our technologies and inventions cannot save us.  In fact, we are more vulnerable than ever because we do not even know how to survive without our modern conveniences.  Turn off the electricity, and we cannot function.

I love my City of New York, but I'm under no illusions.  This is the abortion capital of the United States.  Over 40% of all pregnancies end in abortion.  We have live sex clubs here, there is vast corruption in every part of our society.  The City gives away free condoms to anyone who asks, no matter what their age.  We teach our 5 and 6 year olds that homosexuality is perfectly normal.  And, of course, like so many other states here in the Northeast, same sex marriage has been legalized.

Millions were in physical danger because of Hurricane Sandy.  Many more millions of souls are in eternal danger because of the choices they have made.  Our Creator is all merciful who wants us to be with Him. Sometimes He has to allow things to happen to wake us up, and I truly believe Hurricane Sandy, sent right before the most important election in US History - an election whose outcome could literally determine whether we survive as a nation - was a huge wake up call.  Let us pray that all of the suffering will not go to waste, that it will cause people to recognize how far they have strayed from their Creator and then turn and repent.

Please pray for those who have been so severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, and pray even more for our souls, that we will heed the warnings we have been given.  Pray that Manhattan and all the rest of the country will come out of the darkness and into the Light of God.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Humbles Us

Those of us who live here in Northeastern United States are getting ready for what is being called the worst storm in 100 years.  Hurricane Sandy is on her way and she is going to do whatever she wants to do, with all of us completely at her mercy.

In a seemingly unrelated story, the country is also getting ready to vote in a major election for our president.  Here is the electoral map, showing what areas of the country are leaning towards Romney and what areas are going to Obama.  Per usual, the northeast United States is backing the Democrat - pro-abortion Barack Obama

Then looking at Sandy's tracking map, we see that the same areas are in the direct path of Hurricane Sandy.

As the Huffington Post tells us:
From Washington to Boston, big cities and small towns Sunday buttoned up against the onslaught of a superstorm that could endanger 50 million people in the most heavily populated corridor in the nation, with forecasters warning that the New York area could get the worst of it - an 11-foot wall of water.
As rain from the leading edges of the monster hurricane began to fall over the Northeast, hundreds of thousands of people from Maryland to Connecticut were ordered to evacuate low-lying coastal areas, including 375,000 in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City, 50,000 in Delaware and 30,000 in Atlantic City, N.J., where the city's 12 casinos were forced to shut down for only the fourth time ever.
"We were told to get the heck out. I was going to stay, but it's better to be safe than sorry," said Hugh Phillips, who was one of the first in line when a Red Cross shelter in Lewes, Del., opened at noon.
"I think this one's going to do us in," said Mark Palazzolo, who boarded up his bait-and-tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., with the same wood he used in past storms, crossing out the names of Hurricanes Isaac and Irene and spray-painting "Sandy" next to them. "I got a call from a friend of mine from Florida last night who said, `Mark, get out! If it's not the storm, it'll be the aftermath. People are going to be fighting in the streets over gasoline and food.'"
Authorities warned that the nation's biggest city could get hit with a surge of seawater that could swamp parts of lower Manhattan, flood subway tunnels and cripple the network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation's financial center.
And Sandy isn't threatening only the northeast.  It is stretching all the way to Chicago, hometown and stronghold for President Barack Obama.  From
Powerful Hurricane Sandy has caused the National Weather Service to issue a lakeshore flood warning in Chicago.
During the warning, which goes into effect at 1 a.m. on Tuesday until 4 p.m. Wednesday, waves of 16 to 22 feet are likely to build along the Cook County Shoreline, reported the National Weather Service.
Is someone trying to tell us something?  Maybe yes.  Maybe no.

In all seriousness, when we are faced with acts of nature such as Hurricane Sandy, it serves to remind us of the awesome power of our Creator and just how puny and powerless we really are. I pray for all of us who are in Sandy's path that we are protected and safe.


God, our Father, 
Eternal and Omnipotent,
Creator and Lord of the Universe,
you have set the earth on its foundation
and all elements of nature obey your command. You give food to all flesh,
cover the heavens with clouds,
and provide rain to the earth ─

We humbly beseech you
Lord, Most High,
to keep us safe from all dangers
and to calm all the storms of life that threaten us:
especially the attack of whirlwinds and tornadoes,
the calamity and destruction of hurricanes,
the din and damage of hail storms,
the striking of thunderbolts and lightning,
and the devastation of floods and tidal waves.

May we be secure in your loving protection,
seek your Will in all our experiences,
and serve you always with grateful hearts.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Courtesy of

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Laity's Role in the Crisis of Faith

I am a fan of Michael Voris.  He never hesitates in saying exactly what he believes and usually brings real insight to the problems affecting our culture and the Catholic Church.  However, I had a problem with a recent Vortex video about the October 18 Al Smith Dinner in which Michael Voris really let loose on Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

This is what Michael Voris had to say the day after the dinner:
But when you turn to the situation of the Al Smith dinner you are especially revolted. This is nothing more than a sellout of the faith presided over by a Cardinal of the Church Timothy Dolan who is touted as some kind of conservative wonderman. He has cooperated in this insult to the faith with these moneychangers who are big time Obama cheerleaders.
His Eminence has openly declared in a Wall Street Journal article that he and other bishops failed miserably to teach the faith and defend the Church in the area of sexual morality. He and other bishops are constantly droning on about the need to re-establish a Catholic identity. You don’t establish a catholic identity by selling out the faith for your own personal popularity and to hob nob with a bunch of wall street moguls who spend their efforts and money to ensure that enemies of the faith keep getting elected.
Cardinal Dolan is a priest who has a duty to catechize and teach these men and others like them the faith that they either never got taught properly and or simply rejected, whichever the case. If they won’t listen then he needs to shake the dust from his feet, the words of the Master not mine. But he has not only not done that he has acquiesced to their bringing in Obama and refused the pleas of tens of thousands of faithful Catholics to rescind the invitation. He has ignored the sheep and opened the front door for the wolf complete red carpet and all.
I have certainly not held back my dissatisfaction with Cardinal Dolan, and prior to the dinner, I urged him to change his mind and dis-invite this enemy of the church.  I would most certainly agree that inviting pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Barack Obama to a Catholic function for a night of fun and frivolity was scandalous.  And there is no doubt that "tens of thousands of faithful Catholics" pleaded with His Eminence to rescind the invitation.

Parishioners from St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan
marching in the NYC Gay Pride Parade
But there are also tens of thousands of Catholics, and probably many more, who had so problem whatsoever with the actions of Cardinal Dolan.  Michael Voris needs to remember that Cardinal Dolan is the prelate for Manhattan, otherwise known as Modern Babylon.  Cardinal Dolan is not my bishop, I am in the diocese of Brooklyn.  But we're all a part of New York City, and I am here to say from personal experience that there are many, many Catholics in this city - regular Mass-attending Catholics - who have no problem with the use of birth control, who support a woman's "right to choose" and support "gay" rights.  I attended one church here in Brooklyn where the president of the Rosary Society told me flat out that it was necessary to use birth control because people just can't afford to have a lot of children.  In that same church in 2008, one of the leading members proudly wore her Obama button every day to Mass.

My neighborhood Catholic Church - which I never attend - has an active "Rainbow Ministry" which they describe as follows:  "Celebrating the covenant that God made with all of creation on earth (Gen. 9:13), this ministry seeks to welcome all of our LGBT brothers and sisters along with family and friends for prayer, discussion and social."  Gen 9:13 refers to the covenant God made with Noah, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." You may have wondered why homosexuals have chosen the rainbow to represent them.  Now you know, and now you also know just how sacrilegious it really is. Why is a Catholic Church buying into this?

Most of these "Catholics" voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and I am sure many will vote for him again.  They see nothing wrong with their views and choices in life, and proudly march up to receive Communion (in the hand, of course) each and every time they go to Mass.  Many of them are "Eucharistic ministers" and lecturers and very involved in the running of their parishes.  They were not in the least scandalized by President Obama's appearance at the Al Smith Dinner.   While Michael Voris may not see Cardinal Dolan as conservative, you better believe that many NYC Catholics do see him as ultra conservative.

New York City is not the only place with renegade catholics.  Below is an article from a Seattle newspaper about Catholics who are going completely off the rails against their bishops and the dogmatic teachings of the Church,  It is important to note that it is the laity who are rebelling against the bishops following Church doctrine:

Catholics sign up, will show up, for same-sex marriage
The names of more than 1,000 Catholics will appear Sunday in a full-page newspaper ad endorsing Referendum 74 and same-sex marriage, which is passionately opposed by the church’s four bishops in Washington state.

A group of Jesuit-educated laypersons, the Young Adult Leadership Cohort, will carry the pro-Referendum 74 campaign a step farther by holding a pro-marriage equality demonstration at 4 p.m. Sunday on Marion Street at the north side of Seattle’s St. James Cathedral.
The developments Sunday are the latest in what has been a 10-month push back by Catholic laity, particularly in Seattle, against bishops’ opposition to and use of church resources to campaign against same-sex marriage.
In Washington and elsewhere:

–Two Catholic governors, Chris Gregoire in Washington and Martin O’Malley in Maryland, pushed their legislatures to approve marriage equality legislation. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a practicing Catholic, was chief sponsor in the Washington State Senate.

–Several prominent Catholic parishes, including St. James Cathedral and St. Joseph Church in Seattle, and St. Leo’s parish in Tacoma, refused a request by Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to serve as signature collection centers for a referendum to force a vote on same-sex marriage.

–A big contingent from Catholics for Marriage Equality marched down Seattle’s Fourth Avenue in the city’s annual Pride Day parade.

–More than 60 resigned Catholic priests in the Seattle Archdiocese signed a letter, earlier this month, endorsing Referendum 74 and described same-sex marriage as consistent with teachings of the Gospels.

–The pastor at St. Joseph, the Rev. John Whitney, responded to Sartain’s call for defeat of Referendum 74 with an “e-blast” to parishioners titled “Conscience and Ref. 74.” Speaking of the “call to conscience” in Catholic teachings, he told them that “authority never supplants conscience.”

The advertisements Sunday will appear in the Herald of Everett, the Seattle Times, and the Yakima Herald-Republic, a Times-owned property. 
About 5 percent of the names will appear as “anonymous” or “a church worker,” representing people so deeply involved in their parishes or church work that they do not want to incur the wrath of the hierarchy.A second demonstration is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sunday outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in Yakima.
Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson has been almost vitriolic in his opposition to same-sex marriage. Tyson sought to have anti-74 fund-raising appeals put in parish pews. He issued a pastoral letter describing Referendum 74 as a measure that “endangers our religious liberty and the right of conscience.” He has directed that appeals against marriage equality be included in church bulletins.Catholics for Marriage Equality is sponsoring the advertisements that will appear Sunday.
“The new civil marriage law in our state provides both for marriage equality for all and for everyone’s religious freedom: It explicitly guarantees that our churches can celebrate nuptuals as they wish according to their beliefs,” said spokesman Kirby Brown.
“The churches have nothing to fear. Love overcomes fear, and love is the basis of both church teachings and lasting marriages.”  [These catholics are making up their own rules and definitions regarding the meaning of love.  Just like the Protestants whom they are emulating, they have become their own Magesterium and are no longer in communion with the Catholic Church.]
The latest developments in Washington’s Referendum 74 campaign coincided with an angry speech at the World Synod of Bishops conference in Rome. It came from an American, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Vatican’s Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature.
“Intrinsically evil” things — embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage and abortion — have spread over the Earth in the half-century since the Second Vatican Council, Burke argued. The cause:  "indifference toward church discipline, if not hostility.”
Cardinal Burke's statement - that indifference toward church discipline is the cause of such evils as embryonic stem-cell research, same sex marriage and abortion - is extremely significant.  As I pointed out in a recent post, errant priests and bishops are nothing new in Church history.  Our leaders were and are frail men who are in need of our prayers. But never in Church history has the laity been in such open rebellion against the Magesterium.  The question is, how did we get to such an horrific state? 

Many blame Vatican II as the cause of the spiritual ills in the Church.  Our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who never hesitates to point out the spiritual crisis in the Church, and who was an actual participant in Vatican II, does not agree that Vatican II led to the crisis in the church, and in fact he speaks very highly of the council.  Many, especially among Traditionalists, dismiss this by labeling Pope Benedict XVI as just an old liberal.  These people will give no credit to our Holy Father for loosening the restrictions on the Latin Mass and promoting such traditional practices as receiving Communion on the tongue while kneeling.  My own personal feelings are that Father Joseph Ratzinger may have leaned liberal in his younger days, but Pope Benedict XVI is as rock solid (pun intended) as any Pope who has ever occupied the Chair of Peter.

I would contend that the actual catalyst of the crisis of faith happened shortly after Vatican II.  In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, the encyclical in which he condemned the use of artificial birth control.  Many in the Church unashamedly and openly rebelled against the Magesterium of the Church when Humanae Vitae became the official dogma.  This rebellion included both the laity and the clergy at that time which has continued to this day, as can be seen in the above article from the Seattle newspaper.

Back in February of this year I did a posting on this blog about the history of Humanae Vitae and the Church's reaction.  I quoted the following from a PBS website.  (I have included my comments from the original post.)  The website first gave the mood of the Church prior to the release of the encyclical, showing that most American Catholics felt very strongly that the pope would have no problem with contraception.
In July 1965 a Gallup poll asked Catholic Americans if they thought their Church would ever approve of birth control. Sixty-one percent of the respondents replied yes. There was just cause for optimism. Oral contraceptives had been on the market for five years, and had not been banned by the Pope.

Change in the Air
Within the hierarchy of the Church, both bishops and priests around the world were boldly speaking out in favor of contraception and especially the Pill. The Church had convened a papal commission to study the issue, and reports leaking out from the meeting suggested change was in the air. There was a general consensus that the commission would recommend liberalizing the Church's policy. It was just a question of when.

Rock's Argument for the Pill
In the mid-1960s, one of the Pill's most prominent Catholic advocates, Dr.
John Rock, insisted that the Pill should be acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church as a variant of the rhythm method. He was confident that the Vatican would eventually accept his argument that the Pill was a "natural" form of birth control and allow Catholic women to use it for contraception.
But then cold reality hit both the priests and laity when Pope Paul VI took them completely by surprise and without equivocation condemned contraception as intrinsically evil.
The Pope's Encyclical
It was not to be. On the morning of July 25, 1968, the Vatican called a press conference to announce its decision on the Pill. In the papal encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae ("Of Human Life"), Pope Paul VI ended the speculation over oral contraceptives and birth control once and for all. He reaffirmed the Church's traditional teachings and classified the Pill as an artificial method of birth control. To go on the Pill or use any other contraceptive device would constitute nothing less than a mortal sin.  [We are talking about people's salvation, but that didn't and doesn't stop them from rebelling.]

Singling Out the Pill
In addition to condemning abortion and sterilization, the Pope singled out the Pill for its role in separating the act of sex from procreation. The Pill, Humanae Vitae declared, "opened up a wide and easy road... toward conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Man, growing used to contraceptive practices, may lose respect for the woman and come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion."  [We have seen these fruits of artificial contraception in abundance.  There can be no doubt that Pope Paul VI was being led by the Holy Spirit when he wrote this encyclical, and all who opposed it then and are opposing it now are fighting the Holy Spirit] 
Now comes outright rebellion among those in the pews as never seen before in the history of the Church.  Catholics, it seemed, no longer accepted the teaching authority of the Magesterium and felt they had a right to question the church and decide for themselves what is right and wrong.  This was the first sin committed by our first parents.
Disappointment Among Catholics
John Rock had lobbied long and hard in favor of the Pill, and Humanae Vitae was a bitter disappointment. "The hierarchy has made another terrible mistake," was all he could say publicly on the subject. Rock was not alone in his reaction. In the United States there was an immediate groundswell of resistance. At Catholic University in Washington, D.C., two thousand demonstrators, many of them priests and nuns, gathered to voice their dissent. A number of priests even resigned in response to the Vatican's decision. 
Public Opinion
Even though John Rock had lost the battle with the Vatican, Catholics around the world agreed with his view. A Gallup poll taken only a month after the encyclical found that only 28% of American Catholics favored the Vatican's stance. Among Catholics in their twenties, 8 out of 10 disagreed with the pope.
Ignoring the Vatican
Within just two years of Humanae Vitae, almost as many Catholic women used the Pill as non-Catholics. By 1970, two-thirds of all Catholic women and three-quarters of those under 30 were using the Pill and other birth control methods banned by the Church. In 2002, Humanae Vitae still defined the Church's position on birth control, and many observers of the Church believed that it contributed to the erosion of the Vatican's authority during the last decades of the twentieth century.
Although priests and bishops equivocated and even outright rebelled against Humanae Vitae, the Magesterium has never wavered in the least.  In my February post, I quoted from an article on the 25th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae published by America Magazine on July 17, 1993:
John Paul II has become increasingly absolute and intransigent on the matter. On June 5, 1987, he stated to a conference on responsible procreation: "The Church’s teaching on contraception does not belong to the category of matter open to free discussion among theologians. Teaching the contrary amounts to leading the moral con­sciences of spouses into error" (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, July 6, 1987).
This did not stop the the dissidents in the Church in any way:
Indeed, the Sovereign Pontiff raises the stakes by tying the teaching to central truths of the faith (e.g., God’s goodness), a move often described in Germany as "dogmatization" (Dogmatisierung). This was protested by 163 theologians from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland in the so-called "Cologne Declaration" (Jan. 27, 1989). The concerns of this decla­ration were subsequently endorsed by 130 French theolo­gians, 60 Spanish theologians, 63 Italian theologians and 431 members of the Catholic Theological Society of America (Origins, Dec. 27, 1990).
Those who rejected Humane Vitae completely ignored the many warnings about the evils resulting from the use of contraception.  As Pope Paul VI wrote, contraception has directly led to the moral collapse of society:
Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.

Use of contraception destroys love
and respect between men and women
Pope Paul VI warned of the corrupting effect on men's view and treatment of women, as we have seen played out especially in the hip hop culture, where women are called "ho's" and viewed almost exclusively as sexual objects:
Another effect [of contraception] that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
Humanae Vitae even warned us of the great danger the Church now faces in its fight against our own government here in the United States.  Pope Paul VI actually predicted that governments would force contraception, sterilization and abortion on its own citizens, as I posted earlier this year.  From Humanae Vitae:
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Pope Paul VI rightly predicted the burgeoning industry of pornography as a direct result of contraception.  If the members of the church had not rebelled, there would not be hundreds of billions of dollars spent every year on pornography, destroying the souls and minds of millions of men and women.  The family would not be threatened with destruction through the acceptance of homosexuality and same sex "marriage."  Our music and other entertainment would not be the debased, raunchy and immoral garbage to which we are constantly exposed.

Numbers of unwed mothers
in the US has skyrocketed in
the last 50 years
Can we even begin to imagine not just how different the Church would be, but how different the entire world would be if Humanae Vitae had been fully accepted and embraced?  Is it just coincidence that since the rejection of Humanae Vitae, abortion has become legal around the world, with 60 million babies killed in the US alone since abortion's legalization in 1973 and untold hundreds of millions of babies killed through chemical means? Is is just coincidence that out-of-wedlock births and rates of sexually transmitted disease have skyrocketed as traditional morality has been completely discarded?

The rejection of Humanae Vitae changed the course of the entire world.  It is the difference between life and death or more specifically, the culture of life and the culture of death, as Pope John Paul II warned us.

Clown Mass and Magic Mass

The rebellion against Humanae Vitae was followed by another earthquake in the Church a little over a year later in December 1969 when the Novus Ordo Mass was introduced.  This was Pope Paul VI's attempt to make the Mass more relevant to the Church and bring greater participation to it.  Unfortunately, it had the complete opposite effect.  The deletion of the strict rubrics of the Mass that had been required for 1500 years, and, in an unprecedented move, allowing the laity into the Sanctuary during the sacrifice of the Mass for the first time in its history allowed both priests and laity to take great liberties with the liturgy. As a result, liturgical abuse became almost the norm.  For the first time in Church history we had clown Masses, folk Masses, puppet Masses, magic show Masses, liturgical dancing, children gathering around the altar during the consecration, to name just a few of the abuses.  It seemed all reverence was lost as headcoverings came off the women and people began coming to Mass as if they were dressing to clean out their basements and garages.  Despite Pope John Paul II's rejection of it, communion in the hand became the norm.  The Tabernacle was moved from the center of the church off to the side and in some churches, into a completely different room.  Reverence for the Blessed Sacrament practically ceased to exist.  Even now most people barely nod their heads when passing in front of the Blessed Sacrament, much less actually get down on one knee and genuflect.  People talk and carry on inside church buildings as if they were in a concert hall, with no thought that they are in a holy place in which the Lord and Creator of the universe resides.

It should be noted that all of the liturgical abuses we have seen in recent decades are in complete contradiction to the Magesterium, and have been strongly condemned by our current Holy Father.  In The Spirit of the Liturgy, written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and published in 2000, he wrote the following:
Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy. In about the third century, there was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an appearance. . . . Dancing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, because, after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the different religions have different purposes - incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy - none of which is compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy as the "reasonable sacrifice". It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy "attractive" by introducing dancing pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes), which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals' point of view) end with applause. Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly - it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger also wrote the following:
The greatness of the liturgy depends - we shall have to repeat this frequently - on its unspontaneity.
The Holy Father very recently addressed the issue of tampering with the Mass in a message given in St. Peter's Square on October 3:
Therefore, it is neither the individual – priest or faithful – nor the group who celebrates the liturgy; rather, it is primarily God’s action through the Church, who has her own history, her own rich tradition and her own creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is proper to the liturgy as a whole, is one of the reasons why it cannot be designed or modified by individual communities or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church.
Is it just coincidence that rejection of Humane Vitae, which was a de facto rejection of the Magesterium of the Church, was then followed by decades of liturgical abuse in which we far too often completely lost the meaning of the Sacrifice of the Mass?  It's almost as if the Holy Spirit allowed the Mass to be taken from the church in response to the rejection of sacred Church teaching.  A direct result of tampering with the Mass was the loss of the meaning of the Mass and total loss of reverence.  We can only imagine how different the Catholic Church itself would be if we had not had the liturgical abuses of recent decades.  If not for liturgical abuse, people would actually be in the pews praying before and after Mass as they always did instead of loudly chit chatting with one another.  People would still be going to confession in large numbers.  There would be no receiving communion in the hand while standing but instead reverently kneeling and receiving on the tongue. Mass would be Mass - the re-presentation of Christ's Sacrifice on Calvary - not the Sunday morning entertainment hour that it so often became.

When Catholics rebelled against the teaching of the Church, all hell quite literally broke loose in the world, and it seems there is no turning back.  Now we have no choice but to face the consequences of our actions.

There were other contributing factors, but I feel that the laity's rejection of Humanae Vitae along with vast liturgical abuse has led to the extreme crisis of faith in the Church and in the world.  Catholics all know the teaching of the Church.  The Magesterium of the Church has never wavered on what is right and wrong.  Pope John Paul II was as pro life as anyone could be and constantly spoke out against what he labeled as the culture of death.  In addition to speaking out against the culture of death, our current Pope has spoken out many times on the terrible consequences of liturgical abuse, as shown above.  If Catholics had listened to and followed the lead of the Magesterium, we would not be in the spiritual mess we see all around us with hundreds of millions of souls at risk of losing their salvation.

Further, is it just coincidence that as chaos reigned in the Church, the world sank into more evil and darkness?  The Catholic Church is the arbiter of truth in the world because we are the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.  We are the light of the world, as our Saviour told us.  If the Catholic Church is in darkness, the entire world is without light.

We can shake our fingers at the bishops and say it's all their fault, but can we really blame them for the fact that we have rejected Christ's Church?  And make no mistake, if you have rejected any dogma of the Church, it is the same as rejecting all of it.  Could the priests and bishops have preached more about it and emphasized the importance of this teaching?  No doubt about it.  They definitely do bear culpability.  But when we stand before Christ, are we going to be able to blame the clergy because we, of our own free will, chose to disobey?  Despite corrupt priests and bishops, past generations of Catholic laity stayed true to the teachings of the Church  because they stayed true to the Magesterium, which is held in place by the Holy Spirit and therefore can never be wrong.  What is our excuse?

Returning to the subject of Cardinal Dolan, I agree with Michael Voris that it was a terrible mistake to invite Barack Obama to the Al Smith dinner. But would Cardinal Dolan have felt this was the right thing to do if the majority of the laity in his own archdiocese of New York were not accepting of it?  Can we really just blame Cardinal Dolan?   If the laity was faithful to the teachings and dogma of the Catholic Church, Barack Obama would never have been president.  If Catholics were faithful to the Church, there would be no pro abortion and pro homosexual politicians pushing laws and policies that are destroying us physically and spiritually.  We would never have had the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Church in recent years.  If Catholics stood up for the teachings of the Church, the entire world would be a completely different place. We get the leaders and leadership we deserve.

As I have recently posted, putting the blame solely on the bishops and priests just won't cut it.  We have to start looking at ourselves and see how we, individually, have contributed to the spiritual crisis in the church and all around the world.  The Holy Father has given us the Year of Faith to do just that.  We need to rediscover our faith, rediscover the teachings of the Church and solidly embrace those teachings.  The one true Church founded by Jesus Christ and led by the Holy Spirit has all the answers we are looking for.  But we can't serve two masters.  It must either be the flesh and the world, or Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church.

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